Eleanor Alberga is a highly regarded British composer with commissions and premieres from the BBC Proms and The Royal Opera. Her work is noted for its emotional impact, depth of craft and brilliant colouring and orchestration. Born and growing up in Jamaica, her cultural inheritance is wide including performing with the Jamaican Folk Singers and as a dancer with an African Dance company. Coming to the UK initially on a scholarship to study piano and singing at the Royal Academy of Music, her compositional talents came to the fore whilst working in the contemporary dance world and she now boasts a rich catalogue of works in all genres: her Opera based on an Isabel Allende story, ‘Letters of a Love Betrayed’, drew comparison with Debussy’s Pelléas and Berg’s Wozzeck; three string quartets; a growing sequence of chamber music Nocturnes featuring horn and oboe, and orchestral music including two violin concertos and a rip-roaring adaptation of Roald Dahl’s ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ as well as her Last Night of the Proms opener ‘Arise Athena’. Her early piano music has a deep connection to her Jamaican heritage and there is music for solo voice and for choir.
Alberga now lives in the English countryside with her husband, the violinist Thomas Bowes, and together they have founded and nurtured an original festival - Arcadia.
Nathaniel Anderson-Frank is Leader of the BBC Concert Orchestra. He has appeared with them as soloist at the 2019 BBC Proms, as well as on tour around China and the UK, and is frequently featured on BBC Radio 2 and 3. In recent years, Nathaniel has been invited to guest lead the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; previously, he was Assistant Leader of the Philharmonia.
Since 2013, Anderson-Frank has led the prize-winning Piatti Quartet, with whom he has appeared in concert throughout the UK and Europe. Recent recordings with the quartet include a critically acclaimed album, Albion Refracted, for the Champs Hill label, featuring the premiere recordings of Mark-Anthony Turnage's Twisted Blues with Twisted Ballad and Joseph Phibb's String Quartet No 1.
A committed educator, Anderson-Frank regularly coaches students at both the Royal Academy of Music and the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, where he has also held solo and chamber music fellowships. Anderson-Frank has been invited to share his experience as an orchestral tutor for the Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts (USA), I, Culture Orchestra (Poland), Aberdeenshire Youth Orchestra and the National Music Camp of Canada.
A native of Toronto now living in the UK, Anderson-Frank received his Master’s degree with the highest honours from the Royal Academy of Music as a full-scholarship pupil of Maurice Hasson. He also holds a Bachelor of Music degree with academic honours from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he studied with Paul Kantor. He was made an Associate of the Academy in 2015.
Stephenson Ardern-Sodje studied at the Royal Academy of Music. He left his final year early to go straight into Hamilton on the West End, taking on standout ensemble tracks and understudying the leading roles of Alexander Hamilton and John Laurens/Philip Hamilton. Stephenson made his debut performance as Hamilton within a month of being part of the cast.
After 18 months in Hamilton, Stephenson went on to join the Globe Theatre’s Tour starring in As You Like It, A Midsummer's Night's Dream and The Tempest.
Most recently, Stephenson filmed on season two of the popular series Breeders for Sky, opposite Martin Freeman.
Off screen, Stephenson also hosts the podcast Generation Vex produced by Green Door Pictures, which explores and celebrates writers of colour. As well as all this, Stephenson is a keen writer and is currently working on a couple of his own projects.
Few musicians epitomise the term of the ‘exceptional artist’ better than Kit Armstrong. Born in 1992 in Los Angeles, Armstrong has been described by Alfred Brendel as ‘the greatest talent’ he has ever encountered, not only demonstrating extraordinary aptitude at the piano but also at the organ and as a conductor, as well as being a composer in great demand.
Armstrong collaborates with many of the world’s most sought-after conductors and has been a guest at some of the world’s finest orchestras. In summer 2018, he was Artist in Residence at Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and he is ‘Artist in Resonance’ at the Musikkollegium Winterthur. In the same year, he received the Beethoven-Ring by the German society, Bürger für Beethoven.
Recent and upcoming highlights include concerts with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Münchener Kammerorchester, Stuttgart Kammerorchester and the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, and piano recitals at Wiener Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center, Rheingau Musik Festival, Munich’s Prinzregententheater, Ruhr Piano Festival and Schubertiade Hohenems, among others. He has appeared as organist with the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra and Wiener Konzerthaus, and is scheduled to appear at the Bruckner Festival Linz. He gave his acclaimed debut as conductor at Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in 2018 and recently was guest conductor with the Bochumer Symphoniker.
Armstrong’s debut recording with works by Bach, Ligeti and Armstrong was released in 2013 by Sony Classical, followed two years later by his second album, Liszt: Symphonic Scenes. His own compositions are published by Edition Peters.
Armstrong studied music at the Curtis Institute of Music and continued the Royal Academy of Music. Aged seven, he started studying composition at Chapman University and physics at California State University, followed by chemistry and mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania and mathematics at Imperial College London. He earned a Master’s degree in pure mathematics at the University of Paris VI. At the age of 13, Armstrong met Alfred Brendel, who has guided him as a teacher and mentor ever since. Their unique relationship was captured in the film, Set the Piano Stool on Fire, by Mark Kidel.
Scottish actor and musician Stephen Ashfield trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the Royal Academy of Music, London. In recent years, Ashfield's stand-out performance as Elder McKinley in The Book of Mormon in the West End and on Broadway has won him an Olivier Award, and both WhatsOnStage and BroadwayWorld Awards. He has also been busy creating the role of Hamish McLarnon in the new Broadway-bound British musical, Becoming Nancy, which was recently previewed in Atlanta. For ten (long and somewhat uncomfortable!) years his posterior adorned many London buses and tube posters as Bob Gaudio in the original London cast of Jersey Boys.
Other theatre credits include: Emmett Forrest in Legally Blonde (Savoy), Casey O'Brien in Boy Meets Boy (Jermyn Street Theatre), Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered (Jermyn Street Theatre), creating the leading role of Adam in Imagine This (Theatre Royal Plymouth), John in Tomorrow Morning (New End Theatre, London), Nick Piazza in Fame (Aldwych), George in new musical Ha'penny Bridge (The Point, Dublin), Basilio in The Marriage of Figaro (Drill Hall, London), Boy George in Taboo (West End and UK Tour).
TV: Philip Worth in Call the Midwife. Appearances with Jersey Boys include This Morning, GMTV, Loose Women, Paul O’Grady, Strictly Come Dancing, Alan Titchmarsh, The 80th Royal Variety Performance, and Tonight’s the Night.
Radio: Incredible Women with Rebecca Front and Joanna Lumley (BBCRadio4), Elaine Paige on Sunday.
Cast Recordings: Ha’penny Bridge, Tomorrow Morning and Jersey Boys.
Charlotte Ashton graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2015 with first-class honours and the Principal’s Prize, where she learned flute with Clare Southworth, Karen Jones and Samuel Coles, and piccolo with Sophie Johnson and Helen Keen. Her formal musical training began at the Junior Academy of the Royal Academy of Music, aged 11, before joining The Purcell School for Young Musicians in 2008. She was made an Associate of the Academy in 2018, recognising outstanding contribution to the industry.
In 2016, Ashton was appointed Principal Flute in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and has enjoyed the opportunity to explore a huge range of orchestral music, from core repertoire to the more unusual. Equally at home in the ranks of the orchestra as she is at the front of the stage, she performed Boulez’s Memoriale at the Edinburgh International Festival under Matthias Pintscher in 2016 and, more recently, recorded Bernstein’s Halil with John Wilson for broadcast on BBC Radio 3. She also recorded James MacMillan’s Remembering for solo flute, one of 20 Postcards from Composers for solo instruments, commissioned by the BBC and featured on Radio 3, written and recorded remotely under lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition to her commitments with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Ashton maintains a busy freelance schedule, appearing regularly as Guest Principal Flute with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia and John Wilson Orchestra.
As a soloist, Ashton won the 2015 Royal Over-Seas League wind, brass and percussion finals and is the recipient of numerous awards, including Making Music’s Philip & Dorothy Green Award for Young Concert Artists, the Royal Academy of Music’s Chris Taylor Flute Award and the Harold Craxton Memorial Trust Award, as well as being supported by The Countess of Munster Musical Trust. She has given recitals in venues across the country, such as St John's Smith Square, St Martin-in-the-Fields, Wigmore Hall and Colston Hall.
Bertie Baigent is Assistant Conductor of the Colorado Symphony and Music Director of Waterperry Opera Festival. Recent and forthcoming highlights include a series of all-Beethoven concerts in Colorado, projects with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra as their Principal Guest Conductor, the League of American Orchestras Bruno Walter National Conductor Preview and productions of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Don Giovanni for Waterperry and Handel’s Partenope for Hampstead Garden Opera.
Baigent has assisted Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner, Jac van Steen and Masaaki Suzuki and collaborated with the Dallas Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, WDR Sinfonieorchester, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, London Sinfonietta and Britten Sinfonia. He has also participated in masterclasses with Martyn Brabbins and Pierre-André Valade, and as part of the Dirigentenforum in Germany.
Winner of the Royal Academy of Music’s Sir Henry Wood Scholarship and Ernest Read Prize in 2017, he was the youngest semi-finalist in the London Symphony Orchestra Donatella Flick Conducting Competition in 2018. Between 2016-18 he was Chief Conductor the London Young Sinfonia.
Born in Oxford in 1995, Baigent read music at the University of Cambridge, going on to study conducting at the Royal Academy of Music with Sian Edwards and graduating with distinction. He is also a composer, his music having been commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and performed by the Aurora Orchestra, Fretwork and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. He is currently based in London and Denver.
Described by The Telegraph as ‘in a class of his own’, James Baillieu has been prize-winner at the Wigmore Hall Song Competition and Das Lied International Song Competition, and he has won a Kathleen Ferrier Award and Richard Tauber Prize. He was selected for representation by Young Classical Artists Trust in 2010, and in 2012 received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and a Geoffrey Parsons Memorial Trust Award. In 2016, he was shortlisted for the Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist Award.
Baillieu has given solo and chamber recitals at prestigious venues and festivals throughout Europe and further afield. An innovative programmer, he has already curated a number of projects, including series for the Brighton Festival, BBC Radio 3, Verbier Festival, Bath International Music Festival and Perth Concert Hall. Baillieu presented his own series at the Wigmore Hall, which was shortlisted for the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Chamber Music and Song Award, for an outstanding contribution to the performance of chamber music and song in the UK during 2016. Recent engagements include appearances at Wigmore Hall, Park Avenue Armory, Phillips Collection and Konzerthaus Dortmund.
Baillieu enjoys working with young musicians and is a professor at the Royal Academy of Music, coach for the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, course leader for the Samling Institute for Young Artists and head of the Song Programme at Verbier Festival Academy’s Atelier Lyrique. In 2019, he led masterclasses with Mark Padmore at the Aldeburgh Festival for the Britten-Pears Young Artists Programme.
Born in South Africa, Baillieu studied at the University of Cape Town and the Royal Academy of Music with Michael Dussek, Malcolm Martineau and Kathryn Stott. In 2007, he graduated with a DipRAM and received the Christian Carpenter Award in recognition of his outstanding achievements. He was appointed a Hodgson Fellow in 2007, Professor of Piano Accompaniment in 2011 and made Associate in 2012. He is also International Tutor in Piano Accompaniment at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Baillieu writes of his time at the Academy:
'I loved my experience on the Piano accompaniment course at the Academy. I did the 2 year option - the first year was very busy and I relished all the opportunities of meeting new colleagues, playing for all manner of lessons and classes, playing all sorts of repertoire and getting used to a very fast and busy pace of musical life. In the second year, I focused more on building lasting duo partnerships and made use of the wonderful performance opportunities that were available in the various prestigious concert series at the Academy and also at festivals and venues around the UK.
The skills that I learnt and picked up whilst being on the course gave me a very good grounding for a career as a recitalist. There were numerous performing opportunities, wonderful colleagues to partner with - both instrumental and vocal - and the opportunity of playing with colleagues in their own lessons and classes meant that I was able to learn from great teachers from all areas of the Academy, whilst my own specialized teachers were focused on my pianistic and musical development.
The beauty of this course is that it offers the flexibility and opportunities to work in all sorts of fields, as seen in the varied careers of all my peers. I am thrilled to be one of the teachers on this wonderful course now and would wholeheartedly recommend it!'
‘At the piano, Baillieu was a beautifully matched “partner in crime” (Davidsen’s phrase, in one of several disarmingly sweet spoken introductions), with quicksilver fingers in Grieg, a delicious flexibility of tempo in Strauss and delicately balanced sound throughout. And in the closing bars of Strauss’s Morgen (their second encore), he provided the most breathtaking touch of all – suspending time and allowing silence itself to speak.’ - The Guardian, February 2020
‘Her partnership with Baillieu is clearly a fine one, too. He’s an exceptional accompanist, knowing both when to hold back and let the vocal line do the work, and when to assert himself and propel the music forward. Loewe’s sometimes deceptively simple figurations seemed fraught with meaning throughout, and his playing in Mahler’s Ich Atmet’ Einen Linden Duft
was simply exquisite.’ - The Guardian, January 2020
‘Yende’s partner for this recital, fellow South African James Baillieu, was extraordinary, showing all the makings of an exceptional vocal accompanist: his vivid playing never upstaged his partner, and he followed her beautifully, his choices responding to hers in real time…Baillieu might become one of the few pianists to achieve real fame as a vocal accompanist." - New York Classical Review, December 2019
Antoine Bedewi holds the position of Principal Timpanist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, best known as the host orchestra of the world’s biggest international classical music festival, the BBC Proms.
Prior to joining the BBCSO in 2017 he held the position of Co-Principal Timpanist with the London Symphony Orchestra, whilst simultaneously freelancing with all of the major orchestras in London and the UK. He has also performed around the world with a variety of orchestras and conductors including the John Wilson Orchestra, Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Australian World Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle and Riccardo Muti. In 2007 he served as the Principal Timpanist at Chile’s national opera house, Teatro Municipal.
As a percussionist, Bedewi appears frequently with the Colin Currie Group, an internationally-acclaimed ensemble founded in 2006 specialising in the music of Steve Reich. With Reich’s personal endorsement the group has performed at international venues including London’s Royal Festival Hall, Louis Vuitton Foundation (Paris), Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg), Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw and Opera City Tokyo.
Bedewi currently teaches orchestral timpani at the Royal Academy of Music, having previously completed his postgraduate studies there in 2005. Prior to this he was awarded a first-class degree in music from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, where he was also presented with the Director’s Prize for all-round excellence and service to the Academy.
His teachers include Simon Carrington and Alan Cumberland, whose virtuosic Two Challenges for Timpani (2003) are dedicated to Bedewi.
Joseph Beech has held the position of Sub-Organist at Durham Cathedral since September 2019. As Sub-Organist, he is the principal accompanist to the cathedral choir and plays the organ for daily services, in addition to the choir's schedule of broadcasts, concerts, recordings and tours. He also assists the Master of the Choristers in his work conducting the choir, and in the recruiting and training of the choristers.
Born in Nottingham, Beech held the Organ Scholarship at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle before winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. As a student of David Titterington, he performed in many of London's major venues and worked under conductors including Marin Alsop, Yan Pascal Tortelier and Trevor Pinnock. Concurrent with his Academy studies, he successively held organ scholarships at the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace, London Oratory and St Paul's Cathedral. Having won numerous scholarships and awards during his studies, he took first prize in the Academy’s inaugural Dorothy Cooper organ competition (2016) and graduated with a first-class degree in 2017, also being presented with a Regency Award for 'notable achievement'. He holds the Academy’s LRAM teaching diploma.
Following graduation, Beech spent two years as Assistant Master of the Music at St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh, where he accompanied the cathedral choir in its round of daily services, on a Delphian recording of the choral works of Kenneth Leighton, which was awarded 5 stars by BBC Music Magazine, and on a number of international tours. He also conducted the choir live on BBC Radio 3.
Aside from his work at the Cathedral, Joseph maintains an active performance schedule, with recent and forthcoming concerts across the UK and in Germany, and also enjoys dedicating time to organ teaching.
A former winner of the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Award, soprano Emma Bell has in recent seasons developed her repertoire, moving from the Mozart heroines, with which she established her career, to the key jugendlich-dramatischer roles of Wagner and Beethoven. Recent highlights include her house debut at Bayerische Staatsoper as Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg; Freia in Das Rheingold with The Hallé; Madame Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmélites at Staatsoper Hamburg; and Leonore in Fidelio at Oper Köln.
A regular presence on the stage of the Royal Opera House, Bell's most recent appearances there have included Eva, Madame Lidoine and her highly acclaimed Elisabeth in Tannhäuser, about which The Times wrote ‘her timbre has always been unique but now Bell shows so much more: perfect intonation, tenderness, subtle variation, compelling acting’. She returned to the role of Elisabeth last season at both the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Bayerische Staatsoper.
A wide and varied early career has taken Bell to Teatro alla Scala as Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, Elettra in Idomeneo and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni; to Teatro Real as the Governess in The Turn of the Screw and Elettra; to The Metropolitan Opera as Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro and Donna Elvira; and to Glyndebourne Festival Opera as Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw. In more recent seasons, Bell has appeared as Elsa in Lohengrin for Staatsoper Hamburg; the title role in Arabella at Oper Köln; as Eva for Opernhaus Zürich; and as the Governess for Staatsoper Berlin.
An engaging concert performer, Emma Bell has enjoyed a close collaboration with Sir Antonio Pappano on works such as Strauss’s Vier letzte Lieder with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Britten’s War Requiem with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, and both Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. She has recently added soprano I in Mahler’s mighty Symphony No 8 to her repertoire in performance with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra under Lan Shui.
After Studying for her BA in Music at Queen’s College, University of Oxford and a postgraduate diploma from the Royal Academy of Music, Alexandra Bellamy completed her training with a stint as Principal Oboe of the European Union Baroque Orchestra. She has since established herself as one of the leading lights in the world of historical performance, having played with many of the UK’s period instrument orchestras. She has featured on several award-winning CDs and is much in demand as a principal and solo oboist.
She was Principal Oboe of the King’s Consort from 1999 to 2008 and featured on many of the group’s recordings from that time, most notably as the soloist on a disc of Handel’s oboe sonatas. She also has a long standing relationship with the chamber group Florilegium and has appeared on several of their discs over the years; as well as the Gabrieli Consort, Arcangelo and Rachel Podger’s Brecon Baroque, with whom she can be heard as soloist in Bach’s Oboe and Violin Concerto on their Bach Concerti disc. As Principal Oboe of the Dunedin Consort directed by John Butt, she has been involved in many highly acclaimed recordings, including the Brandenburg Concerti, St John Passion and Christmas Oratorio. In 2018 she was appointed Second Oboe with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and has since joined them for many wonderful projects.
Other career highlights have included tours of Australia with the Australian Chamber Orchestra directed by Richard Tognetti, and tours and recordings with Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra.
Catherine Beynon began playing the harp at the age of eight and shortly afterwards won a scholarship from Surrey County Council to attend the Royal College of Music Junior Department, where she studied with Daphne Boden. She later gained a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, where she continued to study with Boden and also Skaila Kanga. Beynon then completed her studies at the Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique et Danse de Lyon with Fabrice Pierre, where she was awarded a DENSM with ‘félicitations du jury’ and completed her postgraduate course with two performances of the Alberto Ginastera Harp Concerto.
She is an extremely enthusiastic chamber musician and has performed across Europe and in Japan with numerous distinguished artists such as Quatuor Debussy, François Le Roux and Lindsay String Quartet, as well as with her sister, flautist Emily Beynon.
Beynon has given solo recitals at Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, Fairfield Halls and St Martin-in-the-Fields and in September 1997 made her BBC Proms debut in the Proms Chamber Music Series at the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Among Beynon’s numerous recordings, Flute Mystery by Fred Jonny Berg, together with Emily Beynon, Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra, was nominated for a 2010 Grammy, while her recording of Debussy’s Deux danses with Emmanuel Krivine and the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg was released by Timpani in 2012.
As a concerto soloist, Beynon has performed with the English Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and London Chamber Orchestra. In August 1999, she was appointed principal harp of the Royal Danish Orchestra and, in May 2000, she made Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in recognition of her distinguished performance in the profession. Beynon was appointed Principal Harp of the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg in September 2003, a post she continues to enjoy today.
Sir Harrison Birtwistle was born in 1934 and studied clarinet and composition at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1960, he travelled to Princeton as a Harkness Fellow, where he completed the opera Punch and Judy. This work, together with Verses for Ensembles and The Triumph of Time, firmly established Birtwistle as a leading voice in British music.
The decade from 1977 to 1986 was dominated by his lyric tragedy, The Mask of Orpheus, and by the series of ensemble scores: Secret Theatre, Silbury Air, Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum and …agm….
Important large-scale compositions include his operas The Minotaur, Gawain, The Second Mrs Kong and The Last Supper; concertos Panic, Antiphonies and Concerto for Violin and Orchestra; as well as orchestral scores Earth Dances, Exody and The Shadow of Night. Other major works include Theseus Game, Neruda Madrigales, Angel Fighter and In Broken Images.
In 2014, Harrison Birtwistle composed Responses: Sweet Disorder and the Carefully Careless, a concerto for piano and orchestra for his 80th birthday year, which was co-commissioned by Musica Viva Munich, Casa da Música Porto, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Other notable highlights include The Cure for the Aldeburgh Festival and Royal Opera House; 5 Lessons in a Frame for London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Musikfabrik; and Deep Time, which was commissioned by the Staatskapelle Berlin and the BBC, and received its UK premiere at the 2017 Proms.
Recent works include Intrada for piano and percussion, a duo for Colin Currie and Nicolas Hodges; Keyboard Engine: A Construction for Two Pianos, commissioned for Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich; and Duet for Eight Strings for The Nash Ensemble.
Birtwistle has received many honours including the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition, Ernst von Siemens Music Prize, Wihuri Sibelius Prize, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres and a British knighthood. He was made Companion of Honour in 2001.
A deeply passionate and sensitive pianist, Christian Blackshaw is celebrated for the incomparable musicianship of his performances. His playing combines tremendous emotional depth with great understanding.
Following studies with Gordon Green at the Royal Manchester College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, winning the gold medals at each, Blackshaw was the first British pianist to study at the Leningrad Conservatory with Moisei Halfin. He later worked closely with Sir Clifford Curzon in London.
Blackshaw has performed worldwide and in festivals as recitalist and soloist with many renowned conductors including Valery Gergiev, Sir Simon Rattle, Gianandrea Noseda, Yuri Temirkanov and Sir Neville Marriner. He was Founder Director of the Hellensmusic Festival, which was established in 2013.
His hugely acclaimed Wigmore Hall complete Mozart Piano Sonatas series was recorded for Wigmore Hall Live and released in four volumes. Critics have been unanimous in their praise, describing these ‘landmark’ recordings as ‘captivating’, ‘magical’ and ‘masterful’. Volume 4 was named as one of the Best Classical Recordings of 2015 in the New York Times in addition to Gramophone’s 50 Greatest Mozart Recordings.
Recent notable performances include the Mozart cycle in Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing, a return to the Stars of the White Nights Festival in St Petersburg and debuts at the Schwetzingen Festival and Edinburgh International Festival. He has also been an Artist in Residence at Wigmore Hall. Blackshaw was awarded an MBE in the New Year 2019 Honours List.
Laura Bowler, described as ‘a triple-threat composer-performer-provocatrice’ (The Arts Desk), is a composer, vocalist and artistic director specialising in theatre, multi-disciplinary work and opera. She has been commissioned across the globe by ensembles and orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, ROH2, Opera Holland Park, The Opera Group, Manchester Camerata, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Quatuor Bozzini, Ensemble Phace, Ensemble Linea and Omega Ensemble, among others. Recent projects include a music theatre work, FFF, commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF); Feminine Hygiene, a multimedia work commissioned by the BBC Philharmonic and Sounds From The Other City festival; A Damned Mob of Scribbling Women, a 20-minute music theatre song cycle for vocalist Lucy Goddard, which was recently nominated for a British Composer Award; and Antarctica, a 50-minute multimedia work co-commissioned by Manchester Camerata and BBC Radio 3.
Bowler has performed and premiered works internationally as a vocalist including Louis Aguirre’s The Way the Dead Love and Jennifer Walshe’s boxing opera, Training is the Opposite. She is also the vocalist in contemporary music ensemble Ensemble Lydenskab based in Aarhus, Denmark, and has recently formed a duo with Red Note Ensemble’s flautist, Ruth Morley.
Upcoming projects include a music theatre work based on Rumpelstiltskin for Riot Ensemble with librettist Alasdair Middleton; a new multimedia work for multidisciplinary group Decoder Ensemble for HCMF 2020; a multimedia work for composer/pianist Zubin Kanga; and smaller-scale works for vocalist Alwynne Pritchard and nyckelharpist Robert Bentall, and a solo percussion work for London Sinfonietta.
Bowler completed her BMus (Hons) at the Royal Northern College of Music and Sibelius Academy, Finland, followed by her MMus and PhD at the Royal Academy of Music. She also studied for an MA in Theatre Directing at RADA. Bowler is a lecturer in Composition at Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Royal Northern College of Music.
Conducting ‘with spirit and vitality – and musical integrity always at its core’, Andrea Brown has led award-winning concerts and festivals across the globe. She is the Musical Director of the professional ensemble Tippett Voices, Esterhazy Singers, Festival Chorus and Associate Conductor of The Fourth Choir. Andrea works regularly as conductor with other choirs including the BBC Singers, North London Chorus, London Oriana Choir, Borough Chamber Choir and the Southbank Centre’s Voicelab. Recent work includes concerts in Berlin with hortus vocalis, the Czech Republic with Festa Musicale and the critically acclaimed Memorial with Tippett Voices at the Barbican Centre, London.
Andrea is the Head of Choral Conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, leading and teaching on the postgraduate programmes. Recently Director of Music at Morley College, and Head of Teaching and Learning with Surrey Music Hub, Andrea is a passionate advocate for music education. She co-founded the award-winning Women Conductors and Wavelength programmes, both designed to encourage, educate and promote women within the conducting profession. An active member of the Association of British Choral Directors, Andrea chairs jury panels of choral competitions, and holds masterclasses for choirs and conductors in the UK and across the globe. Andrea was the Artistic Director of Various Voices, an international choral festival involving 60+ international choirs performing at the Southbank Centre which was awarded the Inspire mark from the London 2012 Olympics Committee.
Previously, as a professional soprano she has performed and recorded in some of the finest concert halls across Europe including Theatre du Chatelet, Concertgebouw, Barbican Centre, Berliner Philharmonie and the Peristile in Split, Croatia, with ensembles Academy of Ancient Music, Chapelle du Roi and Ex Cathedra.
Andrea very much enjoyed her studies at the Royal Academy of Music, undertaking the Choral Conducting MA as a sabbatical giving her the opportunity and space to further develop technique and skills. She was delighted to be awarded the Alan Kirby Prize for Choral Leadership. She was recently elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in recognition of significant contribution to the field.
Susan Bullock’s position as one of the world’s most sought-after British dramatic sopranos was recognised by the award of a CBE in June 2014.
Of her most distinctive roles, Wagner’s Brünnhilde has garnered outstanding praise, leading Bullock to become the first-ever soprano to sing four consecutive cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Royal Opera House under Sir Antonio Pappano. Appearances as Richard Strauss’ Elektra have brought her equal international acclaim and collaborations with some of the world’s leading conductors including Fabio Luisi, Semyon Bychkov, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Mark Elder and Edo de Waart.
In recent seasons, Bullock has debuted as Klytaemnestra in Elektra at the Canadian Opera Company under Johannes Debus; Liz Stride in the world premiere of Iain Bell’s Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel for English National Opera; and she reprised her acclaimed portrayal of Mother in Mark Anthony-Turnage’s Greek at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House. Further highlights include the role of Kostelnička in Jenůfa for Grange Park Opera; Gertrude and The Witch in Hänsel und Gretel for Opera North and Grange Park Opera; and Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd for Houston Grand Opera. Upcoming plans include her debut as Mother in the European premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s award-winning Breaking the Waves for Scottish Opera, and a welcome return to the role of Mrs Lovett with Bergen National Opera, and Klytaemnestra in concert with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Kirill Karabits.
Bullock’s vast and diverse concert work has included the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra, and with Zubin Mehta and the orchestra of the Bayerische Staatsoper. Popular appearances have included the Last Night of the Proms in 2011 and a special appearance at the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony. Recently, Bullock returned to Wigmore Hall in their Wigmore Lates series with pianist Richard Sisson.
Bullock’s substantial discography includes Der Ring des Nibelungen with Oper Frankfurt under Sebastian Weigle on Oehms Classics and the title role in Salome with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Sir Charles Mackerras for Chandos.
Pianist Libby Burgess is known for her ‘warm, sensitive pianism’ (The Observer), her musical intelligence, and her generosity of collaborative spirit, taking inspiration from the breadth of outstanding musicians with whom she works across an exceptionally wide repertoire.
The creative highlight of her year is the annual New Paths festival, which she and her partner Roland Deller founded in Beverley (East Riding of Yorkshire). As Artistic Director she has quickly been recognised for the striking, enticing tone of her programming, reflecting her own twin interests of song and chamber music. In this context she is normally to be found giving some dozen performances in four days, ranging from the complete Schubert song cycles in 2019 (partnering Jonathan Lemalu, Nicholas Mulroy and Marcus Farnsworth), and annual commissions from living composers, to performances for pre-schoolers.
Following the impact of these festivals, New Paths was additionally asked to take on the long-running Beverley Chamber Music Festival, of which Burgess and international pianist Martin Roscoe are now Co-Artistic Directors. They have played together in duet several times; her other BCMF collaborators include the Brodsky Quartet; cellist Laura van der Heijden and mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately.
In between these festivals, she is to be found on recital stages across the country, prestigious and obscure. She has eight discs as duo partner and chamber musician to her name, performs on BBC Radio 3 and makes studio recordings with the BBC Singers. Although primarily motivated by musical collaboration, Burgess enjoys solo performance: recent highlights include Shostakovich’s First Concerto and a solo recital for Britten Sinfonia and she is currently developing a major project based around Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.
The seed of Burgess’ love for working with voices was sown as organ scholar at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford – where she read music – and has blossomed in the intervening fifteen years at the piano, beginning with her postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music. She is highly regarded as a chorus master, vocal coach, chamber music tutor, writer, adjudicator and masterclasses leader, and was previously Head of Keyboard at Eton College.
Libby writes of her time at the Academy:
'My time at the Academy definitely set me on the path of what I do now! The opportunity to work with so many different singers and instrumentalists, all in one concentrated bubble, was extraordinary. As a collaborative pianist I not only got input from my own piano teachers, but also from countless singing teachers, string professors, chamber music tutors, language coaches and opera staff: all of these things fed in to the portfolio of work that I now do. Perhaps most importantly of all, it was at the Academy that I formed many of the musical partnerships which even now are at the heart of my career.'
Tansy Castledine is Director of Music at Peterborough Cathedral. Much in demand as a choral conductor and music education consultant, she began her studies at the University of Oxford prior to gaining her MMus in Choral Direction and Church Music at the Royal Academy of Music. Castledine is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO) and in 2013 she was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music for distinguished service to the choral music and education professions. She was President of the MTA (2015-2016), the UK's largest and longest established association of music teaching professionals, and in 2017 gained the National Professional Qualification in Senior Leadership (NPQSL).
Prior to taking up her role at Peterborough, Castledine was Director of Music and Organist at St Mark’s, Hamilton Terrace, worked with Finchley Children’s Music Group and was Visiting Lecturer and Director of the Chamber Choir at City, University of London. She served for eleven years as Director of Music and Organist at St George’s College, Weybridge. During this time she led the Chamber Choir to double national success becoming the BBC Songs of Praise Senior School Choir of the Year and Barnardo’s Senior Choir of the Year and recorded several highly acclaimed CDs. She has broadcast on BBC radio 3, 4 and World service in addition to working on television shows on ITV and Channel 4. Conducting engagements have included concert performances at the Barbican, Royal Albert Hall, and St Martin-in-the-Fields, in addition to concert tours across Europe and to the East and West coasts of America. Additionally, she has worked for the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) as a Course Director and Singing Examiner, and for the Royal College of Organists on the TOSE Course as the Choral Direction Tutor.
Castledine is also the Musical Director of Peterborough and Ramsey Choral Societies and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Church Music Society.
Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney has appeared on BBC Two’s Later…with Jools Holland, CBS This Morning; performed live sessions on KCRW’s Morning becomes Eclectic, BBC Radio 1 with Gilles Peterson and BBC Radio 2 with Mark Radcliffe; and in 2019 was nominated BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year. Her second solo album, Shelter, released on Nonesuch Records in 2018 and made with New York-based producer Thomas Bartlett was met with critical acclaim, being called ‘a big, beautiful new record’ (Mojo, Albums of the Year ★★★★), ‘rare beauty’ (The Sunday Times) and ‘an elegant, luminous album’ (the Observer).
Born in Florence, Chaney grew up in Oxford, studying composition, piano and voice. Early influences include Bert Jansch, Mozart, medieval plainchant, Prince, Billie Holiday, Henry Purcell and Joni Mitchell. At 14, Chaney won a joint-first piano and voice scholarship to Chetham's School of Music, where she focused on classical repertoire. She then went on to attend the Royal Academy of Music, also on scholarship, where, as an improviser and songwriter, she spent much of her time experimenting and collaborating beyond boundaries of any one genre. On graduating, Chaney taught herself guitar and Indian harmonium, and began performing regularly as an eclectic soloist. She has worked as an actress and singer/multi-instrumentalist at Shakespeare's Globe theatre, been choreographed by Cathy Marston (former Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House) and her rendition of the French folk song, Auprès de ma blonde, was chosen for the closing credits of legendary director André Téchiné’s 2017 film, Nos années folles.
Chaney has performed around the world in venues and festivals including the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Glastonbury Festival, Sydney Festival and Newport Folk Festival. She has collaborated with artists including Kronos Quartet, Bryce Dessner, Katia and Marielle Labèque, The Decemberists, Shirley Collins, Eliza Carthy and Jon Hopkins. She has sung support and live backing vocals for the likes of Sharon Van Etten, Bruce Hornsby, Jarvis Cocker, Robert Plant, Ben Folds, Patty Griffin and Richard Thompson.
Terence Charlston is an internationally acknowledged specialist performer on early keyboard instruments, particularly harpsichord, clavichord and organ. He studied music at Keble College, University of Oxford, where he was organ scholar, and then harpsichord at the Royal Academy of Music. His broad career encompasses many complementary roles including solo and chamber musician, choral and orchestral director, teacher and academic researcher. His extensive discography reflects his passionate interest in keyboard music of all types and styles. He was a member of the quartet London Baroque between 1995 and 2007 and the ensemble Florilegium between 2011 and 2019. In recent years, he has developed a particularly close affinity with the clavichord and is currently recording 20th- and 21st-century music, including his own compositions.
Charlston has become an important advocate of European keyboard music of the 17th and 18th centuries and his numerous publications include editions and recordings of Carlo Ignazio Monza, Albertus Bryne, William Byrd’s My Ladye Nevells Booke, Matthew Locke’s complete organ and harpsichord music, and Froberger: Complete Fantasias and Canzona on clavichord. His Mersenne’s Clavichord and The Harmonious Thuringian albums are considered exemplary models of practice-led research, drawing together meticulous organological and musicological enquiry with intuitive performance insight. His current research interests focus on the analysis of keyboard music, particularly counterpoint, as an aural and performed experience.
A dedicated and much sought-after teacher, Charlston has played a significant role at several prestigious British conservatoires and universities. He is currently Chair of Historical Keyboard Instruments and Professor of Harpsichord at the Royal College of Music. Previously he taught at the Royal Academy of Music, where he founded the Department of Historical Performance in 1995, and was International Visiting Tutor in Harpsichord at the Royal Northern College of Music until 2019. He was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 1996 and received the honorary award of Fellow of the Royal College of Music in 2020. Over the last decade, he has helped to guide the exciting young vocal ensemble Amici Voices and has guest directed many of their concerts and recording projects.
Henry Clay is currently Principal Cor Anglais with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He graduated with a postgraduate degree from the Royal Academy of Music in 2016, where he studied with Christopher Cowie, Sue Böhling and Melanie Ragge. Prior to this, he attended the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Manchester on the Joint Course under the tutelage of Jennifer Galloway and Hugh McKenna.
While still a student at the Academy, Clay began freelancing with various orchestras including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and BBC National Orchestra of Wales. He then moved to Glasgow in 2019 to join the Royal Scottish National Opera.
A passionate chamber musician, Clay is also a member of the Cavendish Winds quintet with fellow Academy alumni. They were finalists in the 2016 Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition and were Open Academy/Wigmore Hall Learning Fellows in 2016/2017. The group have also been a part of The Tunnell Trust for Young Musicians and Making Music programmes, and have performed recitals across the country in venues such as Wigmore Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields and Kings Place.
Saxophonist and composer Trish Clowes has been described as ‘an improviser to be reckoned with’ (Downbeat Magazine) and ‘one of the most agile and original jugglers of improv and adventurous composition to have appeared in the UK in recent times’ (the Guardian). A BASCA British Composer Award winner and former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, Clowes works in a variety of settings and has received critical acclaim for all of her album releases.
Clowes’s band, My Iris (with Chris Montague, Ross Stanley and James Maddren), has toured worldwide and been hailed as ‘the jazz of the future’ (Augsburger Allgemeine). She has appeared either with her band or as a soloist at the Barbican, Toronto Jazz Festival, Rochester International Jazz Festival, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Celtic Connections (with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra), Women in (e)motion Festival and National Opera House (Ireland), and made broadcasts for BBC Two Proms Extra, BBC Radio 3 and Radio Bremen. In 2019, Clowes premiered Joe Cutler’s saxophone concerto, Hawaii Hawaii Hawaii, with the BBC Concert Orchestra. Recent commissions include writing for the London Sinfonietta (a Sinfonietta Short for solo bass, and their Sound Out projects), BBC Concert Orchestra (BBC Radio 3) and Onyx Brass.
Born in 1984, Clowes was raised in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and moved to London in 2003 to study at the Royal Academy of Music, notably with saxophonist Iain Ballamy and composer Pete Churchill. Clowes was later honoured as an Associate of the Academy in 2013. She is currently finishing her studies as a PhD candidate at Birmingham City University with a STEAM scholarship. Alongside her work as a performer and composer, Clowes has been curating her own new music project, Emulsion, since 2012, through which she has commissioned 17 new works. She is also passionate about her roles as professor at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and ambassador for the charity Donate4Refugees.