Born into a family of acclaimed Russian classical accordionists, Iosif Purits is renowned for his effortless mastery of the instrument. He boasts a truly international career with appearances at concert venues including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Wiener Konzerthaus, George Weston Recital Hall and the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory.
Purits came to prominence as recipient of the coveted Royal Academy of Music Patrons Award offering a Wigmore Hall debut to the most outstanding student across all instrumental departments, and prizewinner of The Arts Club Sir Karl Jenkins Music Award. He was the first-ever BBC Music Introducing classical artist, which led to showcase performances on BBC Radio 3, the Cheltenham Music Festival, Latitude Festival and Southbank Centre.
Purits’s extensive repertoire ranges from JS Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition to Bent Sørensen’s Looking on Darkness and Magnus Lindberg’s Metal Work. Distinguished not only as a solo performer but also as an enthusiastic chamber music collaborator, he has established duo partnerships with cellist Cecilia Bignall, guitarist Andrey Lebedev and clarinetist Mikhail Mering.
Purits was the first-ever Russian child to win the under-12 category at one of the most prestigious accordion competitions in the world, in Klingenthal, Germany, where, 13 years later, his repeat success in the main category at the 50th anniversary competition was described as ‘ensuring his place in history’. Since then, his numerous awards have included 17 first prizes at international contests such as Italy’s Competition of Accordionists, Arrasate Hiria and Trophée Mondial.
Purits was awarded a full scholarship for postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music, where he graduated with Regency Award in 2017. Prior to that, he was a student of Friedrich Lips at the Gnesins Russian Academy of Music.
It is not often one encounters an imagination with the depth and prolificacy of Jacob Collier’s. Born in 1994, the London-based singer and multi-instrumentalist is dubbed by many as one of the most innovative musicians of his generation. In 2012, Collier’s self-made YouTube videos achieved legendary status in the music world, attracting the praise of such luminaries as Herbie Hancock, David Crosby, Steve Vai and Quincy Jones, who manages Collier to this day. His debut album, In My Room, crafted entirely in his room at home, went on to win two Grammys. His success has led to musical collaborators and fans including the likes of Coldplay, Ty Dolla $ign, Tori Kelly, Daniel Caesar, H.E.R., Charlie Puth, Kehlani, Jessie Reyez and Finneas, among others.
In January 2018, Collier began designing and creating a recording project on an unprecedented scale: a quadruple album called Djesse comprising 50 songs divided between four volumes, with each operating within a separate musical universe of sound, style and genre. Scattered across the four volumes are 30-plus collaborators from across every facet of the music world. Djesse Volumes 1 and 2 both have earned him a Grammy each, meaning that Collier has never lost a Grammy in a category he’s been nominated in.
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
Jane Rogers is one of the UK’s leading exponents in baroque and classical viola. At the age of sixteen she was awarded a music scholarship to St. Edward’s College Liverpool and went on to study viola at the Royal Academy of Music in London. During this time she gained a place in the European Union Baroque Orchestra and then began freelancing in the field of Early Music.
She was co-principal viola in The English Concert for ten years and played principal viola with the English Baroque Soloists, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and King’s Consort. She is currently principal viola with the Academy of Ancient Music, La Nuova Musica and Brecon Baroque. She also plays frequently with Arcangelo, Classical Opera, Dunedin Consort, Florilegium and La Serenissima. A keen chamber musician, she was also a member of the Amsterdam String Quartet, Terzetto and the Eroica String Quartet during which time she worked closely with Professor Clive Brown.
Roger’s recording career has been prolific and she has featured on over 200 CD recordings for Erato, Channel Classics, Deutsche Grammophone, Decca, Hyperion and Chandos as soloist, chamber musician and orchestral player.
She enjoys and devotes a great deal of time to teaching and coaching chamber music. She holds a post of professor of historical viola and viola d’amore at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She has taught and given masterclasses at the Royal Conservatory Amsterdam , Prince Claus Conservatoire Groningen, Royal Irish Academy of Music Dublin, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal College of Music, Trinity College Dublin, Sydney Conservatorium, Australian National Academy of Music in Melbourne and Hong Kong Music Academy.
In 2016 she qualified as a Bach Flower Remedies practitioner and gives workshops and sessions on performance anxiety.
Winner of the 2018 Critics’ Circle Emerging Talent (Voice) Award, Jennifer France has established an outstanding reputation as a singer of remarkable versatility. She has been particularly praised for her work in contemporary music, whether singing the title role in Gerald Barry’s Alice in Wonderland for the Royal Opera House, Ophelia in Brett Dean’s Hamlet for Glyndebourne on Tour, Pascal Dusapin’s Medeamaterial at the Salzburg Festival or the Princess in Philip Glass’ Orphée for English National Opera. However, France has also been much acclaimed for the title role in Semele for the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro for Garsington Opera at Wormsley and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos for the Nederlandse Reisopera (for which she was nominated for the 2016 Schaunard Award).
France graduated from the opera course at the Royal Academy of Music, where she won many prizes, including the prestigious Patron’s Award, and was awarded the Principal’s Prize at graduation for exceptional all-round studentship, which led to her debut at Wigmore Hall.
She was an Emerging Artist at Scottish Opera, singing Dalinda in Ariodante and Despina in Così fan tutte, and returning as the Controller in Jonathan Dove’s Flight, Ice in the premiere of Stuart MacRae’s Anthropocene, Giulia in La scala di seta and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos. Other companies with whom she has worked include Classical Opera, Dorset Opera Festival, Opera Holland Park, Opera North, Dutch National Opera and Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden.
In concert, she has appeared with the Academy of Ancient Music, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, The Hallé, London Mozart Players, London Sinfonietta, Philharmonia Orchestra at Three Choirs Festival, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Orchestre de Chambre de Paris and The Israel Camerata Jerusalem.
France’s recordings include Lessons in Love and Violence for Opus Arte, Debussy Songs Volumes 3 and 4 with Malcolm Martineau for Hyperion and Une voix dans le désert for Hallé.
Joel Sandelson recently completed two years as Assistant Conductor at the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Leverhulme Fellow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and continues as director of Wond’rous Machine, a London-based period instrument orchestra. He graduated from Cambridge University in 2016 with a double starred first in music, receiving multiple prizes, and then studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music with Sian Edwards, gaining the DipRAM prize.
In various settings he has conducted orchestras including the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Jacksonville Symphony, Hallé, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Opera, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra of St John’s and Red Note Ensemble. He won third prize at the Siemens-Hallé International Conductors Competition 2020, reached the final 12 at the Malko Competition for Young Conductors 2018 and won first prize in the Cambridge University Conducting Competition in 2014 and 2015.
He has assisted conductors including Thomas Dausgaard, Sir Mark Elder, Edward Gardner, Trevor Pinnock, Yan Pascal Tortelier and John Wilson. He has also studied at Tanglewood as well as with conductors including Martyn Brabbins, Sir Roger Norrington, Mark Stringer, Jorma Panula, Thomas Søndergård and Joseph Swensen. He was conductor of the Barbican Chamber Orchestra 2013-17, and in Cambridge he was Conducting Scholar of the Cambridge University Music Society for two years, conducting concerts with the university’s flagship symphony orchestra at home and on tours in Europe.
Originally a cellist, highlights have included several recitals at Wigmore Hall, concertos with orchestras in the UK and Europe, premieres of solo and chamber works by Lowell Liebermann, Sir Nicholas Jackson and Kamran Ince, chamber collaborations with the Endellion and Celan Quartets, and success in several national competitions, including reaching the strings final of BBC Young Musician. As a baroque cellist, he has performed with ensembles including La Serenissima and members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Over the course of his career, John Escreet has earned a reputation as one of the most active and diverse pianist/composers working in jazz and improvised music. His prolific output is reflected over the course of eight wide-ranging and critically acclaimed albums - the most recent being Learn To Live, named by Downbeat Magazine as one of the best releases of 2018.
Bursting onto the scene with his 2008 debut album Consequences, Escreet quickly earned a reputation as one of the most exciting new pianist/composers to have emerged in recent years, with Downbeat magazine proclaiming ‘John Escreet’s recent debut Consequences signals the jumpstart of a new voice in jazz’. Similar praise followed for his 2010 sophomore release Don’t Fight The Inevitable, the New York Times’ Ben Ratliff said ‘... on an ambitious second album, the pianist John Escreet seems to be thinking about where jazz can go next; it’s like a tour of the last 25 years of serious jazz’.
2014 saw the release of Sound, Space and Structures, followed by 2016’s live album The Unknown - both of which feature his working trio paired with the master free-jazz saxophonist and British elder statesman Evan Parker.
Over the years Escreet has worked with virtually everybody on the New York jazz scene in a wide variety of settings, as well as being a constant member of Grammy award winner Antonio Sanchez’s band Migration.
He has received numerous awards and grants, including the Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant in 2009, the Jazz Gallery Residency/ Commission in 2012-2013 and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation US Artists International grant in 2014. He is also an active educator and has given clinics and masterclasses at institutions across the globe.
Escreet’s music is often described as eclectic, and is perhaps best summed up by the New York City Jazz record: ‘Escreet is a musical omnivore who embraces aspects of contemporary classical music, Frank Zappa, dance music, electronica and a wide swath of jazz, from bop to avant-garde. What comes out is uniquely personal - some of the most inventive and distinct jazz around today.’
Jonathan Davies is one of Britain’s youngest leading bassoonists. He was appointed Principal Bassoon of the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016 under Vladimir Jurowski, with whom he also recorded the Mozart Bassoon Concerto in 2017. Prior to joining the LPO, he held the same position with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from the age of 22 alongside regular appearances as guest principal with the UK’s leading orchestras and ensembles.
Since making his London Concerto debut at the Barbican Hall aged 13, further solo highlights have included Haydn's Sinfonia Concertante alongside Maxim Vengerov, Elliot Carter's Retracing for solo bassoon in the Purcell Room and a world premiere by David Fennessey with the London Sinfonietta. In 2017 he recorded Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Jurowski alongside the Mozart Bassoon Concerto.
Jonathan studied at the Royal Academy of Music under the tuition of John Orford, Amy Harman and David Chatterton, supported generously by the ABRSM and Sir Elton John Scholarships and graduating with the HRH Princess Alice The Duchess of Gloucester's Prize. Born in 1992, Jonathan began his studies in South Wales with Robert Codd. He is currently Visiting Professor of Bassoon and an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
Jonathan was born in 1969 and educated at Magdalen College School, Brackley, Northants, UK. He won a County Music Scholarship which enabled him to study with Helen Armstrong. While at school he played in the National Youth Orchestra and later in the European Community Youth Orchestra where he was the first recipient of the Mick Baines Award.
He studied history at Cambridge and then oboe with Celia Nicklin at the Royal Academy of Music where he won the President’s Prize. Further studies were undertaken in Paris with Maurice Bourge.
In 1991 he was appointed Principal Oboe in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, under Simon Rattle, where he remained until 2003 when he was appointed Solo (Principal) Oboe in the Berliner Philharmoniker, also under Rattle.
Jonathon Heyward is forging a career as one of the most exciting young conductors on the international scene. Winner of the 2015 Besançon International Conducting Competition, he was selected as a Los Angeles Philharmonic Dudamel Conducting Fellow for the 2017-2018 season, later making his subscription debut with Hilary Hahn as part of the orchestra’s Bernstein @ 100 Celebration at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The LA Times declared that he had ‘forged a seamless connection among the music, the orchestra, and the audience’ and that his ‘concert augurs great things to come’.
Named Chief Conductor Designate of the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie in 2019, a position that commences in January 2021, Heyward recently completed three years as Assistant Conductor of the Hallé Orchestra, conducting his first subscription concert with Benjamin Grosvenor, in 2018. Other notable moments with the ensemble include: a 200th birthday concert for the orchestra’s founder, Sir Charles Hallé, with a programme of Hallé’s own Souvenir and Scherzo, Beethoven’s Leonora No. 3 Overture, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 (with Heejae Kim) and Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5; a finalist nomination for Young Creative of the Year at the Manchester Culture Awards 2018, in recognition of his extensive community outreach work and commitment to music education as Music Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra; and a ‘roaringly bold account’ (Bachtrack) of Shostakovich’s thrilling Leningrad Symphony, marking Jonathon’s debut at the Manchester International Festival and culmination of his tenure in Manchester.
Hailed by Sir Mark Elder as ‘a bright rising star of the conducting world’, Heyward’s recent and forthcoming engagements include debuts with the Seattle Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Oregon Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Brussels Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Hallé, Württembergisches Kammerorchester, Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa in Lisbon, Osaka Symphony, Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne, Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire, Flanders Symphony, South Netherlands Philharmonic and the Het Gelders Orkest.
Originally trained as a cellist and chamber musician, Heyward commenced his conducting studies at the Boston Conservatory with Andrew Altenbach. In 2013, he became the youngest ever semi-finalist at the Blue Danube International Opera Conducting Competition at the age of 21, and, soon after, was appointed Associate Director of the Hampstead Garden Opera Company in London. In 2016, he completed his postgraduate studies in conducting with Sian Edwards at the Royal Academy of Music.
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.
Pianist Joseph Middleton specialises in the art of song accompaniment and chamber music and has been highly acclaimed in this field. Described in Opera magazine as ‘the rightful heir to legendary accompanist Gerald Moore’, he was the first accompanist to win the Royal Philharmonic Society's Young Artist Award and to be listed in the Evening Standard’s ‘The Progress 1000: London’s most influential people’.
Middleton is a frequent guest at major music centres including Wigmore Hall (where he has curated his own series), Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory, The Royal Concertgebouw, Muziekgebouw, Wiener Konzerthaus, Musikverein Wien, Zürich Tonhalle, Kölner Philharmonie, Oper Frankfurt, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Musée d’Orsay, Oji Hall, Elbphilharmonie Hamburg and Palau de la Musica. He is heard regularly at festivals across Europe, North America and South Korea, and made his BBC Proms debut in 2016 alongside Iestyn Davies and Carolyn Sampson, returning in 2018 with Dame Sarah Connolly, where they premiered recently discovered songs by Benjamin Britten and launched their much-lauded recital CD for Chandos.
Middleton has a special relationship with BBC Radio 3, frequently curating his own series, and was selected as the song pianist for Radio 3’s recent New Generation Artist 20th anniversary celebrations at Wigmore Hall.
He has a critically acclaimed, fast-growing and award-winning discography, which has resulted in an Edison Award and numerous nominations for Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine awards. His recordings on with Dame Sarah Connolly, Carolyn Sampson, Iestyn Davies, Ruby Hughes, Amanda Roocroft, Louise Alder, Mary Bevan and Christopher Maltman have been selected as Disc of the Year in The Sunday Times, American Record Guide, International Classical Music Awards and on Radio France. His interest in the furthering of the song repertoire has led Gramophone to describe him as ‘the absolute king of programming’.
He is Director of Leeds Lieder, Musician in Residence at Pembroke College Cambridge and a professor at the Royal Academy of Music, his alma mater, where he has had the title Fellow conferred upon him.
‘Joseph Middleton: rightful heir to legendary accompanist Gerald Moore’ - Opera Magazine
‘Joseph Middleton is a born collaborator...one of the brightest stars in the world of song and Lieder, performing with the likes of baritone Sir Thomas Allen and soprano Dame Felicity Lott’ - BBC Music Magazine
‘Middleton is outstanding, his reputation as a rising star among accompanists richly deserved...Middleton, as one might expect, is marvellously insightful, playing throughout with weight, as well as grace and subtlety...the absolute king of programming.’ - Gramophone Magazine
Praised as ‘exceptional’ and his playing ‘deft and responsive’ (the Observer), Keval Shah has quickly established himself at the forefront of a new generation of song pianists, with appearances at concert halls and festivals across Europe, and a string of competition successes.
Recent highlights include concerts at the Buxton International Festival and Oxford Lieder Festival, as well as an Artist in Residence series at Burgh House, and recitals as part of an ongoing project to perform the complete songs of Hugo Wolf. In September 2019, Shah was the official accompanist for the Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera International Song Competition. His performances have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and Danish national radio (DR P2), and he has recorded for Decca Classics. His debut album, with bass-baritone Michael Mofidian, is due for release on the Linn Records label in 2021.
Away from the recital platform, Shah is carving an international career as a teacher. After a spell teaching at the Royal Academy of Music, in September 2020 he will take up the position of Lecturer of Lieder at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, where he will be the youngest professor in the institution’s history.
Shah is also active as a broadcaster and writer. He is a regular contributor and presenter for BBC Radio 3 and holds an Edison Fellowship at the British Library, where he is researching changing trends in the recorded performances of the songs of Hugo Wolf.
A former Britten-Pears Young Artist and Oxford Lieder Young Artist, Shah studied at Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, graduating from both institutions with distinction. His teachers have included Michael Dussek, Audrey Hyland and Malcolm Martineau, and he has also benefited from tuition with Roger Vignoles, Bengt Forsberg and Helmut Deutsch.
Shah writes of his time at the Academy:
'My time at the Academy was absolutely critical in helping me to discover and hone my artistic identity. After a brilliant, but mainly academic, undergraduate experience, my two years on the MA programme at the Academy gave me the space and time to focus on my playing, building and refining my technique at the same time as learning much of the core song repertoire. Being surrounded by fellow pianists and a cohort of talented singers, I found myself in the ideal environment to forge musical partnerships and friendships which I now carry with me through my career. The enormous amount of performance opportunities, both in the building and at external venues like Wigmore Hall, gave me the stage experience I desperately needed, and through that I learnt so much about what it means to perform, and what it takes to do it successfully.
I was able to make the most of all the opportunities and possibilities of Academy life because I had the constant support and supervision of my professors. Michael Dussek, Audrey Hyland and Malcolm Martineau helped me to establish the strongest possible technical and musical foundation, and then taught me how to move beyond that foundation, allowing me to discover a physical and expressive freedom which has continued to expand the possibilities of my playing.
The most special thing about the Academy for me has always been the atmosphere of creativity and love for this art form. Being exposed every day to such an energetic environment has constantly renewed my passion for and dedication to what I do – stepping through the doors of the Academy is the best possible way of reminding oneself of the great privilege and joy of making music, and I am forever grateful for everything the Academy has been for me.'
Kira Doherty moved to London from Quebec in 2004 to complete her studies at the Royal Academy of Music at postgraduate level. After graduating in 2006, she enjoyed a varied freelance career before accepting the post of Second Horn in the Philharmonia Orchestra in 2013. She has appeared as a guest orchestral player with the London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, among others. In 2014, Doherty joined the board of the Philharmonia and held the post of chairman for two years before stepping down in 2018 to focus on her part-time studies in history. She has recently completed a Master’s degree at Oxford University, focusing on the social history of unlawful hunting in the 17th century. Doherty also teaches at the Royal College of Music.
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.
Kit Downes is a BBC Jazz Award winning, Mercury Music Award nominated, solo recording artist for ECM Records. He has toured the world playing piano, church organ and harmonium with his own bands ('ENEMY', 'Troyka', 'Elt' and 'Vyamanikal') as well as artists such as Squarepusher, Thomas Strønen, Aidan O'Rourke and Django Bates. He has written commissions for Cheltenham Music Festival, London Contemporary Orchestra, Stavanger Konserthus, ReWire Festival, Scottish Ensemble, Cologne Philharmonie, BBC Radio 3 and the Wellcome Trust, as well as collaborating with film-makers, video game developers and classical composers.
Lauded as ‘superbly subtle and virtuosic’ (The Arts Desk) and ‘an amazingly accomplished artist’ (Classical Source), Ksenija Sidorova is a major ambassador for the classical accordion and collaborates regularly with leading composers and musicians. Her repertoire spans from JS Bach to Astor Piazzolla, from Efrem Podgaits to George Bizet, as well as two new accordion concertos composed especially for her and a multitude of chamber projects.
Encouraged to take up the instrument by her grandmother, Sidorova started to play the accordion aged six under the guidance of Marija Gasele in her hometown of Riga. Her quest for more exposure to both classical and contemporary repertoire took her to London, where she became a prize-winning undergraduate at the Royal Academy of Music.
In May 2012, she became the first international award winner of the Bryn Terfel Foundation and in October 2015 appeared at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Terfel’s 50th birthday celebrations. Released in June 2016, Sidorova’s debut album with Deutsche Grammophon is a fascinating take on Carmen and has delighted audiences across the world.
Future events for Sidorova include performing with the Russian Chamber Philharmonic St Petersburg, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, where she will be Artist in Residence. She will also perform at the Rheingau Musik Festival with Kammerorchestre des Bayerische Rundfunks.
Sidorova plans to continue her collaboration with artistic colleagues such as Avi Avital and Itamar Doari with a European tour of her Between Worlds project, as well as performing chamber music recitals in concert halls across Europe and Asia.
Sidorova is a recipient of both the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Martin Musical Scholarship Fund and Friends of the Philharmonia award, as well as the Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal. Since 2016, she has been an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
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.
Lauren Kinsella is an award-winning Jazz FM vocalist of the year, known as having ‘embraced an entirely new conception of vocal improvisation, touching on various traditions but also connected to the avant garde’ (The History of European Jazz).
Snowpoet, her band with multi-instrumentalist Chris Hyson, released Thought You Knew on Edition Records and was hailed by National Public Radio (USA) as one of the best albums of 2018. Their music regularly features on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 6 and RTE Lyric FM. Their next album is set for release in March 2021.
As a soloist, collaborator and band leader, she has performed worldwide at several European Festivals including Unerhört Jazz (Switzerland), InJazz (Netherlands), Cool Britannia (Vienna), Klaeng (Cologne), Down With Jazz (Ireland), Ankara International Music Festival (Istanbul), 12 Points (Porto), Dublin Literary Festival (Ireland), European Jazznights (Oslo), Jazzy Colours (Paris), Belfast Literary Festival (UK), Südtirol Jazz Festival (Italy), Cardiff Poetry Festival (Wales), Galway Jazz Festival (Ireland), Songlines Encounters and the London Jazz Festival (UK).
Awarded the Arts Foundation Fellowship (2017) she has performed with Tom Challenger, Dave Smith, Henry Lowther, Ruth Goller, Steve Beresford, Simon Jermyn, Matthew Jacobson, Laura Jurd, Liam Noble, Chris Batchelor, Phil Minton, Kit Downes, Julian Siegel, Elliot Galvin, Elias Stemeseder, Yves Roberts, Attila Csihar, Pat Thomas, Mark Sanders, Ingrid Laubrock, Hannah Marshall, Mark Lockheart, Hans Hassler, Olie Brice, Cleveland Watkiss, James Maddren, Julie Kjaer, Robin Finker, Josh Arcoleo, Matthew Halpin and many more.
Kinsella also collaborates with film composers, contemporary classical composers and writers, exploring the role of the voice in varying performance contexts including Cherry Smyth, Harry Escott, Ed Bennett and Sally O’Reilly.
Originally born in Dublin, Kinsella completed her masters at the Royal Academy of Music in 2013. There she was awarded the Gershon Ellenbogen / Maccabaen Award and The Kenny Wheeler Jazz Prize leading to the release of Blue-Eyed Hawk’s Under the Moon (Edition Records) which was awarded Best Jazz Album in the Irish Times Ticket Awards.
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.'
Welsh pianist Llŷr Williams is widely admired for his profound musical intelligence, and for the expressive and communicative nature of his interpretations. An acclaimed performer of Beethoven, he has several complete sonata cycles under his belt, including at Wigmore Hall and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, while in May 2020 a planned full cycle at the Festival Cultural de Mayo in Guadalajara, Mexico was recorded as live by Signum Records from his home in Wrexham and broadcast by the Festival.
In 2019 Williams returned to the Edinburgh Festival, as well as the Cowbridge festival where he is Artist-in-Residence, and the Gower Festival where he is a Patron. In 2020, prior to lockdown, he returned to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for a recreation of Beethoven’s 1808 Vienna Concert, and gave all-Beethoven recitals in Moscow and St Petersburg, as well as for the Philadelphia Chamber Music society in the US. Following the completion of his Cardiff series Pictures in Music, in 2020/21 Williams will start of an all-Chopin series over two seasons and a five-recital Schubert cycle at Wigmore Hall.
Williams’s eclectic repertoire is reflected in his discography; his 12-CD Box set Beethoven Unbound, from the Wigmore Hall Beethoven cycle (Signum Records), was BBC Music Magazine’s Recording of the Month in August 2018. Other recordings by Williams include two solo albums for Signum, as well as William Mathias’s second Piano Concerto with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales on Welsh label Tŷ Cerdd.
Williams is a former BBC New Generation Artist and Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award recipient, and an Honorary Fellow and artist-in-association of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Williams writes of his time at the Academy:
'When I arrived at the Academy I had a lot of musical knowledge and enthusiasm but not necessarily the means to put it across. It was during my time there that the foundations of my keyboard technique were developed, particularly working with Michael Dussek. There were many enriching opportunities to work with students from other departments, particularly the Vocal Faculty. I will always remember a concert I gave at the Duke's Hall of Wolf Lieder when I felt that my playing had really come together for the first time. It was events like this that gave me the confidence to start building up my career as a performer.'
Louisa Tuck is the Principal Cello of the Oslo Philharmonic, a position she took up in 2015. Prior to this, she spent eight years as Section Leader cello of the Royal Northern Sinfonia; at the time of her appointment, she was the youngest principal cellist of any UK orchestra at only 23 years old.
Tuck has collaborated for many years with pianist Anna Tilbrook, enjoying a varied programme of duo to larger ensemble repertoire. Other recent UK-based chamber music has been with The Nash Ensemble and folk artist Kathryn Tickell and her group, The Side.
A professor of orchestral cello studies at the Norwegian Music Academy and a tutor of cello at Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo, Tuck was awarded Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2011.
In 2019, she was soloist with the Oslo Philharmonic for a recording of Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote, named Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice in January 2020: ‘Her playing is beautifully integrated and superbly eloquent – the hush and tenderness of the final minutes is especially moving.’
Lucy Crowe has established herself as one of the leading lyric sopranos of her generation, performing at The Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, Bayerische Staatsoper, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Lyric Opera of Chicago, English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Canadian Opera Company and Oper Frankfurt. In recital, she has appeared at The Royal Concertgebouw, Carnegie Hall, Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Mostly Mozart Festival, Salzburg Festival and the BBC Proms.
In concert, she has worked with The Philadelphia Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Emmanuelle Haïm, Sakari Oramo and Andris Nelsons; Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Sir Charles Mackerras and Richard Egarr; Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Mackerras and Nézet-Séguin; Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras under Sir John Eliot Gardiner; and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia with Sir Antonio Pappano. Her most recent appearances include Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 2 with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Nelsons, and The Cunning Little Vixen with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle.
Crowe’s recordings include Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang with the London Symphony Orchestra under Gardiner for LSO Live; Handel’s Il pastor fido and a Handel and Vivaldi disc with La Nuova Musica under David Bates for Harmonia Mundi; a Witold Lutoslawski disc with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Edward Gardner for Chandos; Handel’s Alceste with Christian Curnyn and Early Opera Company for Chandos; John Eccles’s The Judgement of Paris for Chandos; and a solo Handel disc, ll caro Sassone, with Harry Bicket and The English Concert for Harmonia Mundi.
Upcoming plans include a debut at the Dutch National Opera in the title role of Rodelinda and a return to the Royal Opera House for Agrippina. In concert, she joins the Berliner Philharmoniker and Haïm for Apollo e Dafne, Monteverdi Choir & Orchestras and Gardiner for a worldwide tour in celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday year; Orchestre de Paris and Daniel Harding for Elijah; and The English Concert and Bicket in a worldwide tour of Rodelinda.
Following eight years as Music Director, Ludovic Morlot is now Conductor Emeritus of the Seattle Symphony. During his time there, Morlot’s innovative programming has encompassed not only his choice of repertoire, but theatrical productions and performances outside the traditional concert hall space. There have been numerous collaborations with musicians from different genres, commissions and world premieres. Under Morlot’s baton, 19 recordings have been released under the Seattle Symphony Media label, the orchestra has received ﬁve Grammy Awards and was also named Gramophone’s 2018 Orchestra of the Year.
Current plans include Morlot’s debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra and returns to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Vienna Symphony. He is also an Associate Artist of the BBC Philharmonic.
Morlot has a strong commitment to working with young musicians and is scheduled to conduct student orchestras at Yale University and at the Royal Academy of Music, as well as returning to the Aspen Festival. He is Artistic Director of the National Youth Orchestra of China and, in 2019, led their European Tour, having conducted their inaugural concerts in New York and China two years earlier.
Morlot has conducted, among others, the Berliner Philharmoniker, Czech Philharmonic, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared at the BBC Proms, Wien Modern and Edinburgh International Festival. Other recent notable performances have included the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Houston Symphony. Morlot has a particularly strong connection with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which he has conducted in subscription concerts in Boston, at Tanglewood and on a tour to the west coast of America.
Morlot was Chief Conductor of La Monnaie for three years, during which time he conducted several new productions including La clemenza di Tito, Jenůfa and Pelléas et Mélisande, as well as concert performances in both Brussels and at the Aix-en-Provence Easter Festival.
Trained as a violinist, Morlot studied conducting at the Monteux School & Music Festival, Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music. He is an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington School of Music and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.