Our soloists for our next concert are:
Elise Fairley (soprano)
Phillipa Thomas (mezzo-soprano)
Nicholas Bewes (tenor)
Adrian Powter (baritone)
We are pleased to welcome back Phillipa, Nicholas and Adrian, with whom we've worked before. We're looking forward to meeting Elise and hopes she enjoys working with us.
We have pictures and short bios of our soloists below:
Elise Fairley -soprano
Elise is s currently in her final year of study at the Birmingham Conservatoire under the tutelage of Louise Crane. During her time at the Conservatoire she has had the opportunity to perform many roles including Le Rossignol L'enfant et les sortiléges, Truth Ava's Wedding (World Premiere), First Flower Maiden Parsifal and has been in the ensembles for many operas and scenes including Otello, La Boheme, Dialogue des Carmelites and Macbeth. Most recently, for Birmingham Conservatoire Elise performed the role of Susanna in their production of Le Nozze di Figaro directed by Michael Barry. In August 2016 she performed the title role in John Blow's Venus and Adonis for Beechwood Opera in Hampshire. 2014 saw Elise chosen to represent the Birmingham Conservatoire at the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Young Singers Bursary Competition, she has twice been a finalist in the Cecil Drew Oratorio Prize, finalist in the Birmingham Conservatoire Singing Prize and in 2016 competed in the final of the Corton-Hyde Early Music Prize. Elise has sung as soprano soloist at many oratorio engagements performing works including Mozart's Requiem, Fauré Requiem, Handel's Messiah and Pergolesi's Stabat Mater. Elise hopes to continue onto post-graduate study in Europe.
Phillipa Thomas -mezzo soprano
Phillipa studied music at the University of York, winning the York University Concerto Prize. Following her MA, she continued her vocal training at Birmingham Conservatoire where she was a prize-winner in the Edward Brooks English Song Competition, a finalist in the Cecil Drew Oratorio competition and winner of the Birmingham Conservatoire Singing Prize. In 2014, she was a finalist at the John Kerr Award for English Song. In 2016 Phillipa performed the roles of Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with Fulham Opera, Dorabella in Così fan tutte with Dulwich Opera Company and Giovanna in Rigoletto for Nevill Holt Opera. Past operatic credits include Carmen (cover) (Carmen, Nevill Holt Opera), Meg (cover) (Falstaff, Fulham Opera, Grimeborn Festival), Olga (Eugene Onegin, Aylesbury Opera), Marcellina (Le nozze di Figaro, Opera Seria), Sorceress (Dido and Aeneas, Opera Up Close), Carmen (Carmen, Guildford Opera and Opera at Bearwood), Mercedes (Carmen, Choir 2000), Ino Semele, Jackdaws Young Artists) and Dido (Dido and Aeneas, Operamus). Recent solo engagements include Mahler’s Symphony No.2 (Kings College Cambridge under Stephen Cleobury), Duruflé's Requiem (Rushmoor Choir), Dvořak’s Mass in D (Ceramic City Choir), Handel’s Dixit Dominus (Dorking Choral Society), Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium (Newark Choral Society) and Mozart’s Requiem and Vespers (Aberdeen Bach Choir).
Nicholas Bewes -tenor
Nicholas began his musical training at Kings College Choir School in Cambridge. He studied singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with Arthur Reckless and from there went to sing at Christchurch Cathedral Choir in Oxford and appeared as a guest soloist with many of the local choirs and choral societies. During his time in Oxford, he became a founder member of ‘Opera Exchange’, an Oxford-based Opera Company established to perform both contemporary and traditional opera. He performed lead operatic roles in La Traviata, Tosca, La Bohème, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute. Nicholas spent a number of years as a freelance tenor performing as a soloist throughout the UK and overseas. During this time he was a regular singer on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Daily Service’. He has also undertaken several concert tours and recitals in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. Song recitals have included programmes by Delius, Finzi, Britten, and Schumann, Schubert and Brahms song cycles. He has been a frequent guest soloist with many choral societies throughout the UK. And in 2009 appeared as a soloist in St John’s Smith Square in a concert to mark the 350th anniversary of Henry Purcell’s birth conducted by Grayston Burgess. Nicholas has been the soloist in a number of Choir 2000 concerts in works by Bach, Handel, Purcell and Mozart.
Adrian Powter -baritone
Adrian was born in Cambridge and trained at the RNCM, Manchester and began his career at Glyndebourne Festival Opera. In 2000 he created the role of Philip in Harrison Birtwistle's The Last Supper at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin, a production later presented by Glyndbourne Festival and Touring Opera. He has since performed a wide variety of operatic roles. Recent/current engagements include Bartolo (The Barber of Seville) and Elviro (Xerxes) for ENO, Major General Stanley in Mike Leigh’s new production of The Pirates of Penzance in Luxembourg & Caen, Bartolo (The Marriage of Figaro) for West Green Opera and in 2016 he returns to sing the role of the Sacristan (Tosca) for ENO. Concert work has taken Adrian worldwide, with performances of Songs of Travel by Vaughan Williams, Bach's St Matthew Passion, Handel's Messiah, A German Requiem by Brahms and most recently Bach’s B Minor Mass in Dublin.
November 9th 2016
A special rehearsal with a friend of the Choir - Stephen Varcoe
Pictured left-right Beatrix Bown, Stephen Varcoe, Douglas de Lacey and Bertie Baigent.
A very lively and enteraining rehearsal! Stephen came along to offer insight and tips to improve our performance of the programme pieces. He was very complimentary on our 'bright' tone in the Haydn and helped us sort out how to distinguish between various grades of 'humming' needed in the Vaughan Williams 'Fantasia'. Thank you, Stephen!
Here is a link to Stephen Varcoe's website
We are looking forward to working with our soloists for this concert. They are all new to us (as are we to them!).
Rosalind Dobson (soprano)
Hamish McLaren (countertenor)
Oliver Clarke (tenor) and
Gareth Thomas (bass/baritone)
and you can read a bit more about them below:
Rosalind Dobson -soprano
Originally from Oxford, Rosalind started singing at a young age, performing regularly with the Oxford Girls’ Choir. When she left school she spent her gap year singing in Schola Cantorum of Oxford under James Burton as well as spending a month in Florence studying the History of Opera, Neapolitan Song, and Italian, before going up to Cambridge in 2013 to study English Literature at Magdalene College. Alongside her academic studies Rosalind sang as a choral volunteer with the chapel choir of Sidney Sussex under David Skinner for her first two years, touring to Austria, Germany, Rome and America. Rosalind is an experienced soloist, whose solo oratorio appearances include Bach’s John Passion and Magnificat, Haydn’s Creation, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Brahms’ Requiem. Operatic roles include Miss Wordsworth (Albert Herring), Cunegonde (Candide), Fiordiligi (Cosí fan Tutte), Miss Jessel (The Turn of the Screw), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Tytania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Nella (Gianni Schicchi).
She is now in the first year of her masters in performance at the Royal College of Music, where she studies under Sally Burgess. Rosalind is a RCM scholar generously supported by a Drapers Company Award.
Hamish McLaren -countertenor
Hamish McLaren was born in London and grew up there and in North Wales. Having been educated at Eton College with a music scholarship, he graduated from St. John’s College Cambridge with a BA and MPhil in History and Early Modern History in the summer of 2016. During his time as an undergraduate and graduate student at St. John’s, Hamish sang both as a choral scholar and as a lay clerk in the Choir of St. John’s College Cambridge under Andrew Nethsingha, and was taught by David Lowe and Ashley Stafford. Away from the choir stalls Hamish took on numerous and varied roles in operas around Cambridge. Between 2013 and 2016 he appeared as Oberon (Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Marcellina (Mozart’s La Nozze di Figaro), Damon (Rameau’s Les Sauvages), and even as Vava, a lurid and petulant mistress in Shostakovich’s satirical operetta Cheryomushki Moscva. At Cambridge Hamish was a finalist in the Clare College Song Competition (2015) and in the Lady Frances Song Competition (2015), he also performed in masterclasses with Michael Chance, Lawrence Zazzo, and Iestyn Davies. In his more flippant moments Hamish sang and recorded an eclectic range of close harmony up and down the country as a member of The Gentlemen of St. John’s. Hamish is now studying for a MMus in Performance at The Royal Academy of Music where he learns with Alexander Ashworth and Audrey Hyland. Hamish is generously supported by the Josephine Baker Trust.
Oliver Clarke -tenor
Oliver graduated from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge in June 2015. He started his singing career at the age of 8 as a chorister at Tonbridge School. Since then he has sung with a number of groups including: Magdalena (The Alamire Scholars); the City of London Choir; the Carice Singers; the Façade Ensemble and the Choirs of Sidney Sussex College and Trinity College, Cambridge. His choral work has ranged from Byrd at Carnegie Hall, through Bach's B Minor Mass at St John's, Smith Square to Stockhausen's rarely performed Stimmung. Since 2015 Ollie has been taught by Ann de Renais. On stage, his Cambridge performances include: Samuel in 'The Pirates of Penzance' (2014); Sergei in Shostakovich's 'Moscow, Cheryomushki' (2014); Don Curzio in 'The Marriage of Figaro' (2015); and Narrator in Owain Park's 'The Snow Child' (2016) - a role which he created. As well as singing, Ollie is a keen rugby player, an enthusiastic FIFA player and the reason Trivial Pursuit is banned on Clarke family holidays.
Gareth Thomas -bass/baritone
Gareth read Music and was a choral scholar at Jesus College, Cambridge. Upon graduating in 2013, he spent a year singing with Hereford Cathedral Choir and teaching at the Cathedral School. Since moving to London in 2014, he has been a regular performer with groups such as Siglo de Oro, Illuminare Choir, The Portrait Choir and The Erebus Ensemble. Recent highlights include Vaughan William’s Serenade to Music (Academy of St Martin in the Fields), Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw at the BBC Proms (Philharmonia Voices) and recording a choral audio guide for the National Portrait Gallery (The Portrait Choir). He regularly sings with some of London’s leading church choirs (including St Peter’s Eaton Square, St James’s Spanish Place and The Chapel Royal HM Tower of London) and is increasingly in demand as a soloist. Recent solo work has included Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Purcell’s Come ye sons of art. Forthcoming engagements include Bach’s St John Passion and Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem.
Gareth recently completed the National Youth Choir of Great Britain’s inaugural Fellowship programme. During an intensive year of training, performances included Bach’s Singet dem Herrn (one-to-a-part) and Magnificat in Snape Maltings as well as recitals at the Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham and St James the Greater, Leicester. He was also fortunate to participate in masterclasses with James Gilchrist, Neil Ferris and Harry Christophers, as well as tours to China and Malta. In addition to his singing work, Gareth is active as an editor and typesetter and teaches for ForeSound of Music.
Many thanks to Ralph Woodward for his energy, humour and enthusiasm leading us safely and surely through this exciting piece.
Thanks also to our soloist, Eleanor Cramer for providing a soaring and serene soprano line; to David Warham, our accompanist and to the orchestra members who joined us in the afternoon.
**Chocolate buttons were available as rewards for the most 'joyously' wrong notes. We all promise not to wimp out in future!
We have a link below to a write up of the day giving more details and also some pictures take during the day,
Join us - next year's choral day will be led by Ghislaine Morgan and will feature Mozart's 'Coronation Mass' - May 20th 2017, keep the date!
Material recorded in February this year was broadcast as the 'Meet my Choir' feature. The broadcast episode is available until the end of June from the BBC's iPlayer, or you can download a clip of the Choir 2000 feature using the link below.
Many thanks to Douglas deLacey for organising this and to everyone who contributed to this feature.
We have just learned that a Patron of the Choir has very kindly donated some traffic cones to us.
The gift comes from Richard Stebbings of Histon and we are very grateful for them. The front-of-house team has to place these alongside the kerb outside the Church as part of the parking controls which we have for our performances. Previously, we've had to borrow cones to do this. .
This is a very generous and really very useful gift to us. Thank you!
One dark and dreary evening in February, a group of volunteers came together before rehearsal started to make a recording to send in to the 'Meet my Choir' spot on BBC Radio 3's 'The Choir'.
Everyone taking part said their own piece, umprompted and it was interesting just how many of the comments contained the word 'joy'.
We don't know if the BBC will choose to feature our entry, but here's a link to the material so that you can hear for yourself some of the thoughts that people came up with in answer to the question 'what makes Choir 2000 special?'
We celebrated our 15th birthday with a special cake for everyone at rehearsal, a special lunch and a very welcome special guest, Grayston Burgess. .
It was wonderful to welcome him to the celebration. Here's what he wrote to us afterwards:
I am writing to thank you so much for including me in the Luncheon party and to say how mightily impressed I was with the organisation and presentation on the occasion of the Choir's 15th
Anniversary. It has grown into a powerful, confident and, best of all, keen and exuberant body of singers which seemingly will tackle anything!
Well done to all and especially to you, Peter and David.
What a team!! I hope I am still around for our 21st!!
With much love. Grayston
Here are a few more photos from the celebrations: