Messiah Singers

21st November 2022

Nevill Holt Opera

Our annual performance of Handel’s Messiah at Nevill Holt, followed by a repeat performance in the Monastery Manchester, is now less than two weeks away! Performed with the Manchester Camerata under the baton of Nevill Holt’s Artistic Director Nicholas Chalmers, a choir of sixteen fantastic young singers will perform Handel’s choruses and will each sing solo airs and recitatives.

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Read more about each of our performers below:

Nardus Williams

Hailed as ‘one to listen out for’ (The Guardian), Soprano Nardus Williams is establishing herself as one of the most exciting British singers of her generation. A former English National Opera Harewood Artist, upcoming highlights of the 2022/23 season include a return to the Glyndebourne tour as Countess Le Nozze di Figaro after resounding success this summer, and also to the festival as Adina L’elisir d’amore. She will make her house and role debut as Helena A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Opéra de Rouen Normandie, and on the concert platform, return to the Wigmore Hall, perform a programme of Handel with the Dunedin Consort, and Tippett A Child of Our Time with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Williams has recently been nominated for the Times Breakthrough Award at The South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2022.

Phoebe Smith

Soprano Phoebe Smith completed her Masters degree at the Royal Academy of Music under the tutelage of Giles Underwood and Iain Ledingham in August 2022. As a Nevill Holt Opera Associate artist, Phoebe recently performed in their production of La bohéme. Her operatic credits include; Barbarina Le Nozze di Figaro with Hampstead Garden Opera; Pamina The Magic Flute with The Little Opera Group; Phylla Utopia ltd., Lady Ella Patience and Yum Yum (cover) The Mikado with the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera company. Royal Academy of Music Opera Scene credits include Erste Dame Die Zauberflöte, Musetta La bohème; Frasquita Carmen; Leila Les Pêcheurs de Perles and Despina Cosi fan tutte. On the concert platform Phoebe is in demand across the UK and some of her Royal Academy of Music concerts include; the Academy’s Transcending Borders concert series as well as singing in recitals such as ‘Myths and Monsters in German Lied’ and ‘A Celebration of Rachmaninov songs.’ Solo oratorio credits include Mozart’s Requiem and Exultate Jubilate with The London Esterhazy Orchestra and Beethoven’s Mass in C Major with the East Cornwall Bach Choir. Phoebe enjoyed joining the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera company for their ‘Best of G&S concert’ in Guernsey and is excited to be the soprano soloist on their cruise down the Moselle.

Claire Ward

Claire Ward is a British/Irish soprano based in London. In 2022 Claire joined City Music Foundation and Opera Prelude as a young artist. Opera roles include Frantik in The Cunning Little Vixen at Opera Holland Park, and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro which Claire understudied at The Grange Festival in 2019. In the same year Claire sang the role of Venus in John Blow’s Venus and Adonis with the Royal Academy of Music and made her Oxford Lieder debut. Since 2020, Claire has worked with Live Music Now providing participatory concerts in a variety of settings. As a Britten Pears Young Artist in 2019, Claire performed Bach Cantatas in the Snape Maltings Proms, conducted by Philippe Herreweghe. Further concert highlights include Bach’s Wedding Cantata BVW 202, Brahms Requiem, Smyth Mass in D, Macdowall Magnificat, Haydn Nelson Mass as well as Mozart Exultate Jubilate and Mass in C Minor in De Montfort Hall, Leicester. Claire is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and Samling Academy. She holds a First-Class honours degree from Durham University and attended the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Toulouse.

Sofia Kírwan-Báez

Anglo-Venezuelan soprano Sofía Kirwan-Báez began vocal tuition at 16 in France. Since then, operatic roles have included Elle La Voix Humaine, Adina Elisir d’amore, Venus La Dafne, Juno The Fairy Queen, Papagena The Magic Flute and creations by Nick Bicât, Marco Galvani and Toby Young. Other solo work comprises Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (Birmingham Cathedral), Mahler’s 4th Symphony, Monteverdi’s Vespers (Cadogan Hall), and Vivaldi’s Gloria. Sofia began her musical studies with the violin in El Sistema in Caracas, Venezuela. She later started playing the piano, continuing both instruments in the Périgueux Conservatoire. Sofia studied Music at Oxford University and Vocal Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, where she was awarded a distinction for her Masters and was supported by Rotary International. Sofia is currently a Huffner Scholar supported by the Sir Gordon Palmer Scholarship in the Royal College of Music Opera School and a recent winner of the RCM’s Concerto Competition. She is a Sybil Tutton Opera Award Holder.

Rebecca Leggett

Mezzosoprano, Rebecca Leggett joins the 11th edition of Jardin des Voix of Les Arts Florissants in summer 2023 and will tour with them in a production of Purcell The Fairy Queen. In 2022 she made her debut at Het Concertgebouw with The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Saint John’s Passion. She made her Wigmore Hall debut with ensemble Arcangelo, and has sung with ensembles and orchestras including The Sixteen, London Handel Players, and Le Concert d’Astrée, where she covered title role and First Witch in Dido and Aeneas. On the opera stage, Rebecca made her debut at Teatro Maggio Fiorentino in 2015 as Flora in Britten The Turn of the Screw, which she also covered at Glyndebourne. She has performed the roles of Cupid in Blow Venus and Adonis, Gossip in Britten Noye’s Fludde and First Witch in Dido and Aeneas at Blackheath Halls Opera and appearances at Nevill Holt Opera, London Song Festival and Oxford Lieder. Notable competition prizes include; the Wilfred Greenhouse Allt Prize, first prize in the Elisabeth Schumann Lieder Competition, the Audience Prize at both the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards and the Brooks-van der Pump English Song Competition.

Jennifer Statham

Mezzo-soprano, Jennifer Statham, is in her second year studying for a Vocal Master’s at the Royal Academy of Music with generous support from Help Musicians UK and Olgarhythm, under the tutelage of Raymond Connell. Originally a first study violinist from Cheltenham, she went on to study music at the University of Bristol where she won the Performance Prize for the highest final recital mark awarded in the history of the University’s course.  Jennifer transitioned to singing as a first study in 2019 as is now performing the role of Lapak in The Cunning Little Vixen with Hampstead Garden Opera. Other opera engagements have included performing the roles of Carmen, Hansel, in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and Romeo, in Bellini’s I Capuleti e I Montiecchi in the Royal Academy’s vocal faculty opera scenes. She has also performed the roles of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and the Governess in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw with the Bristol Operatic Society.  Jennifer performs regularly as a soloist in the Royal Academy’s Bach in Leipzig series working with world renowned conductors including John Butt, Eamonn Dougan and Iain Ledingham. Earlier this year she worked with Rachel Podger performing as a soloist in the Wigmore Hall with the Royal Academy Bach Soloists. Outside of music, Jennifer hugely enjoys baking and sport having recently completely a 6km swim down Bantham Estuary in Devon.

Bernadette Johns

British-French mezzo-soprano Bernadette Johns made her debut as the titular role in Carmen at Longborough Festival Opera 2022. She is a recent graduate of Royal Academy Opera, where she was a finalist in the 2022 Bicentenary Prize at Wigmore Hall, multiple prizewinner in the Richard Lewis Award and winner of the HRH Princess Alice Duchess of Gloucester Prize.Concert highlights include recitals at Wigmore Hall, and the Oxford and Leeds Lieder festivals. Bernadette was a Bach Scholar for the 2019 ‘Bach the European’ concert series, performing as alto soloist in multiple concerts directed by Trevor Pinnock, Philippe Herreweghe, Masaaki Suzuki, John Butt, Rachel Podger and Iain Ledingham. At the Academy she sang Der Komponist Ariadne auf Naxos, Concepción L’heure espagnole, Dido Dido and Aeneas, Tirinto Imeneo, Hippolyta A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Zita Gianni Schicchi, Jane WITCH and covered Dorabella Così fan tutte. She sang Spell for Sex Spell Book and Second Lady La liberazione di Ruggiero as a Longborough Festival Opera Young Artist. Bernadette was a member of the Gloucester Cathedral Youth Choir before taking up a choral scholarship at The Queen’s College, Oxford. She has an MA with Distinction, a DipRAM for outstanding final recital and an Advanced Diploma in Opera from the Royal Academy of Music.

Lucy Gibbs

Originally from Shropshire, mezzo-soprano Lucy Gibbs made her professional debut at Snape Maltings Concert Hall aged 15, and has since performed in venues across the U.K. Lucy is a Robert Lancaster scholar at the Royal College of Music, studying on the Master’s program with Patricia Bardon and Sebastian Wybrew. She is also supported by the Josephine Baker Trust. Lucy previously trained at Chetham’s School of Music, where she won the T E Drane Prize for Vocal Music, and went on to read Music at Merton College Oxford. Recent performances include performing the role of Mary Magdalene in the world premiere of Laurence Rosenthal’s The Stations of the Cross, covering the role of Older Woman in Jonathan Dove’s Flight for RCM Opera. Future performances include Alto soloist with the Oxford Bach Choir, and performing in RCM Opera’s Double Bill the role of ‘La Duchessa’ in Respighi’s La bella dormente nel bosco and covering ‘Un Patre’ for Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges.

Hugo Brady

Recipient of the First Prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Bursary for Young Singers (2022), 20-year-old tenor Hugo Brady commenced his undergraduate studies as a tenor last year at the Royal College of Music, under the tutelage of Russell Smythe, as the Victor and Lilian Hochhauser Scholar. Brady began singing aged eight, as a member of the Royal Opera House’s Youth Opera Company, singing in the children’s choruses of operatic favourites such as La bohème and Carmen. Since then, Brady has studied at the Centre for Young Musicians, winning first prize at both the New Talent British International Youth Music Competition and the Louis Watt Memorial Competition during his time there. As a tenor, he has appeared as a soloist with the Vache Baroque Festival, Scherzo Ensemble, and at Barbican Hall with the LSSO. With a particular interest in the vocal music of Bach, Handel, Mozart, Schubert, and Britten, Brady has an eclectic appetite for repertoire, and feels equally drawn to the operatic, concert, and recital platforms. Future plans include a role with Irish National Opera next year.

Matthew McKinney (Saturday performance)

Matthew McKinney is a Scottish tenor and graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In 2021 he sang Henrik in A Little Night Music for Buxton Opera Festival and is currently an ensemble member for English Touring Opera (ETO), where he will be playing roles and covers across their 22-23 education projects and mainstage season of Bel Canto repertoire. He has had the privilege of performing a wide range of repertoire for prestigious and local music organisations across the UK and abroad and enjoys these opportunities in equal measure. Highlights of Matthew’s musical career so far include his role debut as Henrik in A Little Night Music; recital performances taking him to his hometown of Dunblane and to the Palazzo Corsini in Florence; singing regularly with The Sixteen; and performing most of the canonical oratorio work as a soloist throughout Britain. Matthew looks forward to the upcoming year of touring. He is excited to continue discovering the wealth of skills and interest’s life as a musician invites.

Edwin Lambert

Ed Lambert is a British Tenor based in Salisbury. Ed began his singing career at the age of seven as a Chorister at York Minster, under the tutelage of Philip Moore and Robert Sharpe. In 2016, Ed took up a role as a Choral Scholar at Portsmouth Cathedral.Following his undergraduate studies in music at the University of York alongside a Choral Scholarship at York Minster, In January 2022, Ed graduated with Distinction from the Solo Voice Ensemble Singing Masters, led by Robert Hollingworth. In September 2022, Ed took up his role as a Tenor Lay-Vicar at Salisbury Cathedral. Alongside this he is an active freelance artist, working with groups such as Ensemble Pro Victoria, The Swan Consort, Sarum Voices, Accordare and Convivium Records at the Tolosa International Choral Festival. Other recent engagements include performing alongside acclaimed vocal ensemble I fagiolini and the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble, singing with the Halle Chorus and performing at the Northern Aldbrough Opera Festival, in productions of Semele and Theodora alongside artists from Opera North.

Matthew Curtis

British tenor Matthew Curtis most recently enjoyed performing the role of Fintan O’Riordan Bloody Murder for Opera Workshop, Limerick’s performances of Twisted Tales by Fiona Linnane and Luke Byrne. Other recent roles include the Sailor/Chorus Dido and Aeneas as well as chorus La Rondine for IF Opera. Matthew has also performed Bill in Dove’s Flight for RCM’s Opera Studio and previously First Priest cover/Second Armed man cover The Magic Flute. Matthew’s other work includes Chorus Silent Night for Opera North, Chorus Eugene Onegin at the Buxton International Opera Festival and Superstition The Pilgrims Progress at the Royal Northern College of Music. Matthew graduated with honours from the Royal Northern College of Music and later became a H R Taylor Trust Masters scholar under the tutelage of Rosa Mannion at the Royal College of Music before graduating earlier this year. Next he will be performing with Sussex Voiceworks as part of there Christmas concert.

Ruairi Bowen (Sunday performance)

A finalist in the International Handel Singing Competition in 2020, Ruairi Bowen is much in demand as an interpreter of Baroque repertoire in the UK and abroad, collaborating with some of the leading conductors in the field including Emmanuelle Haïm, Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Stephen Layton. An experienced Evangelist of J.S. Bach’s Passions, he made his debuts at Bachfest Leipzig and Snape Maltings with Solomon’s Knot, with whom he most recently sang Bach’s Weihnachts-Oratorium at London’s Wigmore Hall. Other engagements have included Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, the St John Passion with both the Adelaide & Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras, as well as for the annual Good Friday performance with Polyphony and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under Stephen Layton. On the operatic stage, he debuted Prologue/Quint in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw at Barnes Music Festival and took on multiple roles in Purcell’s The Indian Queen with Le Concert d’Astrée at l’Opera de Lille. He returned to Barnes Music Festival to sing Satvayān in Holst’s Savitri and featured in Sivan Eldar’s Like Flesh at Opéra National de Montpellier. He is an Emerging Artist for Longborough Festival Opera 2022 singing Vistola Fiume in F. Caccini’s La liberazione di Ruggiero dall’isola di Alcina and will reprise The Indian Queen in Caen, Antwerp and Luxembourg during the 2022 / 2023 season. During the live music hiatus in 2020/21, Ruairi was a Support Worker for the Children’s Section of the British Refugee Council, and formed part of The Hampstead Collective, an ensemble dedicated to performing Handel Oratorio and Bach’s sacred works. He is delighted to be joining Nevill Holt & Manchester Camerata for the second successive year. Ruairi is represented by James Black Management.

Dan D’Souza

Dan D’Souza studied at the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, and King’s College Cambridge. He now learns with Sherman Lowe. Last season he covered Boatswain HMS Pinafore at the English National Opera, and performed Schaunard La bohème for Mid Wales Opera and Silvio Pagliacci for Iford Arts. This season he performs Trinculo La Tempesta (Halévy) for Wexford Festival Opera and Flemish Deputy Don Carlo for the Royal Opera House.

William Kyle

William Kyle is a baritone originally from Warwickshire and he studies with Quentin Hayes. He is a current member of Wexford Festival Opera’s young artist program – the “Wexford Factory”, and this summer was a Nevill Holt Opera Associate Artist, performing in their productions of La bohème and Il barbiere di Siviglia. He also performed as Page in British Youth Opera’s production of Sir John in Love. William is a recent graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music, where he has performed roles including Il Conte in Le nozze di Figaro, Ein Musiklehrer in Ariadne auf Naxos and Harašta in The Cunning Little Vixen. William’s concert highlights include singing the role of Petrus in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s semi-staged version of St John Passion and performing as a soloist at Manchester Cathedral for a performance of Handel’s Messiah. In 2023 he will be joining the Merry Opera Company for their touring spring production Merry Cinders and will be returning to Nevill Holt for their 2023 summer season before travelling to Pesaro to be a young artist for the Rossini Opera Festival.

Jack Holton

Jack Holton is a Young Artist on the Global Talent Programme at the National Opera Studio and a Young Artist with Opera Prelude, having previously trained on the Opera Course at Guildhall School of Music & Drama under John Evans. This year he is the grateful recipient of a Help Musicians Sybil Tutton Opera Award, an Opera Awards Foundation Bursary, and was the winner of the Musicians’ Company 2022 Saloman Seelig Award. At GSMD in 2022, Jack performed Simon Miss Fortune; Ben Upthegrove The Telephone; Der Zar Der Zar lässt sich photographieren. At Opera Holland Park Jack performed the role of La Poigne Margot la Rouge, and Master Page Sir John in Love for British Youth Opera. Previous roles include Count Anckarström Un ballo in maschera (Opera Holland Park – Young Artist); Le Podestat Le docteur Miracle and Le Baron de Pictordu Cendrillon (GSMD); Don Parmenione L’occasione fa il ladro (British Youth Opera); Sky Masterson Guys and Dolls (West Green House Opera); Don Giovanni (for Rogue Opera and The Merry Opera Company); Eugene Onegin (Oxford Alternative Orchestra/The People’s Opera); 3rd Bandit Don Quichotte (Wexford Festival Opera); The Count The Marriage of Figaro (Hewletts Opera). Other significant performances include Elder Brother The Hogboon and one of the Princes des ténèbres Le Damnation de Faust, both under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle with the LSO, and singing as the baritone soloist in Stravinsky’s Pulcinella under the baton of Joshua Weilerstein in Milton Court Concert Hall.

Edward Jowle 

A prizewinner of the 2021 Cesti competition and a finalist of the 2021 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, Edward was brought up in Derbyshire and is a recent graduate of the Royal College of Music International Opera Studio. A Samling Artist and an alumnus of the Verbier Festival Atelier Lirique, he is also the winner of the 2022 Somerset Song Prize. He has received support from the Drake Calleja Trust, The Countess of Munster Trust, Help Musicians UK and The Josephine Baker Trust. His 2022/23 season includes appearances with English Touring Opera as Emireno Ottone and Lesbo Agrippina in the Autumn, and Gubetta Lucrezia Borgia, Antonio Il viaggio a Reims and Curio Giulio Cesare in the Spring. He will also sing The Messiah for Nevill Holt Opera, in Lincoln Cathedral and with The Really Big Chorus at the Royal Albert Hall. Recent stage work includes Colline La bohème (Verbier, Medici TV), Guglielmo Così fan tutte (Diva Opera), Papageno Die Zauberflöte (RCM, OperaVision), Adonis Venus and Adonis (Pratum Integrum), Steward Flight (RCM), Polyphemus Acis and Galatea (Ryedale Festival) and Garibaldo Rodelinda (RCM). Concert highlights include Dvorak Stabat Mater in York Minster, Bach B Minor Mass with Lloyds Choir, Haydn The Creation with Battersea Choral Society, Handel Judas Maccabæus with the Brandenburg Choral Festival, Oliver Tarney St Mark Passion with the Endellion Easter Festival and Elgar The Apostles with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.

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