Since its formation in 2002 the Midlands-based Queen’s Park Sinfonia has quickly established itself as one of the new generation of exciting chamber orchestras in the UK. Queen’s Park Sinfonia offers the wealth of talented young graduate musicians in the region the opportunity to develop in a professional environment.
Often collaborating with highly acclaimed soloists and performing in prestigious venues across the Midlands, the orchestra allows its members to perform with like-minded professionals in supportive and creative surroundings. As a youthful ensemble it strives to create performances that are both challenging and satisfying to musicians and audiences alike.
Queen’s Park Sinfonia exists as a ‘non-profit making’ organisation and currently receives no financial support. All concerts and engagements enable the ensemble to finance future projects and allow for the ongoing promotion and development of the orchestra.
Queen’s Park Sinfonia is an ensemble with an ethos that is both community and regionally based. In an increasingly competitive environment, young professional musicians require both support and encouragement in order to continue developing. The aim is to create opportunities for these musicians within the region and ensure that their skills are used within the wider community by encouraging creativity and an involvement in musical activities for people of all ages, cultures and abilities.
Alistair, 22, is a final year music student at Birmingham Conservatoire, studying Vocal and Operatic Performance as a Bass-Baritone.
Originally from Northampton, Alistair started his singing career as a boy chorister at All Saints Church, before joining the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. Alistair sings with the National Youth Choir, and is also a Senior Lay Clerk at St Philip’s Cathedral in Birmingham where he featured as a soloist on their recent broadcast of Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3.
He is also a member of the Chamber Choir of Birmingham Conservatoire, conducted by Paul Spicer. Outside of choral singing, Alistair regularly appears in operatic productions at Birmingham Conservatoire, as well as performing in the chorus of the Dorset Opera Festival 2016. Notable performances include ‘Blow’ in Venus and Adonis (title role), Verdi’s Macbeth (Chorus), Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (Chorus), Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Alidoro), and Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Geharnischte Mann).
Future engagements include singing the bass solos in Bach’s St Matthew Passion with Birmingham Cathedral, and playing the role of Dr Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro.
Phillipa Thomas studied music at the University of York, winning the University Concerto Prize. Following her MA, she continued her training at Birmingham Conservatoire where she won the Conservatoire Singing Prize.
In 2017 Phillipa’s performance of ‘Carmen’ for Dulwich Opera Company was described as “the best Carmen I’ve seen since Maria Ewing… at Glyndebourne in the ’80s.” (Louise Flind – Opera Today). Other recent roles include ‘Cherubino’ (Le nozze di Figaro, East London Opera), ‘Dorabella’ (Cosi fan tutte, Dulwich Opera Company), ‘Giovanna’ (Rigoletto, Nevill Holt Opera), and ‘Orlofsky’ (Die Fledermaus, Fulham Opera Young Artist).
Recent solo engagements include Bach’s Cantata No. 48 (RPO under Ben Pope), Duruflé’s Requiem (Bristol Choral Society under Hilary Campbell), and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (King’s College Cambridge under Stephen Cleobury). Phillipa has recently finished recording alto solos for numerous oratorios as part of a project with the professional ensemble Blossom Street Singers. Previously performed works include Bach’s Weinachtsoratorium, Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, Dvorak’s Mass in D, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Requiem and Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Requiem, Purcell’s Come ye Sons of Art, and Vivaldi’s Gloria for various choral societies in the UK.
Stour Singers are delighted that Darren Jeffery – who excelled in the title role in Handel’s Saul for us in May this year – has accepted our invitation to be the 2017/18 Honorary Fellow. Darren’s expressive bass baritone voice is very versatile, and he is completely at home on both the operatic stage and the concert platform. Starting his musical training at the Royal Northern College of Music, Darren was one of the very first singers to join the Royal Opera Young Artists Programme (even singing there with Luciano Pavarotti!).
Darren has built an extensive career, singing a diversity of roles from Handel to Wagner, from Britten to Stravinsky, in some of the great opera houses of the world from our own Royal Opera House and English National Opera to Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. He has also sung at Glyndebourne, Garsington, and the Proms. Based with his family in Cornwall, he can often be seen restoring Land Rovers and tinkering with tractors as well as encouraging young local singers!
Darren’s programme from now until summer next year includes a premiere at English National Opera, oratorio in Bude, Dartington, and Liverpool, singing ‘Monterone’ in Verdi’s Rigoletto at Covent Garden, Britten in Moscow, and an extensive tour of the Netherlands in the title role of Wagner’s Flying Dutchman. Closer to us, Darren is singing at Longborough Festival Opera in July next year as the ‘Music Teacher’ in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. What a full programme!
When invited to be our Honorary Fellow, Darren said he would love to accept, and was thrilled to be asked. The thrill is ours!
Operatic tenor Robert Tilson is a passionate interpreter of a wide range of roles in genres spanning from the 17th century to the present day. In 2016 Robert was awarded a place to study on the esteemed Masters course at The Royal Academy of Music under internationally renowned tenor Ryland Davies and multi-award winning accompanist James Baillieu. He has recently been involved in their spring opera scenes, working on the role of ‘Davey’ in John Dove’s 1994 opera Siren Song.
Robert is looking forward to working in the chorus for the summer season at Opéra de Baugé, and is also taking the role of ‘Ferrando’ in Flat White Opera’s Cosi Fan Tutte.
During his undergraduate degree at the Birmingham Conservatoire, Robert’s passion for opera grew dramatically. He performed the title role in the Conservatoire’s 2015 production of Actéon by Charpentier, and the role of ‘Satyavan’ in the 2016 production of Savitri by Holst. He created the lead tenor role of ‘Dave’ in the 2015 production of Michael Wolters’ world premier Ava’s Wedding, the role of ‘L’Aumonier’ in the 2014 production of Dialogues des Carmelites by Poulenc, and the role of ‘Lover’ in the 2013 production of Il Trittico by Puccini.
Robert has also featured regularly in the Birmingham Conservatoire’s autumn opera scenes, appearing twice as ‘Rodolfo’ in Puccini’s La Bohème, ‘Monostatos’ in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, ‘Fenton’ in Verdi’s Falstaff, ‘Snout’ in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ‘Raoul de Gardefeu’ in Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne, and ‘Grocery Boy’ in Berkeley’s A Dinner Engagement. He has also sung as a member of the chorus in scenes from Bizet’s Carmen, J Strauss’s A Night in Venice, Verdi’s Macbeth, Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, and Weil’s Street Scene.
Robert has had several external opportunities while at the Conservatoire. His highlights include working with Midland Opera, performing the lead role of ‘Giannetto’ in La Gazza Ladra by Rossini. Other performances include being a featured soloist for Opera At Bearwood’s winter season, and singing the lead tenor role of ‘Angelo’ in a new operatic commission, Die Welt Ist Das Exil by Austrian composer Ulf-Diether Soyka.
In his years at the Birmingham Conservatoire Robert has been a key member of all three choirs at the Conservatoire, recently featuring on his third CD for the choir. Maintaining his choral foundations, Robert has performed as a tenor soloist in: Bach’s Mass in B minor, Handel’s Messiah, Dixit Dominus and Chandos Anthem No. 9, Haydn’s Creation and Harmoniemesse, Mozart’s Requiem Mass, Spatzenmesse and Coronation Mass, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Saint Saën’s Christmas Oratorio, Puccini’s Messa Di Gloria, Dvorak’s Mass in D, Schubert’s Mass in G, Stainer’s Crucifixion, and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music.
British lyric-coloratura soprano Robyn Allegra Parton is a versatile musician and performer described by Opera magazine as ‘stylish’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘irresistible’, and as a ‘standout’ by The Observer.
Roles in 2018 include Zerbinetta (Longborough Festival Opera), and the title role in Coraline by Mark-Anthony Turnage (Royal Opera House, Barbican Theatre).
In 2015, Robyn performed Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Robyn has created the roles of Agnes in Nothing by David Bruce (Glyndebourne Festival Opera), Peg in Virtues of Things by Matt Rogers (Royal Opera Linbury), and the Narrator in the Sea-Crossed Fisherman by Michael Ellison (Istanbul Music Festival). Other roles include: Mercedes (Grand Theatre de Luxembourg), Morgana in Alcina by Handel (Ryedale Festival Opera), excerpts of Mozart heroines in Amadeus for the National Theatre, and Clelia in Octavia by Reinhard Keiser (Innsbrucker Festwochen der Alten Musik) for which she was praised by German press Online Musik Magazin for her ‘clear high tones and clean, flowing coloratura’.
As a concert artist Robyn has performed with ensembles including the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Gustav Mahler Chamber Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, English Baroque Soloists, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Oxford Philharmonic, Luxembourg Philharmonie, and the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra.
Robyn has recorded the title role in Charpentier’s Caecilia Virgo et Martyr for Novum, and songs for soprano, oboe and piano by Stephen Dodgson for Toccata Classics.
Robyn read music at Worcester College, Oxford University, and studied singing at the Royal College of Music and English National Opera’s Opera Works.
Another date for your diary! Saturday, 14th October at 7.30 pm in St Edmund’s Church, Shipston-on-Stour.
One autumn evening twenty years ago, a dozen or so singers were to be found cosily ranged around Richard and Dorle Emms’ sitting room in Shipston, about to learn a 16th century Mass by William Byrd. On most Tuesday evenings now, double that number gather in the Catholic Parish Hall to sing a wide repertoire of music across five centuries. Having been asked to sing the Mass at St. Edmund’s Church, Richard brought together a small unaccompanied group which has now grown to an adventurous chamber choir. They will be celebrating those 20 years with a special concert in October this year, entitled “Encore!”.
The singers have indulged themselves in choosing 20 favourite pieces to sing, together with some of Three’s Company’s most delicious readings. There are treats in store for all – sacred and secular, moving and amusing, joyous and deep-feeling, with music across the centuries and styles, including part of the original Byrd Mass.
Do come and share the joy that Cantamus has in performing music encompassing spirituals, folk songs, anthems, and madrigals from Bach to modern composer Lauridsen, via Purcell, Rachmaninoff and Cole Porter. Richard, the choir’s director, never fails to delight and stimulate both his choir and audience.
Tickets cost £10, and are available from Clarke’s Electricals in Shipston, and on the door. Students and accompanied children are welcome to attend at no cost. If you have any queries, please use the ‘Contact Us’ page on this website to get in touch.
Barbara Divers will be holding a workshop for choir members on Saturday, 23rd September 2017. This will run from 10.00 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Catholic Parish Centre in Darlingscote Road, Shipston-on-Stour. As in Barbara’s workshop last year, this will offer excellent opportunities to understand more about reading and interpreting music. The workshop is very informal, and you’re encouraged to ask questions about anything that’s puzzling you. This will be really helpful, practical preparation for the new season, especially for our performance of Bach’s Cantata no. 191 – ‘Gloria’, one of the focusses of Barbara’s workshop.
The workshop is free, and tea and biscuits will be provided.
Please let Yvonne know if you would like to come along, and let her know what you would like covered at the workshop.
Much of Bach’s prodigious output consists of re-workings of previous compositions.
This is true of Cantata 191. It is described by Bach as a Christmas Cantata, and it is entirely a reworking of parts of the Gloria from his Mass in B minor. For the first movement he has used the chorus Gloria in excelsis – et in terra pax from the Mass unchanged, and the following duet is the Domine Deus from the Mass sung to the words ‘Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui sancto’. The cantata concludes with the chorus Sicut erat in principio.The music for this is the chorus Cum sancto spiritu which concludes the Gloria in the Mass. The words Sicut erat don’t fit the original, so he has modified the beginning so that they do.
So we get a small insight into the way Bach worked. There are many more examples of reworkings to hand, since all the Mass in B minor apart from the Kyrie and the Gloria consists of reworkings of previous cantatas.