Cathy Bell

Cathy Bell

Cathy Bell studied English and Medieval Literature at Cambridge, and undertook postgraduate vocal studies at Birmingham Conservatoire. Since moving to London in 2009 she has established a varied career in opera, ensemble and particularly oratorio work, coming to notice for the innate musicality and sensitivity to text that she brings to every performance. Recent highlights include the role of Venus in Pepusch Venus and Adonis for the Valletta International Baroque Festival, and Second Witch in the Academy of Ancient Music’s highly acclaimed Dido and Aeneas at the Barbican, a role she reprised at the Nordland Music Festival with Barokksolistene Norway in August 2019.

Cathy is an experienced and accomplished soloist on the oratorio platform. She has performed much of the standard concert repertoire for the alto voice, at venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Cadogan Hall, Southwell Minster, Wells Cathedral, Bath Abbey, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Nottingham Albert Hall, and St Magnus Cathedral Orkney. Recent highlights include the Rachmaninoff Vespers with groups including Britten Sinfonia, Sonoro and the Oxford Bach Choir; Bach Mass in B minor with Nottingham Harmonic Choir and Cantemus; Mendelssohn Elijah with the Bach Choir; and Bach St John Passion with Leicester Bach Choir and at the Leith Hill Musical Festival. As a low mezzo Cathy enjoys singing Handel’s ever-popular Messiah in venues across the UK, but she also loves exploring more esoteric repertoire, and has made a particular specialism of neglected works from the Italian baroque such as Alessandro Scarlatti’s Salve Regina and Vivaldi’s Introduzione e Gloria RV 588, Magnificat and Dixit Dominus.

In 2014 Cathy was the first singer to be awarded a place on the Handel House Talent Scheme. While a member of the scheme she gave recitals at venues including the Handel House, St George’s Hanover Square and the Wallace Collection; developed and performed a lecture recital on Handel’s London years; sang in masterclasses with Mark Padmore and Laurence Cummings; and was the singing leader for several workshops and education projects.

Cathy is as comfortable on the operatic stage as the concert platform.  Notable highlights include the title role in Carmen for Barefoot Opera; Arsamenes (Handel Xerxes) for Hampstead Garden Opera; Russian Nanny (Britten Death in Venice) for Garsington Opera; and Third Lady/Third Boy (Mozart Die Zauberflöte) for Diva Opera and the Palestine Mozart Festival. Cathy has a strong commitment to contemporary music and has taken principal roles in new operas at the Tête à Tête and Grimeborn festivals, recorded a new work by Will Todd for an education project at Opera North, and worked on the development of a new piece for WNO MAX.

Cathy also works regularly in ensembles such as the BBC Singers, the Academy of Ancient Music, Philharmonia Voices, Sonoro, the Dunedin Consort, the Clerks’ Group and EXAUDI, and sings for film sessions with groups including London Voices, the Pinewood Singers, Synergy Vocals, Apollo Voices and RSVP Voices.

Cathy lives in London with her husband Jon Stainsby, also a singer, and their energetic daughter Rosie, born in 2016.

 

Alex Ashworth

Alex Ashworth is a concert and opera singer working across Europe and the United Kingdom.

His recordings include Oedipus Rex, Stravinsky, with the London Symphony Orchestra, Monteverdi’s Vespers with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and Bach’s B Minor Mass and St Matthew Passion for Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists.

Recent performance highlights include Oedipus Rex with the Berlin Philharmonic, St Matthew Passion on tour across Europe, Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem for the Three Choirs Festival and Christmas Oratorio across Australia. In 2018 he performed in the inaugural Alamo Baroque Festival in Texas and has toured Europe in over twenty performances of several of Bach’s cantatas with Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

Alex is delighted to be joining the Worcester Festival Choral Society for the first time, since he went to school in Worcestershire and was then a choral scholar at close neighbour Tewkesbury Abbey in his now long-distant gap-year.

 

James Cleverton

James trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the Zürich International Opera Studio.

He has performed principal roles at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, Opernhaus Zürich, Salzburg Festival, Stadttheater St Gallen, Opéra de Rennes, Opera Holland Park, Grange Park Opera and Garsington Opera.

Recent performances include The Protector Written on Skin (Benjamin) and Pablo Exterminating Angel (Adès) for the Royal Opera House, his Buxton International Festival debut singing Gusmano in Verdi’s Alzira. Kyoto in Iris (Mascagni) for Opera Holland Park, Frank Die Fledermaus for Welsh National Opera and Dulcamara Elixir of Love for Scottish Opera.

Equally in demand on the concert platform, James regularly performs oratorios throughout the UK & internationally. Recent highlights include the Messiah with the CBSO at the Birmingham Symphony Hall and Haydn’s Harmoniemesse at the Cadogan Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. He also appears as the baritone soloist for the Raymond Gubbay Classical Spectaculars at the Royal Albert Hall with the RPO.

Recordings include Arrostino in Cellier’s The Mountebanks with the BBC Concert Orchestra, Sir John Copeland in Rogers & Hart’s Dearest Enemy (New World Records, and as the White Rabbit on the original cast recording of Will Todd’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

In 2018 James appeared as Escamillo in a performance of Carmen at Dartmoor Prison, given for HRH Prince Charles. He can also be seen as the Mandarin in Turandot in the film Mission Impossible Rogue Nation starring Tom Cruise.

Future plans include returns to WNO, ENO, Scottish Opera and Opera Holland Park, Orff’s Carmina Burana with the RPO at the Royal Albert Hall, Mozart by Candlelight at the Barbican and a New Year’s Eve Gala at the Glasgow National Concert Hall with the RSNO.

 

 

Matthew Pochin

Matthew Pochin began his career as a chorister at Hereford Cathedral, where he later became a choral scholar and lay clerk. He went on to study at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

After several years working as a pastry chef, Matthew moved to London to continue his career as a singer. He currently sings with the choirs of St John’s Wood Parish Church and Belsize Square Synagogue. He also sings regularly with the choirs of HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court and St Mary-le-Bow in the City of London.

Matthew performs as an oratorio and consort soloist across the UK and Europe. As well as choral society mainstays, recent engagements include renaissance lieder by Ludwig Senfl with the Linarol Consort of Viols, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor Horn and Strings and Carmina Burana. He gives regular lieder and English song recitals, including works by Schubert, Schumann, Strauss, Britten, Finzi and Gurney. Matthew has also recorded for the BBC, performing Nïneotpushchayeshi (Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace) from Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil for a documentary on the composer’s life.

Matthew is a founder member and Artistic Director of Scaramella, specialising in music for men’s voices from the renaissance to modern close harmony. He also researches and prepares performance editions and new arrangements for the group.  He is a member of the unique Jewish barbershop group bOYbershop, performing traditional Jewish liturgical music, folksongs as well as close harmony standards and original comedy songs.

Although he rarely bakes cakes anymore (much to his wife’s disappointment), Matthew still enjoys cooking, especially in the great outdoors.

Kate Symonds-Joy

Kate Symonds-Joy graduated with a First Class music degree from Cambridge University and a DipRAM from the Royal Academy Opera Course. Concert highlights include Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Sydney Opera House, Ravel’s Chansons Madecasses at the Purcell Room, Rutter’s Feel the Spirit at the Barbican, Bach’s St John Passion in the Aldeburgh Festival, Mahler’s Symphony no.2 at Cadogan Hall, Handel’s Messiah at Birmingham Symphony Hall, Mozart’s Requiem with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Elgar’s Sea Pictures with Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra, and Verdi’s Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall.

​Kate recently cycled to the most northerly inhabited part of the UK to sing Judith Weir’s King Harald’s Saga in the Shetland Islands’ Muckleflugga lighthouse and joined The Prison Choir Project to sing Carmen with a chorus of inmates in Dartmoor Prison, in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales.

Kate teaches the choral scholars of both Gonville and Caius College and St John’s Voices, Cambridge. She lives in nearby Royston in a 17th century barn with husband and baby son Wilfred. Future projects include Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, 1st Witch, Dido and Aeneas with the Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican, a return to Carmen this time in Wandsworth Prison, and Bach’s St John Passion with Solomon’s Knot in Wigmore Hall.

Miriam Allan

The “sublime singing” (Gramophone, 2017) of Soprano Miriam Allan has been enjoyed across the world, from her native Australia, through Japan and Singapore, as well as at festivals throughout Europe and North America.

In 2018 she has sung Bach’s St Matthew Passion at Wigmore Hall with Dunedin Consort and John Butt, returned to Australia in the role of Josabeth (Athalia, Handel) for Pinchgut Opera, Sydney, tour books of Gesualdo Madrigals with Les Arts Florissants and made her debut with Portland Baroque performing Messiah.

Other recent highlights have included Bach cantatas at the BBC Proms, a recital of Dowland lute songs within the enclaves of Windsor Castle and performances with the Queensland Orchestra and Erin Helyard.

On the opera stage she is a regular company soloist with Pinchgut Opera, for whom she has sung Isifile Giasone, Cavalli and Costanza Griselda, Vivaldi. For the Innsbruck Festival she has sung Galatea Acis & Galatea, Handel, whilst she has taken various roles in The Fairy Queen for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Opera Comique, Paris, and Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York. Other roles include Queen of the Night Magic Flute, Mozart, Musica and Proserpina Orfeo, Monteverdi and various roles in Dardanus, Rameau.

She has appeared alongside Sir John Eliot Gardiner & English Baroque Soloists, Masaaki Suzuki & Bach Collegium Japan, Nicholas Collon & Aurora Orchestra and Lars Ulrik Mortensen & Concerto Copenhagen as well as conductors William Christie, Stephen Layton and Laurence Cummings and orchestras the BBC Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony, Les Violins du Roy, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Academy of Ancient Music.

Miriam has sung Mozart Mass in C Minor in Lincoln Centre, New York, Bach Magnificat in the Musikverein, Vienna, Handel Messiah in Sydney Opera House, Haydn Die Schöpfung at the Barbican, London, Rameau In Convertando in Chapelle Royale, Versailles and appeared in Mozart Opera Galas at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and Salle Pleyel, Paris.

Her discography includes the Gramophone award winning series of Monteverdi Madrigals with Les Arts Florissants and Paul Agnew, with whom she can also be seen in the DVD release of Orfeo as Proserpina , as well as the Mozart Requiem with Leipzig Kammerorchester, a recital of Handel and Purcell on ABC Classics and Pinchgut Opera’s series of live recordings.  Reviewing the latter’s release of Giasone, Gramophone remarked that her “stylish [Isifile] steals the show several times,’ whilst Voix des Arts wrote of the same performance “the timbre is one of polished gold from the top to the bottom.”

Susanna Fairbairn

Susanna Fairbairn
English soprano Susanna Fairbairn’s début song CD is now available on the Naxos label: Songs of Geoffrey Bush and Joseph Horovitz. Susanna gained an MA with Distinction from the Wales International Academy of Voice, and also studied at Trinity College of Music, winning the Wilfred Greenhouse Allt Prize, Paul Simm Opera Prize, and First Prize in the English Song Competition. Susanna formerly studied flute as an Instrumental Scholar whilst an undergraduate at Magdalen College, Oxford. Susanna has performed recitals nationwide including at the Wigmore Hall, Purcell Room, Southbank and St. James’s Church Piccadilly. She has sung under the batons of John Eliot Gardiner, Marin Alsop, Laurence Cummings and Sian Edwards, at such venues as The Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw, Cadogan Hall, and The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

Memorable performances as a soloist extend to a wide range of repertoire, including staged versions of the St. John and St. Matthew Passions for English Touring Opera, Tavener’s Veil of the Temple at Canterbury Cathedral (in the presence of the composer), Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony, Beethoven 9, Poulenc Gloria, Will Todd’s Mass in Blue and Mozart’s C Minor Mass. Susanna has also appeared numerous times for the BBC: highlights include being interviewed in 2017 on Radio 3’s In Tune by Clemency Burton-Hill, and appearing on the soundtracks for two BBC dramas with music by Solomon Grey. She makes her Three Choirs Festival debut in Gloucester this year in Israel in Egypt.

Operatic highlights include Galatea Acis and Galatea for Opera Theatre Company; Countess Le nozze di Figaro for Longborough Festival Opera; cover Donna Anna Don Giovanni for Opera North; and for English Touring Opera: Donna Anna Don Giovanni, Juno La Calisto, and Eleonora Il furioso.

Having spent part of her childhood in Africa, Susanna has continued to enjoy living and working in many different parts of the world, as far as India and Brunei. From scuba diving to rock climbing, rowing or playing rugby at college, undertaking vegetarian cooking lessons with a 95-year-old matriarch in Mumbai or embracing veganism, life has been a fascinating journey so far. Exotic episodes aside however, Susanna believes there’s still nothing better than a long walk by the river followed by a pint of local ale!

Tom Raskin

Tom Raskin

Born in Bath, tenor Tom Raskin studied at the RNCM in Manchester and New College, Oxford, before going on to become a Britten-Pears Young Artist. In 2000 he was awarded the Anne Ziegler Prize, followed by the Freckleton Prize in 2001, and was the recipient of a major Scholarship from the Peter Moores Foundation which funded study both in Italy and London.

Recent concert work includes the Verdi Requiem, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Calaf in Turandot (concert performance), Stainer’s Crucifixion in Norway, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from King’s College, Cambridge, and arias in the St John and St Matthew Passions (Norwich Cathedral).

Tom is one of the four tenors in the BBC Singers, and besides the vast range of choral works that he performs with them, has sung a wide range of solos, from Streshnev in Mussorgsky’s Kovanshchina at the 2017 Proms to the St Matthew Passion arias and Christmas Oratorio arias, to Bernstein’s Hashkiveinu, to Jason Donovan’s half of the duet “Especially for you.” He is much in demand on the concert platform in Britain and abroad, in places as far-flung as Novosibirsk in Siberia to St Mark’s Basilica, Venice. He has performed with orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, the CBSO, The Sixteen and English Baroque Soloists.

He also has a large operatic repertoire from the baroque to the present day; he recently sang the Cockerel in Stravinsky’s Renard with the BCMG in one of Oliver Knussen’s last appearances on the concert platform, and he recorded the role of Signor Ravioli in Alfred Cellier’s The Mountebanks with the BBCCO. He gave the world premiere of Lord Fitztollemache in Weinberg’s Lady Magnesia, and has sung for Glyndebourne, Garsington, Opera South, Opera East and the Iford Festival. He has made regular appearances with New Chamber Opera.

In 2017 and 2018 Tom gave several recitals with the pianist Christopher Weston; a mini-tour of Schubert’s Winterreise, and Finizi’s Till Earth Outwears.  More recitals are planned in 2019, including one in All Saints’ Church, West Dulwich, and a Vaughan Williams celebration in Thaxted.

Julian Debreuil

 

Julian Debreuil

 

Julian studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Adrian Thompson and at the Royal College of Music with Ryland Davies, followed by private tuition with Nicholas Powell. He is the recipient of major awards from the Wingate Foundation, English Speaking Union, Musicians Benevolent Fund, Royal Society of Musicians, Josephine Baker, Countess of Munster and Benslow Music Trusts and was also a finalist in the Schubert Society of London, London Song Festival, John Warner Memorial Award, the Hampshire National Singing Competitions and was highly commended by the Wagner Society of London as having ‘a powerful, attractive sound with a great deal of vocal colour’.

Engagements in the current season include the roles of Colline La Boheme and Talbot Maria Stuarda for OperaUpClose, a gala concert of opera arias at St Martin-in-the-Fields, a recital of Vivaldi bass arias with the Holland Park at Our Lady of Victories Kensington, Mass in C Beethoven with the Derby Choral Union, Catantas 21 & 29 J. S. Bach with the Birmingham Bach Choir, Nelson Mass Haydn with St James’ Spanish Place and The Messiah Handel with the Purcell Orchestra at St Mary Abbots Kensington.

In the 2017-18 season Julian sang the Oracle of Neptune in Idomeneo Mozart for Buxton Festival Opera; Sarastro in The Magic Flute Mozart for OperaUpClose and Charles Court Opera; Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin Tchaikovsky at the Arcola Theatre; Jeptha Handel with the Hull Bach Choir; the title role in Elijah Mendelssohn for the Dulwich Choral Society; Johannes-Passion J. S. Bach with the Purcell Orchestra; Cantatas 21 & 29 J. S. Bach with the Birmingham Bach Choir; Maria Theresa Mass Haydn with the Grimsby Choral Society; 2001: Le Chant des Enfants des Etoiles Chin with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall.

In previous years Julian has also performed roles for Iford Arts Festival, Opera Project, Diva Opera, Salmiya Opera Theatre Kuwait, OperaUpClose, Tete-a-Tete Opera and Pop-Up Opera.

In his free time Julian enjoys hiking, running, playing football, squash and table tennis and is also a passionate consumer of cake, coffee, cheese, wine, stout and porter. Julian lives with his wife and daughter in South London, the latter of whom he is greatly enjoying introducing to the great historical recordings of his favourite opera singers.

Alan Fairs

Alan Fairs

Alan’s background was in church and choral music.  He was a chorister at Caius College, Cambridge, then bass lay clerk at Worcester Cathedral.  He also sang with several professional choirs, especially the BBC Singers, and developed a wide-ranging oratorio repertoire, with engagements for a large number of choral societies from Truro to Aberdeen.

After winning the Incorporated Society of Musicians’ national ‘Festival Days’ competition, he embarked on a full-time solo singing career, with many years of private study in singing.  After several solo recitals on Radio 3, and further oratorio concerts, he auditioned successfully for Glyndebourne, embarking on an award-winning operatic career which has spanned three decades.  He has performed many principal roles at Glyndebourne, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera and Covent Garden, as well as with other opera companies in the UK and abroad.

After this long career in opera, Alan has decided to focus on oratorio – where he began.  Concerts this year have included two performances of Stainer’s Crucifixion, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Haydn’s The Seasons, the Nelson Mass, the Stabat Maters of Rossini and Dvorak, Brahms’ German Requiem, Stanford’s Songs of the Fleet, Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, a premiere of De Profundis by Piers Maxim, Dvorak’s Requiem and several performances of Messiah, with a Verdi Requiem to look forward to next year.  Over the past year, Alan has also given three performances of Barber’s Dover Beach with two string quartets.

With his wife, Heather, accompanying, he recently presented a ‘Teatime Entertainment’ – a light-hearted affair on Sunday afternoons, featuring Songs of Jerome Kern, Flanders and Swann, etc., which raised just short of £3,500 for the Save the Children Fund.  They offer the same for choral societies’ fundraising.

Besides his work as a singer, Alan is an economist, DIY enthusiast, and cook.  Since he drives a car to almost all his rehearsals and engagements, and lives far from London, he considers he must have driven well over half a million miles in his long career, and sometimes thinks of himself as being a professional driver, the bouts of singing being merely what happens between all the long journeys.  He has driven home to Bewdley, Worcestershire through Shipston very late at night on many occasions!