Soloists for 2017/2018
Below is information about some of the soloists featuring in our concerts this year.
Saturday 21st October: Handel – Messiah
Jessica Smith – Soprano
Jessica Smith specialises in the areas of choral music and recital song and is a pupil of the English Soprano Julie Kennard. Raised and educated in Northamptonshire, Jessica was Head Chorister at All Saints’ Church, Northampton, and held the Vocal Fellowship at Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust. Following placement in the finals of BBC Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year, Jessica became one of the youngest members of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. She is a graduate of Royal Holloway, University of London, where she held choral scholarships in both the Royal Holloway Chapel Choir and at the church of St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square. Jessica is an alumna of The Sixteen’s inaugural training programme, Genesis Sixteen. Jessica played the role of Galatea in Benslow Music Trust’s Baroque Opera production of Acis and Galatea, and premièred solos in Jonathan Dove’s semi-staged work Out of the Whirlwind.
Natalie Davies – Mezzo Soprano
Natalie Davies was born in Huntingdon. She is a scholarship student on the Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s Artist Masters Programme, studying with John Evans. She recently completed undergraduate training at GSMD, and was awarded a First Class honours degree. Recent operatic work includes chorus, as well as covering and performing the role of Second Woman for The Vanishing Bridegroom (British Youth Opera), chorus for Tosca (Nevill Holt Opera), Gold-Tressed Maiden in Maxwell-Davies’ The Hogboon (London Symphony Orchestra) and Fag Hag in Salorian’s Boys of Paradise (Tête à Tête Festival). Recital work includes Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben (Devon Song Festival) and Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos (St Lawrence Jewry Festival). Upcoming performances include Stravinsky’s Pribaoutki with the Guildhall School Ubu Ensemble.
Robert Tilson – Tenor
Robert Tilson is a passionate interpreter of a wide range of operatic roles in genres spanning from the 17th Century to present day. Robert studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Music. Operatic roles include Davey (Siren Song, Dove), Ferrando (Cosi Fan Tutte, Mozart), Actéon (Actéon, Charpentier), Satyavan (Savitri, Holst), Dave (Ava’s Wedding, Wolters), L’Aumonier (Dialogues des Carmélites, Poulenc), Giannetto (La Gazza Ladra, Rossini), Angelo (Die Welt ist das Exil, Soyka), and Lover (Il Trittico, Puccini). In the concert hall he has performed as tenor soloist in works including Bach Mass in B minor, Handel Messiah, Handel Dixit Dominus, Haydn The Creation, Haydn Harmoniemesse, Mozart Requiem, Orff Carmina Burana, Puccini Messa di Gloria, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle, Schubert Mass in G, Stravinsky Mass, and Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music.
Alistair Donaghue – Bass
Alistair Donaghue is a recent graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire, where he studied Vocal and Operatic Performance. Originally from Northampton, Alistair started his singing career as a chorister and choral scholar at All Saints’ Church, before joining the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. Alistair is also a Senior Lay Clerk at St Phillip’s Cathedral in Birmingham, where he featured as a soloist in their recent performance of Bach St Matthew Passion, and a Scholar of Ex Cathedra. Outside of choral singing, Alistair regularly appears on the operatic stage; notable performances include Adonis (Venus and Adonis, Blow), Alidoro (La Cenerentola, Rossini), Dr Bartolo (Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart) and Geharnischte Mann (Der Zauberflöte, Mozart), as well as chorus in Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin and Verdi Macbeth.
Saturday 4th November: Schumann – Piano Concerto
Stephen Meakins – Piano
Stephen Meakins is a graduate of the Royal College of Music. A keen collaborator, he is in great demand as a chamber musician and has performed in major concert venues as both soloist and accompanist. Stephen held the Organ Scholarship at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, Australia, and studied at the Royal College of Music with Niel Immelman. Whilst at the RCM he was awarded the accompanist prize in the Kathleen Ferrier Competition for Young Singers and was also a prize winner in the prestigious Schumann Competition. In his final year, Stephen was invited to represent the college at Wigmore Hall and upon graduation was offered a teaching post at the Royal College of Music Junior Department. As well as teaching at Kimbolton School, Stephen teaches at Bute House Preparatory School and in 2012 joined the teaching faculty of Semnote International Music Academy in India. This resulted in a recital at the most prestigious hall in New Delhi – Teen Murti Bhavan, the former residence of India’s ex Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Saturday 10th March: Bach – Magnificat
Sarah Champion – Mezzo Soprano
Sarah Anne Champion is a mezzo-soprano from Cambridgeshire. She is an accomplished performer of opera, oratorio and song recital and has been praised for her authenticity, clarity of tone and dynamic stage presence. As a regular soloist for choral societies, she is confident performing a variety of music ranging from Monteverdi to Sondheim. Operatic highlights include Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (St Peter’s College Opera, Oxford) and the title role in Jonathan Dove’s Pinocchio (Royal Academy Opera Scenes). Sarah Anne is currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music with Alex Ashworth and Marek Ruzczynski for a Master of Arts in Performance.
Saturday 30th June: Haydn – Nelson Mass
Aaron Godfrey-Mayes – Tenor
Aaron Godfrey-Mayes is currently in his first year of the MA programme at the Royal Academy of Music, under the tutelage of singing teacher Ryland Davies and vocal coach Iain Ledingham. Before starting full-time musical training, Aaron experienced a great deal of success including regular work with Andrew Lloyd Webber perfecting the west end musical Love Never Dies. He studied at the Junior Royal Academy of Music, where he won the annual Ann Lampard singing prize in his second of three years. In 2018 he graduated with a first-class honours degree from the Royal Academy of Music. As part of Nevill Holt Opera’s 2016 and 2017 festivals, Aaron played the role of Borsa in Rigoletto, a chorus member in L’elisir d’amore and Tosca, whilst also understudying the role of Spoletta in Tosca. Aaron is generously supported by Help Musicians UK, the Royal Academy of Music and the Josephine Baker Trust.
Andrew Ashwin – Baritone
Andrew Ashwin studied singing at the Royal College of Music, London, and also in Belgium and Switzerland, before spending one year singing many baritone roles at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. He has sung choral concerts and recitals across the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Far East. Andrew is in high demand as a singing teacher, and was recently admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Schools of Music (FRSM), with Distinction, one of only a handful of singing teachers to achieve such an award. He is Head of Singing at Repton School, a vocal tutor at Nottingham University, and a singing teacher at Uppingham School.