Local Stars Shine at Southwell Minster

News

When Bingham and District Choral Society and Southwell Choral Society performed their joint concert of French music in the beautiful venue of Southwell Minster last  weekend (7th May 2016), they were supported by a wealth of local talent. Each of the soloists performing with the choirs has strong links to the area.  Abigail Broughton sang the solo soprano part in Poulenc’s Gloria, while baritone Stephen Cooper and treble Alfie Smith were soloists in the Fauré Requiem.  Roger Bryan performed the Poulenc Organ Concerto.

Abigail BroughtonAbigail Broughton was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield and began singing when she was six. She attended the Minster School in Southwell and also became a principal soloist in the Cantamus Girls’ Choir before winning the title of Nottingham Young Musician of the year in 2009. Since then, she has continued to scale new heights. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2015 with a First Class Honours degree and is currently enrolled on the Master of Arts course. Equally at home on the stage or in the recital room, Abigail is developing an impressive career at home and abroad. She made her  Aldeburgh Festival debut in 2014 and has performed in a number of concert venues in the UK.  Last year she undertook a tour of concerts in Boston, New York, Leipzig and London in collaboration with the Juilliard School under the baton of Masaaki Suzuki.

Stephen Cooper also has close links with Southwell Minster, where he is an Auxiliary Lay Clerk. He is a member of Nottingham Bach Choir and frequently takes solo roles in its concerts, including Christus in Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the Minster in 2012 and baritone soloist in Brahms’ German Requiem in 2013. In July this year, Stephen and his father John will be marking the centenary of the the Battle of The Somme in a Friday lunchtime recital at the Minster, to include songs by George Butterworth, who died at The Somme in August 1916.

Alfie Smith, treble, is a pupil of Minster School and a chorister at the Minster.

Organ soloist Roger Bryan, who lives and works in Newark, has had a distinguished career as a recitalist at home and abroad, performing with many leading orchestras. He has made an enormous contribution to musical life in the region. From 1992 until 2009, Roger was Master of the Song School at Newark.  He was also for several years Musical Director of the Lincoln Chorale, Lincolnshire’s well-established chamber orchestra. He is currently Musical Director of Newark Choral Society and also of the Trent Chamber Academy, based on Newark’s internationally famous School of Violin Making. He was for many years the accompanist to the Bingham and District Choral Society, retiring from that role last year. Roger also has a considerable reputation as a choir trainer, conductor and teacher.

With such a strong team of soloists and two fine choirs drawn from local communities, the concert filled the Minster with a glorious sound. The conductor was Guy Turner, who is Music Director of Bingham and District Choral Society and also a Lay Clerk at Southwell Minster.

Spring Events 2016

News

We have had two enjoyable and successful events this Spring Term: the Choral Workshop on 13th February 2016, led by Guy Turner, with Ed Turner accompanying, was well attended, and made a profit of about £450. Some of Guy’s Songs and Legends of Robin Hood was sung, and also some items from ‘European Choral Music’.

An Evening of Comic Songs, again with Guy and Ed, filled Colston Bassett Village Hall to capacity on 5th March 2016. A light supper was served, the bar was kept busy, the raffle was popular, and Guy provided a relaxed and amusing programme of material. A profit of about £1100 was made.

Handing Over the Baton

News

Neville Ward and Guy TurnerNeville Ward (right) and Guy Turner exchange a warm handshake at a concert given by the Bingham and District Choral Society at St Mary’s Church, Radcliffe-upon-Trent on 21st November 2015.

Neville formed the choir in 1972 and continued as its Musical Director until his retirement this year, when Guy was appointed to take on this role. Guy is holding a copy of his settings of Three Poems by W.B. Yeats, which he composed at the request of the choir as a tribute to Neville’s outstanding leadership over 43 years. The work was given its World Première at the concert, to the delight of the audience and to Neville in particular, who commented,

They are so skilfully composed and show such a sensitive and expressive response to the text. They will certainly provide a valuable addition to the choir’s repertoire and we feel privileged to have been present at their first public performance.’

Harriet Astbury

Soloists, Soprano

Harriet Astbury: SopranoHarriet Astbury graduated from the University of Huddersfield with First Class Honours in Music and was awarded the Music Department Singing Prize. Harriet is a former member and soloist of the internationally renowned Cantamus Girls’ Choir and pupil of Pamela Cook MBE. During her 10 years as a member of the choir, Harriet performed extensively in Europe and Asia participating in international concerts and competitions. Some of these include the Maasmechelen Music Festival in Belgium, European Choir Games in Austria and The Voyage of Song competition in Malaysia and Singapore. She has also performed with the choir at St David’s Hall, Cardiff and at the BBC Proms at The Royal Albert Hall.

As part of a small ensemble, Harriet has performed operatic scenes of Mozart, Verdi and Bizet and was featured as a soloist on a broadcast for BBC Radio 3 as part of the University of Huddersfield Chamber Choir. She also holds the Michael Peake award for Outstanding Oratorio Performance. Harriet’s recent solo performances include Vivaldi’s Gloria, Haydn’s Little Organ and Maria Theresa Masses. Past performances include the works of Finzi, Faure, Britten and Mozart.

Abigail Broughton

Soloists, Soprano

Abigail BroughtonAbigail was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield and began singing when she was six. She attended the Minster School in Southwell and also became a principal soloist in the Cantamus Girls’ Choir before winning the title of Nottingham Young Musician of the year in 2009. Since then, she has continued to scale new heights. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in 2015 with a First-Class Honours degree and is currently enrolled on the Master of Arts course. Equally at home on the stage or in the recital room, Abigail is developing an impressive career at home and abroad. She made her Aldeburgh Festival debut in 2014 and has performed in a number of concert venues in the UK.  Last year she undertook a tour of concerts in Boston, New York, Leipzig and London in collaboration with the Juilliard School under the baton of Masaaki Suzuki.

Roger Bryan

Organist, Soloists

Roger Bryan, who lives and works in Newark, has had a distinguished career as a recitalist at home and abroad, performing with many leading orchestras. He has made an enormous contribution to musical life in the region. From 1992 until 2009, Roger was Master of the Song School at Newark. He was also for several years Musical Director of the Lincoln Chorale, Lincolnshire’s well-established chamber orchestra. He is currently Musical Director of Newark Choral Society and also of the Trent Chamber Academy, based on Newark’s internationally famous School of Violin Making. He was for many years the accompanist to the Bingham and District Choral Society, retiring from that role last year. Roger also has a considerable reputation as a choir trainer, conductor and teacher.

Stephen Cooper

Baritone, Soloists

Stephen Cooper: BaritoneStephen began his singing career as a choirboy, finishing runner-up in the national Choirboy of the Year Awards in 1978. His adult solo performances have included the title roles in Elijah and Eugene Onegin, and past recitals have included Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin at the Leicestershire Literature Festival. He has also commissioned a song/duet cycle setting of A Village Romeo and Juliet, with words by Radio 4’s Nigel Forde and music by Suffolk composer Jack Hawes. The first performances were given with soprano Caroline Palmer in 1993.

Stephen has been a member of Nottingham Bach Choir, conducted by Paul Hale, since 2001, and frequently takes solo roles in their concerts, including Christus in Bach’s St Matthew Passion, performed at Southwell Minster in March 2012, and baritone soloist in Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem in June 2013. Stephen is an Auxiliary Lay Clerk at Southwell Minster, and has joined the Minster Chorale as a soloist on a number of occasions, including Vaughan Williams’ Mystical Songs in 2014. In July 2016 Stephen will be accompanied by his father John in a Friday lunchtime recital at the Minster, which will include songs by George Butterworth, who died at The Somme in August 1916.

Marcus Farnsworth

Baritone, Soloists

Marcus Farnsworth: BaritoneMarcus Farnsworth was awarded first prize in the 2009 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition and the Song Prize at the 2011 Kathleen Ferrier Competition and has appeared in recital at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, La Monnaie, Brussels with Julius Drake; on a UK tour of Schubert Winterreise with James Baillieu; for Leeds Lieder with Graham Johnson and at Opéra de Lille with Simon Lepper. He has appeared many times at the Wigmore Hall with Malcolm Martineau, Julius Drake and Graham Johnson, the Myrthen Ensemble and Joseph Middleton and with the Carducci Quartet.

Highlights of the 2016/17 season and beyond, he will sing and record Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony conducted by Martyn Brabbins and also Hubbard in Doctor Atomic conducted by John Adams, both with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Other concerts include Ned Keene Peter Grimes at the Bergen Festival and Edinburgh International Festival with Edward Gardner, as well return invitations for recitals at the Wigmore Hall, London with James Baillieu and Amsterdam Concertgebouw with Joseph Middleton.

On the opera stage he will appear as Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream on tour with the Aix en Provence Festival; Eddy in Turnage Greek for Boston Lyric Opera and Strephon in Iolanthe for English National Opera. Past roles include Guglielmo, English Clerk in Britten Death in Venice and Novice’s Friend in Billy Budd for ENO; Lance Corporal Lewis in the world premiere of In Parenthesis by Ian Bell for Welsh National Opera and Sid in Britten Albert Herring in concert with the BBC SO. Further afield Marcus has sung Demetrius A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Bergen National Opera and Kelvin in Fujikura Solaris in Paris, Lille and Lausanne;

He has also sung Britten War Requiem, Elgar The Apostles, Carmina Burana; Berlioz L’enfance du Christ, Brahms and Faure Requiems with orchestras including Adelaide Symphony, Royal Scottish National, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras; RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Dublin; BBC Symphony, Philharmonic and Scottish Symphony Orchestras conducted by François-Xavier Roth, Paul McCreesh, Claus Peter Flor; Bernard Labadie and Edward Gardner.

A strong supporter of contemporary composers, Marcus has sung many works by John Taverner, Sally Beamish, Thomas Larcher, Peter Maxwell Davies and David Sawer with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC SO and Aurora Ensemble and conductors Gianandrea Noseda and Nicolas Collon. For the 2017 BBC Proms, he will perform Maxwell Davies Eight Songs for a Mad King with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, conducted by Sian Edwards.

Marcus has also sung Bach St John Passion (bass arias) with the Ulster Orchestra; Bach St Matthew and St John Passions (bass arias and Christus) with the Gabrieli Consort and Paul McCreesh and Monteverdi Vespers on tour with Emmanuelle Haïm.

Marcus graduated with a first class honours degree from Manchester University. He studied singing at and is an Associate of The Royal Academy of Music, London and is the founder and artistic director of the Southwell Music Festival

Ruth Massey

Mezzo-Soprano, Soloists

Ruth Massey mezzo sopranoBorn in Nottinghamshire, Ruth Massey was educated at Worksop College and Cambridge University, where she held a Choral Scholarship at Clare College. She has performed with many of the UK’s foremost consorts, specialising in Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music. She has toured the world with The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, The Eric Whitacre Singers and The Gabrieli Consort. European concert highlights include Haydn Harmoniemesse at the Festival de Musique de La Chaise Dieu, France, Handel Dixit Dominus at Santa Maria di Montesanto, Rome, Italy (the church where this majestic piece was first performed in 1707), and Ockeghem Missa Prolationum in the Conzertgebouw Amsterdam.

Closer to home, London performances include Mozart Vesperae Solennes de Confessore at The Barbican, Rachmaninov Vespers at Cadogan Hall, Buxtehude’s seven-cantata cycle Membra Jesu Nostri at Kings Place, Pärt Stabat Mater at the Wigmore Hall, and Britten Ceremony of Carols in the City of London Festival. With The Sixteen she gave an acclaimed performance of two solo-voice Bach Cantatas at the Edinburgh Festival, of which The Scotsman said: ‘especially memorable was Ruth Massey’s alto aria in BWV146. … Its shapely phrasing was illuminated from within by warm persuasiveness and a desire to reach heaven that no God could refuse.’

Ruth has appeared on over 100 commercial CDs, several of which have won Gramophone Awards. Hollywood soundtrack recordings have also featured prominently in Ruth’s work, from the mighty Harry Potter films to DreamWorks’ animation Flushed Away!

Ruth lives in North Nottinghamshire and is Director of Music at Ranby House School. Her greatest loves are the music of Poulenc and long muddy walks in Clumber Park with her two hounds.

Peter Nicholson

Soloists, Tenor

Peter Nicholson: TenorPeter, currently a Lay Clerk at Southwell Minster, is a freelance tenor, pianist and composer. He is closely involved with the professional choral world, having sung with renowned groups such as Ex Cathedra, the Armonico Consort and the Chapterhouse Choir, York. He studied at Birmingham Conservatoire, and focused primarily on early performance practice and keyboard improvisation. When not singing, he can be found working on restoring one of the multitude of harmoniums, accordions or melodions he has collected over the years.