Abigail 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, 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 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 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
Born 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, 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.
Organist and harpsichordist Michael Overbury’s early musical influences centred on Farnham and London, where he was introduced to the glories of the English liturgical tradition, and it was here also that his organ teacher Stephen Thomson inspired in him a love of the harpsichord.
Horizons broadened with an Organ Scholarship to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. After graduating he held a number of posts including deputy organist and choir master at the Cathedral and Abbey Church at St Alban’s. After winning First Prize in the 1982 Manchester International Organ Competition, he appeared twice as soloist at the Royal Festival Hall and has continued to play with many choirs and orchestras.
He is currently accompanist to Ruddington and District Choral Society, and to Sinfonia Chorale.
Elizabeth is a graduate of Royal Holloway, University of London, where she gained an honours degree in Music whilst specialising in solo performance. Alongside her studies, she sang as a choral scholar with the college’s highly acclaimed chapel choir, and also sang regularly as a soloist with Royal Holloway’s Early Music Society and the college’s ‘Undergraduated’ Big Band. Now based in London, Elisabeth enjoys a busy career as a freelance soloist, choral singer and choir administrator. She sings regularly with a number of ensembles including St Martin’s Voices, The Erebus Ensemble, The Portrait Choir, Sansara, Eboracum Baroque, the Choir of St Peter’s Church Eaton Square, The Echoris Ensemble, and the National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain, and she is one 5th of the classical-crossover girl group Celeste. Elisabeth is an alumna of the Genesis Sixteen choral training programme, which is generously supported by the Genesis Foundation and run by Harry Christophers and Eamonn Dougan, and she held a choral scholarship at St Martin-in-the-Fields for the academic year 2013-2014. Choral singing has taken Elisabeth on tours of Sweden, Italy, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Malaysia, and the US, as well as all over the UK, and she has sung for world renowned conductors at the BBC Proms including Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Simon Rattle, and Daniel Barenboim. She has had the opportunity to sing on several live radio and television broadcasts including BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship, BBC Radio 3’s In Tune and Choral Evensong, BBC One’s Songs of Praise, The Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance, and services at The Cenotaph and St Martin-in-the-Fields to commemorate the 70th Anniversaries of VE Day and VJ Day. She has also recorded critically acclaimed discs for Hyperion.
James read Music at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and Royal Holloway, University of London, before undertaking postgraduate training in vocal performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, studying with Adrian Thompson.
James made his international debut as Ferrando Così fan tutte with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra at the Birgitta Festival, Tallinn, in 2016. Other operatic highlights include Don Ottavio Don Giovanni, Bardolfo Falstaff (Black Cat Opera Company) and Remendado Carmen (OperaUpClose). Earlier this year, he made his solo debut at St Martin-in-the-Fields, in a performance of Mozart’s Requiem alongside the Brandenburg Sinfonia.
When not singing, James is also active as a musicologist, and is currently studying for a PhD on the music of George Enescu at Royal Holloway, where he is also a visiting tutor. www.jamessavagehanford.com.
James Williams was born in London and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. Since graduating, James has distinguished himself as a successful artist on the operatic stage as well as in concert and recital.
In 2015-16, James completed the trilogy of the Mozart/Da Ponte operas, performing the title role of Don Giovanni, Don Alfonso/Così fan tutte and Il Conte/Le nozze di Figaro in fully-staged productions across the UK with Dulwich Opera Company and Opera Seria.
In oratorio, James has performed as baritone soloist in: Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem, Finzi’s In Terra Pax, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and Jonathan Rathbone’s Christmas Truce.