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.

Richard Dowling

Soloists, Tenor

Richard Dowling is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music’s Opera Course, where he was privileged to perform the role of Tom Rakewell in Stravinsky’s ‘The Rake’s Progress’ and as a soloist in the Academy’s complete Bach cantatas series. He is now supported by Opera Prelude and regularly appears in their concerts and lectures.

He sang the role of Ferrando in Mozart’s ‘Cosi fan tutte’ with West Green Opera and, working with the inspirational Graham Vick, performed the role of the Sailor in Birmingham Opera Company’s production of Purcell’s ‘Dido and Aeneas’. He has sung the role of Nemorino in Donizetti’s ‘Elisir d’amore’ with Jackdaws OperaPLUS. He has been a regular with Garsington Opera and amongst other roles performed as the Glassmaker in Britten’s ‘Death in Venice’ conducted by Steuart Bedford. He also sang the role of Count Almaviva in Rossini’s ‘The Barber of Seville’ as a young artist with Mid Wales Opera.

He is also an experienced oratorio artist, engagements including Britten’s ‘Ballad of Heroes’ and Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ in the Bridgewater Hall, Finzi’s ‘Dies Natalis’ in Brentwood Cathedral, Janacek’s ‘Otcenas’ in Gorton Monastery and the ‘Messiah’ in Lincoln Cathedral.

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

Emily Hodkinson

Mezzo-Soprano, Soloists

Emily is a Nottingham-born mezzo-soprano. She studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on
the MMus Vocal Performance Course, studying with Clare Shearer and is supported by a
scholarship. She is the winner of the John and Barbara Beaumont Bursary and the Liz Chant
Bursary.
She holds a First Class Honours Degree in Music from the University of York and was a Fellow
of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain in 2017-18. She sang with Genesis Sixteen from
2016-17 under the direction of Harry Christophers and Eamonn Dougan.
Recent and forthcoming appearances include Elgar’s The Music Makers with Nottingham
Festival Chorus in February 2019, Sara (Tobias and the Angel, Dove) for Nottingham Cathedral
and Streetwise Opera and recitals in the Southwell Minster and the Nottingham Classics preconcert
recital. Alongside oratorio with the European Union Chamber Orchestra at St John Smith
Square and with Aldeburgh Voices at the Snape Maltings Easter Weekend.
Emily had the honour of being the first Female Alto to sing with the Men and Boys Choir at
Southwell Minster in February 2018, a landmark moment in the Minsters 900+ year history.

Carris Jones

Mezzo-Soprano, Soloists

Born in Surrey but largely raised in Southeast Asia, Carris Jones studied at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Music, graduating with a DipRam, the Academy’s highest performance award.

On the operatic stage, Carris has performed and covered roles at English National Opera, Iford Arts, Garsington Opera and Bury Court Opera. Carris made her Royal Festival Hall debut as Renee in the European premiere of Shostakovich’s Orango, with Esa Pekka-Salonen and the Philharmonia.

Carris’ concert  highlights include Britten Phaedra with members of the Philharmonia, Bach Magnificat for Laurence Cummings and the English Concert, and performances of Elgar Sea Pictures and Mahler Kindertotenlieder. As a consort singer, Carris has sung across five continents. She was a founder member of Stile Antico, and collaborated with Sting on his Dowland project, Songs from the Labyrinth.

In 2017, Carris joined the Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, the first female Vicar Choral ever to be appointed.

Matthew Keighley

Soloists, Tenor

Matthew Keighley is currently a master’s student at the Royal College of Music. He is a Soirée d’Or Scholar and working under the tutelage of Tim Evans-Jones. He is also supported by the Josephine Baker Trust. Prior to his studies at the Royal College of Music, Matthew was a Lay Clerk at Gloucester Cathedral.

Matthew is in growing demand across the UK and Ireland as a concert soloist. Recent performance highlights include Handel’s Messiah with Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum and Ethel Smyth’s Mass in D in Southwark Cathedral with London Oriana. Matthew was also recently involved in an Irish tour of Handel’s Theodora with the Irish Baroque Orchestra. Further afield, Matthew performed last summer in Corfu and Italy singing as a soloist for the Ionian University Choir.

Since starting music college in September, Matthew has been gathering experience on stage. He was delighted to be involved in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, directed by Sir Thomas Allen and looks forward to the College’s summer opera production where he has been cast as Errand Boy in Lennox Berkeley’s A Dinner Engagement.

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.

Michael Overbury

Continuo, Soloists

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.

Robert Parker

Instrumentalist, Soloists

Originally from Bath, Robert is a Graduate and Fellow of the Trinity College of Music, London.  He studied horn with John Burden, former principal horn of the London Symphony Orchestra and top session player – the John Burden Horn Quartet can be heard at the start of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club album!

Robert has appeared as a soloist across the country including in London, Somerset, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, and the East Midlands.  He has performed concerti by J S Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Telemann, Schumann and Richard Strauss, and also Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, becoming something of a champion of the horn and new music for the horn along the way… He has had music written especially for him, including Andy Evans’ Horn Concerto which he premièred in 2009 at the Albert Hall, Nottingham. Andy said that he wrote the piece ‘to showcase Robert’s lyrical and sensitive playing, that I have listened to over many years’.  Robert was invited to play the horn obbligato in A Celebration of Psalms, a new choral work composed in 2013 by Burton Joyce based David Machell, who then wrote a Horn Concerto for him.  Robert gave a “bravura performance” at its première in St Mary’s Church, Nottingham in July 2018.   He is looking forward immensely to playing the horn obbligato part in Guy Turner’s Lux Aeterna with the B&DCS on 17th November 2018.

As a busy freelance musician, Robert plays principal horn with the English Pro Musica, Lincolnshire Chamber Orchestra British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, National Festival Orchestra (including ten years with the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival at Buxton’s Opera House), along with numerous other professional orchestras, and has been a member of the Southwell Festival Sinfonia since its inception in 2014, under the baton of artistic director Marcus Farnsworth.  Robert enjoys chamber music, performing with the Hough Ensemble (a piano and wind group) at a variety of venues, including Nottingham’s Theatre Royal, Worksop College as part of their Worksop Music Concert Series, Grantham Music Club and Bingham Community Arts. He also regularly gives horn and piano recitals with Antony Clare.

The year 2018 heralds Robert’s 25th anniversary as Music Director of the Nottingham Concert Band, a thriving community band based in West Bridgford.  They are fresh from their tenth season of Proms in the Park, having celebrated Armed Forces Day in Bridgford Park on 30th June 2018 in collaboration with Rushcliffe Borough Council.  He is currently grants and donations officer for the British Horn Society as well as being a member of the executive committee, and has been active in co-organising a number of BHS national festivals, most recently in 2017 in Glasgow: this year’s festival is on 21st October 2018 in Cardiff.

For relaxation, Robert and his wife Ann enjoy walking their greyhound Mr Piper by the River Trent, and tending their allotment.