15 December 2023

End of Year News from Samling Artists 2023

We start our final news round-up of the year with congratulations to Melissa Gregory who won this year’s Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers’ Competition, accompanied by fellow Samling Artist Emily Hoh. The chair of the jury, tenor Bonaventure Bottone said ‘The decision was unanimous to award the first prize to mezzo-soprano Melissa Gregory. Her programme was well balanced and was performed with poise. Melissa rounded off with Dopo Notte, from Ariodante. This was sung with great style and stunningly exact coloratura.’

Image: Emily and Melissa in the Bampton Classical Opera Young Singers’ final. Photo credit Sisi Burn

We also send congratulations to Alexandra Lowe who has been made an Associate Member of the Royal Northern College of Music. These awards are made annually to alumni in recognition of the exceptional contributions they are making to their professions.

New recordings

If you’re still making your Christmas shopping lists, you might like to include some of the latest recordings featuring Samling Artists:

Nick Pritchard is the Evangelist on the debut recording of Bob Chilcott’s Christmas Oratorio with Merton College Choir. Presto Classical named it a recording of the week, and The Times included it in their pick of new Christmas releases, writing ‘The most winning feature is its intimate treatment of the Evangelist’s narrative, nimbly delivered by Nick Pritchard.’

Rowan Pierce joins Roderick Williams and Christopher Glynn on Volume 4 of ‘Schubert in English’ with new translations by Jeremy Sams, in a project that aims to give English listeners a sense what it is to hear Schubert in one’s own language.

Natalie Burch has released a new CD with soprano Francesca Chiejina and mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron. ‘Our Indifferent Century’ features familiar settings of W.H. Auden and Thomas Hardy by Benjamin Britten and Gerald Finzi alongside premiere recordings by William Marsey and Joanna Ward.

Natalie has also been named Associate Artistic Director for the 2024 Oxford International Song Festival.

Maria Hegele has released her debut album ‘Soliloquies’ of songs by Olivier Messiaen, Frank Bridge, Ernest Chausson, Hanns Eisler and new works by Paul Willot-Förster. She is joined by pianist Anna Szałucka with Connie Pharoah, viola, and Emily Turkanik, violin.

Role and house debuts

Svetlina Stoyanova makes her role debut as Balkis in Offenbach’s Barkouf at Opernhaus Zürich on Saturday 16 December, which she describes as ‘an exciting and super-fun show’.

Samantha Clarke makes her role debut as Woglinde in concert performances of Das Rheingold at Sydney Opera House with Sydney Symphony Orchestra conducted by Simone Young. She returns to the Sydney Opera House stage in January make her Opera Australia debut as Violetta in La traviata.

Samantha shares her thoughts about singing this iconic role in a video for Opera Australia:

Samantha returns to the UK later this year, to make her role debut as Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro at Garsington.

Filipe Manu and Bethany Horak-Hallett will both make house and role debuts in February at Opéra national de Paris in Calixto Bieito’s new production of The Exterminating Angel by Thomas Adès, with Filipe singing Eduardo and Bethany as Camila. The cast also includes Nicky Spence as Edmundo de Nobile.

Happy Christmas

If you’re heading off to see a performance of Messiah this season, you can find Samling Artists singing in performances across the English-speaking world and beyond. Here in the North East, Nardus Williams appears with Royal Northern Sinfonia at The Glasshouse International Centre for Music in Gateshead and at Middlesbrough Town Hall, and across the border Bethany Horak-Hallett tours Scotland with The Dunedin Consort.

In the other great baroque seasonal favourite, J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Jessica Cale was the soprano soloist earlier this month with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Masasaki Suzuki, with performances in Austria, Germany, Belgium, Paris and London. Among the rave reviews, Tim Ashley in The Guardian wrote that Jessica ‘sang with exquisite poise and admirable brightness of tone’.

If you can’t get to a live performance of Messiah, you can hear and watch Lucy Crowe on a new double CD and DVD package with the English Concert directed by John Nelsons, made at a performance in Coventry Cathedral last year. Lindsay Kemp in Gramophone writes ‘Lucy Crowe is a singer to treasure in a piece like this, heart-warmingly musical and authentic.’

You can also hear baritone Morgan Pearse on BBC Radio 3 on Tuesday 19 December in Mozart’s arrangement of Messiah, with the BBC Singers, Britten Sinfonia and conductor Sofi Jeannin.

Happy Christmas from all of us at Samling Institute.