28 February 2022

News from Samling Artists – February 2022

Congratulations to Liam Bonthrone who has won this year’s Clonter Opera Prize for emerging artists, representing the Royal Academy of Music. As well as a cash prize, he receives a recorded recital opportunity. Liam is pictured above receiving his prize from jury panel member Joan Rodgers CBE. (Photo credit Clonter Opera / James Russell).

BBC Music Magazine

You may have spotted that there was a Samling Artist double-bill on this month’s BBC Music Magazine cover. An in-depth profile by Richard Morrison of Nicky Spence was the cover story, whilst the cover CD was of recordings by Toby Spence of Beethoven and Schumann cycles.

House debut

Julien van Mellaerts makes his house and role debuts at Israel Opera as Silvio I pagliacci. He sent us greetings from a beautifully sunny Tel Aviv where he says he is ‘having a wonderful time with a truly stunning cast and team’.



Benjamin Appl and James Baillieu‘s new recording of Winterreise was released this month on Alpha Classics. The Times named it their Classical Recording of the Week, writing: ‘Appl, with his light, lyric, youthful instrument, brings fresh perspectives. While his diction is crystal-cut, his interpretation, full of colour and nuance, seems mature for such an unspoilt sound … The later songs benefit from Baillieu’s darkening tone and refined playing.’

Album details at Presto Classical

John Bridcut’s film of Benjamin and James performing Winterreise in the Swiss Alps was aired on BBC Four on Sunday 27 February, and is available in the UK on BBC IPlayer with no time limit.

Watch here

Bach St John Passion

John Eliot Gardiner’s lockdown performance from Easter 2021 of Bach’s St John Passion with the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists, filmed in the Sheldonian Theatre Oxford, will be released on DVD by Deutsche Gramophon on 4 March. The soloists include Nick Pritchard as Evangelist and William Thomas as Christus.

Leeds Lieder

As well as our own Samling Institute Showcase performance of Jonathan Dove’s Man, Woman, Child  with Shakira Tsindos, Dominic Sedgwick and Ian Tindale, this year’s Leeds Lieder festival includes appearances by Louise Alder, Ruby Hughes, Ilan Kurtser and Festival Director Joseph Middleton. 

Casting updates

Opera North Parsifal

Derek Welton, who sang his first Wagner role with the company 11 years ago, returns to Opera North this summer in the role of Klingsor in their concert-staging of Parsifal with performances at venues including Sage Gateshead. The cast also includes Samantha Clarke and Elin Pritchard as Flowermaidens and one of our most recent Samling Artists, Emily Christina Loftus in the chorus. They join Toby Spence who sings the title role.

Glyndebourne updates and debuts

Glyndebourne Festival have made further cast announcements with a number of firsts for Samling Artists. Alcina features a trio of Samling Artist house debuts for Rowan Pierce (Oberto), Svetlina Stoyanova (Ruggiero) and Beth Taylor (Bradamante). The cast also includes Stuart Jackson as Oronte.

There’s another Glyndebourne Festival debut for Lauren Fagan who sings the role of Avis in the first professional staging since 1939 of Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers, alongside James Rutherford as Laurent and Nardus Williams returns as Countess in Le nozze di Figaro.

Nevill Holt Opera / RNS

This year’s collaboration between Nevill Holt Opera and Royal Northern Sinfonia is a production of The Barber of Seville, with performances at Nevill Holt and Sage Gateshead. The cast includes Michel de Souza (Figaro), Andri Björn Róbertsson (Basilio) and Liam Bonthrone (Count Almaviva).

Royal Academy Honours

We end this month’s bulletin with warm congratulations to all the Samling Artists named in this year’s Royal Academy of Music Honours. James Baillieu is made a Fellow of the Royal Academy and Associate Honours (ARAM) go to Jocelyn Freeman, Sarah GilfordTristan HambletonEdwige HerchenroderNicholas MoggMichael Pandya, and Nardus Williams.

Shakira Tsindos, Dominic Sedgwick and Ian Tindale