03 July 2023

News from Samling Artists – June 2023

Congratulations to Beth Taylor and William Thomas (pictured above) for their achievements at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. William reached the finals of the song prize and Beth was the judges’ wild-card selection for the main prize finals. You can see all their performances on the BBC website.

Photos: (c) Kirsten McTernan / BBC

The night before the final, the current competitors yielded the stage to four singers from previous finals for a Gala concert, of whom three were soprano Louise Alder, mezzo-soprano Claire Barnett-Jones and tenor Luis Gomes – a clear indication of the impact that Samling Artists have on this globally renowned competition.

King’s Birthday Honours

Continuing the theme of Samling Artists making an impact, the King’s first Birthday Honours were announced at the same time as the Cardiff finals, and we are delighted that Lucy Crowe and Nicky Spence became the first Samling Artists to be honoured – both receiving OBEs for services to music.


Congratulations to Natasha Page who won First Prize in the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards at Wigmore Hall and to Claire Barnett-Jones who reached the finals of the 2023 Elizabeth Connell Prize for dramatic sopranos and mezzo-sopranos and was awarded third prize.

Festivals and season announcements

Ryedale Festival

The Ryedale festival runs from 14 to 30 July, at venues across North Yorkshire, with appearances from Samling Artists Libby Burgess, Harriet Burns, Joseph Middleton, Nick Pritchard, Artist in Residence Nicky Spence OBE, and Krystal Tunnicliffe who is one of the festival’s Young Artists.

Oxford International Song Festival

The line-up for this year’s Oxford International Song Festival (the new name for Oxford Lieder) has been announced. This year’s theme explores the links between music and the visual arts, and Samling Artists Bethany Horak-Hallett and Natalie Burch open the festival with a concert at which the audience are invited to bring sketch-pads to create responses to the music.

The Emerging Artists at this year’s festival include Annabel Kennedy, Edward Kim and Emily Hoh. They will receive spotlight performances during concerts by major stars – Edward and Emily appear with Christine Rice, Timothy Ridout and Julius Drake and Annabel appears with Thomas Oliemans and Malcolm Martineau.

Other Samling Artists appearing at the festival are: Benjamin Appl, Neil Balfour, Natalie Burch, Harriet Burns, Anna Cavaliero, Jocelyn Freeman, Rowan Hellier, Anush Hovhannisyan, Julien Van Mellaerts, Catriona Morison, Ella O’Neill, Jo Ramadan, Toby Spence and Jonathan Ware.

Welsh National Opera

Emily Christina Loftus and Melissa Gregory have both been appointed as Associate Artists for Welsh National Opera. Emily’s upcoming appearances include Death in Venice and Suor Angelica and Melissa is in Il trittico and Ainadamar by Osvaldo Golijov.

Royal Northern Sinfonia

Our North East audiences have two opportunities to see Samling Artists with Royal Northern Sinfonia at Sage Gateshead. Nardus Williams is the soprano soloist for their annual Messiah on 16 December and Louise Alder and Madison Nonoa are soloists in Schumann’s oratorio based on Persian mythology Das Paradies und die Peri on Sunday 14 April.


Benjamin Appl and James Baillieu continue their partnership with a new album Forbidden Fruit, with songs ranging from folksong to the present day, exploring themes of transgression and paradise lost.

As part of his PhD research, Tim Parker-Langston has created a new online archive of Fanny Hensel’s songs, including 100 previously unpublished works, all of which are available to download for free. Alongside this, he has released a new album of Hensel’s songs, including 17 premieres, recorded at the Mendelssohn-Haus in Leipzig. Pianist Jâms Coleman is among the other artists appearing on the album.

Harry Bicket and the English Concert continue their acclaimed series of Handel recordings, with Serse, with Lucy Crowe OBE as Romilda. It was a Recording of the Month in Gramophone Magazine and The Times called it ‘three hours of Handelian bliss’ with Geoff Brown writing that ‘the singer who really excels … is Lucy Crowe, radiating steadfast purity of tone as Romilda’

Morag Atchison has released her debut CD, ‘The Distance’, a collection of songs by David Hamilton. As well as being one of New Zealand’s most prolific composers, David Hamilton, was also Morag’s school music teacher.

Neil Balfour makes his debut recording with the LSO in The Alice Sound, a multi-media project featuring a suite by Paul Rissmann based on Lewis Carroll’s Alice books. Neil tells us that after a serious cycling accident several days before the project, ‘I arrived at the recording venue with my arm in a sling, a black eye and many, many painkillers! Remarkably, I got through it and was able to sing well. One of the characters I played, Humpty Dumpty, felt hilariously typecast!’

The recording and videos are available on the project website:

One to watch…

And finally… we were delighted to see Jamie Woollard featured in this month’s BBC Music Magazine ‘Rising stars’ spot. Of course, this is no news to us, as we have watched his progression from Samling Academy through to becoming a Samling Artist.