The Power and the Passion

The Power and the Passion
Music of the Stuart Chapels Royal

St George's Bristol
Saturday 8th November 2008

Peter Leech    Conductor
Rachel Nicholls    Soprano
Timothy Travers-Brown    Counter-tenor
Joseph Cornwell    Tenor
Paul Reeves    Bass
Frideswide Ensemble    Hazel Brooks    Leader
Nigel Nash    Continuo

‘Bristol Bach Choir triumph”

‘From start to finish the entire performance by the Bristol Bach Choir was exquisite. Concerns about the rain were cast aside as the audience enjoyed two hours of Baroque splendour at St. George's...”

Click here to read the full review of the concert in Bristol University's independent student newspaper, Epigram Online.

Concert Order

(Scroll down or click a composer's name to view programme notes...)

John Blow (1649-1708) God spake sometime in visions
Innocenzo Fede (c.1660-1732) Laudate pueri Dominum
Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) Missa Sanctae Cecilia (excerpts):
- Et vitam venturi saeculi
- Agnus Dei
Henry Purcell (1659-95) My heart is inditing of a good matter Z 30
Excerpts from ‘The Fairy Queen” (1692):
- Symphony
- Air for the Chinese man
- Chaconne - Dance for a Chinese man and woman
G.F.Handel (1685-1759) ‘Eternal source of light divine” - Ode for theBirthday of Queen Anne (1714):
- Eternal source of light divine (Counter-tenor)
- The day that gave great Anna birth (Counter-tenor and Chorus)
- Let all the winged race with joy (Soprano and Chorus)
- Let flocks and herds (Tenor and Chorus - version 2)
- Let rolling streams (Counter-tenor, Bass and Chorus)
- Kind health descends (Soprano, Countertenor)
- The day that gave great Anna birth (Soprano, Counter-tenor and Chorus)
- United nations shall combine (Counter-tenor and Chorus)

Programme Notes

The programme comprises examples of the finest anthems and odes written by English baroque composers for the Royal Court during the final phase of the Stuart dynasty, restored hastily and, for man, unexpectedly in 1660. It also celebrates the 300th anniversary of the death of John Blow, one of the leading composers of the Restoration period. Blow lived during an era of tremendous social, political and religious upheaval in Britain but it was also a period of outstanding technological, military and cultural achievements. Charles II's founding of the Royal Society (1660), Royal Observatory (1675) and other scientific enterprises set in motion an unstoppable spirit of enquiry into the forces of the natural world. Alongside similar intellectual pursuits in continental Europe, English contributions to the new age of ‘Reason' were pioneering and formidable. It was also a period during which the Royal Navy gained supremacy of the seas and when the organisational structure of the British Army was clearly defined, regiments being established which today celebrate proud and ancient traditions of loyal service and battle honours. Furthermore, it was a time when architecture, art and music in particular reached heights of excellence and expression rarely equalled in subsequent generations. Without the vision and patronage of the later Stuarts (all too often derided for their bouts of profligacy) Christopher Wren might not have built St Paul's Cathedral, Peter Lely and Godfrey Kneller might have been denied the opportunity to create their superb portraits and Henry Purcell's anthems might never have adorned the sound world of the Chapel Royal.

Music was an essential part of royal coronations, birthdays and other celebrations, but also a constituent of daily ritual in the Court's religious institutions. In 1660 the once proud choirs of the Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey had been ravaged by nearly 20 years of inactivity and neglect. Charles II, highly aware of the value of royal liturgical ceremony in the demonstration of kingship, was also keen to re-establish the Chapel Royal as it had been in his father's day and he not only attended services on a regular basis but took an interest in the development of the choir. Unfortunately, few musicians trained before the 1640s were still alive but a handful, led by Captain Henry Cooke (c.1615-72), succeeded in resurrecting the choir school, albeit with considerable difficulties. With very few experienced treble choristers available in London, Cooke was charged with recruiting talented boys from provincial Cathedrals, eventually bringing together a team that included Pelham Humfrey, John Blow and Michael Wise, each emerging as leaders in the next generation of English musicians that included Henry Purcell. Cooke was assisted in those early days by the composer Matthew Locke, a Catholic who could not perform in the Chapel; he was organist to Charles II's Queen Consort Catherine of Braganza at St James's Palace (1662-71) and Somerset House (1671-77). Cooke and Locke composed anthems which became the staple diet of the young Blow and his colleagues. These works were testament to the abilities of Cooke's choir, constantly improving in the face of serious problems, the worst of which was a drastic reduction in court music expenditure in 1667. Cooke kept the boys away from the chapel for short periods in 1668 and again in 1670 because they were so ill-cared for, their clothes reputedly being ‘in tatters'. Samuel Pepys' diary alludes to the occasionally dire state of music in the mid-1660s when he compared it to the evidently superb music performed by the professional Italian musicians in the Chapel of Catherine of Braganza.

However, by the mid 1670s the tide had turned and Cooke had succeeded in building a choir which would be the envy of choral foundations throughout England. Not only did the second generation comprising Blow and his colleagues produce new, sometimes startling compositions for the Chapel Royal, but as organ teachers they nurtured the young Henry Purcell, rapidly developing as a musician of unparalleled talent who, from an early age, composed superb anthems whilst supplementing his income in the wider world as a teacher, virtuoso performer and theatre composer. By the time of Charles II's death in 1685 Purcell was 26 and at the height of his powers, to such an extent that John Blow respectfully relinquished his post as organist at Westminster Abbey in 1679 to him, only to retrieve it when Purcell died prematurely at the age of 36 in 1695.

James II The coronation of James II, set for 23 April 1685, was the first major testing of the combined choirs of the Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey since the coronation of Charles I in 1625, but it was also unlike any coronation since Elizabeth I and any of those which followed. The new king was a Roman Catholic (having converted with Jesuit assistance in the late 1660s) and his second wife, Mary of Modena, was an Italian Catholic princess. Mary of Modena Neither of them would accept communion in the Anglican rite, and much of the service had to be adapted by William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, partly so that it did not offend leading Anglican Clergy but also to satisfy the needs of a king who made no secret of his desire to advance his beloved Catholicism which had for so long been oppressed. As a result, some of the anthems and prayers in the service were deliberately short, but there were some extended ceremonial offerings which demonstrated not only the talent of composers such as Blow and Purcell, but also the abilities of the court musical establishment.

The 1685 Coronation was unique in another respect in that it was the first for which a detailed account was published. The edition The History of the Coronation of James II (1687) by Francis Sanford, Lancaster Herald, was an elaborate and expensive attempt to flatter a monarch. Illustrations accompanying these programme notes come from this publication, a copy of which is owned by the present writer. Unfortunately, James' flight into exile in 1688 meant Sandford never recouped the cost of printing it and eventually went bankrupt.Nevertheless, it is a valuable and detailed account of the preparations for the event and the order of musical, ceremonial and liturgical components which often took place simultaneously.
We know, for example, that John Blow's ‘God spake sometime in visions', Anthem VIII, occurred during the presentation of commemorative Coronation medals by the Treasurer of the Royal Household to the congregation in the South, West and North sides of a temporary purpose-built wooden auditorium. The text of this glorious work, comprising an evocative opening symphony typical of Blow's orchestral anthems and three choral bass parts beneath first and second trebles, altos and tenors, was adapted by Sancroft from Psalm 89 and makes considerable emphasis of the triumph of good over evil; ‘the enemy shall not be able to do him violence', for example, was undoubtedly a pointed reference to James' own feelings that, having lingered in the shadow of his brother for so long, he could now freely express his political and religious convictions and woe betide any who disagreed. There must have been some last-minute changes, for the opening line of the official text was ‘God spake sometime in visions unto his Saints, and said'; but the words ‘unto his Saints' were removed. Perhaps Sancroft felt that this reference was a ‘papist' step too far for an event with which numerous theological compromises had already been agreed.
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From February 1684 to early December 1686 James probably heard Mass and Vespers at the Catholic Chapel at St. James's Palace, then the principal chapel of Mary of Modena. At the same time a new Catholic chapel was being constructed at Whitehall, which finally opened at Midnight Mass, 1686. Designed by Christopher Wren and adorned with carvings by Grinling Gibbons and paintings by Benedetto Gennari and Antonio Verrio, it was ‘the most lavish ecclesiastical building produced in England since the reign of Henry VIII' (Thurley). Only two complete sacred works from this chapel by its Italian music master Innocenzo Fede are known to have survived, a setting of the Vespers Psalm 112, ‘Laudate pueri' and a ‘Nunc dimittis' for Compline, tantalising fragments of what was undoubtedly a large repertory of choral music which probably perished when Whitehall palace was almost totally destroyed by fire in January 1698. The ‘Laudate', with its double-choir interplay and serene fluidity of expression, illustrates the prevailing Roman aesthetic in the Whitehall Catholic Chapel, an opulent but provocative outpost of Counter-Reformation Europe in the heart of Protestant London.

Laudate pueri Dominum,
laudate nomen Domini.
Sit nomen Domini benedictum,
ex hoc nunc, et usque in saeculum.
A solis ortus usque ad occasum
laudabile nomen Domini.
Excelsus super omnes gentes Dominus,
et super coelos gloria ejus.
Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster,
qui in altis habitat
et humilia respicit in coelo et in terra, suscitans a terra inopem,
et de stercore erigens pauperem,
ut collocet eum cum principibus
populi sui,
qui habitare facit sterilem in domo
matrem filiorum laetantem.

Praise the Lord, you His servants,
praise the name of the Lord.
May the name of the Lord be blessed
from this time onward forever.
From the rising of the sun until its setting,
the name of the Lord is praiseworthy.
The Lord is on high above all nations
and his glory is over the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
who lives on high
and regards the lowly in heaven and on earth;
raising up the destitute man from the earth
and lifting up the poor man from the muck,
that he may place him with the princes
of his people;
who makes a barren woman live in a house,
the happy mother of children.

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Settings of the Mass for choir and orchestra were undoubtedly performed in the chapel on Feast Days, but whilst some surviving manuscripts in English sources from the 1680s suggest they may have been used there, the repertoire has yet to be precisely identified. Alessandro Scarlatti's sublime ‘Missa Santa Cecilia' is very similar to the orchestral settings James would have heard at Whitehall, and even more typical of the chapel music performed during the king's exile at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The whole effect of the service at Whitehall would have constituted worship as a Catholic monarch desired it to be; divine sounds (music, plainsong and speech) mixed with sights and smells (freshly-gilded pilasters and carvings, brightly coloured paintings, Jesuits dressed in rich copes, incense billowing out of a swinging thurible). Although the Cecilia Mass is a late work in the output of Scarlatti (almost an exact contemporary of Fede) his mass style (with frequent scorings for two soprano parts, as Giovanni Battista Draghi had done in his 1687 Ode to St Cecilia) changed little from the end of the seventeenth century. Excerpts have been included in this evening's programme partly as a small indulgence the conductor asks for his final appearance, the ‘Agnus Dei' being a favourite piece.

Et vitam venturi saeculi. Amen.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
And the life of the world to come. Amen.

O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

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Purcell's sublime anthem ‘My heart is inditing', Anthem IX in the 1685 Coronation, took place after the elaborate anointing and crowning of the Queen who, ‘having received all her Royal ornaments‘ arose from her footstool and approached the King, bowed herself reverently to His Majesty sitting upon his throne; and so was conducted to her own throne on the left hand of the king where she reposed herself till the anthem was ended'. Purcell's work must surely be one of the finest and most moving offerings composed to accompany a Royal procession, and persons present must have been dazzled not only by the Queen's clothing ‘in wrought gold' and ‘raiment of needlework' but also by her attested beauty set amongst heavenly sounds wafting from the choir loft above. Ironically, this anthem and Blow's ‘God spake' were two of the last elaborate religious works in English composed for James II. ‘My heart is inditing' effectively marked the end of the high point in the development of the English ‘Symphony' anthem for strings which had emerged during the reign of Charles II. From 1685 regular payments to string players in the Anglican Chapel Royal were discontinued, though a number did perform when Princess Anne attended services. The substantial Gostling score-book contains a handful of anthems for strings by Purcell which were probably performed for Anne in the 1680s, works from which Handel undoubtedly drew ideas and inspiration when he composed for Anne as Queen thirty years later.

Purcell spent as much time composing for the theatre as he did for the church and contributed significantly to the development of the semi-opera (a genre utilising spoken dialogue, vocal and instrumental music as well as elaborate scenery and dance) the most famous examples being ‘Dido and Aeneas', ‘King Arthur' and ‘The Fairy Queen', the last of which premiered in the Spring of 1692, with a revival in the following year. ‘The Fairy Queen' contains a rich repertory of superb arias and instrumental movements. The conclusion of Act V satisfies the prevailing contemporary tastes for exotic, far-eastern things when the East India Company monopoly of trade with China brought luxury goods such as silk and porcelain into English homes. By the 1690s there was a general fascination with all things Chinese, enhanced by the enthusiasm of Mary II (queen from 1689-94) for oriental ceramics and fabrics. The final scene is set in a Chinese Garden with (as the printed libretto states) ‘architecture, trees, plants, fruit, birds [and] beasts, quite different from what we have in this part of the world'. The relevance of this scene to the plot (based on Shakespeare's ‘A midsummer night's dream') is mystifying, but in any case Purcell composed fabulous instrumental and vocal music for it, the most beautiful example being the noble and rousing Chaconne.
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In one of his many public lectures the great English music critic, writer on music and editor of the third and fourth editions of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Henry Colles (1879-1943) referred to the text of Handel's ‘Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne' (by Ambrose Philips) as ‘fulsome doggerel'. Colles argued that Handel probably did not chuckle in response to being given the words containing the refrain ‘The day that gave great Anna birth who fix'd a lasting peace on earth', since ‘fulsomeness' was common in forms of address to Royal personages and because he did not yet know enough English to realize how awful the ‘doggerel' was. Regardless of the text, Handel quickly assimilated recent repertory of English churches and Cathedrals into his own musical understanding. In his early days in London he played the organ at St Paul's Cathedral, made friends with members of the choir and studied their daily musical activity, absorbing not only the style of Purcell but also John Eccles (chiefly a composer of court odes) and William Croft, at that time the leading composer in the Chapel Royal. By the mid 1690s the performance of celebratory odes, such as on New Year's Day and the monarch's birthday, had become an established part of the court's yearly cycle of activity. Eccles regularly provided odes during the first decade of the eighteenth century, but with a subsequent gap between 1712 and 1714. Court documents reveal little about music performed for the 1713 or 1714 birthdays of Queen Anne. Although the Queen was at Windsor for her birthday (6 February) there is no report of a court ode performance (Burrows) but there are records of payments to her musicians for attendance at Windsor on this day. The choice of composer for the 1714 birthday ode, sung by the choir of the Chapel Royal, fell luckily to Handel. In his book on Handel and the Chapel Royal Donald Burrows refers to the text as having ‘eminently settable verses and attractive pastoral imagery', (presumably not referring to the refrain in this comment) which Handel evidently found easy to work with, the autograph manuscript suggesting great fluidity and lack of hesitancy in the flow of composition.

A highlight of the work is undoubtedly the superb opening accompanied recitative for counter-tenor and trumpet, weaving their way in an ethereal dialogue which seems to be derived from another world. Although Purcell had composed similar trumpet/voice duets, Handel's ideas are carried to far greater lengths. The other arias are equally satisfying, with a delightful soprano item ‘Let all the winged race with joy' and first duet for soprano and countertenor ‘Kind health descends'. Interestingly the original counter-tenor soloist Richard Elford may not have been capable of maintaining his stamina, since No.4 ‘Let flocks and herds' exists in an alternative version for tenor. Other soloists are well-served, for example with the ebullient bass aria ‘Let Envy then conceal her head' (sung originally by Bernard Gates) - reminiscent of similar operatic ‘rage' arias - and the excellent duet, sung by Francis Hughes and Samuel Weely, over an intoxicatingly energetic ostinato bass. The short but effective use of double choir in the final chorus must have enhanced the all-round splendour of the occasion, each group probably taken by decani and cantoris respectively in Anglican fashion, though there is some debate as to whether the performance took place in St. George's Chapel or in the Great Hall at Windsor. The text of the choral refrain might not be of the highest quality, but the way in which Handel adapts it to the main thematic material in each solo movement is proof of the genius of a composer who quickly made his mark in England, impressing the most influential people at court. There is no doubt that the musical ingenuity of this work, far above anything produced by Croft or Eccles (both excellent composers) contributed to the composer's rapid assimilation into the vibrant and cosmopolitan music world of late Stuart and early Georgian London.
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Rachel Nicholls RACHEL NICHOLLS studied at York University and the RCM, where she won the President's Gold Bowl. She has worked with conductors including Stephen Cleobury, Christian Curnyn, Colin Davis, John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, Martin Gester, Richard Hickox, Jean-Claude Malgoire, Simon Rattle, Steven Sloane, Masaaki Suzuki and David Willcocks, and for companies including the Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing, Royal Opera, English National Opera, English Touring Opera and Scottish Opera. Her repertoire includes Ginevra (Ariodante), Dorinda (Orlando), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Elettra (Idomeneo), Junon (Platée), Tatyana (Eugene Onegin), Flora (The Knot Garden) and Jenifer (The Midsummer Marriage). Broadcasts include Flashmob - The Opera and In Tune (BBC), and recordings include B Minor Mass (BIS), Silla (Somm), Hummel Mass in D Minor (Chandos) and Music by Cecilia McDowall (Dutton).
This Summer, she made her debut at the BBC Proms, and her orchestral engagements have further included performances with the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Britten Sinfonia, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Darmstadt Hofkapelle, the Hanover Band, the London Handel Players, the London Mozart Players, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra of St John's, Le Parlement de Musique and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
Current engagements include Marzelline (Fidelio) (London Lyric Opera), Joan (For You) (Music Theatre Wales), Wendy (Peter Pan) (Festival Rota dos Monumentos, Portugal), Fiordiligi (Cosí fan tutte) (Théâtre des Champs-Elysées), Armida (Rinaldo) (Edinburgh Festival), Nerone (L'Incoronazione di Poppea) (New Theatre, Tokyo), B Minor Mass, St Matthew Passion and Messiah (Bach Collegium Japan), Jauchzet Gott (Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in London and Minneapolis), Beethoven Mass in C (Bochum Symphony Orchestra), Britten Spring Symphony (Philharmonia Orchestra at the Three Choirs Festival, Hereford),The Kingdom (King's College, Cambridge), Szymanowski Stabat Mater (Huddersfield Choral Society) and an Opera Gala (Mikkeli City Orchestra).
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Timothy Travers Brown TIMOTHY TRAVERS-BROWN was born in Surrey in 1972 and began his singing career as a treble and alto in the choir of Chelmsford Cathedral. He was a cellist in The Essex Youth Orchestra, and an organist in four churches of the Chelmsford Diocese.
In 1994 he gained a BA Hons Music Degree from Colchester Institute School of Music. He won the singing competition at Colchester, and was also the winner of the English Song Class, The Men's Oratorio, British Composer and Vocal Recital Classes in The Huddersfield Festival of Arts between 1993 and 1995.
By the time he graduated, he had become an established soloist in works ranging from Lully's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Vivaldi's Nisi Dominus to Handel's Hercules (Lichas) and Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. Timothy studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Charles Brett and Anthony Saunders, and was involved in a series of London concerts celebrating the tercentenary of the life of Henry Purcell, compiled by the late Robert Spencer at venues including The National Portrait Gallery, The Banqueting House, and The Royal Academy in London. He was awarded a Countess of Munster Trust Award to further his studies with Charles Brett.
In 1995 he was appointed a lay clerk of St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. During his nine years there, he worked extensively as a freelance singer, and began establishing himself as a singing teacher. He was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 1999 and became a Professor of Singing at Trinity College of Music, London in 2001.
He has toured extensively, working with conductors such as Richard Hickox, Nicholas Kraemer, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Charles Mackerras, Paul McCreesh, Masaaki Suzuki, Nicholas McGegan, Laurence Cummings, Brian Kay , Peter Holman, Nigel Short, John S. Davies, Johnathan Rees-Williams, Denys Darlow, Malcolm Archer, Lorin Maazel and John Scott.
He has given recitals with lute and piano, most recently a recital of music of early and late Renaissance composers with the lutenist Jacob Heringman, broadcast for ‘The Early Music Show' on BBC Radio 3. In opera he has sung the title role in Gluck's Orfeo (Suffolk Villages Festival) and in the chorus of the recent production of Nineteen Eighty-Four by Lorin Maazel (Royal Opera House).
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Joseph Cornwell JOSEPH CORNWELL's career has taken him thoughout Europe and to North America and the Far East working with conductors including William Christie, Harry Christophers, Eric Ericson, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Gabriel Garrido, Hervé Niquet and Andrew Parrott.
Operatic rôles have included Snout (A Midsummer Night's Dream) (Teatro di San Carlo, Naples), Mitridate (Il Pompeo Magno) (Varazdin Festival), Polimone (Il Tito) (Opéra du Rhin), Il conte (Le nozze di Dorina) (Musikfestpiele Potsdam Sanssouci), Achille (Iphigénie en Aulide) (Opera Factory), Lurcanio (Ariodante) (St Gallen Opera), Pilade (Oreste) (English Bach Festival), Monteverdi L'Orfeo (Boston Early Music Festival, Capella Cracoviensis, Oslo Summer Opera), Giove (Il ritorno d'Ulisse) and (King Arthur) (Lisbon), Eumete (Il ritorno d'Ulisse) (Aix-en-Provence Festival - a production now available on DVD), Thespis/Mercure (Platée) (TCC Productions, Lisbon) and Tamese (Arsilda, Regina di Ponto) (Barga Festival).
His recordings include Evangelist (St Matthew Passion) with the Drottningholm Baroque Ensemble, Boyce (Peleus & Thetis) with Opera Restor'd, Campra Requiem and King Arthur with Le Concert Spirituel, Israel in Babylon with the Kantorei Saarlouis, Messiah and Monteverdi Vespers 1610 with the Taverner Consort, Acis & Galatea (GRAMOPHONE Baroque Vocal CD of 2000), Monteverdi Vespers 1610 and Mozart Mass in C Minor with Les Arts Florissants, Monteverdi Vespers 1610 with the Gabrieli Consort, Mozart Requiem with the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists, King Arthur (GRAMOPHONE CD of the Month) with Le Concert Spirituel, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle with Jos van Immerseel (BBC Radio 3 Building a Library Choice), Shepherd (Oedipus Rex) with The Philharmonia Orchestra, Tamese (Arsilda, Regina di Ponto) with Modo Antiquo and Fairest Isle with the Parley of Instruments. Current engagements include Orfeo L'Anima del Filosofo (Atelier Lyrique de Tourcoing), the St Matthew Passion (Capella Cracoviensis), Monteverdi Vespers 1610 (Gabrieli Consort) and Mars (Dido and Aeneas) (New London Consort).
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Paul Reeves PAUL REEVES studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Rudolf Piernay. There then followed a year at the National Opera Studio sponsored by The Richard Lewis Award (Glyndebourne), The Sybil Tutton Trust and The John Wates Trust.
Other engagements have included Matthew in the World Première of The Last Supper (Birtwistle) at the Staatsoper Berlin, a production repeated at Glyndebourne and on the South Bank, Zuniga (Carmen) with Tenerife Opera, Hobson (Peter Grimes) and Les Noces with Opera North, Dean (Babette's Feast) in the Linbury Studio Theatre, Covent Garden, Die Fiesque (Maria di Rohan) and Mr Gobineau (The Medium) with Wexford Festival Opera, Somnus (Semele), Colline (La Bohème) and Ceprano (Rigoletto) with English National Opera, PR Guy (The Birds) , Roger Corboz (The Shops) and Mr Olsen (Street Scene) with The Opera Group, Badger/Parson (The Cunning Little Vixen) with ETO and OTC, Dublin, Publio (La Clemenza di Tito) and Colline (La Bohème) (Glyndebourne), Clerk (May Night) (Garsington Opera), The Sergeant (The Pirates of Penzance) (D'Oyly Carte Opera Company), Gremin (Eugene Onegin) (Scottish Opera On Tour), The King (Aida) (Raymond Gubbay Ltd at The Royal Albert Hall), Wurm (Luisa Miller) and Sparafucile (Rigoletto) (Opera Holland Park) and Dr Grenvil (La traviata) (Longborough Festival Opera).
He sings regularly in concert, including the World Première of The Water Diviner's Tale (Rachel Portman) for the BBC Proms, 2007 and his current engagements include Don Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia) (Welsh National Opera), Abimelech (Samson et Dalila) and Sparafucile (Rigoletto) (Anna Livia International Opera Festival, Dublin), Ribbing (Un ballo in maschera) (Opera Holland Park) and Mother (The Seven Deadly Sins) (Royal Opera House, London), as well as a wide range of concerts throughout the UK. His recordings include The Shops, now available on NMC CD.
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Frideswide Ensemble of Oxford
Named after St Frideswide, Saxon princess & patron saint of Oxford, the Frideswide Ensemble performs chamber music and larger-scale repertoire from the late baroque exclusively on historical instruments. Associated in particular with Oxford and its surrounding areas, the Ensemble has worked with the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, presented a concert in aid of the Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust in Dorchester Abbey, and made an Educational and Concert Tour of the Channel Islands. In association with the Australian conductor, Peter Leech, Frideswide Ensemble has performed a wide range of choral works with the Bristol Bach Choir, City of Oxford Choir, and Aylesbury Choral Society.

Violin Hazel Brooks (leader)   Elizabeth Hodson
Jane Norman   Pauline Smith Viola Virginie Guiffray Cello Gabriel Amherst Double Bass Dawn Baker Oboe Jane Downer   Mark Baigent Bassoon Katrina Russell Trumpet Richard Fomison   Ross Brown


Paragon Concert Society We acknowledge the support of The Paragon Concert Society who administer funds left to them by the late Leo Reid Baker.

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