We have a superb line-up of performers for the world premiere of Blue Pearl on 14.5.2022, with the London Mozart Players, Excelsis and Vox Farnham Chamber Choirs, and four wonderful soloists – Felicity Hayward (soprano), Luthien Brackett (mezzo-soprano), David de Winter (tenor), Geoff Williams (bass), conducted by Rob Lewis.
Founded in 1949 by Harry Blech to delight audiences with the works of Mozart and Haydn, the London Mozart Players is one of the world’s finest chamber ensembles. The LMP has a unique musical pedigree; its rich history connects it to the greatest names in classical music, while its pioneering approach to music-making marks the orchestra as a leader in terms of outreach, education and diversity. The LMP is a versatile chamber orchestra of the 21st Century, dedicated to reaching new audiences with classical music.
The London Mozart Players will be joined by the combined forces of Excelsis and Vox Farnham Chamber Choirs.
Excelsis Chamber Choir is a superb choir of about 30 singers under the baton of Music Director Robert Lewis. Excelsis performed the opening concert of the Grayshott Concerts’ 2017 season with the London Mozart Players. In 2015 Excelsis performed the world premiere of Karl Jenkins’ The Healer – A Cantata for St Luke, with the Marylebone Camerata. Following the success of The Healer project, the choir was invited by Sir Karl to sing in a performance of The Armed Man with the Welsh choir, Cor Caedydd, and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at St. David’s Hall, Cardiff. Exclesis are Choir-in-Residence for the Grayshott concert series. In 2017, Excelsis recorded a new CD ‘Sacred Choral Music’, a selection of composer Clive Osgood’s settings of well known texts. Accompanied by the London Mozart Players and featuring soprano Rebecca Moon, the CD has been very well received by the music press.
Vox Farnham Chamber Choir is a group of 20 singers based in Farnham, Surrey, UK. The choir was founded by Robert Taylor in 2002 to make cathedral visits, but this quickly developed into performing concerts. Under current musical director, Robert Lewis, Vox sing sacred and secular music from the renaissance and romantic periods through to works of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries including arrangements of jazz, popular songs and folksongs. Vox has sung services at a number of cathedrals, including Winchester, Chichester, Southwark, Portsmouth, Guildford and at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Vox typically perform three concerts a year and have sung at the Guildford International Music Festival.
Rob Lewis, conductor Robert Lewis is a conductor, performer and educator. Born in Cardiff, he began his musical training as a chorister at Westminster Cathedral under the direction of David Hill and James O’Donnell and later won a choral scholarship to the Oratory School and New College, Oxford, where he read Music. Robert is the co-founder of Excelsis and has been its Director of Music since its inception in 2007. Since this time, the choir has earned a reputation for excellence, both locally and further afield, and has performed with some of the country’s leading musicians. Robert has worked with such artists as Sir Charles Mackerras, David Hill, Karl Jenkins, the Marylebone Camerata and James Bowman. As a singer, Robert has made over 25 recordings and toured numerous countries. He is also Director of Music of Grayshott Concerts. Robert directs several other musical groups including the choirs of St. Thomas-on-The Bourne Farnham, with whom he has released the CD ‘On Christmas Night’ and recorded the soundtrack for the Channel 4 drama ‘New Worlds’. He is also conductor for the ‘Vox’ chamber choir in Farnham.
Felicity Hayward studied on the Opera course at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and completed undergraduate studies at Trinity College of Music, graduating with First Class Honours and winning the Silver Medal, the Gladys Puttick prize and the Chamber Musc Prize. Felicity’s operatic roles to date include Clorinda in Rossini’s La Cenerentola, Rosalinde Die Fledermaus, La Princesse/Une Pastourelle L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and 2nd Woman/1st Witch Dido and Aeneas. In 2016 she performed Micaela Carmen, Belinda Dido and Aeneas, Thisbe Pyramus and Thisbe and Edith Pirates of Penzance at Dartington Summer School. She created the roles of ‘Woman’ and ‘Rhino’ in Danyal Dhondy’s Just So at the 2012 Tête à Tête Opera Festival. Felicity played Mrs Grose in Britten’s Women at the Bath International Festival and in 2015 sang the role of High Priestess in Verdi’s Aida for South Downs Opera, as well as covering the title role.
Extensive solo oratorio engagements have included Verdi Requiem, Haydn Nelson Mass and The Creation, Mozart Requiem and Coronation Mass, Handel Messiah, Bach Magnificat, Fauré Requiem and Vivaldi Gloria. Felicity is a passionate exponent of song and of new music. She has collaborated frequently with the London Composers Forum and similar groups, and in 2014 participated in the Flourish Opera Competition in they heavily vanish by Timothy Lewis Thornton, a piece which was performed in full at the Tête-à-Tête Opera Festival in 2015. She is based in London.
Born in San Diego, California to parents who loved to read, Luthien was named for the character of the elf princess Lúthien Tinùviel in J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium. According to her mother and father, at the age of two, she clambered up onto the table during a dinner party and sang “You Light Up My Life” from start to finish with perfect pitch. That was probably her first public performance.
Praised by the press for her “lushness and delicacy,” “easy, appealing alto” and “silky tone among all registers,” Luthien is in great demand as a concert soloist and professional chorister. She received her undergraduate training at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, where she was a member of the Westminster Choir and sang under the batons of some of the world’s most respected conductors, including Wolfgang Sawallisch and Kurt Masur. After completing her Bachelors degree, she entered the professional arena, and spent many years building a distinguished career, with performing engagements across the U.S. and abroad. She has recently completed her post-graduate studies at the University of York in the United Kingdom.
David de Winter was born in Surrey and received his formative musical training as a chorister at Westminster Cathedral, before studying Music at Durham University and Voice at the Royal Academy of Music. He was a finalist in the 2019 Handel Singing Competition, winning the Selma D and Leon Fischbach Memorial Award. His musical repertoire spans over 900 years, from the 11th Century to the present day. Primarily known as an interpreter of baroque and renaissance music, David is also a committed performer of contemporary music. Recent highlights include Matthäus Passion (arias) with Philharmonie Zuidnederland and Jos van Veldhoven, Coridon in Acis & Galatea at the Teatro Garibaldi in Sicily with The Early Opera Company, Messiah (Hereford Cathedral), the title role in Acis & Galatea with The Brook Street Band at the love:Handel Festival, and recitals at the Foundling Museum and London Handel Festival.
Geoff Williams trained at the Royal Academy of Music completing a Master’s Degree in Performance, with Distinction. Recent roles include Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Geronio in Il turco in Italia, Escamillo and Dancaire in Carmen, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutti, General Achilla in Giulio Cesare (Handel). He also covered the role of Marchese d’Obigny in La Traviata for Longborough Festival Opera. Geoff’s concert performances have included Herod in Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ (Scherzo Ensemble), Orff’s Carmina Burana (Colston Hall), Verdi’s Requiem (L’église de la Madeleine and Chartres Cathedral), Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle (St Margaret’s Church, Westminster), Pilatus and Arias in Bach’s St Matthew Passion (Wells Cathedral), Pilatus and Arias in St John Passion (Southwell Minster and Galway Cathedral), Barber’s Dover Beach with the Villiers Quartet (St John’s Smith Square). He also understudied Roderick Williams in the World Premiere of the ‘Da Vinci Requiem’ by Cecilia Mcdowall with the Philharmonia Orchestra (Royal Festival Hall). He studies with Janice Chapman and Gavin Carr.