Maureen Lehane 2015: Meet the Panel

On Thursday 12 November, seven singers will contest the Maureen Lehane first prize on the stage of London’s iconic Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards at Wigmore Hall. Let’s meet this year’s adjudication panel…

Mary Plazas
Jackdaws Tutor Mary PlazasMary Plazas studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where she was awarded the Curtis Gold Medal, and at the National Opera Studio. She won the 1991 Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship and the NFMS/Esso Award for Young Singers, and has received support from the Peter Moores Foundation. She has worked for periods of intensive study on interpretation in Geneva with the Swiss tenor, Eric Tappy.
Mary is represented by Owen White Management

Adrian Thompson
Adrian ThompsonAdrian is one of Britain’s leading operatic character tenors, long established on the stages of Covent Garden, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival and Garsington Festival and has made guest appearances at La Scala, Milan, Geneva Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Nederlandse Reisopera, Aix en Provence Festival and has sung in concert with all the leading orchestras of the UK and abroad. Over his career Adrian has long established a specific relationship with the music of Britten and Elgar for which he is much in demand on both the concert platform and recording studio.
Adrian Thompson is represented by Hazard Chase

Phillip Thomas
Phillip ThomasIn a career spanning over three decades, Phillip Thomas has worked as a vocal coach, casting associate, record producer, accompanist, vocal consultant and conductor.

As a student at the Royal Academy of Music in London, he worked for the Welsh National Opera and upon graduation, he joined the staff of the English National Opera at the London Coliseum. At ENO, he became head of the Young Artists Training Programme and still regards this part of his career as highly exciting, challenging and rewarding.

His prolific concert career apart from performances all over the Uk and Ireland include concerts in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans and St Louis, as well as Frankfurt, Bayreuth, Paris, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Taipei, Tokyo and the Caribbean with Amanda Echalaz, Dame Josephine Barstow, Susan Bullock, Jane Eaglen, Lesley Garrett, Paolo Gavanelli,  Elizabeth Watts, Sergei Leiferkus and Sir John Tomlinson. For many years he was official accompanist at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. He has worked as a vocal consultant for the BBC, Decca, EMI, Chandos, BMG and Sony, and with such eminent conductors as Sir Edward Downes, Sir Reginald Goodall, Sir Mark Elder, Zubin Mehta, Sezi Ozawa and Sir Georg Solti.

Since taking up the baton himself, he has conducted Rigoletto,  La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Requiem (Verdi), Tosca (Puccini), Francesca da Rimini (Zandonai), L’Ajo nell’Imbarazzo (Donizetti),  Il Matrimonio Segreto (Cimarosa) and most recently Fidelio (Beethoven).

FINALISTS ANNOUNCED: After two days of preliminary auditions, we present with great excitement, the finalists of the Maureen Lehane… Read more.

Saffron van Zwanenberg
Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron van ZwanenbergSaffron has been Artistic Director at Jackdaws since 2009. She trained at the RCM and became a 1st class associate before graduating from the Opera Course with Distinction. She then won a prestigious RCM Junior Fellowship sponsored by the Rosemary Bugden Foundation and has worked as a singer for many companies including Garsington, the London Handel society and the Aldeburgh Festival. At the same time she maintains a successful directing career and has directed shows for Garden Opera at the RCM and the RAM, a show at the Cochrane Theatre in Holborn as well as very diverse projects for Mid Wales Opera and ENO Baylis, and of course for Jackdaws.

2015 is the 23rd anniversary of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, which will see seven finalists compete for the first prize of £2,000. In addition to the cash prizes for the top three singers, there is also the £1,000 prize for best accompanist and, voted for by audience ballot, the £250 audience prize.