Articles tagged with: Opera

Winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2017

Winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2017

Jackdaws Music Education TrustFollowing a close final at the Wigmore Hall this afternoon, Jackdaws are delighted to announce the winners of the 25th Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards:

First Prize
Ema Nikolovska, Mezzo-Soprano

Second Prize
Joel Williams, Tenor

Third Prize
Kieran Rayner, Baritone

Accompanist Prize
João Araújo

Audience Prize
Ema Nikolovska, Mezzo-Soprano

The judges – Mary Nelson, Rosa Mannion, Christopher Glynn and Saffron van Zwanenberg – declared they were thrilled with the standard and commended all who took part.

All finalists were required to present a programme consisting of four items, two own choice items in addition to one song by each of the two set composers; Handel, of whose music Maureen Lehane was a renowned interpreter, and Peter Wishart, her late husband in whose memory the awards were started.

The 2017 Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards are possible because of supported from The Rosemary Budgen Charitable Trust, Cooper Hall Emerging Artists, Geoffrey & Margaret Batten and a private legacy donation. The Audience Prize was supported by the Jackdaws Trustees.

Ema Nikolovska

Ema Nikolovska by Pablo B. StrongEma Nikolovska is currently on the Artist Masters Course at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with Professor Susan McCulloch. Ema was born in Skopje, Macedonia and spent most of her life in Toronto, Canada where she studied voice privately with Helga Tucker for seven years, and also completed undergraduate studies in violin performance on full scholarship at The Glenn Gould School with Paul Kantor and Barry Shiffman. Ema was a semifinalist at the Jack Donnelly Memorial Mozart Competition in London as well as the 3rd International Christmas Singing Competition in Minsk, Belarus. Her work in opera has included covering the role of The Mother in The Consul by Menotti (Guildhall School production, October 2017), and covering the role of Ericlea in Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria by Monteverdi (Royal Opera House production, January 2018). In Canada, Ema was named a Jeune Ambassadeur Lyrique for 2016, and has performed with the Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra.

Ema was a Voice Fellow in the Art of Song Program at the Toronto Summer Music Academy and Festival 2015 (masterclasses with Soile Isokoski and Martin Katz), a Britten-Pears Young Artist in 2016 for the Slavic Song Course in Aldeburgh (masterclasses with Bernarda Fink), and a participant in the 2017 Masterclasses at the Music Academy of Villecroze with Teresa Berganza. Ema was also a recipient of a Jacqueline Desmarais Grant to attend the Franz-Schubert-Institut 2017 on full scholarship in Baden bei Wien, Austria. Recently, Ema was selected to be part of Thomas Hampson’s Lied Akademie at the Heidelberger Frühling Festival, to be held in April 2018. Ema’s studies at Guildhall are generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust and the Elizabeth Sweeting Award.

Humans of Frome Interview with Saffron van Zwanenberg

Humans of Frome Interview with Saffron van Zwanenberg

Saffron van ZwanenbergWalking Vallis Woods to Great Elm from Frome is just about one of the nicest walks that you could find around these parts, at this time of year (October) the trees are in glorious technicolour and we are blessed with these unexpected but very welcome sunshine filled days. The duck pond at Great Elm is a great resting spot, and the view complete with the ancient boathouse on the side of the pond is picture postcard pretty. If you’re luck enough you might even be fortunate enough to hear music emanating from the building hidden behind the boathouse, this is Jackdaws.

Jackdaws is dedicated to improving participation in and enjoyment of music through weekend courses, Education projects, a Young Artists Programme and performances by world class musicians. Their ethos is inspiration, access and inclusion. The charitable trust was established by Opera Singer Maureen Lehane 25 years ago, when she and composer husband Peter Wishart moved to the area. By all accounts Maureen was a powerhouse of a woman with a vision and the determination to match, to this day her legacy lives on in the work of this hidden jewel of a music centre on the fringes of Frome.

Before Maureen died she made very sure that her boots would be filled by just the right feet…..step forward this week’s Human of Frome, Saffron Von Zwanenberg a woman who entered the world of Opera and indeed the Jackdaw’s world by the most unlikely route imaginable.

Born to immigrant parents in 1970s London, Saffron’s Doctor Father is of Dutch extraction and her Artist Mother came to the UK from Palestine at the age of 6. Saffron and her family moved to Newcastle where she lived until she was about 8 years old. I asked if that had been a big move for her, she replied not really and continued with her family tale. The story continues on the remote Island of East New Britain just off the coast of Papua New Guinea, where her Father took up a post in the hospital. That was a big move and city child, Saffron found herself living in Rabaul, famed for having the 5th deepest harbour in the world. The harbour was formed when a prehistoric volcano erupted leaving a circular crater surrounded by newly formed active volcanoes. The Island was small, and continues to remain small as it it lives with the threat of volcanic eruptions every 50 years or so. Saffron recalls happy carefree days, roaming Mango Avenue, the Island’s one shopping street and amusing herself with her Father’s limited tape cassette library. At the age of 13, she returned to Newcastle, the life that she had lived in Papua New Guinea under threat by the imminent eruption of Mount Tarvurvur (which went on to largely destroy Rabaul in 1994).

She describes her return to secondary school in Newcastle as a ‘Baptism of Fire’, explaining that she was quite ‘different’ following her years of carefree childhood in one of the remotest spots on the planet. Saffron talks about bullying but says that that was just a part of life, it didn’t have a label but it was rife in the schools back then…she says however that she was adaptable just like other children and laughingly comments that she had perfected her Geordie accent within her first week back in the city. Music was a saving grace for her, although she was very different to her fellow students in that there was a large gap in her musical knowledge, she didn’t even know who ‘Duran Duran’ were back then. There had been no TV in Rabaul, so if you wanted to enjoy music you had to make it. Her Father had a guitar and a tape recorder that he had bought in Hong Kong on their way out there. Before their departure he had meticulously recorded his entire music collection onto cassette. This left the young Saffron with a limited selection of The Eagles, Bob Dylan, Bob Seger and Opera to choose from. She chose Opera and the young English girl could be heard regularly singing along to Joan Sutherland and Pavarotti.

Back in 1980’s Newcastle, despite her difference Saffron found her tribe and before too long had established a theatrical company with her friends. This troupe of liberal creatives performed some risque shows in the school hall, including a Full Monty (esque) striptease show (pre The Full Monty), the school however did put their foot down when they suggested putting on their version of The Rocky Horror Show. In this time, one of Saffron’s teachers ‘Mr.Young’ noticed her voice when one day she sang ‘Hey Jude’ with a bunch of other students…Saffron continued singing at the end where the song goes up and up and up, other singers falling by the wayside and open mouthed waiting for her to come back down. Mr.Young was the first person to suggest that she should take singing lessons. Her epiphany came at A level time, she knew then that she had to be an Opera Singer and was supported by her Biology and PE teachers and her parents in her choice.

Saffron secured a place at Trinity College in London where she studied an associate postgraduate course and then went onto achieve a postgraduate in Opera at The Royal College . She eventually left The Royal College as a Junior Fellow. With her academic achievements in her pocket she took a year out and traveled to the USA. Alone, she found herself in New Jersey looking after kids at a religious girl guide camp for a period of months, very out of her comfort zone she persevered as only a Geordie Opera singer via New Guinea can.

Upon her return to the UK she worked for many Opera companies. Disillusioned however with the life of an Opera singer, Saffron gravitated towards the works of a director called Robert Chevara. He hailed from a physical theater background, something in his work resonated with her. She became his assistant for a number of years whilst at the same time developing an interest in Opera and children and its effects on the lives of those who have access to it. Over the years Saffron has worked in many capacities within the world of Opera and education, at one point she commuted weekly from London to Wales where she was Education Officer for Mid Wales. On the recommendation of a conductor friend she participated in her first workshop at Jackdaws nearly a decade ago.

When Maureen Lehane handed the proverbial baton over to Saffron she clearly knew what she was doing. Sounds like she had put her through some rigorous testing over the years, throwing challenges in her path like musical grenades…one of the first being the task of re-creating Wagner’s Epic Ring Cycle (the Opera equivalent of The Lord Of the Rings) over a summer period. Of course Saffron rose to the challenge with the same ‘of course, no problem’ attitude as she has approached everything in her life thus far. Now very much a part of the beating heart of Jackdaws, Saffron continues the great legacy of its founder and continuously looks at new and exciting ways to develop it, planning permission and funding have been secured for an extension which will see a new performance hall built on site and an ambitious programme of workshops (over 40) is planned for the coming year.

Jackdaws was a hub of activity on the day that we sat outside chatting, a chorus of birdsong behind us, a flurry of applications arriving for the 25th Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards, the Trust’s accountant arriving for a meeting, and I am aware that this sleepy little wooded valley is very deceptive….at its heart lies a bustling music education trust and at its helm an unassuming Geordie girl who has had the most extraordinary journey to this place, her spiritual home.

This article was first published by the Frome Times, 24 October 2017.

Humans of Frome was started by Ciara Nolan as a column in the independent newspaper, The Frome Times. It celebrates those individuals who dare to walk their own unique path no matter what difficulties they might have had to overcome along the road. Read more remarkable stories on the Humans of Frome Facebook Page or at The Frome Times.

 

The 25th Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards

The 25th Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards

The 25th Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards2017 is the landmark 25th anniversary of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards which, over the years, has become a springboard for many wonderful singers including Christopher Maltman, Madeleine Pierard, Ben Johnson, Dawid Kimberg, Amanda Echalaz, Andrew Kennedy and Sarah Fox. With a first prize of £2,000 and final held in the Wigmore Hall it is a very important event, unique in its celebration of potential as well as achievement.

On Friday 10 November, 8 Finalists will perform a 15 minute recital consisting of a song or aria by each of the two set composers Georg Handel and Peter Wishart, in addition to two of their own choice. Watching from the balcony will be the four judges; past Vocal Award Winner Mary Nelson, Jonathan Lemalu and Christopher Glynn, chaired by Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron von Zwanenberg.

Every year, the Wigmore Hall Final of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards is a highlight of the Jackdaws Young Artists calendar. Tickets are available now from the Wigmore Hall Box Office.

Catch up on the history of the Awards with the full list of past winners in the Maureen Lehane Archive.

Applications are open and will be accepted until Friday 6 October, when entries close at 5pm.

Ameral Gunson: Obituary

Ameral Gunson: Obituary

Ameral Gunson at JackdawsMezzo-Soprano Ameral Gunson studied singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Walter Gruner before joining the BBC Singers; she continued her studies with Otakar Kraus. After leaving the BBC Singers she quickly established a successful and varied solo career which has included performances throughout the UK, Europe and the Middle East. She included many operatic roles in her repertoire and appeared at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Alter Oper Frankfurt and the Turin and Helsinki opera houses. Her recordings for EMI and Chandos include Verdi’s Requiem, Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass with Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia under Richard Hickox, and the Grammy award winning discs of Peter Grimes, also with Hickox.

As a vocal coach, Ameral was second to none. She taught at Jackdaws Music Education Trust for many years, and was one of their longest serving tutors. She attracted a devoted following of students who admired her sensitive, creative and thoughtful approach. Ameral’s annual “Singing and Imagination” weekend course was centered on her belief that “Singing is an activity first and foremost of the imagination,” encouraging pupils to bring props to stimulate their imagination whilst singing. She last visted Jackdaws in October 2016, when she announced plans to retire from teaching.

Ameral passed away in August 2017. She was 68.

Workshops start again!

Workshops start again!

The Love PotionHere we are at the start of February, and the Jackdaws year starts with our course bookings in a healthy state. As you will know, much of our work is centred around the projects which we do with Somerset schools and has enabled 15,000 young people to participate in music making over the past five years; the coordination of our two flagship projects in 2017 is now in hand.

Firstly, we have embarked on the Year of the Recorder, which will see children from 10 schools works with inspirational, international Recorder duo Anna Stegmann and Tabea Debus. The project culminates in the recorder players, together with children performing on recorders and other instruments, in a Grand Finale Concert at the Cheese & Grain, Forme on Wednesday 22 March.

Meanwhile, our hugely successful, award-winning singing project OperaPLUS has already entered the rehearsal stage. This week, Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg has been travelling to schools across Somerset to give introductory workshops on the songs and choruses of The Love Potion.

Music Teacher Awards OperaPLUSIn OperaPLUS, the instruments of “The Year of…” give way to voices and song; a highly talented group of young opera singers work with children in schools towards the presentation of five concerts in various locations around the county. The professional cast take the principle roles with the children joining in as chorus. 2017 sees a reworking of last year’s production of The Love Potion (L’elisir d’amore) by Donizetti, to celebrate the composers 220th Anniversary year, made accessible through staging set in a local context.

Both projects offer a once in lifetime opportunity for young people, some for the first time, to work with professional musicians of the highest standard. We hope to see you at a performance!

Winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2016

Winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2016

Winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 216

L to R: Saffron van Zwanenberg, Leo Nicholson (Accomp Prize), Holly Marie Bingham (2nd Prize), Nardus Williams (1st & Audience Prizes), Rosemary Joshua, Sam Carl (3rd Prize), Joan Rodgers, Julian Jacobson

The winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2016:
First Prize
Nardus Williams, Soprano

Second Prize
Holly Marie Bingham, Mezzo-Soprano

Third Prize
Sam Carl, Bass

Accompanist Prize
Leo Nicholson

Audience Prize
Nardus Williams, Soprano

The judges, Rosemary Joshua, Joan Rodgers, Julian Jacobson and Saffron van Zwanenberg were delighted with the standard and commended all who took part.

All finalists were required to present a programme consisting of four items, two own choice items in addition to one song by each of the two set composers; Handel, of whose music Maureen Lehane was a renowned interpreter, and Peter Wishart, her late husband in whose memory the awards were started.

The 2016 Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards are possible because of the generous support from The Mercers’ Company, The Rosemary Budgen Charitable Trust, Cooper Hall Emerging Artists, Frome Voices and the Jackdaws Trustees.

 


 

Winner of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Award 2016 - Nardus Williams, SopranoNardus Williams is a young soprano currently studying on the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Yvonne Kenny, having previously studied with Lillian Watson and David Thomas. She is also mentored by Matthew Rose.

Recent performances include Messiah with the OSJ under John Lubbock at King’s Place and St John’s Smith Sqaure, Nitocris in Handel’s Belshazzar under Nicholas Kraemer, Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder with the Kingfisher Sinfonia, and a number of recitals at St John’s Smith Square during their 2015/16 season. She was also a member of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera 2016.

A Park Lane Group Artist since 2015, Nardus will be giving a recital at the Wigmore Hall next year. She is also a Samling Artist, and performed in their showcase at The Sage, Gateshead earlier in 2016.

In 2017 Nardus will be performing the role of Donna Elvira at Opera Holland Park as a Christine Collins Young Artist.

She is generously supported by The Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers, and the Winship Foundation. Previous Scholarships include Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Help Musicians Maidment Scholarship and Helen Roll Charitable Trust.

OperaPLUS is the Best Classical Music Education Initiative

OperaPLUS is the Best Classical Music Education Initiative

Credit Music Teacher Awards 2016

Margherita Taylor (Classic FM Presenter), René Bloice-Sanders (Company Member), Audrey Hyland (Music Director), Saffron van Zwanenberg (Director) and Sam Jackson (Classic FM Managing Editor). Credit: Music Teacher Awards 2016

On the 25th of February, Jackdaws Music Education Trust was presented with a prestigious Music Teacher Award for Excellence for the OperaPLUS project, which won the category of Best Classical Music Education Initiative, sponsored by Classic FM.

We want to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who voted for us; all our friends and supporters who took the time to give their backing to the campaign. It is an honour to receive this Award and it is down to your support that we are able to continue to run projects like this.

The award was presented by Classic FM Managing Editor Sam Jackson during a special awards ceremony hosted by Rhingeold Music Education Expo at London’s Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in Kensington. The category of Best Classical Music Education Initiative was decided by public ballot via the Classic FM website.

The award is recognition of OperaPLUS’ outstanding contribution and achievements since its inaugural project in 2010. Every year since then, it has brought high-quality opera into schools across Somerset, introducing countless children and adults alike to the art form in an accessible and inclusive setting. In 2015 alone the project worked with 14 schools with up to 120 children in each of the five performances across the county.

The project brings together primary school children to perform alongside professional opera singers from Jackdaws Young Artist programme, in full length versions of well-known operas, sung in English. For many, it provides a first encounter with a live opera performance.

Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg, created the project when she took up post in 2009. It has become a key project in Jackdaws Education output, supporting the organisational aim to enable creative expression by bringing music to life in an accessible, inclusive and inspirational way. Ms van Zwanenberg, who was at the ceremony to collect the award on behalf of the Trust and the OperaPLUS team, said:

“OperaPLUS is so important to me personally. I loved opera as a child, for the tunes, the stories, the epic struggles and the rib aching comedy. I wanted more children from all backgrounds to have access to this unique art form, I knew that if it was presented in an accessible way they would love it too, and they have never let me down. It also provides vital training for aspiring singers in music education, an area too often overlooked, and lets the communities see the opera through the children’s eyes as they perform alongside the professionals, vitally important as well. This Award is wonderful recognition of the work we have been doing and will continue to do through active and innovative opportunities.

“We want to thank everybody who voted for us. As a small organisation, we work extremely hard, with limited resources, to ensure that we are able to continue to deliver projects like this. This Award means a huge amount to us – Thank you.”

In 2016, OperaPLUS will continue to build on its past successes by presenting a production of Donizetti’s The Love Potion (L’elisir d’amore) with 5 performances this April, involving 18 schools. Each school will work with the cast and production team in a range of workshops to prepare their music for the performance, supported with resources including recordings and sheet music of their parts, all downloadable from the Jackdaws website.

OperaPLUS is supported by Sound Foundation Somerset and Arts Council England and has been featured on BBC Radio Somerset, ClassicFM and in various local press.

OperaPLUS Awards Badge

Vote for Jackdaws OperaPLUS in the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence

Vote for Jackdaws OperaPLUS in the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence

Music Teacher Awards for Excellence

EDIT: WE WON!! On 25 February, our innovative project OperaPLUS was presented with the Music Teacher Magazine Award for Excellence for “Best Classical Music Education Initiative”. We want to thank everybody who voted for us and supports our Education work. This is a huge achievement and means a lot to us. [26 February 2016]
EDIT: Voting has now closed for the Awards. Thank you if you were one of those who voted for us – we find out in February if we have been successful! [22 January 2016]

Voting has officially opened for the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence, sponsored by ClassicFM, which sees Jackdaws OperaPLUS, from Jackdaws Music Education Trust, nominated in the category “Best Classical Music Education Initiative”. The Award is recognition of the incredible work this innovative project has done to share high quality opera with children and young people in hard to reach communities across Somerset.

OperaPLUS was the first of many projects created by Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg when she took up the post in 2009:

“It was borne of many different personal experiences which led to a great desire to bring about a combination of outcomes, namely that children and young people have a positive experience of opera and benefit from the well documented effects of participating in music. Young artists receive training and experience in community and education work, in a supported and career enhancing way, children actively participate in performing by singing and acting alongside the professional cast and hard to reach communities have access to high quality opera in an accessible and affordable setting. It was also important to me that the operas came from the mainstream repertoire to give context to the varied, everyday use of this repertoire that the children and audiences hear in their daily lives.”

To vote for Jackdaws OperaPLUS as Best Music Education Initiative, visit the ClassicFM website

What is OperaPLUS?
Jackdaws OperaPLUSOperaPLUS is a key part of Jackdaws Music Education Trust’s work to enable creative expression by bringing music to life in an accessible, inclusive and inspirational way.

The project brings together primary school children and professional opera singers from Jackdaws Young Artist programme, to perform full length versions of well-known operas, sung in English. It is directed by Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg, with the musical direction of Audrey Hyland, Royal Academy of Music professor and vocal coach. The young, professional cast take the lead roles with chorus’ and other roles adapted for performance by the participating children, numbering up to 120 per performance. There are a series of workshops prior to the performances with the cast and director and then the cast and children perform alongside each other in accessible venues in the heart of their communities to large audiences, many of whom are new to opera.

History of OperaPLUS
The first OperaPLUS production was The Magic Flute by Mozart in June 2010, with one performance in Frome, Somerset, involving three local schools. Since then, the project has developed year on year so that in 2015, OperaPLUS was able to present the most ambitious production yet. Working with 14 schools from across Somerset, Jackdaws delivered 5 performances of the Stylist of Somerset (Rossini’s Barber of Seville) in different areas throughout this rural country.

This production was featured on BBC Somerset Radio by Ben McGrail, who used OperaPLUS as an opportunity to ask the public what they thought of opera. The result was overwhelmingly positive which is reflected in the way this project is received by the children and families who participate.
In 2016, OperaPLUS will continue to build on its past successes by presenting a production of Donizetti’s The Love Potion (L’elisir d’amore) with 5 performances including 18 schools. Each school will work with the cast and production team to prepare their music for the performance and are supported with a free set of resources including recordings and sheet music of their parts, all downloadable from the Jackdaws website.

Sound Foundation Somerset LogoOperaPLUS is supported by Sound Foundation Somerset, the Music Hub for Somerset and Arts Council England.

We need all the votes we can get for Jackdaws OperaPLUS as Best Music Education Initiative, visit the voting page on the ClassicFM website.ClassicFM Logo

OperaPLUS Nominated for Best Classical Music Education Initiative

UPDATE [17 December 2015]: Voting is now open! Please visit ClassicFM to vote for OperaPLUS as “Best Music Education Initiative”

Jackdaws OperaPLUS has been nominated in the Music Teacher Magazine Awards for Excellence in the category “Best Classical Music Education Initiative”. The award, sponsored by ClassicFM, is recognition of the incredible work this project has done to share high quality opera with children and young people in hard to reach communities across Somerset.

OperaPLUS was the first of many projects created and set up by Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg:

“It was borne of many different personal experiences which led to a great desire to bring about a combination of outcomes, namely that children and young people have a positive experience of opera and benefit from the well documented effects of participating in music. Young artists receive training and experience in community and education work, in a supported and career enhancing way and hard to reach communities have access to high quality opera in an accessible and affordable setting. It was also important to me that the operas came from the mainstream repertoire to give context to the varied, everyday use of this repertoire that the children and audiences hear in their daily lives.”

OperaPLUS is a key part of Jackdaws Music Education Trust’s work to enable creative expression by bringing music to life in an accessible, inclusive and inspirational way.

The project brings together primary school children and professional opera singers from Jackdaws Young Artist programme, to perform full length versions of well-known operas, sung in English. It is directed by Jackdaws Artistic Director, Saffron van Zwanenberg, with the musical direction of Audrey Hyland, Royal Academy of Music professor and vocal coach. The young, professional cast take the lead roles and the chorus’s and other roles are adapted for performance by the participating children, numbering up to 120 per performance. There are a series of workshops prior to the performances with the cast and director and then the cast and children perform alongside each other in accessible venues in the heart of their communities to large audiences, many of whom are new to opera.

OperaPLUS Stylist of Somerset

The Stylist of Somerset, OperaPLUS 2015

The first OperaPLUS production was The Magic Flute by Mozart in June 2010, with one performance in Frome, Somerset, involving three local schools. Since then, the project has developed year on year so that in 2015, OperaPLUS was able to present the most ambitious production yet. Working with 14 schools from across Somerset, Jackdaws delivered 5 performances of the Stylist of Somerset (Rossini’s Barber of Seville) in different areas throughout this rural country.

The production was featured on BBC Somerset Radio by Ben McGrail, who used OperaPLUS as an opportunity to ask the public what they thought of opera. The result was overwhelmingly positive which is reflected in the way it is received by the children and families who participate.

In 2016, OperaPLUS will continue to build on its past successes by presenting a production of Donizetti’s The Love Potion (L’elisir d’amore) with 5 performances including 18 schools. Each school will work with the cast and production team to prepare their music for the performance and are supported with a free set of resources including sheet music and recordings of their parts, all downloadable from the Jackdaws website.

OperaPLUS is supported by Sound Foundation Somerset, the Music Hub for Somerset and Arts Council England.

Jackdaws logoExternal Links

Music Teacher Awards for Excellence Nominations

ClassicFM

BBC Radio Somerset

Winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Award 2015

Programme CoverThe 2015 presentation of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards was an exciting afternoon of music making. As always, the finalists presented recitals of the highest standard and were commended by the panel for the variety and diversity of their repertoire choices.

First prize went to Julien Van Mellaerts, who impressed the panel with his recital of Del minacciar del vento (Ottone) by Handel, Peter Wishart’s Henry and Mary, A Poison Tree by Britten and Mein sehnen, mein Wähnen by Korngold. It is especially impressive that Julien was a reserve place and only offered the opportunity to perform at 6pm on the evening before the final, when Oliver Johnston fell ill.

It was an exceptional year for the Vocal Awards, the finalists were all well prepared and offered really interesting programmes. The general standard was very high which made the adjudication challenging, but the panel were clear about which performances had stood out, most notable of which was Julien’s singing of Britten’s evocative A Poison Tree.Saffron van Zwanenberg, Chair of the Adjudication Panel

2015 is the 23rd anniversary of the Award, which is unique for the recognition of potential as much as achievement and has supported many extraordinary young singers at the start of their careers. This year’s prize winners join a succession of past winners including Amanda Echalaz, Christopher Maltman, Sarah Fox, Andrew Kennedy and Anna Devin.

The Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards are run annually by Jackdaws Music Education Trust for singers under the age of 30. The first Award was contested in the Somerset village of Great Elm, where Jackdaws is based, and participants were required to present a song by composer Peter Wishart, Maureen Lehane’s late husband, and an aria by Handel. Maureen was a celebrated Handelian singer and maintained that every singer should sing Handel at some point in their development. The same elements are required today in celebration of both Maureen and Peter’s legacy.

The Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards are generously supported by The Rosemary Bugden Charitable Trust, Cooper Hall (Emerging Artists), Geoffrey and Margaret Batten, Frome Voices and Jackdaws Trustees.

Winners of the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2015
Maureen Lehane Winners and Judges 2015First Prize
Julien Van Mellaerts, Baritone (27)
Second Prize
Grace Durham, Mezzo-Soprano (27)
Third Prize
James Newby, Baritone (22)

Accompanist Prize
Edward Liddall (26) and Natalie Burch (23)
Audience Prize
James Newby, Baritone (22)

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