Claire Booth is rapidly establishing an international reputation both in opera and in concert, in repertoire ranging from the operas of Handel and Mozart to 20th- and 21st-century scores. Recent successes include the world premiere of Oliver Knussen’s Requiem: Songs for Sue, written for her and conducted by the composer with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group at the BBC Proms.
Claire Booth studied Modern History at Oxford and singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, English National Opera Studio’s Baylis Programme, and at the National Opera Studio; she has been awarded prizes including a Susan Chilcott Foundation Scholarship, the Worshipful Company of Musician’s Silver Medal and the Harold Rosenthal Award. She has also been a finalist in both the 2003 Guildhall School of Music and Drama Gold Medal Competition and the 2004 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.
She made her debuts at the BBC Proms, Edinburgh and Lucerne International Festivals, performing Knussen, John Adams, and Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire conducted by Oliver Knussen, Edward Gardner and Pierre Boulez respectively. She performs regularly with the BBC Symphony and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestras, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Intercontemporain working with Edward Gardner, Zsolt Nagy, Jonathan Nott, Martyn Brabbins, Pierre-André Valade and Oliver Knussen. She has appeared on Radio 2, Radio 3 and BBC 4 in broadcasts from the Aldeburgh Festival, the BBC Proms and the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s studio concert seasons.
In the field of baroque and classical music she has performed on many of the leading European stages, and has given concerts with The King’s Consort, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Scottish Opera, the Early Opera Company and the Classical Opera Company. Other operatic performances include 1st Niece in Opera North’s critically acclaimed production of Peter Grimes, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, also for Opera North, and roles for New Chamber Opera.
As a recitalist she made her debut at the Park Lane Group series at the Purcell Room in 2001 singing works by Oliver Knussen and Elliott Carter and has since given recitals at the Wigmore Hall and Cheltenham Festival with her regular accompanist Ryan Wigglesworth. She performed for the Walton Foundation at La Mortella in Ischia with Iain Burnside, and at St. John Smith’s Square with Malcolm Martineau.
Elizabeth Atherton read Music at Trinity College Cambridge before entering the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She has won several prestigious prizes including the 2001 Maggie Teyte Prize and the 2003 Handel Singing Competition. She is the recipient of the WNO Sir John Moores Award and WNO Chris Ball Bursary.
From 2004-07 she was an Associate Artist at Welsh National Opera, but is equally well known as a concert artist having worked with the London Symphony Orchrestra and Antonio Pappano, the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras and the Orchestre de Paris and the BBC Symphony with Pierre Boulez among many others.
In recital, she has appeared with Iain Burnside at venues including Wigmore Hall, and with Malcolm Martineau at the Aldeburgh Festival. She has broadcast frequently on BBC Radio 3, including Mahler and Strauss Lieder with BBC Symphony and Jiri Belohlavek and appearances on In Tune, and her recordings include Liszt’s Via Crucis and Missa Choralis with Matthew Best and the Corydon Singers (Hyperion), the solos on a disc of English Choral Favourites with the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus (EMI), her first recital disc, Classic Children’s Songs, with Roderick Williams and Iain Burnside (Just Accord) and Britten’s On this Island with Malcolm Martineau (Onyx).
Ailish Tynan was born in Mullingar, Ireland, and studied at Trinity College and the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. In 2003 Ailish represented Ireland in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, winning the BBC Singer of the World Rosenblatt Recital Prize. Other awards include the Maggie Teyte Competition/Miriam Licette Award and the RTE Millennium Singer of the Future.
Whilst a member of the former Vilar Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, her roles included Papagena in Die Zauberflöte, First Niece in Peter Grimes, Xenia in Boris Godunov and Second Wood Nymph in Rusalka. She has also appeared with Welsh National Opera, Opera Ireland and Seattle Opera, and with orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, RTE National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the 2006 BBC Proms. As a former BBC New Generation Artist, Ailish is also a regular contributor on BBC Radio 3.
As a recitalist, Ailish has collaborated with distinguished accompanists including Malcolm Martineau, Graham Johnston, Julius Drake, Iain Burnside and Barry Douglas, giving recitals at the Edinburgh International Festival, Wigmore Hall and St John's Smith Square, London; her recording of songs of Judith Weir, with Ian Burnside, was released in 2006 on the Signum Classics label.
Andrew Swait was just ten years old when he recorded 'Light of the World' in October 2005 as an Abbey School Chorister. His prodigious talent was spotted at the age of only five, and steeped in the musical whirlwind of a chorister's life, his musicianship has flourished. In May 2007 he was invited by Universal Records to join the classical boy-band The Choirboys, whose Christmas disc The Carols Album entered the Classic FM charts at no. 7 and was nominated for the Classical Brit Awards in 2008.
In 2008, Andrew was pleased to accept a very generous music scholarship to Cheltenham College. Since being associated with the College, he has been invited as soloist to perform with the City of Birmingham Choir, Cheltenham Bach Choir, Oriel Singers, Regency Voices and to sing around the world from Tewkesbury Abbey, Aldeburgh, and Gloucester Cathedral to Beijing, Krakow and Kiyv.
Mezzo-soprano Loré Lixenberg’s rich experiences in contemporary music theatre include performing the lead role in Bent Sørensen’s opera Under Himlen at Copenhagen’s Royal Opera House as well as taking part in many projects with Théâtre de Complicité.
She has sung throughout Europe at numerous festivals, including Wien Modern, Oslo’s Ultima and the festivals in Salzburg, Lucerne, Edinburgh, Witten, Donaueschingen and Aldeburgh, and performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Hallé Orchestra, the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the Ensemble InterContemporain, Klangforum Wien, BCMG, the Northern Sinfonia and Apartment House.
She featured in the Channel 4 documentary What made Mozart tick and most recently in Kombat Opera Presents…, a set of six television comedy operas commissioned from Richard Thomas by BBC2. Loré Lixenberg sang the main female operatic role in Richard Thomas’ award-winning Jerry Springer - The Opera at the Edinburgh Festival, the National Theatre and in London’s West End, and on CD.
A regular guest at the Glyndebourne Festival, Jean Rigby has also sung with English National Opera, the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Netherlands Opera, Flanders Opera, Seattle Opera and San Diego Opera. In concert she sings with the major orchestras and festivals. Her extensive discography ranges from Bach, Vivaldi and Handel to Britten, Janacek and Birtwistle, and includes her acclaimed recording of the title role in the Rape of Lucretia, conducted by Richard Hickox.
For four decades James Bowman has been one of the world’s foremost, most influential and characterful countertenors. After his début with Benjamin Britten in 1967, he soon found himself in demand on both opera stage and concert platform, and first appeared at Glyndebourne in 1970, at English National Opera in 1971 and at Covent Garden in 1972. Since then his opera engagements abroad have included the Paris Opera, La Scala, La Fenice, and the Festival of Aix-en-Provence. He is particularly highly admired in France, and is a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. His appearance on the NMC Songbook discs is the latest in a vast and wide-ranging discography which includes the results of collaborations with directors like Harnoncourt, Leonhardt, Hogwood, Pinnock and Brüggen and compositions ranging from the medieval to the new. He’s premiered pieces by Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett, Peter Maxwell Davies, and many others.
For 28 years James Bowman has been one of the world's foremost and most influential coutertenors. His career spans opera, oratorio, contemporary music and recitals. After education at Oxford, he made his début with Benjamin Britten in 1967 and was soon in demand on the opera stage and on the concert platform. He appeared at Glyndebourne in 1970, at the English National Opera in 1971 and at Covent Garden in 1972. Among his many opera engagements abroad, mention should be made of the Paris Opera, La Scala, Milan, La Fenice, Venice, and the Festival of Aix-en-Provence. His concert career is equally wide-ranging; in Europe he is particularly well-known as a recitalist. He was recently awarded 'La Medaille de la Ville de Paris' in recognition of his long-standing contribution to the musical life of Paris.
James Bowman has given the world premières of many important contemporary compositions, including works by Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett, Peter Maxwell Davies, Richard Rodney Bennett, Robin Holloway and Michael Nyman. In 1992 James Bowman celebrated the 25th anniversary of his career with a sold-out concert at the Palais Garnier in Paris and a similarly successful concert at St John's, Smith Square, in London.
In July 1992 the French Government honoured him with the nomination of 'Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres'.
The British countertenor Michael Chance studied English at King's College, Cambridge where he was also a choral scholar. He is in equal demand as an opera, concert, recital and recording artist. Concerts and recitals have taken him to the Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Musikverein in Vienna and the Berlin Philharmonie, as well as tours in Japan, Europe and United States. His operatic roles include Orfeo (Gluck), Oberon, Giasone, Giustino, Ottone, Athamas, Andronico, and Apollo (Britten's Death in Venice). He has had roles written specially for him by Sir Harrison Birtwistle (The Second Mrs Kong) and Judith Weir (A night at the Chinese Opera). Operatic engagements have taken him to Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Glyndebourne, La Scala Milan and Covent Garden. His repertoire ranges from the baroque to contemporary, including many world premieres (Bennett, Goehr, Tavener, Costello) and he has recorded extensively, receiving a Grammy award for his participation in Handel's Semele.
Composers like Richard Rodney Bennett, Alexander Goehr, Tan Dun, Anthony Powers, John Tavener, and Elvis Costello have all written specifically for him, while Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Judith Weir have both created tailor-made operatic roles. He sings regularly with the viol consort Fretwork and also performs in oratorio. Michael Chance is a visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music, and was awarded a CBE in the 2009 New Year Honours list.
Andrew Watts was born in Middlesex and studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Geoffrey Mitchell. He has appeared with the Royal Opera Covent Garden, English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival and Touring Operas, the Aldeburgh and Almeida Festivals; foreign engagements include Staatsoper Berlin, Komische Oper Berlin, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper and the Teatro La Fenice. Reknowned for his performances in both contemporary and early music, his roles include the title role in Handel's Orlando, Nero in Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea, Oberon in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Prince Go-Go in Ligeti's Le grand macabre, and the Snake Priestess in Birtwistle's The Minotaur.
His concert engagements include appearances with BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Los Angeles and Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestras as well as the Nieuw Ensemble. He has featured on recordings of Boyce’s Ode for St Cecilia's Day, and was heard in Sally Potter’s film Orlando. He broadcasts regularly and television appearances include a cameo as Kathleen Ferrier in William and Mary.
Daniel Norman was a choral scholar at New College, Oxford, where he read Engineering. He went on to study in the US and Canada and at the Royal Academy of Music.
Operatic credits include Peter Quint in Britten's The Turn of the Screw (Glyndebourne), Mao in John Adams' Nixon in China (Opera Boston and Verona), the Electrician in Thomas Adès's Powder Her Face (Vienna and Boston premieres), Hermes in Tippett's King Priam (Nationale Reis Opera) and Valetto in Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea (Bayerische Staatsoper).
Concert performances include the Evangelist in Bach's St John Passion, Britten's Les Illuminations, Sam Kaplan in Weill's Street Scene and regular appearances at the Three Choirs, Cheltenham, Chelsea, Lichfield and Endellion Festivals. Recently Daniel released his debut solo CD: Britten's Winter Words and Who Are These Children? with Christopher Gould (BIS).
Roderick Williams is active in the opera house, on the concert platform and in recital, encompassing a repertoire from the baroque to world premieres.
He has enjoyed close associations with Opera North and Scottish Opera, and has also worked for English National Opera and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. As at home in contemporary music as in the standard repertoire, he has taken roles in the world premieres of Sally Beamish's Monster (for Scottish Opera), David Sawer's From Morning to Midnight and Martin Butler's A Better Place (for English National Opera) and Alexander Knaifel's Alice in Wonderland and Michel van der Aa's After Life (for Netherlands Opera). Further contemporary roles include Jaufre Rudel in Saariaho's L'amour de loin (ENO), Eddie in Mark-Anthony Turnage's Greek (BBC) and roles in Tippett's The Knot Garden (Barbican) and Birtwistle's The Second Mrs Kong (Royal Festival Hall).
He has taken major roles in conductor Richard Hickox's semi-staged performances of opera, including Britten's Gloriana (Aldeburgh, 2003), Walton's Troilus and Cressida and most of the Vaughan Williams operas. Other concert performances include Henze, Strauss, Stravinsky and Wagner (Donner in Das Rheingold for ENO).
He is an accomplished recital artist who can be heard at Wigmore Hall, at many festivals, and on Radio 3, where he has appeared on Iain Burnside's 'Voices' programme. His numerous recordings include Vaughan Williams, Berkeley and Britten operas for Chandos, and an extensive repertoire of English song with pianist Iain Burnside for Naxos. Roderick Williams is also a composer and has had works premiered at the Wigmore and Barbican Halls, the Purcell Room and live on national radio.
Born in Dresden, Stephan Loges was a member of the Dresden Kreuzchor before studying at the Hochschule der Kunste Berlin and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London; he was the winner of the 1999 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition. He regularly gives recitals throughout the world, with pianists including Roger Vignoles, Simon Lepper, Iain Burnside and Eugene Asti.
Stephan has sung Bach's cantatas with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Passions with the Gabrieli Consort and Paul McCreesh. He made his BBC Proms debut in 2002 in St Matthew Passion under Trevor Pinnock and has sung with the Munich Bach Choir and Orchestra, Christmas Oratorio with the Tonhalle Orchestra under Paul McCreesh and St Matthew Passion with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding.
His concert appearances have also included Britten's War Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Kaija Saariaho's The Tempest Songbook with the Scharoun Ensemble and regular appearances with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra including Schubert lieder arrangements. In opera he has sung in performances of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and Salome with the late Richard Hickox, both with the LSO, and in the Royal Opera, Covent Garden production of James MacMillan's Parthenogenesis.
Omar Ebrahim became a chorister at the newly built Coventry Cathedral in 1964 and his subsequent exposure to the vibrant cultural life led him to study singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He served his performing apprenticeship at the Royal Shakespeare Company and in the Glyndebourne chorus, performing the role of Schaunard in La Bohème for Glyndebourne Touring Opera in 1980.
He has been involved with many contemporary opera and concert performances including Nigel Osborne's The Electrification of the Soviet Union and Terrible Mouth, Tippett’s New Year and Birtwistle’s The Second Mrs. Kong for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Berio’s Un re in ascolto and Birtwistle’s Gawain for the Royal Opera House, Jonathan Dove's Siren Song for Almeida Opera, and Punch and Judy (Choregos) for Basel Opera. For Opera Factory he has appeared in roles ranging from Punch through to Don Giovanni. He sang in the highly acclaimed performance of Birtwistle’s Mask of Orpheus at London's South Bank Centre's Birtwistle Festival in April 1996. He has also appeared in John Casken’s God’s Liar for Almeida Opera and La Monnaie Brussels and the premiere of Peter Eotvos’s Angels at the Chatelet Theatre Paris. Other roles have included the lead role in Marschner's The Vampyr for BBC Television.
Omar Ebrahim makes regular appearances with the Ensemble Modern, Ensemble InterContemporain and London Sinfonietta. Other recent concerts include performances with Northern Sinfonia, Musik Fabrik Cologne, Bochum Symphoniker, Netherlands Vara Radio Orchestra, Ensemble Umze at the Huddersfield Festival and Composers Ensemble. In 2005 he premiered James Wood’s oratorio Hildegard 2000 throughout the UK with future performances planned in the Netherlands. He is closely associated with the work Aventures, nouvelles aventures by Gyorgy Ligeti and has performed the piece to critical acclaim with ensembles worldwide as well as recording it for Sony.
As an actor he has performed Schoenberg's Ode to Napoleon, most recently with the Salzburg Camerata during the Salzburg Festival, and Strauss's melodrama on Tennyson's Enoch Arden for IRCAM in Paris and A Survivor from Warsaw (Schoenberg) and The Raft of the Medusa (Henze) with BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Recent successes include premiere’s of The Navigator by Liza Lim with Elision Ensemble in Brisbane and Melbourne, Skellig by Todd Machover at The Sage Gateshead, and Enno Poppe’s Arbeit Nahrung Wohnung at the Munich Biennale which had further performances in Vienna, Stuttgart, Venice, Madrid and Berlin.
At the forefront of contemporary music for more than three decades, Andrew Ball has given premieres of works by Sofia Gubaidulina at the Bath Festival and of Hanna Kulenty's Second Piano Concerto with the Warsaw National Philharmonic. He has played Messiaen at the Proms and Ives and Busoni at the Wigmore Hall. Other premieres have included works by Chris Dench, James Wood, John Woolrich, David Matthews, John Casken, Alfred Schnittke and Edison Denisov.
Andrew Ball is now in great demand as a teacher and is a professor at the Royal College of Music where he studied with Kendall Taylor and was Head of Keyboard from 1999 to 2005. He has given master classes worldwide, most recently in New Orleans, Berlin, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
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To mark its 20th Anniversary in 2009, NMC Recordings commissioned The NMC Songbook. Nearly 100 composers, ranging from the country’s most highly regarded figures to the younger generation of emerging talents, each wrote a song on the theme of 'Britain', for single voice or duet and a range of accompanying instruments.
The songs are set to text chosen by the composers and cover a vast array of subjects, from lyrics by Blake and Byron and schoolbook rhymes listing the Kings and Queens of England, to extracts from a National Trust brochure, chants from the Leyton Orient terraces, a recipe for whisky, and road rage at the shopping centre Lakeside. Songs are interspersed with instrumental interludes from versions of a Galliard by Thomas Morley, arranged for the Songbook by Colin Matthews.
CLASSIC FM GRAMOPHONE AWARD WINNER 2009 · GRAMOPHONE 'RECOMMENDATION FOR MAY 2009' · BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE 'CHOICE FOR MAY 2009' · MUSIC WEB ‘RECORD OF THE MONTH FOR MAY 2009
"This extraordinary project confirms the robust health and endlessly varied landscape of Britain’s new music" John Adams, composer
"Unpredictable, audacious, exhilarating and continually fascinating, the Songbook is an outstanding project. A Lucullan feast for the ears" International Record Review
"The NMC Songbook will remain as a vital document of song composition at a particularly interesting point of development for British music, a point in which the songbook itself will have played no small part" Musical Criticism
"The year's most ambitious and richly enjoyable recording project" Classic FM Magazine
"The performances are uniformly superb ... The more one listens, the more one gains from this set." The Guardian
“Anyone listening to these discs will find many things to savour… a treasure-trove of delights" Bbc Music Magazine *****
"Remarkable …the song is back" Time Out
“an invaluable overview of British music … beautifully sung and played by more than two dozen top performers” The Observer
“One of the most imaginative anniversary projects I have seen” Radio 3 CD Review
"Provides a remarkable snapshot of the oxymoronic mongrelism of UK culture ... ranging from high art and literature to the vernacular and the comic" The Wire
"A treasure-trove of delights" BBC Music Magazine
To download sheet music for many of the songs contained in The NMC Songbook, visit www.sheetmusicdirect.com the leading site for digital sheet music.
Winner of the 2009 Classic FM Gramophone Award for Contemporary Music
Supported by Harold Moores Records
Boosey & Hawkes: Robin Holloway, David Horne, James MacMillan, Mark-Anthony Turnage.
Chester Music Ltd: Brian Elias, Simon Holt, Peter Maxwell Davies, Judith Weir and Hugh Wood.
Novello & Co. Ltd: Simon Bainbridge, Stuart MacRae, John McCabe, Thea Musgrave and Tarik O’Regan.
Faber Music: Julian Anderson, Tansy Davies, Jonathan Harvey, Colin Matthews, David Matthews and John Woolrich.
Oxford University Press: Gerald Barry, Michael Berkeley, Martin Butler, Richard Causton, Gordon Crosse, Michael Finnissy, Anthony Powers and Howard Skempton.
Peters Edition: Judith Bingham, James Dillon, Philip Grange, Nicola LeFanu, Roger Marsh, Geoffrey Poole and Errollyn Wallen.
Ricordi (London): Jonathan Cole and Dai Fujikura
Schott & Co.: Gavin Bryars, John Casken, Joe Duddell, Alexander Goehr and Huw Watkins
Stainer & Bell: Morgan Hayes and Bayan Northcott.
United Music Publishers: Diana Burrell, Stephen Montague and Edwin Roxburgh.
Universal Edition (London) Ltd: Luke Bedford, Harrison Birtwistle, Roxanna Panufnik and David Sawer.
University of York Music Press: David Blake, Anthony Gilbert, Sadie Harrison, Jeremy Dale Roberts and Robert Saxton.
All the works on this disc were recorded in Hall One, Kings Place, London between 21 August and 17 September 2008 – except for Alexander Goehr, recorded on 10 November; and Rupert Bawden, David Blake, Helen Grime, Robin Holloway, Emily Howard, Morgan Hayes and Jonathan Powell, recorded at Cadogan Hall, London on 30 September 2008; the songs by Gerald Barry and Luke Stoneham were recorded by their composers.
NMC would like to thank: All the composers, singers and accompanists involved in The NMC Songbook for their readiness to take part in such a complicated project; Peter Millican for the use of Kings Place; technical staff at Kings Place, especially Scott Myers, Bruno Silva and Jacob Zwart; and staff of Kings Place Music Foundation, particularly Zoe Jeyes, Jen Mitchell and Gaia Saccomano; Jonathan Cole, for guesting on balloon on tss-k-haa; John Casken for volunteer page-turning; Sam Harrop and Greg McKernon for typesetting manuscripts; Christine Doyle of The National Trust, West Midlands Region for Houses and
Gardens in the Heart of England; Katie Honey and Ross Cole, interns, for general help and interviewing; and Iain Burnside, for inspiration and advice.
Recording engineer: DAVID LEFEBER
Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS
Co-producer: BAYAN NORTHCOTT
Production co-ordinator: HANNAH VLCEK
Digital editing & mastering: DAVID LEFEBER
Executive Producer: COLIN MATTHEWS
Additional production credits:
Claudia Molitor my favourite sound. Backing track created by CLAUDIA MOLITOR.
Dai Fujikura Lake Side. Engineer PAUL FRETWELL University of Kent; Producer and digital editor: DAI FUJIKURA. Preparation: RICHARD BLACK
Gerald Barry The Importance of Being Earnest recorded at RTÉ Studios, Dublin. Engineer RICHARD McCULLOUGH
Luke Stoneham 25. Recorded and edited by LUKE STONEHAM
Photography and boxset design: FRANCOIS HALL
(p) 2009 NMC Recordings Ltd
© 2009 NMC Recordings Ltd