Ulrich Heinen came in England, at Simon Rattle’s invitation, to become principal cellist and section leader of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. His formidable technique and musicianship allowed him further to develop his solo career with recitals, concerto performances and regular appearances as recitalist on BBC Radio 3. He co-founded the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG), which has become one of Britain’s most important ensembles for contemporary music. He has appeared with BCMG in many festivals in Britain and abroad, both as member of the ensemble and as soloist.
Melissa graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire with a 1st class honours degree in 2005 and was awarded Distinction LRSM for piano performance the same year. Following a Erasmus Programme of study at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Weimar, Germany she was awarded the Weingarten Scholarship and spent a year studying at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. In 2008 Melissa returned to complete her Masters at Birmingham Conservatoire studying with Philip Martin and Victor Sangiorgio. Melissa’s performing experience and interests reflect the diversity of her musical education and she enjoys a rich and varied freelance career as recitalist and accompanist.In addition to performing, Melissa is active as rehearsal pianist for various opera companies and choirs in the Midlands. She works on a freelance basis for Birmingham Opera Company, and Birmingham Royal Ballet, DanceXchange and Elmurst School for Dance as ballet pianist. In addition to performing, Melissa is a teacher at Birmingham Junior Conservatoire, Edgbaston High School for Girls and has a thriving network of private piano students.
Suzie began her vocal training at Birmingham Conservatoire where she won a scholarship and many prizes. In 2011 she participated in the Opera Works course with English National Opera. Since graduating she has been employed by Diva Opera, Buxton Festival Opera, Kentish Opera and Graham Vick’s Birmingham Opera Company. Operatic roles and scenes include Carmen (Carmen – in English), Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors), Juno (Semele), Ottavia (L’incoronazione di Poppea), Second Lady (Die Zauberflöte) and Cornelia (Giulio Cesare).
Suzie has a special interest in the performance of new music and has performed works by Pierre Boulez, Louis Andriessen, Gerald Barry, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Philip Cashian, Steve Reich, Luciano Berio, Zsolt Durkó and Cecilia McDowall. Composer Michael Wolters has written many pieces for her including a two-hour-long music theatre piece called Sing, sing! which Suzie premiered in Düsseldorf and performed again for the opening of a festival in Trier. In the UK Suzie premiered Michael’s short opera The Voyage in collaboration with Stan’s Cafe Theatre Company; a recording of this performance was broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Other projects with New Guide to Opera have included performing on BBC4 World News Today, performing in an ice-rink during public skating hours and singing with gibbons in a cage in a zoo. Plans for 2015 include a project with Syzygy Saxophone Quartet and a recital with pianist Simon Nicholls, See www.suziepurkis.com for further details and to find out what Suzie is up to.
Malaysian pianist Bernard Tan is a passionate accompanist and vocal coach. He has accompanied singers in competitions in Asia and graduation recitals in various universities in Malaysia. He was awarded the Best Accompanist Prize in the Winter Journey Opera and Song Workshop in Thailand. Bernard has performed in masterclasses by Iain Burnside, Roderick Williams and Anna Tilbrook. He was also invited with Andrew Randall to perform in the masterclass in Leeds Lieder Festival this year. Graduated with First Class Honours from University Putra Malaysia where he majored in piano performance, Bernard is currently pursuing Master of Music in Piano Accompaniment at Birmingham Conservatoire, under the tutelage of Robin Bowman and Robert Markham. In the conservatoire, he involved actively and was the winner of John Ireland Prize (song pianist) and first runner-up of Delia Hall Accompanist Prize. Besides being a pianist, Bernard is also a singer and conductor.
Naomi Hickman is a Birmingham-based classical soprano currently studying under the tutelage of Maureen Brathwaite. Originally from North Somerset, Naomi began her vocal training with Elizabeth Glen, before studying for a BA music degree at the University of Southampton, graduating in 2013. At present she is a final year postgraduate student at Birmingham Conservatoire studying towards a Masters degree in Performance and Pedagogy. Naomi has performed in a number of operatic productions including as Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and La Bergère in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges. She has also been a soloist in Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man and regularly performs with female vocal ensemble ‘Lyrica’. Naomi was Musical Director of gospel choir ‘Jazzmanix’ and led their performance at the Vienne Jazz Festival. She is a passionate teacher and works as a vocal tutor in various schools around the West Midlands.
Andrew Randall is a Derbyshire-born baritone raised in the heart of the Peak District; he is taught by the renowned bass-baritone Henry Herford and operatic tenor Paul Bambrough. Previously, Andrew studied at the University of Nottingham, where he also read Music. Throughout undergraduate study Andrew was a semi-professional international in the sport of archery—he narrowly missed out on a position at the 2012 Olympic Games. On top of many other choral engagements, Andrew is a Bass Lay Clerk for St. Philip’s Cathedral, Birmingham. Andrew has performed lead roles in many operatic works. Most recently, Michael Wolters’ new opera, Ava’s Wedding in which he created the role of Ian Hobbs, Count Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Sid in Britten’s Albert Herring, and Marcello in Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème. Andrew has had a very active competition season. He was a finalist in the Conservatoire Vocal Prize 2015 and 2016. He has won first prize for the Andrew Downes’ Contemporary Music competition, and was awarded first place at the John Ireland Music Prize, the Edward Brookes’ English Song Prize, and, last week, the Ashleyan Opera Prize 2016.
Richard Silk studied at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, finishing with a Mus B in composition and organ performance. Notable teachers included Raymond Leppard, Thurston Dart, John Dykes Bower and Douglas Fox. From 1959 to 1971 he was Director of Music at Magdalen College School, Oxford and conductor of Oxford Harmonic Society. He was Assistant University Organist at both Cambridge and Oxford. From 1971-2002 he taught at Birmingham Conservatoire, becoming Director of Studies. During this time he also conducted the Birmingham Choral Society, sang with Ex Cathedra and held the post of organist at Carrs Lane Church, Birmingham. During this time he continued his performing career with broadcasts and concerts both in the UK and Europe. After taking early retirement he returned to Cambridge to study the harpsichord with the eminent player Lucy Carolan. Since then he has given many recitals both as a soloist and with The Borromini Ensemble, a group which he founded in 1993 and which performed countrywide for the next twelve years. The ensemble also recorded two CDs. He appears regularly at The Gateway and churches in Shrewsbury both as soloist and in chamber ensembles and now lives near Church Stretton.
Peter Gosling studied the clarinet from the age of 15. While at Birmingham University reading medical biochemistry he continued his musical studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, winning the concerto competition and gaining the ABSM recital diploma with distinction. Since then he has given recitals of classical music in a variety of chamber groups including the recitals with Richard Silk, Contrasts and the Midland Chamber Players. In partnership with a graduate in mathematics also from Birmingham University accordionist Michael Adams they formed the light music duo ‘No Strings’ in 1986. Since then they have been guests with many choirs and music clubs across England and Wales. BBC Radio 2 listeners may have heard No Strings on the ‘Early Show’, and they have appeared on BRMB, BBC Radio Shropshire and BBC Radio West Midlands where they were featured as ‘Artists of the week’.
Elouise Waterhouse is a mezzo-soprano from Liverpool in her third year as an undergraduate at Birmingham Conservatoire. She studies with Louise Crane and has performed many staged roles and scenes with great acclaim in recent public conservatoire opera productions. Her performance with Caroline of the duet from Donizetti “Lucia di Lammermoor” in last term’s opera scenes gave us the idea for this concert.
Caroline Modiba is a South African soprano. She studied with the Black Tie Ensemble opera company and the Cape Town Opera Studio, singing major roles in operas by Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, Johann Strauss, Puccini and Gershwin, including European performances in Barcelona and Bordeaux, and is now a post-graduate student at Birmingham Conservatoire studying with Helen Field.
She won first prize in the annual ATKV Muziquanto national competition in South Africa, second prize in the recent Voices of the Nation competition, also in South Africa, and was a finalist in the Hans Gabor International Singing Competition in Amsterdam in 2015.