Gustav Holst:‘Christmas Day’
Hywel Davies: ‘Hey! Now, Now, Now’
Peter Warlock: ‘Bethlehem Down’
Becky McGlade: ‘Clouded With Snow’
Ralph Vaughan Williams: ‘Fantasia on Christmas Carols’
Kim André Arnesen: ‘The Isaiah Carol’
Peter Cornelius: ‘The Three Kings’
Ed Newton Rex: ‘I heard the Bells on Christmas Day’
Gerald Finzi: ‘In Terra Pax’
Koor Singers and Players
Mary Bevan, soprano
Helen Charlston, mezzo-soprano
Roderick Williams, baritone
Simon Capet, conductor
Saint John’s Smith Square
21st December 2020
7:30 (GMT) | 2:30 (EST) | 11:30 (PST)
Christmas is a time for family and friends, a time for contemplation and comfort, a time for recharging the spirit as we progress from one year to the next. As we come to the end of what has been a very painful year, Christmas music can provide the perfect salve.
For this delightfully festive concert the sixteen-voice Koor Singers are joined by fifteen members of Koor Players for a beautiful, uplifting programme of Christmas music by 20th and 21st Century composers.
Join us from the comfort of your own home
As we’re now in Tier 3 we’re sorry you won’t be able to join us at Saint John’s Smith Square in person. But don’t worry – we are live-streaming the concert.
Access to the live stream costs £15 (plus £1.75 booking fee) per household.
Praised by Opera for her “dramatic wit and vocal control”, British soprano Mary Bevan is internationally renowned in baroque, classical and contemporary repertoire, and appears regularly with leading conductors, orchestras and ensembles around the world.
She is a winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist award and UK Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent in music and was awarded a MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2019.
In the 2020/21 season Mary will return to the Danish Opera for her role debut as Marzelline Fidelio and the for the production LIGHT Bach Dances with director John Fuljames and conductor Lars Ulrik Mortensen. She will also make her house debut at the Bolshoi Theatre in David Alden’s production of Ariodante as Dalinda.
On the concert stage, she will sing the world premiere of Sir James MacMIllan’s Christmas Oratorio with the LPO and later at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. She performs Haydn Theresienmesse with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston and appears in concert with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Highlights of last season include Rose Maurrant in Weill’s Street Scene for Opera de Monte Carlo and Eurydice in Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld for English National Opera.
Bevan recently garnered praise for her Royal Danish Opera debut as Bellezza in Il Tionfo del tempo e del deinganno, for the tile rod in Turnage’s new opera Coraline for the Royal Opera at the Barbican, as well as for her return to the English National Opera as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and her debut as Merab in Saul for the Adelaide Festival.
For the Royal Opera House she creates the role of Lila in David Bruce’s The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, sang Barbarino Le nozze di Figaro on the main stage, and the title role in Rossi’s Orpheus at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. On the concert platform, recent highlights include appearance with the BBC Symphony, BBC Concert Orchestra at the Proms, and with Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla and the CBSO in the world premiere of Roxanna Panufnik’s Faithful Journey.
She joined with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as Mary in Sally Beamish The Judas Passion, performed Bach Christmas Oratorio on tour in Australia with the Choir of Land and Australian Chamber Orchestra; and Handel Messiah with the Academy of Ancient Music. She also headlined a tour of Asia with The English Concert and Harry Bicket and made her Carnegie Hall debut with the ensemble as Dalinda in Handel Ariodante.
In 2020 she will make her debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Bevan’s discography includes two recital discs with pianist Joseph Middleton and Handel’s Queens with London Early Opera (all released by Signum Records), a recording of Mendelssohn song (Champs Hill Records) and Handel: The Triumph of Time and Truth and Handel: Ode for St Cecilia’s Day with Ludus Baroque (Delphian) and Vaughan Williams Symphony No 3 and Schubert Rosamunde with the BBC Philharmonic.
Acclaimed for her musical interpretation and “warmly distinctive tone” (The Telegraph), Helen Charlston won first prize in 2018 London Handel Singing Competition and was a finalist in the 2019 Grange Festival International Singing Competition.
She was a founder participant of the Rising Star of the Enlightenment programme, working alongside the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment as a soloist for two seasons; and is a member of Les Arts Florissants Young Artist Programme (Jardin des Voix) for 2021/22.
Helen is a City Music Foundation Artist. Recent highlights include solo recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Halle Handel Festival and Oxford Lieder Festival, and debuts with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Slovenia Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Academy of Ancient Music.
Helen’s Isolation Songbook, a collection of 15 songs by 15 different composers, were commissioned and premiered during the first UK lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The set will be released on Delphian Records in March 2021.
Often heard on BBC Radio 3 in live concert relays, Helen features on recordings of Bach B Minor Mass (Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Trinity College Choir), and Bach ActusTragicus & Himmelskönig sei willkommen (Amici Voices/Amici Baroque Players), both available from Hyperion. The “mesmerising delivery” of her aria in BWV 182 on the Amici Voices CD was singled out by Gramophone Magazine as the highlight of the recording.
Upcoming releases include John Eccles Semele (Juno) with Cambridge Handel Opera Company and the Academy of Ancient Music, and Vivaldi arias with London Handel Players. Helen began singing as chorister and head chorister of the St Albans Abbey Girls Choir. She then studied music at Trinity College, Cambridge where she held a choral scholarship for four years and was a scholar on the Pembroke College Lieder Scheme, led by pianist Joseph Middleton.
Roderick Williams is one of the most sought after baritones of his generation and performs a wide repertoire from baroque to contemporary music in the opera house, on the concert platform and in recital.
He enjoys relationships with all the major UK opera houses and has sung world premieres of operas by David Sawer, Sally Beamish, Michael van der Aa, Robert Saxton and Alexander Knaifel, amongst others.
He performs regularly with all the BBC orchestra, and many other ensembles including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Philharmonia, London Sinfonietta, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Halle, Britten Sinfonia, Bournemouth Symphony and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
Abroad Roderick, has worked with the Berlin Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Russian National Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Academia Nazionale di Canta Cecilia in Rome and Bach Collegium Japan and many others.
His many festival appearances include the BBC Proms (Last Night in 2014), Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Bath, Aldeburgh and Melbourne Festivals. Recent and future opera engagements include Oronte in Charpentier’s Medee, Don Alfonso (Così Fan Tute), Pollux (Castor et Pollux), Sharpless (Madame Butterfly) and baritone soloist in the new production of Britten’s War Requiem, all for English National Opera, Toby Kramer in Van der Aa’s Sunken Garden in the Netherlands, Lyon and London. Van der Aa’s After Life at Melbourne State Theatre, Sharpless for the Nederlandse Reisopera, the title roles of Eugene Onegin for Garsington Opera and Billy Budd for Opera North, and Papageno (Die Zauberflote) for the Royal Opera House.
Concert engagements include appearances with the Rias Kammercho, Seoul Philharmonic, Gabrieli Consort, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony, Music of the Baroque Chicago, New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Proms, Bayerische Rundfunk, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Bergen Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
He is also an accomplished recital artist who can be heard at venues and festivals including Wigmore Hall, Kings Place, LSO St Luke’s, the Perth Concert Hall, Oxford Lieder Festival, London Song Festival, Beethoven Haus, Snape Maltings, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Musikverein in Vienna.
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. He is currently recording the three Schubert cycles.
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. He was Artistic Director of Leeds Lieder + in April 2016 and he is currently “singer-in-residence” for Music in the Round in Sheffield, presenting concerts and leading on dynamic and innovative learning and participation projects that introduce amateur singers, young and old, to performing classical song repertoire. He is Artist in Residence for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra from 2020/21 for two seasons. He was awarded an OBE for services to music in June 2017.
Born in Cork, Sarah Sexton enjoys a versatile career as chamber musician, orchestral player and session musician on both baroque and modern violin.
Sarah was awarded a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London where she studied with Erich Gruenberg, Lydia Mordkovich and Simon Standage.
As a student, she became the first Irish person to lead the European Union Youth Orchestra in 2001, when she led the orchestra under Sir Colin Davis and Paavo Jarvi.
Sarah has been invited to perform as guest leader of the RTE National Symphony and Concert Orchestras, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Camerata Ireland, Classical Opera Company, Dunedin Consort, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and is currently the leader of the Orchestra of the Sixteen.
Chamber music has always been a huge part of Sarah’s musical life. As a founder member, she toured internationally with the Callino Quartet for almost two decades until 2017. She enjoyed collaborations with diverse artists including John Abercrombie, Arcade Fire, the Kronos Quartet, Kurtàg, Vasks and Aleksandra Vrebalov.
David Clegg began his singing career when he won the title of Choirboy of the Year in 1983. Educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, he completed his studies on the opera course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Over the past 25 years he has run a busy career both as a soloist and a consort singer and has sung with many of the best known ensembles in the country including The Sixteen, The Monteverdi Choir, The Gabrieli Consort, Tenebrae, The Academy of Ancient Music, The English Concert, The King’s Consort, The Dunedin Consort, The BBC Singers and The Cardinall’s Musick.
With these ensembles he has made many recordings and toured the world extensively, performing at some of the most treasured festivals such as the BBC Proms, Edinburgh, Salzburg and Mostly Mozart in New York.
He has appeared at prestigious venues such as the Sydney Opera House, the ROH Covent Garden, the Lincoln Centre, the Berlin Philharmonie, the Hamburg Elpharmonie, Suntori Hall in Japan. the Megaron in Greece and the Wigmore Hall in London.
As well as working with many period ensembles, he has appeared as a soloist with modern orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, the Scottish Ensemble and the Orchestra of the Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Alongside his performing career he runs a successful management business providing singers and instrumentalists for an increasing number of ensembles for performances and recordings.
He holds several positions including Artist Manager of Koor Singers and Players, Head of Artistic Personnel and Casting for Arcangelo, Choral Manager of the Gabrieli Consort, Vocal Advisor to the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Artistic Advisor to ORA amongst others. He is also a proud trustee of La Nuova Musica.
With these jobs and other he has worked closely with a huge number of eminent conductors, including Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Roger Norrington, Marin Alsop, Emmanuelle Haim, Masaaki Suzuki, William Christie, Paul McCreesh, John Butt, Andreas Schiff, Trevor Pinnock, Laurence Cummings, Jonathan Cohen, Christian Curnyn and David Bates.
He has also worked in collaboration with artists such as Voces8, Nigel Kennedy and Gareth Malone. As well as being a guest conductor for ORA Singers and the Choir of the Age of Enlightenment in recent seasons he conducts his own ensemble “Aurum Vocale” with whom he enjoys making music with friends and colleagues. They were the chosen choir for the VJ event celebrations shown live on BBC1 earlier this summer.
He lives in Tonbridge with his partner Emily and their two year old daughter Ella.