Laura Mitchell (Concordia Ambassador) studied at the Royal College of Music, the Benjamin Britten International Opera School, and the National Opera Studio 2007/8, where she won the Kathleen Ferrier Song Prize and the Lies Askonas Prize. Roles include Countess Almaviva/Le Nozze di Figaro and Elisa/Tolomeo for the BBIOS; Aldimira/Erismena, First Witch/Dido and Aeneas and Ninfa and Proserpina (cover)/Orfeo for the ETO; Lidka (cover)/Two Widows by Smetana at the Scottish Opera, and most recently Kristina/The Makropulos Case for the ENO. Concert work includes Tippett’s Spirituals and Rutter’s Requiem at St. John’s Smith Square; Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate and Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras no. 5 with the Emerald Ensemble at Bristol Cathedral; Bach’s B Minor Mass at St. John’s Smith Square; Haydn’s Nelson Mass with Sir David Willcocks and Handel’s Messiah at Kings College Cambridge with Stephen Cleobury; Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate with the London Pro Arte Orchestra in Denmark, and Strauss’ Four Last Songs at the Hatfield Auditorium conducted by Peter Stark. Laura gratefully receives support from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust from their Funding and Recital Scheme, the Concordia Foundation from the Barthel Prize, the Wingate Scholarship, the Zetland Foundation and the Worshipful Company of Musicians.
Amaia Azcona Cildoz has always had a passion for music, and began playing the guitar and singing aged seven. Having completed her BMus at Conservatorio Superior de Navarra (Spain) in both, she is now embarking on her Masters in singing at Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she is studying with Susan J. Waters. She has been involved with several opera companies from Spain performing the roles of Gretel in Hansel und Gretel (Humperdinck), Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro Mozart, Micaela in Carmen Bizet, Rosita in Luisa Fernanda Torroba, Ariadna in El Guardian de los Cuentos M. Ortega and Zulema in Ali Baba y los Cuarenta Ladrones I. Casali in Arriaga’s Theatre (Bilboa, Spain), Baluarte Hall (Pamplona, Spain), in the Parlimament of Navarra and in Cultural Centre Nicolas Salmeron (Madrid, Spain), Clwyd Theatre Cymru (Mold, UK), Yvonne Arnaud Theatre (Guildford, UK), Wigmore Hall (London, UK). Last year Amaia was the winner of the Lillian Ash French Song Competition. Recent highlights include the participation in a concert organised by Graham Johnson at LSO St. Luke’s and Don Giovanni opera scene in Christ Church, Spitalfields.
Grace Carter began her musical career as a pianist at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Having graduated in Postgraduate Vocal Performance from Trinity Laban, London, she is now based in Amsterdam working with Rosemary Joshua and Olivier Lallouette. Upcoming events include Therese (cover) in the Dutch National Opera’s production of Les Mamelles de Thirésias (Poulenc) with Roger Vignoles. Additionally she will sing Kate Pinkerton- Madame Butterfly (Puccini) in London’s Grimeborn Festival. Recent engagement highlights include Susanna - Le Nozze di Figaro in The Hague, Netherlands with the Residentie Orkest conducted by Jonathan Cohen, The Fairy Queen- Purcell with Bury Court Opera and the Southbank Sinfonia and Mlle Silberklang- Der Schauspieldirektor and Eleonora in Salieri's Prima la musica e poi le parole with Stichting Kamermuziek Warmond. Concert and oratorio appearances include Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s Requiem at St-Martin-in-the-Field, Mass in C (Beethoven) for LSO St Luke’s and The Creation (Haydn) at St John’s Smith Square and Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with Het Nieuwe Mannheim Koor en Orkest.
Natasha Day is a Scottish-Polish soprano trained at The English National Opera on the ‘Opera Works’ programme and completed her final year at the Royal College of Music's International Opera School in 2015. Roles include Poppea Agrippina (English Touring Opera), Mimi La Boheme (Haddo House Opera, Devon Opera), Gilda Rigoletto (Devon Opera), Miss Wordsworth Albert Herring, Lisetta La Gazzetta and Le Feu/Le Rossignol L'Enfant et les Sortileges (RCM), First Lady Magic Flute (RCM, Nevill Holt Opera), Micaela Carmen (Winslow Hall Opera, Edinburgh Grand Opera), Jessie Mahagonny Songspiel (UNAM) in Mexico City, Fiordiligi Cosi Fan Tutte (The Rye Festival), Musetta La Boheme (Celebrate Voice Festival, Park Opera) and the title role in Handel's Acis and Galatea (Westminster Opera, Woodhouse Opera). Concert engagements include Brahms’ Requiem, Berlioz's La Mort de Cleopatre, Strauss' Four Last Songs, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Mahler's Symphony No. 4, Mozart's Mass in C Minor, Requiem, Coronation Mass, Exsultate Jubilate and various recitals throughout the UK. Natasha won First Prize at the Złote Głosy Competition in Warsaw, Second Prize at The Filharmonia Czestochowska Competition also in Poland and The Most Promising Singer Award at the Emmy Destinn Competition in Prague. She was a Finalist in the 2016 Concorso Lirico di Ferrara, Italy and will become a 2017 Britten-Pears Young Artist, working on Strauss lieder and arias with Angelika Kirchschlager and Malcolm Martineau.
Nazan Fikret made her operatic début at the age of thirteen singing Flora The Turn of the Screw in Elijah Moshinsky’s production at Wilton’s Music Hall. She went on to sing the role in the Luc Bondy production at the Aix-en-Provence Festival (conducted by Daniel Harding) which then toured to La Monnaie, Le Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Theater an der Wien, Edinburgh Festival King’s Theatre, and in a Stephen Langridge production for the Reisopera. As a teenager, she also sang Beth The Tender Land (Copland) with BBC Radio 3 at the Barbican (conducted by Leonard Slatkin) and recorded Second Boy The Magic Flute for Chandos (conducted by the late Sir Charles Mackerras). While still a student, Nazan made her English National Opera début as Flora in the David McVicar production and reprised the role in the revival conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. Since leaving the GSMD, Nazan’s roles include Diane Disney The Perfect American (Philip Glass) in the world première at the Teatro Real (subsequently recorded for DVD) and at ENO, Ninetta La Perichole for Garsington Opera, Madame Herz The Impresario at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Queen of the Night for Wexford Festival Opera Shortworks and ENO Baylis Opera Squad, and Governess The Turn of the Screw for Seastar Opera. Nazan has appeared on In Tune on BBC Radio 3 in The Lads in their Hundreds, with Iain Burnside in concert, she was chosen as the soprano solo for the Turkish Hymn (Arditi) for the Turkish Presidential visit to London, and has performed Walton songs at the City of London Festival. Her concert appearances include The Company of Heaven (Britten) for Canterbury Choral Society and the Poulenc Gloria for Nottingham Choral Trust. Nazan is a 2015-17 Making Music Young Concert Artist and a 2015 recipient of the prestigious International Opera Awards Bursary. Nazan gave her first performance for the Concordia Foundation at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in July 2016
Claire Lees, soprano, is currently studying at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama on the Guildhall Artist Masters Programme, under the tutelage of Yvonne Kenny. Claire has had many opportunities at the school, performing in the opera, ‘Francesca di Foix,’ by Donizetti. She has also sang solo excerpts from Haydn’s Creation for the LSO’s Singing day and sung in masterclasses with Susan Bullock, Graham Johnson and Sarah Walker. Prior to her studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Claire completed her undergraduate degree at the Birmingham Conservatoire. Claire has worked extensively as a freelance singer; singing in concerts, competitions and masterclasses. She also performed in the ensemble of the Gilbert and Sullivan’s Opera Company in their International Festival in Buxton in both 2012 and 2013 and also the Thursford Christmas Show, 2011 and 2012, both as a soloist and as an ensemble member. Claire returned to the Gilbert and Sullivan’s Opera Company in 2014, on their first ever UK tour, performing the roles of Yum Yum (Mikado) and Phyllis (Iolanthe). Recent engagements have seen Claire travelling to Amman, Jordan for a private function and also a singing day for the Brandenburg Festival, working closely with Howard Goodall, singing the soprano solos in his piece ‘Every Purpose under the Heaven.’ Claire was a finalist in The Maureen Lehane Vocal Award 2014 at the Wigmore Hall and recently made her debut at the Barbican Hall, singing songs of Debussy as part of the Pre-LSO series. Upcoming events include a performance of ‘Every Purpose under the Heaven’ with Howard Goodall at Peterborough Cathedral and a UK tour with the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company singing the roles of Yum Yum (Mikado) and Gianetta (Gondaliers). Claire is a Concordia Foundation Artist, giving her debut performance at St James's Church Piccadilly in March 2015. Claire is generously supported by Help Musicians UK, The Leverhulme Award and the Guildhall School Trust.
Rhiannon Llewellyn was born in Swansea and had a nomadic upbringing taking her all over the UK and USA before her family finally settled in France. After spending a year studying in Italy, Rhiannon went on to complete her undergraduate degree at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and recently completed her masters at the Royal Academy of Music. Rhiannon is now in her first year of Royal Academy Opera where she continues to study with Lillian Watson and Jonathan Papp. Rhiannon gratefully acknowledges the support of the Sickle Foundation, John and Rachel Wren, Josephine Baker Trust, Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the Musicians Benevolent Fund. Rhiannon won first prize and a Miriam Licette scholarship at the 2013 Maggie Teyte Competition at the Royal Opera House and was 2013 Les Azuriales Young Artist in Nice. Rhiannon recently made her professional operatic début as the Sandman in Garsington’s production of Hänsel und Gretel and will play the role of Dalinda in the Royal Academy Opera’s production of Ariodante next season. Other operatic roles include Countess The Marriage of Figaro, Erste Dame Die Zauberflöte and Polly Peachum The Beggar’s Opera. Rhiannon is a passionate recitalist and has performed at venues such as the Royal Opera House’s Crush Bar, Real Academia de Bellas Artes (Madrid), British Embassy (Paris), Purcell Room, Colston Hall, Festival and Gower Music Festival with Finnegan Downie Dear and Matthew Fletcher. Solo concert performances include Handel Arias and Duets under Laurence Cummings at King’s Place, Bernstein’s Mass BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall under Kristjan Järvi, Mozart Requiem at St Martin-in-the-Fields under Paul Spicer, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle at Chichester Cathedral under Jonathan Wilcocks, Carmina Burana at the Colston Hall under Howard Williams, Messiah with the Welsh Sinfonia at Llandaff Cathedral and Mahler 8th Symphony at the Colston Hall.
Julia Sitkovetsky, British/American soprano, made her professional operatic debut at the age of 16 at Glyndebourne and English National Opera, understudying ‘Flora’ in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw. She trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and is a current member of the English National Opera OperaWorks Programme for 2014-15. Her recent successes include: ‘Monica’ The Medium (Grimeborn); ‘Bathilde’ (Cover) and Chorus Vert Vert by Offenbach with Garsington Opera; ‘Moll Hackabout’ (cover) A Harlot’s Progress (Theater an der Wien); ‘Imogen’ Journeying Boys (Guildhall); ‘Semele’ Semele, ‘Susanna’ Le Nozze di Figaro, ‘Armida’ Rinaldo, ‘Ilia’ Idomeneo (all ENO OperaWorks). Current engagements include: 'Fiordiligi' in Mozart's Cosi fan tutte for British Youth Opera Workshop Scenes; excerpts of Iain Bell's previous and upcoming operas A Harlot's Progress and In Parentheses for Welsh National Opera's Commissions Weekend; ‘First Strolling Player’ and ‘Danish Lady’ in Death in Venice conducted by Steuart Bedford; ‘Resi’ (cover) in Intermezzo conducted by Jac van Steen, both at Garsington Opera 2015 and ‘Emilia’ in Catone in Utica at Dartington Summer Festival conducted by Robert Howarth. She is a Concordia Foundation Artist, giving her debut recital at St James's Church Piccadilly with pianist William Vann in 2015. Recent competition successes include First Prize in the 2014 Dean and Chadlington Competition; a Susan Chilcott Award Finalist; 2014 YCAT Finalist at the Wigmore Hall; Finalist in the 2014 Royal Overseas League Competition. Julia is generously supported by the Help Musicians UK Tutton Award, The Seary Trust, The Worshipful Company of Needlemakers, Elisabeth J. Roberts and the Joan Conway Scholarship.
Joanna Marie Skillett was recently awarded a Distinction from The Royal Academy of Music for her Masters Degree. She has appeared as Soprano soloist for The Royal Opera House’s Production Park Grand Opening; the lead role in the premiere of Random for English Touring Opera and at the Lytham Proms with gold status soprano Lesley Garrett. Her performance schedule also includes performances at some of London’s most pres- tigious venues such as St Martin-in-the-Fields, The National Portrait Gallery, St Paul’s Cathedral and St James’s Palace. Recent role debuts include Mozart’s La Contessa (Amersham Music Festival), Donna Elvira (Opera Up Close / Soho Theatre on London’s West End), First Lady (Regents Opera UK Tour) and a concert performance of Puccini’s Musetta of La Bohème (London Festival Opera) at Windsor’s Theatre Royal, in the presence of HRH Prince Edward. Recent awards include Essex Musician of the Year, The RAM Richard Desmond Award; The Freda Parry Scholarship for Singers and The George Heim Memorial Trust Award. Joanna is an active supporter of Music and the Arts within the Community and was awarded The RAM Open Academy Fellowship.
Norah King (Concordia Ambassador) has enchanted audiences across Europe and Asia in both operatic roles and concert performances, from the National Concert Hall, Dublin to the Uchisaiwaicho Hall, Tokyo. In opera she has sung roles with Aldeburgh Music, English Touring Opera, Lyric Opera Productions and the Lismore Music Festival. On the concert platform she has appeared with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, the Portsmouth Festival Orchestra, Army No.1 Band and Shanghai Opera Orchestra with the Concordia Foundation at the Shanghai Concert Hall. She has broadcast on RTÉ’s lyric fm with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and has recorded for BBC Radio 3 In Tune, BBC Radio 4 PM and BBC Radio Ulster. Her television appearances include RTÉ Capital D and Nationwide. Norah has recorded Romanian composer Irina Odagescu’s Continuum Y with the London Schubert Players as part of A European Odyssey CD series. Norah is an Artist of the Concordia Foundation, a Samling Artist, a former Britten-Pears Young Artist and Bank of Ireland Millennium Scholar. An alumna of the Royal Irish Academy of Music and Royal Academy of Music she has been awarded numerous prizes including an award from The Arts Council of Ireland and holds a DipRAM.
Bethan Langford, British mezzo-soprano, is currently studying on the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with professor Kate Paterson. At the Guildhall School, Bethan is the recipient of the Susan Longfield prize, Paul Hamburger lieder prize and the Violette Szabo award for English song. She is the winner of the John Fussell Award, is a Samling Artist and a Les Azuriales Young Artist. Bethan made her Wigmore Hall recital debut this April, as the winner of the Concordia Foundation Founders' Prize. Opera credits include Proserpina (cover) Orfeo (Royal Opera at the Roundhouse), Noble Orphan Der Rosenkavalier (Glyndebourne Festival and BBC Proms), the Hag East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon (WorkshOPERA at the Tête a Tête Festival), Nancy Albert Herring (Mid Wales Opera Young Artist Programme), Hansel Hansel und Gretel (Guernsey Symphony Orchestra), Prince Orlofsky Die Fledermaus (Clonter Opera) and Winifred Gurney A Soldier and a Maker (Iain Burnside, for Barbican Centre, Cheltenham Festival and BBC Radio 3). Future operatic engagements include the roles of Beatrice in Wolf-Ferrari le donne curiose and Lucretia in Britten's the Rape of Lucretia in Spring 2016 for Guildhall Opera. As a passionate recitalist, Bethan has performed at many leading concert venues and festivals around the UK. Recently, she opened the closing concert of the Oxford Lieder Festival, where her singing of Schubert lieder was recorded and broadcast by BBC Radio 3. She made her Wigmore Hall solo debut in March 2013, accompanied by Graham Johnson, for Sarah Walker's 70th Birthday concert, and was thrilled to return this year. She is a member of the Guildhall Song Guild and is excited to be making her European concert debut at Gaudi's Pedrera House in Barcalona in Spring 2016. Future plans include a return to Glyndebourne for the 2016 Festival. Bethan is gratefully supported by a Tutton Award from Help Musicians UK, an EMI Music Sound Foundation bursary, the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers and the Worshipful Company of Skinners. She is also grateful to the RNIB and the Elizabeth Eagle-Bott Award for their support and kindness.
Marta Fontanals-Simmons Described as possessing “real star quality” and giving a “a powerhouse performance that’s a vocal and physical tour de force”, Marta has completed both postgraduate and Opera Course training at GSMD under the tuition of Marilyn Rees. She is supported by the Gwen Catley Scholarship, the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers, the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and a Sybil Tutton Award. Marta was a Ferrier Competition finalist in 2014, was awarded first prize in the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards 2011, performing at Wigmore Hall and on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’. Her operatic experience includes Pinocchio in Jonathan Dove’s The Adventures of Pinocchio, Paggio Francesca di Foix Donizetti and Kate Julian Owen Wingrave at GSMD as well as Ruggiero in Agostino Steffani’s Orlando Generoso(The Barber Opera) Drummer The Emperor of Atlantis Viktor Ullmann (Grimeborn Festival) Hansel Hansel and Gretel (Clonter Opera) Kate Pinkerton Madama Butterfly (Grange Park Opera).This year, Marta will be joining Garsington Opera playing Woodpecker and covering Fox The Cunning Little Vixen and playing Mercedes and covering Carmen Carmen for Mid Wales Opera. Solo concert performances include Strauss Deutsche Motette at St John’s Smith Square, recitals at St Martin-in-the-Fields and Christchurch Spitalfields.
Emily Kyte, mezzo-soprano, trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where she completed the Guildhall Artist Masters Programme, and the BMus (Hons) programme, with which she was also awarded a Concert Recital Diploma (Grand Premier Prix). Emily has performed solo recitals at St Bride’s Fleet Street, St Olave’s Hart Street, and St Botolph's without Aldgate, at Wigmore Hall as part of the Wigmore Voiceworks project, and as part of the Song in the City concert series at St Botolph's without Bishopsgate, Queen Mary University, and the Barbican Conservatory. Notable oratorio performances include concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, and with the English Chamber Orchestra at St Paul’s Cathedral. Operatic experience includes performances at the Tete-a-Tete Festival 2014 & 2015, British Youth Opera 2014 and Grange Park Opera 2015. Emily joined the Concordia Foundation in January 2016, giving her first recital at Chelsea & Westmister Hospital.