Music Team

Chorus Director and Associates

 

SIMON HALSEY CBE – CHORUS DIRECTOR

LSC_Barbican_26112014_008 - CopySimon Halsey is a sought-after conductor of choral repertoire at the very highest level and an ambassador for choral singing across the world. Since 2001 he has been Principal Conductor of the Rundfunkchor Berlin, the permanent partner of the Berliner Philharmoniker. In the UK, Halsey has been Chorus Director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Choruses for over 30 years and, in 2012, was appointed Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus. In this new position, Halsey leads choral activities across the LSO’s performance and education programmes.

Simon Halsey is also Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Youth Choral Programme, as well as Director of the BBC Proms Youth Choir. Since 2014 he has been Artistic Advisor of the Choir Academy of the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival. Making singing a central part of these world-class institutions, Halsey has been instrumental in changing the level of symphonic singing across Europe. Since becoming Choral Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Chorus in 2012, Halsey has been credited with bringing about a “spectacular transformation” (Evening Standard) of the LSC. In 2014/15 the LSO and LSC perform Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri with Sir Simon Rattle. In addition to its work with the LSO, the choir joins the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and Alan Gilbert for a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the BBC Proms, and the BBC Philharmonic and Juanjo Mena for Beethoven’s Fidelio in Manchester. In 2014 Halsey also conducted the LSC in a series of a cappella concerts across the UK, including Tallis’s Spem in alium and Rachmaninov’s Vespers.

In August 2014 Simon Halsey was invited by the British Government to conduct a combined choir from the LSC and the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival at a commemoration ceremony to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War I at St. Symphorien Military Cemetery. In February 2015 Halsey brings together the CBSO Chorus and LSC to perform Mahler’s Symphony No.2 with the Berliner Philharmoniker at London’s Royal Festival Hall, celebrating Sir Simon Rattle’s 60th birthday. Under Halsey’s leadership, the Rundfunkchor Berlin has gained a reputation internationally as one of the finest professional choral ensembles. Halsey has also initiated innovative projects in unconventional venues and interdisciplinary formats, such as human requiem (after Brahms) in collaboration with dance company Sasha Waltz & Guests, which – in addition to performances at Radialsystem V in Berlin – tours to Rotterdam this season. Other highlights of 2014/15 include performances of Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Together with the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Rundfunkchor Berlin tours Bach’s St Matthew Passion to New York as part of the Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, in Peter Sellars’s acclaimed staging, following performances at the Lucerne Festival and BBC Proms.

In addition to its work with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Halsey’s CBSO Chorus is in high demand, working with other first-rate orchestras and leading conductors. Recent and upcoming highlights include performances with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and John Storgårds and with the Czech Philharmonic and Jiří Bělohlávek. With the CBSO in Birmingham, the 2014/15 season includes the UK premiere of James MacMillan’s St Luke Passion and a concert performance of Wagner’s Parsifal. At the CBSO Halsey has also founded a Youth Chorus and Children’s Chorus, as well as two community choirs in Birmingham and the surrounding area.

As Artistic Director of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Youth Choral Programme Vokalhelden (‘Vocal Heroes’), Halsey leads a long-term education and performance project that brings together children from diverse backgrounds from all over Berlin. This season they perform the world premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Was lauert da im Labyrinth (The Monster in the Maze), conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. In London, the LSO Youth Choir and Community Choir perform the UK premiere of Dove’s new opera, as part of Halsey’s LSO Sing programme. In June 2014 Simon Halsey conducted the world premiere of David Lang’s Crowd Out, a community work for 1,000 voices, with performances in Birmingham, Berlin and London. Halsey’s BBC Proms Youth Choir, which is formed of young singers from all over the UK, performed Britten’s War Requiem with the CBSO and Andris Nelsons in August 2014. Simon Halsey is Professor and Director of Choral Activities at the University of Birmingham, where he directs a postgraduate course in Choral Conducting, in association with the CBSO. Halsey is in great demand as a teacher at other universities and has presented masterclasses at top universities such as Princeton and Yale. In 2011 Schott Music published his book and DVD on choral conducting, Chorleitung: Vom Konzept zum Konzert, as part of its ‘Master Class’ series.

Halsey has worked on numerous recording projects, many of which have won major awards, including the Gramophone Award, Diapason d’Or and Echo Klassik. He has won three Grammy Awards for his recordings with the Rundfunkchor Berlin: 2007, 2008 (Best Choral Performances) and 2011 (Best Opera Performance). As part of a new relationship with Deutsche Grammophon, Halsey and the Rundfunkchor Berlin recorded Spheres with violinist Daniel Hope, as well as Morgenlicht, a choir-only recording of German hymns, both released in 2013. Highlights of his discography with the CBSO Chorus on EMI Classics include Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with CBSO, Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker and John Shirley-Quirk; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle; and Mahler’s Symphony No.2 with CBSO, Sir Simon Rattle, Dame Janet Baker and Arleen Auger.

Born in London, Simon Halsey sang in the choirs of New College, Oxford, and of King’s College, Cambridge. He studied conducting at the Royal College of Music in London. In 1987, he founded with Graham Vick the City of Birmingham Touring Opera (now Birmingham Opera Company). He was Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Choir from 1997 to 2008 and was also Principal Conductor of the Northern Sinfonia’s Choral Programme from 2004 to 2012. Halsey was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2011, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to choral music in Germany, and holds three honorary doctorates from universities in the United Kingdom. He was awarded the Queen's Medal for Music 2014 and a CBE IN 2015. Simon Halsey is represented by Intermusica.

Benjamin studied music at Exeter University, graduating with Distinction in performance, was Organ Scholar at Exeter Cathedral and became an associate of the Royal College of Organists. After university he studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where his tutors included Gordon Back and Graham Johnson, and trained as a repetiteur at the National Opera Studio.
He has worked with the BBC, Lesley Garrett, Nelly Miricioiu, Marianne Cornetti, Sally Matthews, English National Opera and The Opera Group on several productions including Die Fledermaus, Carmen, Madam Butterfly, Cosi fan tutte, Magic Flute, La Boheme, La Cenerentola and Eugene Onegin.
His experience as an accompanist and chorus master ranges from silent films at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, to The Boy Friend, Cabaret, Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti and several rarely performed operas with Chelsea Opera Group. He has also accompanied the London Philharmonic Chorus, the BBC Singers, the BBC Symphony Chorus and the Monteverdi Choir.
Until 2011 he was Assistant Director of Music at St. Luke’s, Chelsea, where John Ireland and John Goss were organists and currently works as a freelance repetiteur. He has also appeared on In Tune for Radio 3 and Operatunity for Channel 4. Benjamin has given many organ recitals at several cathedrals including Exeter and Bristol, as well as Westminster Abbey. His conducting experience includes Mozart's Coronation Mass with Stanley Hall Opera and The Barber of Seville and Don Pasquale with Opera A La Carte.

In 2014, Benjamin played for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group on Stravinsky’s one act chamber opera, Renard. He worked with Philharmonia Voices on A Prussian Requiem, a new oratorio by John Powell, composer of How to Train Your Dragon. On Christmas Day, he accompanied the winning carols for Classic FM in King’s College Chapel Cambridge with Stephen Cleobury. In 2015, he accompanied Rebecca Front on Radio 4 for With Great Pleasure. He has recently worked with the BBC Singers on The Last Supper by Birtwistle.

In January 2017, he was appointed Chorus Accompanist of the London Symphony Chorus.

NEIL FERRIS - ASSOCIATE CHORUS DIRECTOR

NeillFerrisNeil Ferris studied at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Royal College of Music. Neil combines his conducting engagements with his post as Head of Choral Conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where he oversees the internationally recognised choral conducting course and the conservatoire’s choral ensembles. Neil is Music Director of Cardiff Polyphonic Choir, which in recent years has broadcast for BBC Radio 2, 3 and 4 as well as an appearance last year on BBC Television. He is also Music Director of Wimbledon Choral Society, one of London’s leading amateur choirs.

Neil also works regularly as a guest conductor with other choirs; he is Principal Guest Conductor of Birmingham Bach Choir and Convivium Singers, Associate Chorus Director of London Symphony Chorus and Chorus Master at the Endellion Summer Festival. He has also worked with the BBC Symphony Chorus, BBC National Chorus of Wales, Royal College of Music Chorus, Manchester Chamber Choir and the New London Singers. As a chorus master Neil has prepared choirs for conductors including Valery Gergiev, Carlo Rizzi, Richard Hickox, Francois-Xavier Roth, Thierry Fischer, David Atherton, Ryan Wigglesworth, Nicholas Collon, Andrew Gourlay, Simon Halsey and David Hill.

MATTHEW HAMILTON - ASSOCIATE CHORUS DIRECTOR

MATTHEWHAMILTON Matthew Hamilton is regularly invited to work with leading symphonic choirs, including London Symphony Chorus - where he is an Associate Chorus Director - BBC Symphony Chorus, and CBSO Chorus; and with chamber choirs including New London Chamber Choir - where he is Musical Director - BBC Singers, ChorWerk Ruhr, and Manchester Chamber Choir. Additionally, he is director of Reading Bach Choir, Keele Bach Choir, and Salford Choral Society.

Matthew read music at Oxford, before taking a Masters degree in composition at the University of Manchester. He won a full scholarship to study choral conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, graduating in 2010. In addition he participated in masterclasses with some of Europe’s finest professional choirs, including Berlin Radio Choir and Netherlands Chamber Choir. In 2010 he was the winner of the Bramstrup Conducting Award in Denmark. Matthew has prepared choirs for conductors including Fabio Luisi, Valery Gergiev, Charles Dutoit, Thierry Fischer, David Robertson, John Wilson and Mark Minkowski, and for festivals including the BBC Proms, where he has worked on music from Birtwistle to the Pet Shop Boys. He works frequently with the BBC Singers, and has conducted them in concert at the Barbican, live on Radio 3 and for TV, and in the recording studio. He has premiered a number of a cappella works by composers including Nico Muhly, Eriks Esenvalds and Gabriel Jackson. Current and future events include a series of concerts with ChorWerk Ruhr in Germany, his first concert with New London Chamber Choir at Wiltons Music Hall, and his debut at Manchester’s Bridgwater Hall conducting Duruflé Requiem with organist Wayne Marshall.

NIA LLEWELYN JONES

Nia Llewellyn JonesNia Llewelyn Jones grew up in North Wales where singing and choral music played a central part in her musical upbringing. After reading music at Robinson College, Cambridge, she won a full scholarship to study with Simon Halsey on his collaborative course between the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the University of Birmingham. She has subsequently worked extensively with ensembles of all ages, appearing frequently with the symphonic choruses of the CBSO and London Symphony Orchestra. Nia has also been involved in numerous youth and choral education projects, working with The Sage, Gateshead’s Education division, the CBSO’s choral forces, and Learning and Participation department. She is the first to hold the position of Singing Development Leader at Gloucester Cathedral.  In addition to working with all the Cathedral’s resident choirs, her remit is enthusing and inspiring children and young people of the Diocese to sing. Nia has been appointed Conductor of the National Youth Choir of Wales for 2015, leading the choir on their tour of Buenos Aires and Patagonia to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the first Welsh settlement.

 

Voice and Language Coaches

 

GILES UNDERWOOD - VOICE COACH

Philip Cave and MagnificatGiles Underwood is a versatile singer, specialising in baroque repertoire and contemporary music, but also at home with Mozart and Puccini.\r\n\r\nHe was a chorister at Westminster Abbey and read Biology at Magdalen College, Oxford. He went on to study on the postgraduate and opera courses at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he now holds the post of Vocal Studies Lecturer. On the stage, he has played many major roles, including Don Giovanni, Count Almaviva (Le Nozze Di Figaro), Tarquinius (The Rape of Lucretia) and Marcello (La Bohème). On the concert platform, he has sung Haydn in the Royal Albert Hall, Wolf in the Wigmore Hall, Bach in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw and Vaughan Williams in the Sao Paolo Opera House.

He teaches singing to undergraduates in Oxford, with students at Magdalen, Christ Church, Queens, Merton and Exeter. As Director of Music at University College, Oxford, he runs the Chapel Choir and oversees music-making in the college. He is the founder and director of The Martlet Ensemble.

CARYS LANE - VOICE COACH

D4AT6693Carys Lane was educated at the Purcell School and graduated to the Royal Academy of Music where she initially studied the flute but moved on to vocal studies as a post- graduate. In 2001 she was awarded an ARAM from the Royal Academy for her services to music.

Since graduating, she has forged a career combining solo and consort singing which has embraced music from Hildegard of Bingen to the present day.\r\nOn the concert platform, Carys has performed for such conductors as Sir Roger Norrington, Ivan Fischer, Richard Hickox, Harry Christophers and Paul McCreesh.\r\n\r\nShe has appeared for The Opera Group, creating the role of ‘Crow’ in Edward Dudley Hughes’ opera, The Birds at the Buxton Festival. Following her performance, she was invited to return to Buxton to play Melisse in Gluck’s Armide. Other opera roles include Lady Rich (Glorianna) and Euridice (Orpheo), both for Richard Hickox, and Elvira (Don Giovanni) and Fiordiligi (Cosi fan Tutti). She was part of the celebrated production, The Full Monteverdi, directed by John la Bouchardiere, a DVD of which was released to critical acclaim.\r\n\r\nAs a solo artist, Carys has recorded the Mozart Requiem for Warner Classics, Purcell and Vivaldi for Naxos, and Vaughan Williams for Chandos.  She recorded the role of First Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment for Chandos and has made over 90 discs with ensembles such as The Tallis Scholars, The Sixteen, The Gabrieli Consort, The Clerks, I Fagiolini, and The Cardinall’s Musick, who won Gramophone Magazine’s Disc of the Year in 2010.

Carys has been a vocal coach on courses for ensemble singing at The University of Vermont, for the Granada Festival and at Dartington Summer School. She regularly teaches on Eton Choral Courses and is a vocal consultant for the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. During term time, she teaches singing at Merton, Queen’s and Magdalen Colleges in Oxford.

NORBERT MEYN - GERMAN LANGUAGE COACH

NorbertMeyn-300x200German tenor Norbert Meyn is equally at home singing baroque, classical and contemporary music. He is also a sought after language coach and vocal coach, working with many leading choirs, record companies and opera companies including the London Symphony Chorus, BBC Singers and Symphony Chorus, CBSC, Edinburgh Festival Chorus, Hyperion Records, Harmonia Mundi, Garsington Opera and the Bolshoi Opera.

As a concert soloist he has appeared at the Barbican Hall, the South Bank Centre, St. John’s Smith Square and the Royal Albert Hall in London, also at Usher Hall in Edinburgh, the Halle International Handel Festival, the Utrecht Festival of Early Music, with the Salzburg Bach Choir and in the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage of the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra, with conductors including Sir Roger Norrington, Howard Arman, Simon Halsey, Phillip Pickett and Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Selected operatic roles are Tamino (Mozart, Die Zauberflöte), Don Ottavio (Mozart, Don Giovanni) Almaviva (Rossini, Il Barbiere di Sevilla), Podesta (Mozart, La Finta Giadiniera), Don Giovanni (Gazzaniga, title role), Damon (Handel, Acis and Galathea), Magnus (Maxwell-Davies, The Martyrdom of St. Magnus) and Danilo (Lehar, The Merry Widow). He also sang the role of Bernardo in a feature film of the Goethe-Singspiel Erwin und Elmire (Anna Amalia) by Michael Dominski (ZDF Theaterkanal 2010). CD recordings include Bach cantatas for SDG, Engel Lund’s Book of Folk Songs for Nimbus Records, Schubert Lieder with Eugene Asti for SFZ Music and most recently a solo CD of Songs by C.P.E. Bach for Toccata Classics. He has also produced a range of educational DVDs and online resources. He has also performed, toured and recorded extensively with ensembles like the New London Consort, European Voices, Le Concert d’Astree, the Choir of the Enlightenment, London Voices, Philharmonia Voices and Trinity Baroque. Norbert Meyn was born in the German city of Weimar. After studying music and singing in Dresden, Riga and Weimar he moved to the UK in 1997 to study at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Since 2001 Norbert Meyn has been a professor there, and since 2005 also at the Royal College of Music, where he teaches German Lieder classes. He lives in London with his wife and two children. www.norbertmeyn.com

ALEXANDRE "SASHA" NAOUMENKO - RUSSIAN LANGUAGE COACH

SASCHAAlexandre Grigoryevich Naoumenko (Russian: Александр Григорьевич Науменко) is a Russian operatic tenor, vocal coach and composer. Naoumenko works as Russian coach at the Royal Opera House, having previously taught at the Moscow Conservatory. He also works with leading orchestras, choirs and music foundations throughout Britain and Russia, including the London Symphony Chorus, London Philarmonic Orchestra, CBSO Chorus and Jackdaws Music Education Trust. He recently worked alongside Valery Gergiev in the UK premiere of The Brothers Karamazov at the Barbican Hall. Alongside his stage career, Naoumenko continues a busy schedule as a vocal coach. Naoumenko was born in Lipetsk, Russia. After graduating from the Lipetsk College of Music, he studied at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory under prolific Georgian tenor Zurab Sotkilava, later continuing his training at the Moscow Opera Studio. He attended master classes with Alfredo Kraus, Renata Scotto,Renato Capecchi, Ernst Haefliger, Nancy Evans and Aldo Baldin. While in Moscow, Naoumenko sang the roles of Podholusin (The Marriage) for theBolshoi Theatre, Alfredo (La Traviata), Lensky (Eugene Onegin) and Don Giovanni (The Stone Guest), at the Moscow Conservatory Bolshoi Hall. 

In 1991 he gave his American debut at San Francisco''s War Memorial Opera House in the role of Platon Karataev (War and Peace) conducted by Valery Gergiev. After moving to the UK, he sung with English National Opera in roles such as Dr Caius (Falstaff) under Mark Elder and Ladislav (The Two Widows). Naoumenko then worked extensively throughout Europe, singing roles including Cavaradossi (Tosca) with European Chamber Opera, Fenton (Falstaff) with English Touring Opera, Don Jose (Carmen) at the Chelmsford Festival, Misail(Boris Godunov) with Opera Ireland conducted by Alexander Anisimov, Mylio (Lalo’s Le Roi d’Ys) with University College Opera, Flute (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Doctor Caius (Falstaff) for the Aldeburgh Festival, conducted by Steuart Bedford. In Germany he performed the role of Mozart (Mozart and Salieri). He sang Platon Karataev (War and Peace) and The Italian Prisoner in Strauss’s Friedenstag at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam under Edo de Waart, also broadcast for Dutch Radio. After making numerous concert and oratorio appearances in Moscow such as Das Lied von der Erde with the Kremlin Orchestra, Mozart''s Requiem conducted byYuri Simonov and Les Noces conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky at Moscow''s Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, he continued this abroad. Naoumenko sang Verdi’s Requiem under David Willcocks at the Royal Albert Hall as well as Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Stuttgart underHelmuth Rilling. Other parts include Mydas in Bach’s Phoebus and Pan and Tchaikovsky''s Ode to Joy. Naoumenko''s recordings include the role of Moisei Shahkes in Rothschild''s Violin(Fleishman/Shostakovich) conducted by Gennady Rozhdestvensky, recorded forMelodiya Records. He has worked with Chandos Records to record Complete Songs of Rachmaninov with Howard Shelley, Joan Rodgers, Maria Poppescu and Sergey Leiferkus.

SONJA NERDRUM – FRENCH LANGUAGE COACH

sonjabSonja Nerdrum was born in Switzerland of Norwegian parents and grew up in London. After a time at school in Paris, she trained for the stage at Drama Centre London before training as an operasinger and starting her career as a lyric mezzo-soprano singing roles that included Rosina, Dorabella, Carmen and Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda.

While she was still pursuing a singing career she also started coaching French language for singers at the Royal College of Music where she is still a visiting professor. She has also deputised at the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music.\r\n\r\nSince 1998 Sonja has been French language coach at the Royal Opera House. Sonja worked with Simon Halsey over a number of years at CBSC and is delighted to have the opportunity of continuing this collaboration with the LSC.

Other organisations Sonja has coached with include BBC Singers; DECCA; Deutsche Grammophon; EMI; New London Chamber Choir; London Voices; English Chamber Orchestra.\r\n\r\nSonja is also working for the National Theatre coaching the French and German roles in Warhorse at the New London Theatre.

 

Administration

 

ANDRA EAST – LSO CHORAL PROJECTS MANAGER

BiogpicAndraAs Choral Projects Manager at the London Symphony Orchestra, Andra East works closely with the LSO and LSC Choral Director Simon Halsey to plan and schedule the rehearsal, concert and recording activity of the London Symphony Chorus and acts as a liaison between the Chorus and the Orchestra. Alongside this Andra manages the LSO Community Choir, for adults living or working in the EC1 area of London, and LSO Discovery Choir for 100 young people from Hackney, Islington and the City of London, as well as LSO Singing Days at LSO St Luke’s. A keen singer herself, Andra sings in the London Latvian Community Choir as well as various ad-hoc vocal ensembles in London.

 

 

 

 

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