LEO POPPLEWELL — Dvorak Cello Concerto (November 2022)
A dynamic young cellist who plays with "full-blooded commitment” and "delicious dancing grace", Leo Popplewell studied at Clare College, Cambridge, and later at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Leo has performed in many of the world’s leading concert halls, including New York’s Carnegie Hall, and London’s Wigmore Hall, Barbican Hall and Southbank Centre. His festival appearances include the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Barnes Music Festival, Newbury Spring Festival, Orpheus and Bacchus Festival, Cambridge Summer Music Festival, Lake District Summer Music Festival and Highgate International Chamber Music Festival. He has played in masterclasses for Adrian Brendel, Pierre Doumenge and Alexander Baillie at the International Cello Gathering, Brian O’Kane at the Machynlleth Festival, and for Steven Isserlis at Wigmore Hall. In 2019 he won the Coro Nuovo Young Musician of the Year Competition, and is on the Countess of Munster Recital Scheme for the 2021/22 season. He has been broadcasted regularly on national radio, most recently performing solo and chamber works by Detlev Glanert on BBC Radio 3.
In 2017 he formed the Mithras Piano Trio, winning first prize at the 10th Trondheim International Chamber Music Competition, 67th Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition, Cavatina Intercollegiate Chamber Music Competition 2019 and St. James Chamber Music Competition 2018. They were selected as Kirckman Concert Society Young Artists for the 2019/2020 season, and have performed in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Milton Court Concert Hall among others. In 2019 they won the Royal Philharmonic Society Henderson Award, and were named as YCAT 2020 finalists. They were selected as BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists for the 2021-23 seasons.
His studies have been generously supported by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Help Musicians UK, and the Craxton Memorial Trust.
NADINE BENJAMIN MBE — Strauss: Four Last Songs (June 2023)
British lyric soprano Nadine Benjamin is a charismatic and versatile artist who is in increasing demand on both the operatic stage and the concert platform. She is also developing renown as a recitalist, particularly associated with Verdi, Strauss and contemporary American song.
Nadine made her Royal Opera House debut in 2020 as a soprano soloist in A New Dark Age, with works by Missy Mazzoli, Anna Meredith and Anna Thorvaldsdottir and her Glyndebourne Festival Opera debut in August 2021 in the title role in Luisa Miller. From 2018 to 2020, Nadine was an ENO Harewood Artist and made her debut with the Company as Clara (Porgy and Bess), followed by Musetta (La bohème), Laura (Luisa Miller) and Gerhilde (The Valkyrie) for ENO. She will sing the role of Mimì (La bohème) with ENO in February 2022.
Nadine’s roles to date also include the title role in Aida, Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly), La Contessa (Le nozze di Figaro), Nadia in Tippett’s The Ice Break with Birmingham Opera Company, Desdemona (Otello) and the title-role Tosca (Tosca) with Everybody Can! Opera, Musetta [cover], Mother/Witch (Hansel and Gretel) for Scottish Opera, Tosca and The Countess (The Marriage of Figaro) for English Touring Opera, Ermyntrude in Mascagni’s Isabeau and Amelia (Un ballo in maschera) with Opera Holland Park and Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus) with Iford Arts. Forthcoming operatic engagements include her debut with Welsh National Opera and the role of Maya in Dalia, a new opera by Roxanna Panufnik which will receive its premiere at Garsington in July 2022.
In concert, Nadine has performed Strauss’ Four Last Songs, Verdi’s Requiem, Poulenc’s Gloria, Berg’s Seven Early Songs, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, Schubert’s Mass no. 5 and the soprano solos in Handel’s Messiah, Eternal Source of Light Divine and Mahler’s Symphony no. 4. Further performances include Barber’s Knoxville – Summer of 1915, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Dvorak’s Te Deum and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
Nadine made her debut at the BBC Proms in 2019 as the soprano soloist in Vaughan Williams’ ‘Serenade to Music’ under the baton of Martyn Brabbins. She has performed frequently with Britain’s Chineke! Orchestra as well as Warwickshire SO, Norfolk SO, West London Sinfonia and The Waynflete Singers. Nadine has given numerous private recitals, most notably at the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj in Rome, and is known for her recitals at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden.
In 2014 Nadine created the principal role of Imoinda in the UK premiere of The Crossing, an opera by Odaline de la Martinez, for the London Festival of American Music. Also for the Festival, Nadine has performed song cycles by Bolcom, Child and Barber, the European premiere of John Harbison’s Milosz Songs, and a programme of works by female American composers, accompanied by Susanna Stranders. Recent performances include a recital of American song with pianist Nicole Panizza at the Oxford Lieder Festival and BEAM, a multi-media music theatre piece based on her own life story, for Britten Pears Arts at Snape Maltings.
Nadine recorded the role of Mrs. Waters in Dame Ethel Smyth’s opera The Boatswain’s Mate for Retrospect Opera, which was released in 2016 to critical acclaim and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. In collaboration with Nicole Panizza, Nadine recorded ‘Emergence’, a selection of songs set to the poems of Emily Dickinson which was released in 2019 and nominated in the vocal category at that year’s International Classical Music Awards. Nadine’s debut solo CD ‘Love & Prayer’ was released in 2018.
Nadine is a mentor, certified High Performance Coach and Mind Coach, and founded her opera and mentorship programme ‘Everybody Can!’ in 2015 to provide a platform to encourage and support others in recognising and achieving their own visions.
An Ambassador for London Music Masters, Nadine was “highly commended” at the 2016 Aviva ‘Women of the Future Awards’ and invited to both Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street in recognition of her work as a mentor and singer. Nadine was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021.
RICHARD GOWERS — Poulenc Organ Concerto (June 2022)
Richard Gowers is a British pianist. He performs extensively as a song accompanist and chamber pianist, conductor and organist.
In 2017-19 he held a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied with Michael Dussek and Joseph Middleton and won prizes for song accompaniment and chamber music. He has given many performances at Wigmore Hall, most recently in the Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards with Stephanie Wake-Edwards, and the finals of the 2019 Wigmore Hall Song Competition with Kieran Carrel; in April 2019 he took part in Wigmore Hall’s first Liederabend of the works of Carl Loewe with members of the Royal Academy Song Circle. In duo partnership with Kieran Carrel, he was awarded the Schubert Institute UK Prize at Leeds Lieder Festival.
He previously studied at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater 'Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy' Leipzig and Cambridge University, where he was organ scholar at King’s College and graduated with a starred first class degree in Music. With King’s College Choir he performed at the major venues and festivals around the world, including in Aldeburgh, BBC Proms, Concertgebouw, Hong Kong, MDR Musiksommer, Rheingau, Vancouver and tours of the USA and China. His time at King’s culminated in the worldwide broadcast of the 2016 Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, and the release of his critically acclaimed disc of Messiaen La Nativité du Seigneur, which was a Gramophone ‘Editor’s Choice’.
Richard Gowers is based in London, where he pursues a busy freelance schedule. As well as extensive piano collaborations, he is under demand as a concert organist. Recent performances have included festivals in Toulouse, St Albans, Germany, the USA and Australia, as well as major UK venues. He is active as a chorus accompanist for the BBC Singers, London Symphony Chorus and Philharmonia Chorus; as an ensemble member he has performed with the Academy of Ancient Music, Aurora Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, City of Birmingham Symphony, King’s Consort, London Philharmonic, OAE, Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic. He is a keen conductor of choirs and orchestras, and has repetiteured for Hampstead Garden Opera, Waterperry Opera and the Royal Opera House.
Richard teaches at Cambridge University, Tiffin School and Trinity Laban Conservatoire, and is Director of Music at St Saviour’s Church, Pimlico. He is a passionate advocate of musicians’ rights in the current political climate, and has a weakness for dry humour and artisan crisps.
EMMANUEL BACH — Bruch Scottish Fantasy (March 2022)
Emmanuel Bach won the 2018 Royal Over-Seas League String Competition and was an Artist on the Countess of Munster Recital Scheme, 2017–20.
He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician at venues such as Wigmore Hall, St George’s Bristol, St Martin-in-the Fields, St James’s Piccadilly and Queen Elizabeth Hall. Emmanuel has played concertos including Brahms, Mendelssohn, Paganini No.1 and Tchaikovsky. In 2017, he played in a live-streamed masterclass conducted by Maxim Vengerov, on the Brahms Concerto. He was invited to play as a co-soloist with Anne-Sophie Mutter in Bach’s Double Concerto.
As a chamber musician, he was a Fellow on the Yale Summer School 2016, USA, working with the Artis, Brentano and Emerson String Quartets. From 2013-15, he held a Leverhulme Fellowship at Pro Corda Chamber Music Academy, coaching young musicians. He also lead the Bach Quartet, whose performances include playing on Radio 3 Music Day 2017.
He has benefitted from masterclasses with musicians including Miriam Fried, Dong-Suk Kang, Shlomo Mintz, Cho-Liang Lin and Hugh Maguire. He also attended the Academié Riviera 2018 with Pierre Amoyal.
Emmanuel read Music at Magdalen College, Oxford, gaining a double First. He studied with Natasha Boyarsky, receiving his Masters from the Royal College of Music. He completed an Artist Diploma in 2018 at the RCM with Radu Blidar. Alongside solo and chamber playing, he played on orchestral schemes with the BBC and London Symphony Orchestras. He is grateful for support from the RCM, HR Taylor Trust, Drapers’ Company, Countess of Munster Musical Trust, English-Speaking Union and Tompkins Tate Trust.
AMBER EMSON — Mendelssohn Violin Concerto (October 2019)
Amber started playing violin at the age of 5 as a pupil of Margaret Norris and later Natasha Boyarsky; in 2009 she joined RAM’s Junior Department. As a student at Chetham’s School of Music 2014-16, she won the school’s Concerto Competition resulting in a performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Chetham’s Sinfonia at Manchester Cathedral, and the Catherine Perkins Chamber Music Prize. Between 2016 and 2019 Amber was member of the Royal College of Music's Junior Department. She currently studies violin privately under the tutelage of Maciej Rakowski. In 2019 she actively participated in Mastercourses with Pavel Vernikov, Maurizio Fuks (International Violin Mastercourse Kronberg Academy) and Kolja Blacher (Carl Flesch Akademie Baden-Baden).
Prizes and awards in recent years include 1st prizes at Croydon Music Festival, Kingston upon Thames Festival of the Performing Arts, Springboard Festival in Brighton and Ealing Festival. At the Eastbourne Young Soloist competitions in 2017 and 2018, Amber was awarded the St Cecilia Bequest for the most promising performer under 18. In the same years she won the Concerto Competitions in Hastings International Festival. In May 2018, Amber won the 2nd prize at the X. International Competition for Violin and Viola "Szymon Goldberg" in Meissen. In June 2019 she won 1st prize in the National Round of Germany's "Jugend Musiziert" competition, and one months later she won 1st prize at the International Music Competition Hohenpriessnitz.
Amber recently performed Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole with the Orchestra of the City, the Sussex Concert Orchestra and with the Richmond Orchestra. Earlier in 2019 she played Paganini’s Violin Concerto No 2 with Reed’s School Orchestra at Cadogan Hall and Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Sussex Concert Orchestra in Bexhill Festival. In Autumn 2019, she will perform Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto with Worthing Philharmonic Orchestra and in Dvorak’s Violin Concerto with Enfield Chamber Orchestra.
A passionate chamber musician, together with her duo partner cellist Willard Carter, Amber won the RCM JD Chamber Music Competition and performed at the Wigmore Hall in June 2017 as part of their annual Young Artists’ showcase concert. She participated in the ‘Mit Musik – Miteinander’ Chamber Music course at Kronberg Academy in September 2018. Since August 2019, she is a full member of LGT Young Soloists, performing with the group in major concert halls worldwide.
During recent years, Amber's musical activities have been supported by generous grants from Awards for Young Musicians, EMI Music Sound Foundation, Gerald Finzi Trust, Rhona Reid Charitable Trust, Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust, The Loveday Charitable Trust, Miss E.B. Wrightson's Charitable Trust, National Youth Arts Trust, The Humphrey Richardson Taylor Charitable Trust, Kathleen Trust, Spoff's Chamber Music Scholarships and a number of private sponsors; she is a 2017, 2018 and 2019 Junior Scholarship recipient at the Hattori Foundation.
Amber plays on a fine violin by Matthew Taylor from 1806.