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Christmas Cracker programme excites our soloists

Soloists for our Christmas Cracker concert are particularly looking forward to performing Haydn's Missa Sancti Nicolai.

Soprano Claire Ward says she "absolutely loves Haydn". She has sung this work just once before and is really looking forward to singing it again. She is a keen performer of baroque music and is also delighted to be singing Vivaldi for the first time on 7 December.

Claire recently made her debut at the Oxford Lieder Festival singing settings of fables from the 17th Century onwards. She is currently preparing for the role of Despina in a touring production of Cosi fan Tutte which, she says, "will be so much fun!".

For Mezzo-soprano Bernadette Johns it was a performance at Midnight Mass with the Gloucester Cathedral Youth Choir that brings back fond memories. She says: "I’m very happy to be singing it again as it always makes me feel festive!"

Bernadette was a Bach Scholar for the Royal Academy of Music's 2019 ‘Bach the European’ concert series – highlights included solos in Bach’s St Matthew Passion and Bach’s Cantata BWV 106 ‘Actus Tragicus’. Bernadette is also an established choral singer and has performed with the Mousai Singers, Ex Cathedra, the Three Choirs Festival, the Philharmonia Chorus and the Royal Academy of Music’s Chamber Choir.

Tenor Philippe Durrant remembers the first time he sang the Haydn in Durham Cathedral, where he was a Lay Clerk: "I came to singing during my first year at Durham University, where I was a choral scholar, and the Haydn was the first verse I ever sang."

Philippe enjoys ensemble singing, and sings with The Sixteen. On 19 March 2020, he will be the tenor soloist for a performance of Julian Philips' Body of Water for JAM on the Marsh at St Bride's, Fleet Street, with Onyx Brass and the Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge.

Baritone Hugo Herman-Wilson will be singing the Haydn for the first time but Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on Christmas Carols has a special place in his heart. "I remember hearing the Vaughan Williams sung at a carol service when my voice had just broken and I thought it was beautiful!" He's thrilled to be singing the solo in this piece.

Hugo has a growing reputation for contemporary music, recently performing Birtwistle’s Three Songs from the Holy Forest and Theo Chandler’s The Divining Lair at Snape Maltings with conductor Jessica Cottis. Next year he's singing in a double-bill of Tosca and La Bohème – a performance that includes a few gender swaps and other interesting twists – at the Trafalgar Studios in London from 6 February to 7 March!

… and so does singing with Harry Bradford

The soloists are delighted to be singing with Music Director Harry Bradford. Hugo says: "I'm particularly thrilled to be conducted by Harry Bradford who is a very old and good friend; I'm glad to see him doing so well!" Claire adds: "I studied with Harry at the RAM and I love his ability to so clearly and enthusiastically communicate his musical ideas, so it’s going to be a real joy to perform with him in December."

For more information on the soloists, please click here.

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