Soprano Darquise Bilodeau was born in Canada and is a graduate of McGill University and of the Université de Montréal. She studied with Winston Purdy and Gaston Germain, and participated in masterclasses with Elly Ameling, Gérard Souzay and Dalton Baldwin. She was a member of the Tudor Singers of Montreal and of the Opéra de Montréal professional chorus. Darquise has performed and given masterclasses in Canada and the United States as well as in the UK, and has sung on Radio-Canada broadcasts. In Canada, she has performed with the Laval Symphony Orchestra, the Montreal Chamber Orchestra as well as with the St Lambert Choral Society. As part of the Lyrichorégra20 project, she toured around Montreal to bring opera to school-age children.
Performances in the UK include the Stone, Repton and Rolleston Choral Societies and numerous solo recitals, including an all-Fauré concert at the Birmingham Conservatoire. She can be heard on the Montreal Symphony Orchestra recordings of Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust and Requiem and Five Sacred Pieces.
Darquise has been awarded a PhD in Musicology from Birmingham City University for her thesis on rhythm and poetic prosody in the songs of Gabriel Fauré. She currently performs in Duo Artemis and conducts two choirs. She is a tutor at Morley College, London, leads singing workshops and teaches singing, in addition to continuing her research and writing on singing and on the mélodie.
Pippa is a graduate of Trinity College and went on to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she won the Ricordi Opera Prize.
She made her operatic debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and has since sung with opera companies including English National Opera, Opera North, Opera Holland Park, Glyndebourne, New Kent Opera, Savoy Opera, the Paris Opéra, National Theatre Brno, Muziktheater Transparant Antwerp and the Teatro Real, Madrid.
She has sung at major festivals such as the Maggio Musicale in Florence, Frankfurt, Edinburgh (Götterdämmerung Immolation Scene), Aldeburgh, Covent Garden and the BBC Proms and in concert and recitals at the Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Vredenburg, Utrecht, Snape Maltings, Kings Place and Wigmore Hall.
Pippa has performed with conductors including Simon Rattle, Georg Solti, Roger Norrington, Andrew Davis, Carl Davis, Jiří Bělohlávek and with the Hallé Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia and BBC Symphony Orchestra as well as with the Brodsky Quartet, Schubert Ensemble, Tippett Quartet and Randers Byorkester. She has also worked with the Théâtre de Complicité.
Her television credits include Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, directed by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Bach’s Coffee Cantata and the world premiere of Torke’s King of Hearts. Her recordings include Birtwistle’s Mask of Orpheus, which won a Gramophone Award, Gluck’s Il Parnaso confuso with Roger Norrington and Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol with Robert Craft and the Philharmonia.
As co-director of Operaplayhouse, she devised and performed concerts throughout the UK, Wales, Spain, Caribbean and Kenya, for SkyArts TV and the Hay-on-Wye, Cheltenham and Bath Festivals and was also the subject of a BBC documentary.
At the invitation of Jiří Bělohlávek, Pippa gave a series of masterclasses for the advanced opera students at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and has also given masterclasses in the UK, Spain, Moscow, Nairobi and for Dartington International Summer School as well as recitals in the ROH Crush Bar and more recently in the Royal Pavilion, Brighton.
In addition to her private teaching, she is also Director of Singing Salon, a group of singers who work regularly with her and for whom she devises programmes. This summer they repeated their successful, ‘immersive’ performances in the Royal Pavilion and went on to open the Jimena Festival in Spain.
Michael Harper is a singer, vocal consultant and singing teacher. He has sung opera, oratorio, and new music in the US, Europe and in China, premiering new works in the UK, Venice, and Geneva.
As a vocal consultant, he has given master classes, workshops and lectures for the Centre for Performance Research (Aberystwyth), the Asolo Song Festival and Institute for Song Interpretation (Italy), The National Foundation for Youth Music, Sing Up, The Sage Gateshead (Newcastle), Jackdaws Music Education Trust (Somerset), Guildhall School of Music and Drama, The Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon), the National Opera Studio (London), the Royal Northern College of Music (Manchester), various US universities including Westminster Choir College (Princeton) where he worked with the Grammy-nominated Williamson Voices, and the British Library, where he held an Edison Fellowship.
He has curated recitals for the London Song Festival and for Steinway Hall on the songs of African American and Black British Composers, and directed a tribute to the Fisk Jubilee Singers as part of the Hull City of Culture, 2016
He teaches singing at the Royal Northern School of Music in Manchester and has private studios in London, Bristol, and at the den Norske Opera in Oslo. He is trustee of the Saga Trust (Edison Fellowship, British Library) and a Patron for the National Opera Studio’s Diverse Voices programme.
Brian is a graduate of the Royal College of Music where his teachers were Bernard Roberts and Maria Donska (piano) and Frederick Sharp and Lyndon van der Pump (singing).
As a postgraduate he went on to study for a further two years at the Royal College of Music Opera School with scholarships from the RCM Patrons Fund and the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, winning acclaim notably for his performance of the title role in Benjamin Britten’s Albert Herring. He also studied privately and in masterclasses with Eric Vietheer, Eugenie Triguez, Geoffrey Parsons, Gerhardt Husch, Nadia Boulanger, Pierre Bernac, David Pollard and Peter Pears.
He won the Major van Someren Godfrey Prize for English Song and was a Finalist in the Richard Tauber Competition, the Royal Overseas League Competition and the National Federation of Music Societies Award for Male Singers.
Brian has sung in recital, in concerts and in festivals both at home and abroad including the Spitalfields, Norwich, Camden, Cuenca, Maggio Musicale and Athens Festivals with conductors including Jean-Claude Malgoire, Christoph Rousset, David Roblou, William Christie and Frantisek Vajnar. He has broadcast for the BBC and French Radio and Television, and featured as soloist in many recordings including the cantatas of Bernier and Martinu as well as contemporary works by Berio, Henze and Holliger.
Equally at home on the operatic stage, Brian has sung for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, English National Opera, Glyndebourne, Wexford Festival Opera, Aix en Provence Festival Opera, Opera 80 (now English Touring Opera) and more recently Venetian Opera and Bampton Classical Opera.
He teaches at an international level and has taught on the Berkshire Choral Union (USA), AIMS and Summer Music (UK) and Séminaire Estival de Musique en Wallonie (Belgium) summer schools.
Brian has also given masterclasses for Floral Opera (London) the Cergy Pontoise, Angers and Grenoble Conservatoires (France) and from 1998/2017 was Professeur de Chant at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et Danse, Lyon.
He is currently Professor of Singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, a tutor for VoxIntegra, a member of the chamber music ensemble Insieme, and director of WorkshopWeekend@Winfrith courses in Dorset.
Brian is a Fellow of the Incorporated Society of Musicians and also an active member of the Association of English Singers and Speakers.
Panaretos Kyriatzidis is increasingly sought after as a collaborative performer, vocal coach and musical director. Winner of the Gerald Moore Award, Oxford Lieder Young Artist Platform and the Emmy Destinn Awards Accompanist’s prize, Panaretos has also reached the finals of numerous national and international competitions. He has accompanied many prize winners, notably the baritone James Newby, and recently won the duo prize at the London Song Festival with the soprano Erika Mädi Jones.
A native of the Greek island of Thassos, Panaretos holds a BA in Law from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. He finished his postgraduate studies under Martino Tirimo and Eugene Asti at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where he was awarded a number of prizes and was later appointed Junior Fellow in Accompaniment. He has taken part in masterclasses with Thomas Quasthoff, Elly Ameling, Menahem Pressler and George Hadjinikos.
Panaretos has enjoyed a successful collaboration with the King’s Head Theatre where he was the musical director for Madam Butterfly, Tosca (Off West End Award 2018 for best opera production), La traviata (nominated in the same category for 2019) and La Bohème (nominated for an Olivier Award in 2019 after a transfer to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End). He is staff accompanist at Trinity Laban and at Morley College, where he also coaches for the Opera School and is co-leading a new Introduction to Opera Performance course.
Future engagements include a return to the Red House Library, Aldeburgh for a recital of 20th-century English song and acting as music director for St Paul’s Opera’s summer production of Le nozze di Figaro.
Marc Verter is a pianist, song accompanist and concert producer. He was the artistic director for more than five years at the Chelsea Schubert Festival which focused on song and chamber music. Alongside his performing work Marc is a highly sought after vocal coach and repetiteur. Opera engagements have included the Aix en Provence Festival, Opera på Skäret in Sweden and the Dartington Festival in the UK.
He is currently on the staff of the vocal departments at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Music.
He has performed at music festivals in Israel, North America and Europe and has played for singers including Yvonne Kenny, Jonathan Lemalu, Nelly Miricioiu, Kate Royal, Sarah Walker and Chen Reiss.
His first CD with the soprano Ilona Domnich, featuring songs by Strauss, Rachmaninov and Fauré, was released in December 2009 on the Quartz label and a recording of solo piano pieces by Tamara Konstantin is due to be released by Naxos in 2019. Through his doctoral studies Marc has examined the musical settings of the poetry of Charles Baudelaire and he leads workshops with college students on the performance of French song. He has developed and curated a salon concert series where a cast of musicians and actors recreates the glamour of 19th-century Parisian musical soirées in programmes that combine song, chamber music and spoken dialogue alongside interaction with the audience.
Alexander Wells is a pianist with wide experience as an accompanist, vocal coach and chamber musician. Early teachers and mentors included Leonie Gombrich (a pupil of Leschetitzky and friend of Mahler), Fanny Waterman and Benjamin Britten (to whom he presented some somewhat embarrassing juvenilia, to be rewarded with characteristically generous interest and memorable advice). He also showed some compositions to Lennox Berkeley, who was very enthusiastic about the opening chord of one piece, playing it again and again.
After a year studying in Paris, and a degree in Modern Languages from Cambridge University, Alexander studied at the Royal College of Music with Stephen Savage and Alasdair Graham. Here he spent much of his time working with singers, and frequently played in lessons for singing teachers such as Meriel St. Clair, Ruth Packer and Lyndon van der Pump. Working with Jupiter Opera, he played in performances with piano of Figaro, Falstaff, Werther and Die Fledermaus; and as a staff pianist at Summer Music in Sussex summer schools he played for and coached many opera scenes, and broadened his knowledge of the solo song repertoire in masterclasses with Jonathan Hinden, Robin Bowman and Paul Hamburger. He has also played over the years for vocal and instrumental masterclasses given by Esther Salaman, William Bennett, Jack Brymer, Emmanuel Hurwitz and Christopher Bunting. With the last he regularly worked on cello weekends at Hitchin, joining this remarkable cellist for hastily rehearsed recitals.
A year at the National Opera Studio (working most memorably with Martin Isepp, and also with the veteran director John Copley) led to work as a répétiteur at Covent Garden and Glyndebourne, also in Ireland and Germany. Operas that he worked on included Entführung, Henze’s The English Cat, Tippett’s New Year, Nicholas Maw’s The Rising of the Moon, Peter Grimes, La Bohème, Figaro, The Magic Flute, Rigoletto, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Britten’s The Prodigal Son and Rimsky-Korsakov’s May Night and The Golden Cockerel. For several years he worked with Almeida Opera on new commissions, including the première of Thomas Adès’ first opera Powder Her Face. More recently he has helped with the premières of two new operas by Susannah Self, as répétiteur and conductor, in Vienna and Birmingham.With her in her mezzo role he has also had a long-standing recital partnership. With cellist, the late Penelope Lynex, he gave many recitals over a period of 30 years and recorded works by Frank Bridge and two CDs of Elegies and Romances for cello and piano.
Alexander has worked for many years as a choral accompanist for several large choirs, including The London Chorus and the Highgate Choral Society, and more recently at Morley College. While still a student he played for the Finchley Children’s Music Group, and as pianist of the New London Children’s Choir he has taken part in several recordings and performances at the South Bank and the Aldeburgh Festival, including Britten’s The Golden Vanity and The Children’s Crusade.
Alexander holds a BA in Russian and French from Cambridge and has a particular interest in Russian song. His singing translations can be found in the Tenor and Bass volumes of the anthology Russian Operatic Arias published by Edition Peters.