Anna Leese, Soprano
"I have rarely seen a substitute seize her chance more exuberantly. With her diamond-clear voice and natural comic timing she seemed born to play this part. Leese is one potential star in the making." The Times; 25th of October, 2006
Born in New Zealand in 1981, Anna Leese's introduction to music was predominantly choral, singing in church choirs, the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir and the Tower New Zealand Youth Choir. She graduated after earning several prizes from the University of Otago, and has gone on to win an impressive list of awards and aria prizes.
As a member of the Benjamin Britten International Opera School at the Royal College of Music, Anna's performances included Female Chorus in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus and Mahler's Symphony No. 2 with Bernard Haitink. She made her debut at the 2006 BBC Proms in an all Mozart programme with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Sir Roger Norrington, and sang the Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony at the Royal Albert Hall.
As an Associate Artist of the Classical Opera Company, Anna has sung Countess in Le nozze di Figaro. She made her debut with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, as Musetta in La Bohème, returning as Micaela in Carmen and first Lady in Die Zauberflöte; future roles for the Royal Opera include Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos and Musetta. She sang her first Tatyana (Eugene Onegin) for the NBR New Zealand Opera and made her North American debut as Musetta for the Canadian Opera Company.
Anna's solo performances include the Strauss' Vier Letzte Lieder, Brahms Requiem, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Mendlessohn's Elijah, Bach's St John Passion, Handel's Messiah, and Faure's Requiem. She has performed, Mahler's Second Symphony with Bernard Haitink, and Donna Anna in excerpts from Mozart's Don Giovanni with the London Mozart Players under Andrew Parrot.
Operatic roles include Ilia in Mozart's Idomeneo with the Auckland Opera Studio, Female Chorus in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, Fiordiligi in Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte and Rosalinde in Strauss's Die Fledermaus, all for the Benjamin Britten Opera School and Juliette in Gounod's Romeo et Juliette with the British Youth Opera. She has performed the role of Tamiri in Mozart's Il re Pastore
at the Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House (where she made her debut at
age 24) and three Mozart heroines Fiordiligi, Countess Almaviva and
Tamiri with the Classical Opera Company.
In 2006 Anna understudied Arminda in Finta Giardiniera, Musetta in La Boheme and in January 2007 she sang the role of Michaela in Bizet's Carmen with ROH. Since then she has performed Musetta in La Boheme, Erste Dame in Die Zauberflote and Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos, all at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.
On the concert stage Anna has sung with several of the world's most-loved singers. She performed with Andrea Bocelli in Auckland and with Jose Carreras in Newcastle, Seoul and Taipei. Another highlight (Anna is an avid All Blacks fan) was performing with Dame Kiri te Kanawa in Twickenham Stadium in 2005 for Jonah Lomu's return to rugby sevens.
Anna will be the first ever artist in residence at the New Zealand Singing School in Napier residency early in 2010. She is currently studying privately with Lillian Watson in London and undertaking a busy singing schedule.
Anna is the recipient of two Awards from the Arts Foundation. She was a donation recipient from Gillian and Roderick Deane through the Award for Patronage in 2008, and in 2010 she received a New Generation Award.
Anna was one of 20 finalists in the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Finalists were selected from more than 600 singers from 68 countries.
Amitai Pati, Tenor has recently completed his time as an Adler Fellow with San Francisco Opera. He made his debut with the company in the Summer season of 2017 as Borsa (Rigoletto), performing with his brother, Pene Pati, singing the role of Il Duca di Matua in the same production. Other roles he performed with the company include: Gastone (La Traviata), Lord Cecil (Roberto Devereux), Beppe (Pagliacci) and Tenor Angel (It’s a Wonderful Life).
He completed an MA in Advanced Vocal Studies at the Wales International Academy of Voice under the tutelage of world renown tenor, Dennis O’Neill and continues working with his teacher, César Ulloa, in San Francisco. Past achievements include – Waiariki NZ Aria winner and winning first place in the prestigious Lexus SongQuest in New Zealand, 2012.
Amitai will be singing his first Verdi Requiem in this performance with the Aorangi Symphony Orchestra.
JARVIS DAMS - Baritone
Winner of the 2017 New Zealand Aria Competition -
Originally from Belgium, Jarvis has lived in New Zealand for 18 years. A 2014 - 2015 NZ Opera Dame Malvina Major Emerging Artist. Jarvis holds a Master of Music and Bachelor’s degree from The University of Waikato and was a recipient of the University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship for performance and leadership. In 2016 Jarvis was selected as a finalist in the IFAC Australian Singing Competition and was also selected as one of six singers to be a part of the inaugural Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation Development Programme for promising young singers and gratefully acknowledges their support.
LEILA ALEXANDER, Soprano
Leila Alexander holds a bachelor of vocal performance and a bachelor of laws. At present, Leila is studying for her honours in vocal performance under the tutelage of Dr Morag Atchison. Leila holds qualifications in NZAMD and ISTD in Tap, Jazz and Ballet, in which she trained for over 17 years. From a young age Leila has performed with the Opera Factory, performing in operas, showcases and fundraisers. As an 18 year old, Leila performed solo at the Bledisloe Cup Test Matches in Auckland and in Wellington. In 2016, Leila attended the New Zealand Opera School, and was asked to participate in a televised Master Class with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Later that year, Leila was placed runner-up in the Beacroft Aria Final. This year, Leila has participated in the Wallace Arts Foundation Opera Program, for which she performed the role of Geraldine in Barber's A Hand of Bridge in September. Earlier this year, Leila performed as a part of the international exhibition, Lee Ming Wei and his Relations: The Art of Participation at the Auckland Art Gallery.
JANE CURRY, Guitar
(Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez)
Born in the UK and now based in New Zealand, internationally award-winning classical guitarist Jane Curry is Senior Lecturer in Music at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music at Victoria University of Wellington. Jane balances a demanding schedule of solo and chamber music engagements with the coordination of the largest classical guitar programme in New Zealand and is sought after as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher.
Jane’s concerto engagements include concerts with the Orkiestra Ars Longa (Krakow Music Academy, Poland) the Capital Concert Orchestra (Canberra) the Nelson Symphony Orchestra and the Kapiti Concert Orchestra (New Zealand). Her chamber music collaborations include Archi D’Amore Zelanda and the New Zealand Guitar Quartet (NZGQ). In 2016 Archi D’Amore Zelanda, featuring Donald Maurice (viola d’amore) and Inbal Megiddo (cello), recently returned from concerts in Malaysia, Thailand and Poland. The trio were featured artists at the International Viola d’amore Congress held at the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music (Poland). While in Poland the trio recorded several Vivaldi concertos with the Polish record company Acte Prealable. NZGQ highlights include a recent tour in Beijing (December 2016), with concerts at Centennial Hall, Peking University and the Sunrise Concert Hall, Beihang University. Both groups are committed to commissioning and recording new works and have several CD releases in 2016/2017.
After successfully auditioning to study postgraduate performance at the Royal College of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music, and the University of Southern California, Jane chose to study with Scott Tennant at USC. She was subsequently offered a full scholarship to study towards a Master’s and Doctorate Degree with Professor Thomas Patterson (University of Arizona). David Russell and Sergio and Odair Assad both hold annual artist residencies at the University of Arizona which has given Jane the opportunity to study closely with these Grammy winning musicians.
JOHN COUCH, Guitar
(Villa Lobos Guitar Concerto)
“He has it. He has it in every way…he has a fantastic technique…he communicates very well with the public…”
Classic FM (NZ)
Couch has featured on four CD album recordings: A Fairytale… with Variations (2001), Desdemona’s Song(2005), Andres New Shoes (2008), and Ask Me Tomorrow (2015). With an interest in creating new music for the classical guitar, Couch has commissioned and had work dedicated to him from leading composers such as Richard Charlton, Marian Budos, Sally Greenaway, Christopher Norton, Jesmond Grixti, Campbell Ross and Ivana Troslj. He has given many world premier performances and his latest CD brings a selection of these works together.
“An extraordinary musician, a perfect technique:”
Edition Beauce, Quebec (Canada)
"...the fingers of John Couch danced across the strings"
Schwetzinger Zeitung (Germany)
JOELLA PINTO, Violin
(Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending)
Joella Pinto, born in India, moved to New Zealand at the age of 8 and was introduced to the violin shortly after. By the age of 16 she had achieved her LTCL Diploma with distinction and was accepted into the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra National Youth Orchestra, giving concerts in Auckland, Wellington and a special concert in Christchurch with Plácido Domingo. During her high school years, Joella was a prize winner in several competitions around New Zealand on both violin and piano, and as part of the Pinto Trio, with her twin brother and younger sister.
In 2014, Joella was accepted into the competitive NZSO Fellowship Programme. She has been the concertmaster of the NZSO National Youth Orchestra and the University of Auckland Symphony Orchestra, and is a casual player for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra as well as Principal Second Violinist of the Manukau Symphony Orchestra. Joella has performed throughout New Zealand, giving concerts in Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Gisborne and Christchurch. SheHaSheS has appeared as a soloist with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra, St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra, St Mary’s Symphony Orchestra and the North Shore Wind Band. Joella also enjoys playing the Baroque violin, which she studies with Dr Graham McPhail.
At present studying towards a Bachelor of Music with Honours degree under the tutelage of Elizabeth Holowell at the University of Auckland, she has been awarded the prestigious University of Auckland Scholarship, the Anne Bellam Scholarship, the Constance Herbert Memorial Music Scholarship, the Wilhelm Penseler Scholarship in Music, the Carl and Alberta Rosenfeldt Prize in Chamber Music and the Reardon Postgraduate Scholarship in Music. Joella has also been a winner of the NZSO Alex Lindsay Award, the Staneley Forbes Award and has been awarded the NZSO National Youth Orchestra’s John Chisholm Concertmaster Prize. Currently, Joella plays a Paul Bailly violin made in Paris, 1880, on kind loan from the University of Auckland.
RAYMOND HAWTHORNE, Actor & Director
(WWI poems, Psalmus Hungaricus. Poeme Heroique)
Raymond Hawthorne is one of New Zealand’s most senior practitioners in the performing arts arena. His impressive CV (now spanning 59 years) commenced in 1955 when he became a member of the New Zealand Players under the direction of Richard Campion.
In 1957 he was granted a New Zealand Government bursary to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). He then pursued a career in the United Kingdom as an actor, director, singer and teacher, later returning to RADA as a tutor/director.
He returned to New Zealand in 1971 and, since that time, has worked in opera and theatre and has taught acting and directing. He was Head of Major in Directing and Writing for Theatre and Screen at the School of Performing & Screen Arts (SPASA) at Unitec from the beginning of 1997.
Raymond now freelances as an actor, director and tutor. Recently, he directed Fallen Angels by Noel Coward for ATC, two operas for Opera Factory – La Serva Padrona and Menatti’s The Medium – and last month a successful and much acclaimed production of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Mercury Theatre for Opera Studio and the A.C.O.
In 2000 Raymond was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (O.N.Z.M.) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
ANTHONY ROBIN SCHNEIDER, Bass
("Concert Spirituel", Haydn The Creation)
Anthony Schneider is a trilingual (English, French and German) operatic bass from Austria and New Zealand, and is a Studio Artist at Houston Grand Opera. He is a graduate from the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where he sang the following roles: Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Archibaldo in L’amore dei tre re, Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Méphistophélès in Faust, Colline in La Bohème, and Conte des Grieux in Manon. During his time at AVA, Anthony was a soloist for Handel's Messiah with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2014, and performed Sibelius songs with Lyric Fest in 2015. In January 2016 he was selected as one of four participants in Joyce DiDonato’s Masterclasses in Carnegie Hall. Anthony covered the roles of Banquo in Macbeth, Sprecher and 2nd Priest in Die Zauberflöte and performed the role of 2nd Armed Man as part of the Glimmerglass Festival 2015.
Last summer, Anthony was a Filene Young Artist at Wolf Trap Opera, performing the Sacristan in Tosca and Fabrizio in Rossini's La pietra del paragone.
Anthony was a Semifinalist for the 2016 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Other recent awards include a Grant from the Gerda Lissner Foundation Lieder/Song Competition 2016, 2nd Prize in the Giargiari Bel Canto Competition 2016 and 2nd Prize in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Mid Atlantic Region 2017. Anthony is also the proud recipient of a Kiri te Kanawa Foundation Scholarship.
At HGO this season, Anthony will sing Dottore Grenvil in La traviata, Curio in Giulio Cesare, Tutor/Old Servant in Elektra, and Don Basilio in the summer outdoor performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia.
PHILIP SMITH, Organist
(Francis Poulenc Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani in G minor)
Philip born in Stoke-on-Trent in the English midlands where he was a chorister in the choir of Stoke Minster studying the organ with Michael Rhodes. Following a period of study with Roger Fisher at Chester Cathedral, he became a student at The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and later at Huddersfield University.
In 1990 he was appointed Assistant Organist of St Asaph Cathedral in North Wales where as such he played for the enthronement of the 10th Archbishop of Wales. In November 1994, Philip moved to be Organist & Director of Music at The Collegiate Church of Saint Peter in Ruthin, North Wales.
In 2002 he was awarded the Archbishop of Wales Award for Church Music from Dr Rowan Williams, at that time Archbishop of Wales, for services to church music in the Principality of Wales.
Philip moved to Auckland at the end of January 2008 to become organist of Holy Trinity Cathedral. He is organist and organ tutor at Diocesan School for Girls and Baradene College. In addition he is undertaking research at the University of Waikato.
DAVID HAMILTON, Tenor
(Kodaly Psalmus Hungaricus)
A tenor with a distinguished career in the fields of opera, oratorio and concert repertoire, David is originally from Scotland, where he graduated in Singing and Flute at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and he has built a strong reputation and performed extensively throughout Australia, New Zealand Germany and the UK.
He moved to Sydney in 1979 and there he was an early member of The Song Company, Australia’s premier a cappella vocal ensemble for 7 years, after which he went freelance. Performances have included the tenor roles in most of the major oratorios with all the major orchestras in Australia and New Zealand; he has also performed to critical acclaim throughout Asia and at many theatres and festivals, and was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal in 2001. David's repertoire encompasses an extraordinarily wide range, from Handel's Messiah and Haydn's Creation to 20th century masterpieces such as Britten's War Requiem and Elgar's Dream of Gerontius.
Operatic tenor roles include the title role in Britten's Albert Herring; Quint in Turn of the Screw and Male Chorus in the Rape of Lucretia; Belmonte in Mozart's Entführung aus dem Serail and Loge in Wagner's Das Rheingold.
In 2007, David moved to Germany and during his time there he sang the title role in Mozart's Idomeneo in Neu Munster, and in 2008 and 2009 performed the title role in Lohengrin for Saarbrucken Opera House, and in the same role understudied the great German tenor Peter Seiffert in Luxemburg.
Whilst in Germany, he also sang various choral and lieder concerts including songs by Schubert, Schumann, Haydn and Beethoven (he recorded Beethoven’s Scottish Lieder for Brilliant Classics in 2008).
Amongst works performed in 2011 was Beethoven’s 9th Symphony in Panama City and in the Edinburgh Festival, Schubert’s masterpiece Die Winterreise and the tenor role in Ricci’s opera Le Prigione di Edimburgo. More recently in Berlin and Lübeck respectively, David performed Dvorak’s Die Geisterbraut with Berliner Cappella Choir who regularly invite him back to sing and Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde and the role of Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. David returned to live in Sydney in 2012, to work with Opera Australia.
In 2013-14, David’s New Zealand engagements included Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius for Auckland Choral; Mendelssohn’s St Paul and the Evangelist in St John’s Passion for Bach Musica NZ .
CHARLOTTE FETHERSTON, Viola
(Alfred Hill Viola Concerto in A minor, "Matariki" May 13th 2013)
Charlotte grew up in Auckland and completed a Bachelor of Music (Performance) with first class Honours at the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington. Following this she ventured into postgraduate studies at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where she completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree under the tutelage of Roger Benedict and Dr. Goetz Richter. In this degree Charlotte researched and performed the viola concerto of Alfred Hill, which led to the performance of the work with Ensemble Polymnia in 2013.
In Sydney, Charlotte has been a member of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra's Fellowship programme and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, in addition to her extensive teaching and other engagements. She now operates as a freelance player in Amsterdam.
EMMA ROXBURGH, Soprano
(Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 in "Cantilena", J.S. Bach Mass in B minor)
Emma began her singing training at the University of Otago, graduating from there with a BA and Bmus (hons) in Voice. She went on to complete a Professional Performance Diploma at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK (PPRNCM) Emma performs regularly as a concert soloist, is a member of the Chapmann Tripp Opera Chorus and is also one of NZ Opera’s current Resident Artists and Freemasons Scholars.
Roles include Lucia in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, (RNCM) Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro, (Wellington City Opera) Susanna in Figaro, (Opera Factory, Cover NZ Opera) Second Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Cover NZ Opera) Ramiro in La Finta Giardiniera, (Opera Unleashed) Jano in Jenufa, (NZ Opera) Siebel in Gounod’s Faust (Cover NZ Opera)
MYLES HARTLEY, Organist
(Erzsebet Szonyi Concerto per Organo e Orchestra)
Myles Hartley is a freelance organist and pianist based in Hamilton, who moved from the UK in 2012. He accompanies extensively: choirs, ensembles, soloists, and for services at St. Peter’s Cathedral, Hamilton, and at St. Cuthbert’s College, Auckland.
As a continuo player, Myles has performed with Ensemble Polymnia, the Handel Consort & Quire, and Bach Musica NZ; as a soloist, he recently gave a recital in Auckland Town Hall for the Great Organ Classics Series. He is also undertaking research into the continuo motet, seventeenth-century manuscript sources and performance contexts.
Before moving to New Zealand, Myles was for seven years Director of Music and Supernumerary Fellow at Oxford University’s Harris Manchester College. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, and has recorded two solo CDs at Harris Manchester, including the Organ works of John Ireland and Grayston Ives for Priory Records. Myles studied with Robert Gower and David Sanger, and was Organ Scholar at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, and Worcester College, Oxford.
Sarah Harris | Mezzo-soprano
(Mozart Requiem, Bach Mass in B Minor)
Originally from Wales, Sarah began singing in the Chester Cathedral Choir with whom she performed on BBC Radio 3’s Daily Service and BBC Songs of Praise as well as attending up to seven choral services per week. She also sang with the Chester Nave Choir and the Chester Bach Singers. Sarah then relocated to York and was there accepted into the York Minster Chapter House Choir, The Ebor Singers, and the York Musical Society. She also appeared as a soloist in various venues across the North.
Sarah now lives in Auckland and since her arrival has sung with Viva Voce, Auckland University Chamber Choir, The Graduate Choir of NZ, and Auckland Cathedral of the Holy Trinity Choir. She also performs as an oratorio soloist in Auckland, notably with Ensemble Polymnia, and with her 8-part ensemble, Laudamus who can be seen around NZ.