Stonegate Singers - Messiah
Having very successfully performed Part 1 of ‘Messiah’ in Stonegate Church in December 2008, we then performed almost the whole work on two occasions - one in December 2010 and the second in January 2011..
The first performance – an ‘Open Messiah’ - on Saturday December 11 in St Barnabas Church, Tunbridge Wells, was a more experimental venture for the Stonegate Singers. Many other singers joined us – either from other established choirs in the area or as individuals who just like to ‘Sing Messiah’. Under the baton of Antony Pitts, Director of Music at St Barnabas, the soloists - Grace Constable [soprano], Kate Welch [alto], Gary Marriott [tenor] and Michael White [bass] - were joined by Matthew Raisbeck [organ], Nicholas Bown [double bass] and Simon Desbruslais [trumpet] in a performance which truly enthralled a good sized audience in this remarkable church.
The second of these performances was in St Peter’s Church Stonegate on Saturday 22 January 2011at 7.30pm under the direction of Kate Welch [also the alto soloist], organist Antony Pitts and soloists Grace Constable [soprano], Gary Marriott [tenor] and Michael White [bass]. Again a full house and a very rewarding performance for all - audeinece and singers alike.
Antony Pitts – Director of Music at St Barnabas: born in 1969, he sang as a treble in the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace, and began conducting at Tiffin Boys' School. An Academic Scholar and later Honorary Senior Scholar at New College, Oxford, he completed a BA in Music with First-Class Honours in 1990. While still at New College he founded Tonus Peregrinus and in 2004 won a Cannes Classical Award for his interpretation of Arvo Part's Passio with the ensemble. Antony's own music has been premiered in Wigmore Hall and Westminster. His career since as a composer, director/conductor/performer, producer/presenter, and teacher/researcher has combined academic, industry, and professional musical experience at world-class levels: a decade-long association with the Royal Academy of Music; a rich and varied output as a BBC producer; and now Director of Music at St Barnabas.
Grace Constable – soprano: Grace has been well known to local audiences for her many appearances as leading lady in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, but now concentrates on singing sacred music and lieder. She is a frequent performer with choral societies both locally and further afield.
Kate Welch – alto: Musical Director of the Stonegate Singers and music teacher at Stonegate Village School. Pursuing an active career on the concert platform, Kate's professional experience extends from roles in opera, including Carmen, The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, the Queen of Spades, Masked Ball, Amahl and the Night Visitors and sundry Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, to oratorio.
Gary Marriott - tenor: Gary is well-known on the East Sussex music scene in a number of guises. In the operatic world he has performed with Pavilion Opera, Opera South East and Cameo Opera in works as diverse as La Boheme, The Barber of Seville, Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, Dido and Aeneas, and Sweeney Todd. Gary also has a number of oatorios and religious works in his repertoires.
Michael White - baritone: Michael studied in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He enjoys a busy schedule of oratorio and recital work and has a particular passion for twentieth century English song. He has worked with Graham Johnson, Sarah Walker and Catharine Wilson among others. Recent performances have included the baritone solo roles in Stainer's Crucifixion, Mendelssohn's Elijah and Handel's Messiah.
Matthew Raisbeck - organ: educated at Eastbourne College where he held Music and Organ scholarships. After a year as Organ Scholar of St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, he read music at Worcester College, Oxford where he was Organ Scholar. There he conducted a number of choirs including the choir of Oxford University Press, The Cherwell Singers and the specialist contemporary repertoire choir Musica Beata. He has performed in major churches and cathedrals across the country and worked with performers including James Bowman, Robin Blaze, Emma Kirkby and Lyne Dawson. At present he is Programme Director for Sing For Your Life, a charity which uses music to tackle mental health issues in the elderly.
Simon Desbruslais - trumpet:: studied at King's College London, Royal College of Music, Conservatoire de Musique à Rueil Malmaison and is currently writing a thesis at Christ Church, Oxford on the music theory of Paul Hindemith. He gives tutorials on harmony, counterpoint and music analysis at the University of Oxford, is a bass lay-clerk at St George's RC Cathedral Southwark, and enjoys a busy freelance career as a trumpet soloist specialising in Baroque and contemporary music.
Nicholas Bown - has played the double bass since the age of seven, attended the Junior Department of the Royal College of Music for seven years and was a member of the National Youth Orchestra. He was the first double bassist ever the reach the final of the Concerto Competition at the Junior Department. He read Music at King's College, Cambridge where he was a choral scholar and is currently training to be a lawyer in London.
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