HANDEL Alexander’s Feast – In honour of St Cecilia
St Edmund’s Church, Crickhowell NP8 1BB
Sunday 6th May 2018 at 7.30pmJessica Cale (soprano), Mark Chambers (countertenor), Nicholas Mulroy (tenor) and Robert Davies (baritone) Orchestra Festival Baroque Players Subtitled “The Power of Musick”, Handel’s Alexander’s Feast was in its day rated with Messiah as one of the composer’s greatest creations. Written in honour of St Cecilia, Dryden’s storyline takes us to demonstrations of musical prowess at the Greek hero’s banquet. Expect high drama, battle cries, apparitions, and intoxication (probably amongst the tenors!). However, it is music’s patron saint who eventually steals the show, with Handel creating an array of enchanting arias and rousing choruses at every turn. The stuff of legend!
Jessica Cale is a Masters of Performance student at the Royal College of Music studying with Rosa Mannion. She is a Robert Lancaster Scholar in addition to receiving support from the Josephine Baker Trust. Upcoming solo performances include the role of Serpetta in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera for Ryedale Festival; Brahms’ Requiem; Handel’s Messiah; and Jessica will appear alongside Mark Padmore and Roderick Williams in seven performances of Bach’s St Matthew Passion across Europe with the Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment. Jessica is originally from Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and was awarded her undergraduate degree from Cardiff University in 2014 receiving First Class Honours and the D J Lloyd Prize for outstanding performance in her final public recital. Jessica gave many solo performances during her time at Cardiff University, including two performances alongside the University Chamber Choir at Llandaff Cathedral of Bach’s Wedding Cantata BWV 202 Weichet Nur, betrübte Schatten and Vivaldi’s Nulla in mundo pax sincera. Upon moving to London Jessica built a successful career performing as both a soloist and as an ensemble and consort singer, working regularly with many of today’s leading Baroque vocal ensembles including the Monteverdi Choir, The Sixteen, the Gabrieli Consort and Tenebrae. Jessica has performed as a soloist for Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the London Symphony Orchestra in Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Barbican Centre, and in Bach’s St Matthew Passion across 16 performances in Europe with the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists. Jessica’s most recent concert performances include Mozart’s ‘Great’ Mass in C Minor, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Monteverdi’s Vespers alongside soloists from I Fagiolini, Handel’s Dixit Dominus with the Gabrieli Consort, Vivaldi’s Gloria at the Barbican, and performing the role of Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas for the Erebus Ensemble. In addition to singing baroque and classical repertoire, Jessica enjoys performing contemporary music and working alongside composers on collaborative projects. Jessica recently gave the premiere performance of two new pieces by Sally Beamish in a concert of her compositions at the Ryedale Festival.
The English counter-tenor, Mark Chambers, studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Richard Hill, Michael Chance and James Bowman. He graduated in 1992 and was awarded the John Mcleod prize for male singers. As a soloist Mark Chambers has performed with Richard Hickox, Stephen Cleobury, Roy Goodman and The King’s Consort. He has also performed in two world premieres of We shall see Him as He is and The Apocalypse by John Tavener at the BBC Proms. Operatic roles include Andronico in Georg Frideric Handel’s Tamerlano at the Britten Pears School and Chorus in an acclaimed production of Rameau’s Les Boréades at the Salzburg Festival conducted by Simon Rattle. In June 2005 he participated in performances of J.S. Bach’s Johannes-Passion (BWV 245) with the New London Consort conducted by Philip Pickett at the Israel Festival Jerusalem. Mark Chambers has made many solo and ensemble recordings including a disc of counter-tenor duets by Purcell and his contemporaries with Ryland Angel, a disc of songs by Edmund Rubbra and Ralph Vaughan Williams, and a recording of solo motets by Grandi with the English Cornett and Sackbut Ensemble.
Born in Liverpool, Nicholas was a chorister at the city’s Metropolitan Cathedral before studying Modern Languages at Cambridge and voice at the RAM. He has since been in constant demand both in the UK and further afield in a wide range of concert, recital and opera engagements. Widely known for his performances of Baroque repertoire, he has sung with some of its most noted exponents: Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort, John Butt and the Dunedin Consort. He has also sung to great acclaim with I Fagiolini, the King’s Consort, Les Musiciens du Louvre, and other famous groups and opera houses worldwide. Nicholas is also a committed recitalist appearing at the Wigmore Hall and other major festivals. His recording achievements are equally impressive and extensive with many Gramophone Awards to his name.
Born in Colchester, Robert studied at the University of Sheffield and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before embarking on a solo career, both on the opera stage and concert platform. Awarded the Erich Vietheer Memorial Award at Glyndebourne, he went on to appear as Mr Gedge Albert Herring, Marcello La Bohème, Count Almaviva Le Nozze di Figaro and Doctor Falke Die Fledermaus on the Festival Tour Robert has sung under the baton of such distinguished conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Vladimir Jurowski, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Emanuelle Haim, Sir Mark Elder, Richard Hickox, Edward Gardner and Robin Ticciati. As well as his opera and concert work, Robert is in demand as a consort singer. He regularly performs with the Dunedin Consort and has been featured as consort soloist with the Gabrieli Consort (Elijah, BBC Proms 2011).