Born in South Africa, James studied at the University of Cape Town and the Royal Academy of Music in London with Michael Dussek, Malcolm Martineau and Kathryn Stott. He was appointed a Hodgson Junior Fellow in 2007, a Professor of Piano Accompaniment in 2011, and awarded an ARAM in 2012.
An accomplished chamber musician, soloist and accompanist, James collaborates with singers and instrumentalists including Lise Davidsen, the Heath Quartet, Adam Walker, Sir Thomas Allen, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Pumeza Matshikiza, Allan Clayton, Jacques Imbrailo, Ailish Tynan and John Mark Ainsley. Venues include Wigmore Hall, Berlin Konzerthaus, Vienna Musikverein, Bridgewater Hall, National Concert Hall Dublin and the Bergen, Spitalfields, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Bath, City of London, St Magnus, Norfolk & Norwich, Brighton, Verbier and Aix-en-Provence Festivals. As a soloist he has appeared with the Ulster Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra and at the Petworth Festival with the Wiener Kammersymphonie.
Polish pianist Michał Biel’s collaborations have already taken him to the world’s most celebrated concert halls, including Wigmore Hall, London, Carnegie Hall and the Alice Tully Hall in New York. He has also appeared in recital on such eminent international stages as at the Oper Frankfurt, Opéra de Lille and the Polish National Opera. Michał regularly collaborates with countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński, with whom he performs on the international recital stage and at many prestigious festivals including the Verbier Festival, Life Victoria Barcelona and Pierre Cardin’s Festival de Lacoste.
In partnership with American bass Alexander Rosen, Michał won 2nd Prize at the Hugo Wolf International Art Song Competition in Stuttgart in 2018, and together they are laureates of the Academy Orsay-Royaumont. Michał’s numerous other accolades include Outstanding Young Pianist at the Stanisław Moniuszko International Singing Competition, Warsaw, Best Young Accompanist at Le Grand Prix de l’Opéra in Bucharest, and Outstanding Accompaniment at the L. Różycki Vocal Competition in Gliwice.
Michał holds residencies as a collaborative pianist at the Juilliard School Vocal Arts Department as well as the Internationale Meistersinger Akademie in Neumarkt. He studied at the Juilliard School, where he was taught by Brian Zeger, Margo Garrett, Jonathan Feldman and J.J. Penna. He has also studied under Eytan Pessen at Teatr Wielki’s Opera Academy, Warsaw, as well as Andrzej Jasiński and Grzegorz Biegas at the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music, Katowice.
Internationally acclaimed as a leading collaborative pianist, (pretty much ideal, BBC Music Magazine) Iain Burnside has worked with many of the world’s great singers. His discography features over fifty CDs, spanning a huge sweep of repertoire including the Gramophone Award-winning NMC Songbook.
An insightful programmer with an instinct for the telling juxtaposition, Burnside is also an award-winning broadcaster, familiar to listeners of BBC Radio 3.
He is Artistic Consultant to Grange Park Opera and Artistic Director of the Ludlow English Song Weekend.
Tallinn (Estonia) born Ivari Ilja studied the piano at the Tallinn State Conservatoire with Professor Laine Mets and at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire with Professor Vera Gornostayeva and Professor Sergey Dorensky.
Ivari Ilja is an internationally recognized accompanist and ensemble musician. His collaboration with renowned singers Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Irina Arkhipova, Maria Guleghina and Elena Zaremba has been particularly successful and acclaimed. Together they have performed many of the great concert stages of the world, including Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall of New York, The Kennedy Center of Washington, Davies Symphony Hall San Francisco, La Scala in Milan, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Wigmore Hall in London, the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow, the great halls of St. Peterburg Philharmonic and Moscow Conservatory, Staatsoper Hamburg, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Suntory Hall of Tokyo, Musikverein of Vienna and Mozarteum of Salzburg.
Ivari Ilja has also held solo recitals in France, United Kingdom, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Sweden, Finland and performed as a soloist with several symphony orchestras such as Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra etc.
His repertoire mostly consists of romantic music, primarily of the works by Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, but also Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sergei Prokofiev, Benjamin Britten and others.
Since 2003, he has repeatedly toured with great Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky in USA, Europe, Hong-Kong, Japan and elsewhere.
Described as “that peerless song accompanist” (Daily Telegraph November 2015) Graham Johnson has performed with the world’s leading recitalists, and has recorded extensively for Hyperion Records. He is Senior Professor of Accompaniment at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He was made an OBE in the 1994 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, created Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Government in 2002 and made an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2010. In 2013 he was awarded the Wigmore Hall Medal, and received Honorary Doctorates from both Durham University and the New England Conservatory of Music. He was awarded the Hugo Wolf Medal in 2014 for his services to the art of song, and his three volume Schubert: The Complete Songs was also published in that year.
Malcolm Martineau is one of the world’s greatest accompanists. He appears throughout Europe, North America, the Far East and Australasia with many of the world’s greatest singers and records widely for the major recording companies. Recording projects have included Schubert, Schumann and English song recitals with Bryn Terfel (for Deutsche Grammophon), Schubert and Strauss recitals with Simon Keenlyside (for EMI), recital records with Angela Gheorghiu and Barbara Bonney (for Decca), Magdalena Kozena (for DG) and Della Jones (for Chandos), the complete Faure songs with Sarah Walker and Tom Krause, the complete Britten Folk Songs for Hyperion and the complete Beethoven Folk Songs for Deutsche Grammophon. Other recordings include the complete Poulenc and Mendelssohn songs, Schubert with Florian Boesch, My True Love Hath My Heart with Dame Sarah Connolly, Heimlische Aufförderrung and Scene! with Christiane Karg, Portraits with Dorothea Röschmann, Reger with Sophie Bevan.
Gary Matthewman is one of the UK’s leading song pianists. A regular artist at Wigmore Hall, other appearances include New York’s Carnegie Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre and halls in Prague, Lucerne, Basel, Lisbon, Washington, Toronto, São Paulo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Melbourne and Sydney. His UK Festival appearances include the Aldeburgh, Buxton, Glyndebourne, Leeds Lieder and Oxford Lieder Festivals.
Recital partners include Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Joyce DiDonato, Sir Thomas Allen, Sumi Jo, Nuccia Focile, Mark Padmore, Ailyn Perèz, Dimitri Platanias, Sylvia Schwartz, Kate Lindsey, Markus Werba, Kate Royal, Andrei Bondarenko, Louise Alder, Adam Plachetka, Benjamin Appl, Sarah-Jane Brandon and Roderick Williams. Gary has made numerous live broadcasts and recordings for BBC Radio 3, and his recent recording of Schubert’s ‘Winterreise’ with Matthew Rose received widespread critical acclaim, featuring as Gramophone Magazine’s Recording of the Month and BBC Radio 3’s Disc of the Week.
He is Professor of Vocal Repertoire at the Royal College of Music, and song coach for the Jette Parker Young Artists at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Highly acclaimed pianist Joseph Middleton specialises in the art of song accompaniment and chamber music. He is Director of Leeds Lieder, Musician in Residence at Pembroke College Cambridge and a Professor at his alma mater, the Royal Academy of Music. Joseph works with many of the world’s finest singers in major venues worldwide, and has an award-winning and fast-growing discography.
He is a regular guest at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna Konzerthaus, Zürich Tonhalle, Köln Philharmonie, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Musée d’Orsay in Paris and London’s Wigmore Hall. Recent seasons have also taken him to the Aldeburgh, Aix-en-Provence, Edinburgh, Ravinia, and Stuttgart Festivals. Joseph collaborates with internationally established singers including Sir Thomas Allen, Ian Bostridge, Sarah Connolly, Lucy Crowe, Iestyn Davies, Wolfgang Holzmair, Christiane Karg, Katarina Karnéus, Simon Keenlyside, Dame Felicity Lott, Christopher Maltman, John Mark Ainsley, Kate Royal, Carolyn Sampson and Roderick Williams.
His critically acclaimed discography includes discs with Carolyn Sampson (Radio France’s Disc of the Month & nominated for a Gramophone Award), Ruby Hughes (BBC Music Magazine’s Recording of the Month), Dame Felicity Lott, Amanda Roocroft, Clara Mouriz, Matthew Rose and Allan Clayton. Joseph made his BBC Proms debut in 2016 with Iestyn Davies and Carolyn Sampson.