The following are some of our regular guests who may be performing with us over the next couple of years.
Russell gained his BMus and MMus at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study voice on an unconditional place under the tutelage of Mr Ian Kennedy. After leaving college Russell has made his mark as a freelance singer up and down the country and on the continent and is in great demand.
Opera credits include Tamino (The Magic Flute), Title role in Albert Herring, Pedrillo (The Abduction from the Seraglio), Don Basillio (The Marriage of Figaro), Don Jose (Carmen), Count Almaviva (The Barber of Seville) Gaston (La Traviata) and the second brother in the world premiere of Laurence Roman’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil at Covent Garden and Buxton. Choral works include Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, Nelson Mass & The Seasons, Charpentier’s Messe De Minuit & Te Deum, Gounod’s Messe Solennelle,Haazen’s Missa Luba, Mozart’s Requiem, Vesperae Solennes & Coronation Mass, Rossini’s Petite Messe, Stainer’s Crucifixion,Beethoven’s Choral Symphony, Britten’s St Nicholas, Orff’s Carmina Burana and numerous Bach cantatas and passions singing the role of the Evangelist.
Russell has a very keen interest in the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, going so far as to write his Masters thesis on their life and music. He has performed many of the principal tenor roles across the Savoy opera range including The Defendant, Marco, Frederic, Hilarion, Ralph, Captain Fitzbattleaxe, Richard Dauntless, Earl Tolloller, Duke, Alexis, Nanki-Poo and Box, only three left! Just recently Russell has been accepted to sing principal tenor in the world renowned “Grims Dyke Opera Company”. His recital work is also recognized in other fields of English music, most recently song settings of the poetry of Housman in “The Blue Remembered Hills” for the Worcester festival.
Not only happy in operatic roles, Russell is also a keen concert recitalist and after dinner entertainer, having performed seven times with his Young Proms colleagues in the West Midlands area, and having raised over £100.000 for numerous local and national charities. Further afield Russell also works for the London agency Hartley Voices with its group AKA Opera providing unaccompanied opera classics for after dinner and wedding entertainment.
Russell is also very proud to have a strong group of private students for both vocal and music theory tuition, with many students reaching Grade 8 and even beyond to Diploma level.
When wanting warmer climes, Russell spends most summers performing in the south of France, ranging from full scale operas, to concerts in converted barns.
Russell is also a fellow of the London College of Music (FLCM).
Apart from his performing work Russell is a lover of real ale, a fully qualified safari park tour guide, a keen walker and a “NicFit” training fanatic!
The Jackfield Brass Band
The Jackfield 10 piece Band is part of the larger Jackfield Elcock Reisen Band from Ironbridge. They perform very regularly throughout the country and also abroad and have won many competitions stretching back over many decades.
Abii Strudwicke is a singer, actor, musical theatre performer and vocal coach from Wolverhampton. Growing up, Abii loved performing arts training and enjoyed performing in many productions at the Grand Theatre and other theatres around the West Midlands. After finishing her A Levels at Thomas Telford School, Abii was offered a place at one of the UK’s top drama schools, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts where she studied Musical Theatre. Abii loved her professional training at Mountview and was chosen to perform the leading role of “Adelaide” in “Guys and Dolls” during her third year of training. Additionally she played “Mrs Turnbull” in “Betty Blue Eyes”, “Blanche” in “Bonnie and Clyde”, “Rosie” in “Cider with Rosie” and “Mrs Higgins” in “My Fair Lady”. Whilst studying in London, Abii was given the opportunity to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in “Magic of Musicals”, singing a variety of hits from the musicals with leading professional West End performers.
Unfortunately, due to the hit of the pandemic, her last show was cancelled and her training was cut short. During the uncertainty of the pandemic with theatres and the arts industry being heavily impacted upon, Abii completed her Master’s degree in Professional Voice Practice where she studied spoken and sung voice to eventually coach other professionals. Since completion, she has worked as a vocal coach in many prestigious training institutions such as Italia Conti, The International College of Musical Theatre, Manchester School of Theatre and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
In March 2022, Abii was cast to play the role of “Gemma Porter” in BBC1’s “Doctors” where she filmed in Birmingham for three weeks. Abii loved being on set and her TV debut was aired in June. She endeavours to continue screen acting and is looking forward to what’s to come.
Laura is a classical trained soprano who transitioned into musical theatre whilst undergoing her training in acting at ‘East 15’ drama school. Laura has also trained in Estill voice technique and teaches young students. In 2019 she achieved her Associate ALCM diploma in musical theatre and is currently working towards her LLCM. She has taken a wide variety of leading and supporting roles in Shropshire and the West Midlands and has performed in many charity fundraising concerts.
Away from singing, Laura is a wife, mother and recruitment business owner.
Maggie is a versatile, professional and talented entertainer. She has worked with many top acts and household names in theatres throughout the UK. Maggie has an extensive repertoire – including musical theatre, the Victory Years, Swinging 60’s and Sensational 70’s Penn Singers welcomed her as out guest at our October concert 2023. She ‘tailor-made’ her repertoire to involve the audience and quickly had one and all fully engaged.
Phaedra graduated from Wolverhampton University in June 2005 after gaining a Dip HE in Drama; she then went on to study at Birmingham Conservatoire gaining a Bmus in Classical Vocal studies and is now working as a freelance musician.
Phaedra works as a Vocal coach privately from her purpose built studio at home and for Several Music Services providing singing lessons to a wide range of pupils, entering them into examinations and preparing them for auditions. Phaedra is also a freelance Vocal Coach for professional companies. Many of Phaedra's pupils have gained entry to Stage Schools across the country and beyond. Phaedra also has very successful pupils which have gone on to successful music careers, most famously having provided private lessons to One Direction's Liam Payne.
Phaedra has a vast experience of performing both on and off stage having sung for Raymond Blanc at his multi-award winning Restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, at the opening of the Millennium Dome and many other events. Whilst working as a solo entertainer up and down the country Phaedra has sung for weddings, concerts, dinner dances and festivals. Phaedra also runs two Community Choirs in Telford and has coworked with the Royal Opera House on their Educational Programme, Write an Opera.
Some of her many stage credits consist of: Alice Fitzwaren (Dick Whittington), Phyllis (Iolanthe), Queen of Arcadia (Sleeping Beauty), Kate (Kiss Me, Kate!), Giannetta (The Gondoliers), Rose Maybud (Ruddigore), Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), Diana (Orpheus in the Underworld), Yum Yum (Mikado), Calisto (La Calisto), Princess Ida (Princess Ida),Mabel (Pirates of Penzance), Eponine (Les Misérables), Edith (Pirates of Penzance), Josephine (HMS Pinafore), Anita (West Side Story)
Matthew lives locally and Penn Singers has had contact with him over several years through his work as a piano tuner. He is the guy we turn to in order to keep the piano sounding at its best.
Matthew first became interested in music at the early age of 3 years listening to his dad’s music centre and cassette recorder. He began classical piano lessons at the age of 5 and went on to achieve Grade 8 while still at school. Meanwhile at the age of 8 he began to learn to play the violin and he went on to play this instrument with the Wolverhampton Youth Orchestra. He is also blessed with the rare auditory phenomenon of ‘perfect pitch’.
Matthew became interested in playing the ukulele when he came across a 78rpm record of George Formby ‘Why Don’t Women Like Me’. He played it on a wind up gramophone. He has been a collector of 78rpm records and phonograph cylinders since he was 11 years old.
He joined forces with his friend Matthew Francis and at the age of 15 they taught themselves to play the banjo ukuleles that they had bought. They joined the Stourbridge branch of the George Formby Society and began performing as the ‘Two Matts’ in Residential homes and at fetes etc. At this time Matthew was also composing and arranging music for his school orchestra.
In 2004 he started college in Hereford completing a Music technology Course with Piano Tuning, Musical Performance and Classical Piano Diploma. Around this time he developed his solo act with the ukulele and piano but continued to travel back to Wolverhampton at weekends to continue ‘gigging’ at residential homes.
After college he started his own business as a Piano Tuner and also plays piano and the ukulele across the UK. He considers himself fortunate to be making a living with music. In 2010 he became Musical Director of The George Formby Society.
Samantha has enjoyed performing music from an early age and started learning the keyboard and violin at the age of 9. Since then, Samantha has played the violin for the Wolverhampton Youth Orchestra as well as the Wolverhampton Symphony Orchestra. She continued her musical studies at university where she earned a BA (hons) in Music and English and specialised in classical singing. As well as this, Samantha holds a grade 8 for piano and violin.
Samantha is currently the musical director for the ‘Tong Singers’ as well as a peripatetic music teacher at Tettenhall College. Samantha continues to teach and perform in the Wolverhampton area