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!
In addition to being a regular performer with Penn Singers Paul was also President of our choir for a few years until early 2016.
He is well known in the local area having played in many light operas and musicals taking on roles such as Tevye ( Fiddler on the Roof) , Curley (Oklahoma) and the Pirate King ( Pirates of Penzance).
He studied with Rosa Cook and had many successes on the Music Festival Circuit winning many first prizes. He continued his studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, with Margaret Field, where he joined the Opera School.
Paul sang with Birmingham Touring Opera and performed in John Rutter’s ‘Wind in the Willows’ with Roy Castle playing mole. He has toured the Midlands, Wales and London with a professional quartet, ‘Vox Celeste’ . He has been a soloist in Lichfield Proms for the last 10 years.
In 2010 Paul had the honour of playing Al Jolson in a brand new professional musical, ‘Ain’t no Angels’ and considers this to be one of the highlights of his career so far.
Enigma Brass is a 10 - 25 piece brass ensemble based in Sutton Coldfield. They have expertise at performing at all types of events. Recent engagements have included recitals, weddings choral concerts and major arts festival in Lichfield and Birmingham. In July 2012 they played outside St Martin’s Church in the Bull Ring, Birmingham, performing ‘Best of British’ items to hundreds of people. The occasion was part of the Olympic Torch Relay and the time was 05.30am. In June 2012 the group entertained at the lighting of the Barr Beacon as part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.
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.
A pupil at St Dominic’s High School for Girls , Abigail has been singing since an early age. She feels true passion for performing as well as being on stage. She has achieved Grade 8 music theatre exam and will be taking her diploma at the end of 2014.
She enjoys performing in shows that have included ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘Annie’ at the Grand Theatre and is looking forward to playing the lead in ‘Peter Pan’ at the Grand Theatre in November 2014.
Abigail enjoys dancing and has taken part around the country in various competitions and shows including the Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland ‘Young Musician’ competition in 2014.
Elizabeth’s parents introduced her to music at an early age. Being one of seven children (all musical) Elizabeth’s father found ‘bath time’ had become a mundane task and decided to provided musical entertainment by playing his guitar as his beloved children splashed and thrashed.
His love of music filtered down to her surreptitiously. At the age of nine she began piano lessons with Ray Davies and singing lessons with Brenda Arnold. Elizabeth was initially trained as an operatic singer entering music festivals at Dudley, Hednesford and Cannock. Alongside her classical training, Elizabeth was part of The McCamphill Family Folk Band with whom she played traditional Irish and Scottish folk music. With her family at her side, Elizabeth busked on Grafton Street in Dublin in the summer of 2006 and 2007. Ode to Ray Davies – her influence immeasurable, her talents unrivaled and her constant friendship and advice throughout the years, Elizabeth will forever be indebted to.
Elizabeth applied to Edinburgh Napier University to study a Bmus (Hons) in Classical Music in from which she graduated in June 2014. Following on from her accomplishment at university she completed the recording of her first EP which is available on soundcloud. Elizabeth values this as one of her greatest personal achievements.
Since returning to Wolverhampton in June 2014 Elizabeth is in the process of developing her own website, which promotes her piano tuition and professional singing services for weddings and funerals. Elizabeth has recently been head hunted to conduct a children’s choir at St Michael’s CE (Aided) Primary School in Tettenhall. Alongside performing Eliza Beth considers teaching an immense pleasure and will be returning to university in September 2015 to study a PGCE in secondary education to further her passion for teaching.
This is Elizabeth’s first time singing with Penn Singers, and is grateful for this opportunity.
Please like Elizabeth on facebook (www.facebook.com/IamElizaBethMusic) and follow her on soundcloud (soundcloud.com/i-am-Elizabeth)
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.