Phillippa Lay (soprano)
Phillippa practices the
three major disciplines of song, opera and oratorio and recently completed a post-graduate
vocal performance course at the Birmingham Conservatoire, under the tutelage of
mezzo-soprano Louise Crane, early music tenor Andrew King and tenor Julian Pike amongst
other renowned musicians.
Her initial musical studies were undertaken at the Colchester Institute School of Music
and Drama, where in her final year Phillippa took the title role in the college's operatic
production of Semele (Handel) and won first place in the 'Norman Tattersall
Singing Competition'. After her training at Colchester, Phillippa moved to London and
continued to develop her skills by completing the acclaimed English National Opera funded
performance course, 'The Knack' led by Mary King. During the course she landed a key solo
role in the infamous television opera, When She Died; The Death of a Princess
written to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, with music by
Jonathan Dove. It was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4 and subsequently on PBS, an
American arts channel.
During her time at Birmingham Conservatoire Phillippa was cast in a number of solo
operatic roles, including Susannah in the Marriage of Figaro (Mozart) and more
recently was in the opening cast of the World Premiere of Michael Wolters' and Alexandra
Taylor's new opera Ava's Wedding, commissioned for the Conservatoire in which she
created the role of Celia, a rather exacting and forthright mother of the bride. Before
completing her studies at Birmingham Conservatoire Phillippa was cast in the role of Donna
Elvira in Don Giovanni (Mozart) for a concert performance of the opera by
post-graduate vocal students and current conservatoire instrumentalists.
Phillippa has staged many recitals and performed oratorios in London and the
surrounding counties and most recently sung Ode for St Cecelia (Handel) with the
Charlton Kings Choral Society and tenor James Gilchrist, The Creation (Haydn)
with Wantage Choral Society and Mass in C Minor (Mozart) with both The Froxfield
Singers and Dulwich Sinfonia Chorus on separate occasions. She has performed with
composers and conductors of great note including John Nelson, Sir David Willcocks, David
Hill, John Rutter and Stephen Layton.
Her contribution to commercial recordings is varied and numerous; she was featured as a
soloist with the Collegiate Singers on their CD entitled Herbert Howells: Morning and
Evening Canticles Volume 3 (Priory Records) and has performed in a whole host of
other releases, including a CD of contemporary Spanish music of Abril performed by the
much praised professional choir Coro Cervantes.
Cathy Bell (mezzo-soprano)
Cathy Bell studied English and
Medieval Literature at Cambridge and singing as a postgraduate at Birmingham
Conservatoire. Now based in London, she specialises in Baroque and contemporary repertoire
and was a member of Handel House Talent 2014-15.
Opera roles include Carmen for Barefoot Opera; Arsamenes (Handel Xerxes)
for Hampstead Garden Opera; Russian Nanny (Britten Death in Venice) for
Garsington Opera; Third Lady/Third Boy (Mozart Die Zauberflöte) for Diva Opera
and the Palestine Mozart Festival; Arasse (Hasse Siroe) for the London Handel
Festival; and roles in contemporary operas for Tête à Tête, Grimeborn and WNO MAX.
Chorus work includes Scottish Opera, Garsington, Grange Park, Bergen Nasjonale Opera and
the festivals in Aix-en-Provence and Beijing.
Cathy has a busy schedule as an oratorio soloist and recitalist.
Recent highlights include JS Bach Mass in B minor with Leicester Bach Choir; CPE Bach Magnificat with Nottingham Harmonic Choir;
Handel Messiah with Cantemus; Rachmaninov Vespers with Britten Sinfonia Voices, Oxford Bach
Choir, Wimbledon Choral Society, Sonoro and Constanza Chorus; Lully arias at the Wallace
Collection; and a lecture recital, Handel by Candle, at the Handel House.
Cathy also works regularly with groups including the BBC Singers,
the Academy of Ancient Music, Philharmonia Voices, Sonoro, the Clerks' Group and EXAUDI.
She studies privately with Robert Dean.