Biographies

Adjudicators

Jonathan Cocker

Jonathan Cocker is originally from County Durham and trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was awarded a Cripplegate Scholarship. He has directed productions throughout Europe and as far afield as New Zealand. Notable productions include The Turn of the Screw for the Buxton Festival, The Fairy Queen for English Bach Festival at the ROH, as well as the festivals of Athens, Barcelona, Perelada, and Granada.  In 2019 he directed a much acclaimed production of Vaughan Williams’ The Pilgrim’s Progress for the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM).

Jonathan’s education portfolio includes student productions of The Magic Flute, Suor Angelica, The Bartered Bride, Dido and Aeneas, La bohème, Orfeo ed Euridice, Acis and Galatea, and The Threepenny Opera in addition to performance related workshops for Nottingham Playhouse, Edinburgh Festival, and Opera North. He has also worked in theatre and musicals. Jonathan is currently Tutor in Stagecraft at the RNCM where he is directing Le nozze di Figaro opening at the end of this March.

Michael Harper

Michael Harper is a singer, vocal consultant, and vocal tutor.  He has sung opera, oratorio, and new music in the US, Europe and in China, premiering new works in the UK, Venice, and Geneva.

As a vocal consultant, he has worked with the Centre for Performance Research (Aberystwyth), den Norske Opera, the English National Opera, the Asolo Song Festival (Italy), Youth Music, Sing Up, The Sage Gateshead, Jackdaws Music Education Trust, Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD), Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon), British Youth Opera, National Opera Studio and Westminster Choir College (USA).

Michael has curated recitals for London Song Festival, St John’s Smith Square, the Buxton Festival Friends, Steinway Hall, and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM). He is one of the voice teachers in an upcoming television series called “Anyone Can Sing” for  Sky Arts. His current research includes work on an anthology of art songs by African-heritage composers and an AHRC /BBC grant to promote the works of the composer, Julia Perry.

Michael is a vocal tutor at the RNCM, GSMD, and has private studios in London, Bristol and Oslo.  He is a trustee for the Saga Trust (Edison Fellowship, British Library), patron for Diverse Voices (National Opera Studio), and sits on the boards of Opera UK, the Buxton International Festival, and the Royal Northern College of Music.

Lynne Dawson

Professor Lynne Dawson is Head of the School of Vocal Studies and Opera. Before becoming a singer she trained as a translator and interpreter and spent several years in industry. She worked with many conductors and ensembles at the forefront of the Historical Performance movement making recordings for many major recording labels. Her career developed to encompass opera, concerts and recordings at the highest international level; her discography numbers more than 80. She has worked with major symphony orchestras all over the world and particularly with conductors Daniel Barenboim, Frans Brüggen, Marc Minkowski, Zubin Mehta, John Eliot Gardiner and Carl Maria Giulini. Operatic roles include Mozart’s Pamina, Zaide, Donna Elvira, Countess Almaviva, Queen of the Night, Constanze, Aspasia and Vitellia, as well as Amenaide in Rossini’s Tancredi, leading roles in Handel’s Orlando, Giulio Cesare, Hercules and Ariodante, Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio, the title-role in Gluck’s Iphigenie en Aulide, Mimì in La Bohème, Zdenka in Strauss’s Arabella, and Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata.

Lynne has performed in opera houses including Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Berlin Staatsoper, and Salzburg and Aix-en-Provence Festivals. Her concert repertoire encompasses Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs, Ravel’s Shéhérezade, Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’Été, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven concert arias and Berg’s Seven Early Songs, but she has never lost her love of the Baroque repertoire. She was appointed Head of Vocal Studies in 2010 and of Vocal Studies and Opera in 2017.

Finalists

Sarah Ampil

Filipino-Australian soprano Sarah Ampil recently relocated to the UK from Sydney. Opera credits include Micaëla in Carmen (Central Coast Opera), Sandrina in La Finta Giardiniera (Operantics), and Ginevra in Ariodante (Apollo Opera Collective). She has been engaged by several illustrious ensembles across Australia and New Zealand, including the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and Hawkes Bay Orchestra.

Sarah is an alumna of the Pacific Opera Young Artist Program. She received her Bachelor of Music from the University of New South Wales and her Master of Music Studies and Graduate Diploma from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Since commencing her Postgraduate Diploma at RNCM, Sarah has appeared as Governess in The Turn of the Screw (opera scenes), undertaken an Artist Residency with Opera North as a Leverhulme Arts Scholar, appeared as a finalist in the 2022 Concerto Competition, and performed in a masterclass with Susan Bullock CBE.

Olivia Tringham

Originally from Merseyside, Olivia is a soprano currently studying with Linda Richardson at the RNCM. During her studies, she has performed the roles of Mère Marie in Dialogues des Carmélites, La Suora Infermiera in Suor Angelica, Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, and Prima Donna in Ariadne auf Naxos (Prologue). Opera scene highlights include Alice in Falstaff and Miss Jessel in Turn of the Screw. Professionally, Olivia was a 2021 Buxton International Festival Young Artist where she performed the role of Mrs Segstom in A Little Night Music by Sondheim alongside a number of concert engagements. Olivia will be joining Grange Park Opera for their 2022 summer season.

Jessica Hopkins

British soprano Jessica Hopkins recently graduated with a Double First from Clare College, Cambridge, where she read Music as a choral scholar and was awarded the Donald Wort Prize, the Royalton-Kisch Prize for Music and several academic prizes.

Latest highlights include a performance at the Eilat Chamber Music Festival in Israel, a pre-concert recital with the RNCM Songsters at The Bridgewater Hall, a run at the Edinburgh Fringe as Marianna in Rossini’s Il Signor Bruschino, and various engagements with Aylesbury Opera; most recently appearing as Merab in Handel’s Saul. As a concert soloist, Jessica has performed repertoire such as Rutter’s Requiem under Rutter himself, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Handel’s Messiah, as well as Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Requiem.

Jessica studies under the tutelage of Mary Plazas at the RNCM, where she is generously supported by the Alice Orrell and A&N Kendall Award, as well as the Women’s Careers Foundation.

www.jessicahopkins.co.uk

Morgana Warren-Jones

Morgana Warren-Jones is a mezzo-soprano from North Wales, currently studying for a Master of Music at the Royal Northern College of Music under the tutelage of Hilary Summers. She previously read Music at the University of Leeds and spent a year studying voice at the Académie Supérieure de Musique de Strasbourg.

This year Morgana will be performing the roles of Marcellina in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro at the RNCM, Vava in Shostakovich’s Cherry Town, Moscow as part of WNO’s autumn season, and covering the role of Coll in Anna Appleby’s Drought in collaboration with the BBC Philharmonic. She has also performed the role of Augusta Tabor in The Ballad of Baby Doe for RNCM opera scenes.

In 2021, Morgana was a finalist in the MOCSA Young Welsh Singer of the Year competition and performed the title role in Menotti’s The Medium for RNCM. Other highlights included singing the roles of Medoro in Orlando and Mercédès in Carmen for RNCM opera scenes, gaining a place on the Opera North Chorus mentoring programme, and performing with the RNCM Songsters, the College’s most accomplished performers of song repertoire.

Sarah Winn

Sarah is currently completing a Master of Music at the Royal Northern College of Music under the tutelage of Hilary Summers. She is generously supported by the Alice Orrell and A&N Kendall Award as well as the Maurice and Jean Buckley Award.

Sarah completed her Graduate Certificate in Music Studies and Bachelor of Music in Performance at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University. Upon the completion of her degree she was awarded the Linda Edith Allen award for having achieved the highest performance grade in her year level and the Doreen Ord & Lyceum Club Prize for Classical Voice.

Sarah has performed roles including The Composer in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, Béatrice in Beatrice et Bénédict, The Chinese Cup and The Dragonfly in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges and Aloès in Chabrier’s L’etoile. She has also performed as a soloist with the Brisbane Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Choir, Noosa Orchestra and Sinfonia of St Andrews in Australia.

Conrad Chatterton

Conrad Chatterton is an English Baritone in his second year Postgraduate MMus degree at the Royal Northern College of Music. In 2020, he graduated with a 2:1 (Hons) in M.A Geography from the University of Aberdeen. Since starting at the RNCM, he is under the tutelage of Matthew Best.

Conrad made his operatic debut performing Zuniga in Bizet’s Carmen and has since performed the roles of Gianni Schicchi in Gianni Schicchi, Der Haushofmeister & Ein Lakai in Ariadne auf Naxos (Prologue), Immigration Officer in Flight, Jackie “Tiger” Brown in Threepenny Opera, and Melisso in Alcina.

Conrad’s upcoming performances in 2022, include performing the role of Bartolo in the Royal Northern College of Music’s Le nozze di Figaro, as well as being a Chorister with Grange Park Opera for their 2022 summer season.

He is very grateful to the Maria Bjornson Memorial Fund for kindly supporting his studies.

Pianists

Mariko Ishiyama

Mariko Ishiyama was born in Nagoya, Japan, graduated from the music course of Kikuzato high school and the department of Instrumental Music of Aichi prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music.

Mariko received the 16th Education Federation Piano Audition Encouragement Award and performed in the university-sponsored “Chamber Music Fun”. After graduating from university, she gained experience as a rehearsal pianist of opera, operetta, and musicals organized by the Nagoya City Cultural Promotion Agency alongside accompanying choirs. She also performs at concerts as part of a music society in “Musica Fente” and “Le Cinq” in Japan.

Mariko is a postgraduate student at the Royal Northern College of Music, studying her Master of Music in piano accompaniment under David Jones and is a member of the RNCM Songsters.

Robin Humphreys

Robin Humphreys is a graduate of the University of Birmingham and a holder of the prestigious Diploma in Professional Performance from the Royal Northern College of Music, where he studied piano accompaniment with David Lloyd. Appearing in concert for over 40 years, he enjoys a successful career as an accompanist and répétiteur (praised as “world-class” by Louise Flind for “Opera Today”), the breadth of his repertoire being reflected in television and radio broadcasts ranging from BBC Radio 3 to Emmerdale!

In addition to being a senior music coach within the School of Vocal Studies and Opera, he has appeared with the Manchester Camerata, has been Musical Director for Feelgood Theatre Productions and, from 1990-2000, Opera & Concert Productions (Worldwide) Ltd with whom he toured throughout the Gulf, the Indian sub-continent and the Far East. Robin has a particularly close association with Clonter Opera Theatre in Cheshire, where he regularly works as Assistant Musical Director and Accompanist. He is also an accompanist member of the British & International Federation of Festivals.

David Jones

David Jones was born on the Wirral and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Wales, Bangor, specialising in performance and studying piano with Jana Frenklova. He graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, with a Postgraduate Diploma in Piano Accompaniment, which he studied with John Wilson, and the degree of Master of Music in Performance for which he also submitted a study of the songs of Albert Roussel. After a year as Junior Fellow in Repetiteur Studies at the RNCM, David lectured for three years at University College, Salford. He joined the School of Keyboard Studies at the RNCM as a staff pianist in 1996 and was appointed Accompaniment Co-ordinator, now Head of Accompaniment, in September 2001. He also holds the posts of Deputy Head (Performance) for Junior RNCM, and was for four years Chorus Master of the RNCM Chamber Choir.

David is pianist for the Hallé Choir, and founder and Musical Director of Altèri, the Manchester-based chamber choir. He also held the post of pianist for Huddersfield Choral Society between 1993 and 2001 and examined for the ABRSM both in the UK and in the Far East. For many years he has been, with April Cantelo, Stuart Smith, Patricia MacMahon and Rosemary Walton, a tutor on the summer course Art of Song. He has given first performances of music by many composers, including David Ellis, John Hawkins, David Matthews, Philip Wilby, Mark Simpson and Emily Howard. His discography includes piano music by Stephen Plews (Campion Cameo), two discs of songs and chamber works by John Ramsden Williamson (Dunelm, now Divine Art), a CD of Judith Bingham’s complete piano music (Toccata Classics; ‘International Piano Choice’ autumn 2013), and two discs of music by Robin Stevens, most recently (2022) with the cellist Nicholas Trygstad.

He completed his PhD at the University of Manchester in 2011, researching the music of Jeffrey Lewis and has so far released three discs of Lewis’s piano, chamber and vocal works, on ASC, Campion Cameo – ‘Gramophone’ described it as ‘…a disc not to be missed by anyone who cares about communicative 20th-century music’ – and Metier/Divine Art, with RNCM alumni Caroline MacPhie (soprano) and Zheng Yu Wu (violin).

Michael Davies

Michael Davies is a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music and received a first class Honours degree in 2009 and a Masters in Solo Performance in 2011.

He has given lunchtime concerts and evening recitals across the UK and in Europe, and performed at major venues including St. James’s Piccadilly, the Wales Millennium Centre, and the House of Commons. He has also appeared as soloist in Beethoven’s fifth concerto, the Grieg concerto, and Rachmaninov’s second concerto. Michael has been awarded the highest prize for solo performance in the Welsh National Eisteddfod and has been a finalist and prize winner in the Moray International Piano Competition and the Jaques Samuel Intercollegiate Piano Competition.

A passionate chamber musician, Michael regularly collaborates with RNCM students and graduates, with highlights including performances at the Bridgewater Hall, the Wigmore Hall, and to a sold-out audience at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. He currently works at the RNCM while maintaining an independent freelance career.