The Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for the Singing of Strauss

The Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award is open to fourth year undergraduate and to postgraduate RNCM students.

Candidates are required to perform a 15-minute programme of songs and/or arias by Richard Strauss. The six finalists have been selected following a preliminary round.

This will be the first Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for the Singing of Strauss without the presence of both Joyce and Michael.

Joyce, who very sadly passed away last year, is very keenly missed by all her friends here and by the many alumni whom she and Michael have supported over the very many years they have been associated with the RNCM.

We are very grateful to Susan Bullock, CBE, a good friend of Joyce and the College, to take over as President of the Trust which will, thanks to the efforts of Joyce and fellow Trustees, hopefully be able to continue far into the future. We welcome Sue very warmly to this cherished responsibility.

We are immensely grateful to Joyce and Michael, and to the Trust, for their continuing support of our young students in enabling and encouraging them to investigate the wonderful world of vocal writing by Richard Strauss.

Lynne Dawson
Head of Vocal Studies and Opera

Rebecca Evans CBE, Susan Bullock CBE and Lynne Dawson adjudicators

Anusha Bobby soprano
Michael Davies piano
Breit über mein Haupt Op 19
Wasserrose Op 22
Junghexenlied Op 39
Die Nacht Op 10 No 3
Amor Op 68 No 5
Morgen! Op 27 No 4

Jane Burnell soprano
Jonathan Fisher piano
Epheu Op 22
Das Rosenband Op 36 No 1
Befreit Op 39 No 4
Allerseelen Op 10 No 8

Hakeem Henderson tenor
Robin Humphreys piano
Cäcilie Op 27 No 2
Traum durch die Dämmerung Op 29 No 1
Allerseelen Op 10 No 8
Zueignung Op 10 No 1
Breit über mein Haupt Op 19 No 2

Interval – 20 minutes

Jessica Hopkins soprano
David Jones piano
Cäcilie Op 27 No 2
Auf ein Kind Op 47 No 1
Ach, Was Kummer, Qual und Schmerzen Op 49 No 8
Presentation of the Rose from Der Rosenkavalier
Rote Rosen

Callum McCandless bass-baritone
Robin Humphreys piano
Ruhe, meine Seele! Op 27 No 1
Cäcilie Op 27 No 2
Heimliche Aufforderung Op 27 No 3
Morgen! Op 27 No 4

Morgana Warren-Jones mezzo-soprano
Michael Davies piano
Zueignung Op 10 No 1
Traum durch die Dämmerung Op 29 No 1
Nichts Op 10 No 2
Für funfzehn Pfennige Op 36 No 2
Ruhe, meine Seele! Op 27 No 1

Adjudicating interval followed by announcement of the winner

The Adjudicators

Rebecca Evans CBE

Rebecca Evans as born in South Wales and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Her upcoming engagements include the world premiere of Blaze of Glory for Welsh National Opera and concerts at Wigmore Hall, Fishguard Festival and Penarth Music Festival.

Recent highlights include the title role in Rodelinda for English National Opera, Marschallin Der Rosenkavalier for Welsh National Opera and Alice Ford in Falstaff in her debut for the Teatro Real in Madrid.

She has sung Contessa Le nozze di Figaro, Mimì La bohème, Pamina Die Zauberflöte, Zerlina Don Giovanni and Despina for the Royal Opera; Ginevra Ariodante, Despina, Ilia Idomeneo and Susanna Le nozze di Figaro at the Bayerische Staaatsoper, Munich and Despina at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin. At English National Opera she has sung the title role in Rodelinda, Governess The Turn of the Screw and Romilda Xerxes and Ginevra. Her many roles for Welsh National Opera have included the Marschallin Der Rosenkavalier, Angelica Orlando, Liu Turandot, Mimì, Contessa, Pamina and Gretel Hänsel und Gretel. In the USA she has sung Susanna and Zerlina for Metropolitan Opera, New York; Susanna in Santa Fe; Pamina and Adèle Die Fledermaus for the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Zerlina, Anne Trulove The Rake’s Progress and Adina L’elisir d’amore for the San Francisco Opera.

In concert she has appeared at the Salzburg, Edinburgh, Tanglewood and Ravinia Festivals and she is a regular guest at the BBC Proms. Recent highlights have included Alice Ford in concert performances of Falstaff opposite Sir Bryn Terfel with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko, Beethoven’s Symphony No 9 with the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester/Blomstedt and with the London Symphony Orchestra/Gardiner, A Child of our Time with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg/Rizzi, The Apostles with the Hallé/Elder and Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Accademia Santa Cecilia/Pappano.

A Grammy Award-winning artist, she has recorded prolifically including Marzelline, Pamina and Gretel with Sir Charles Mackerras, Ilia with David Parry and Laila with Brad Cohen (Chandos); Nanetta with Sir John Eliot Gardiner (Philips); a series of Gilbert and Sullivan recordings with Sir Charles Mackerras and a solo recording of Italian songs (EMI).

Rebecca is a Trustee of the Colwinston Charitable Trust and patron of several charities, among them Shelter Cymru, Ty Hapus, Music in Hospitals Cymru/Wales. She is also patron of Music in the Vale Young Musician Competition. She was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2020.

Susan Bullock CBE

Susan Bullock’s unique position as one of the world’s most sought-after dramatic sopranos was recognised by the award of a CBE in June 2014.

Of her most distinctive roles, Wagner’s Brünnhilde has garnered outstanding praise leading Susan Bullock to become the first ever soprano to sing four consecutive cycles of Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Royal Opera House under Sir Antonio Pappano. Appearances as Richard Strauss’ Elektra have brought her equal international acclaim and collaborations with some of the world’s leading conductors including Fabio Luisi, Semyon Bychkov, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Mark Elder and Edo de Waart.

In recent seasons, Susan has begun to explore new repertoire making debuts as Klytaemnestra (Elektra) for the Canadian Opera Company under Johannes Debus, the role of Liz Stride in the world premiere of Iain Bell’s Jack the Ripper for ENO; and her acclaimed portrayal of Mother for Scottish Opera in Mark Anthony-Turnage’s Greek at BAM which she debuted at the Edinburgh International Festival. Further debuts include in the role of Kostelnička (Jenůfa) for Grange Park Opera, both Gertrude and The Witch (Hänsel und Gretel) for Opera North and Grange Park Opera, Mrs Lovett (Sweeney Todd) for Houston Grand Opera, her debut as Mother in the European premier of Missy Mazzoli’s award winning Breaking the Waves for Scottish Opera also at the Edinburgh International Festival, and a welcome return to the role of Mrs Lovett with Bergen National Opera. The 19/20 season brough further new roles including in special virtual projects Feast in the Time of Plague and her debut as an actor in Keith Warner’s unique staging of King Lear in which she plays Goneril at The Grange Festival. In the current season, Susan returns to Opera Frankfurt as Magdelone in Carl Nielsen’s Maskarade and new production by Tobias Kratzer conducted by Titus Engel and she returns to the role of Kostelnička for Den Norske Opera.

Susan’s vast and diverse concert work has included the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra and with Zubin Mehta and the orchestra of the Bayerische Staatsoper. Popular appearances have included the Last Night of the Proms in 2011 and a special appearance at the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony. Last season Susan returned to Wigmore Hall in their Late Night series with pianist Richard Sisson in an eclectic programme - Songs my father taught me - which ranged from Sondheim to Noel Coward and Burt Bacharach, a programme they also performed at Petworth Festival. This season she joins the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall for a gala concert in celebration of Raymond Gubbay.

Susan Bullock’s substantial discography includes Der Ring des Nibelungen with Oper Frankfurt under Sebastian Weigle on OehmsClassics (also available on DVD), and the title role in Salome with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Sir Charles Mackerras for Chandos.

Susan was the Artist in Resident at the 20/21 Copenhagen Opera Festival and this season begins a new role as Chair of Vocal Studies at the Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía Madrid.

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.

The Performers

Anusha Merrin Bobby
Indian soprano Anusha Merrin Bobby is a native of Kerala and a resident of the Kingdom of Bahrain. She is currently pursuing her Master of Music in Vocal Studies and Opera with Louise Winter, generously supported by the Maurice and Jean Buckley Award. Anusha also holds a BA (Hons) in Music from Middlesex University, London, and a Diploma in Music Performance from KM Music Conservatory, Chennai. Throughout her studies, Anusha has participated in masterclasses with renowned artists and mentors including Jennifer Hamilton, Benjamin Appl, Patricia Rozario and Mark Troop. Notable achievements include Best Overall Performer at the Art Song Festival 2021 with Trinity Laban and KM Music Conservatory; Finalist in 2018 Voices of India National Singing Competition; Quarter Finalist in CS Music Vocal Competition, Chicago, USA; 2018 Best Performer of the Year and Soprano Chorus in La Fedelta Premiata conducted by Natalie Murray Beale at the Royal Opera House, Mumbai. Outside of music, Anusha is a keen baker and enjoys cooking and travelling as well.

Jane Burnell

Jane won the Coro Nuovo Sussex Young Musician of the Year Award in 2021. Her operatic roles include Pamina (Magic Flute); Due Donne (Le nozze di Figaro); Guilia (La Scala di Seta (scenes); Zerlina (Don Giovanni) (scenes); La Novizia (Suor Angelica); Adele (Die Fledermaus); Belinda/Second Woman (Dido and Aeneas); and Mabel (cover) in Pirates of Penzance.

Jane is a regular concert soloist, performing with choirs and orchestras across the UK. Her repertoire includes: Mozart Exsultate Jubilate (Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra), Handel Messiah (Skipton Camerata), Bach B Minor Mass, Dvorak Stabat Mater and Mozart Requiem. In 2021 Jane performed for The Great Yorkshire Proms with the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra alongside Sir Willard White and Aled Jones.

As a recitalist, Jane has performed at The Bridgewater Hall (RNCM Songsters), Leeds Town Hall (Leeds International Concert Season) and the Howard Assembly Room (Opera North Partnership concert).

Jane’s studies at the RNCM are generously supported by the Richard Newitt Fund.

Hakeem Henderson

Hakeem has performed such works as Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio, Hannibal Lokumbe’s Healing Tones, and Handel’s Messiah.

In 2019, Henderson made his international debut in Edinburgh, Scotland, performing as Big Deal in the Edinburgh International Festival’s Production of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Recently, Henderson performed as Don Curzio in the RNCM production of Le nozze di Figaro.

Henderson won Third Place and the Audience Favorite Award at Boulder Bach Festival’s 2020 World Bach Competition, and the 2016 CAAPA Scholarship recipient. In 2021, Henderson received his Bachelor’s Degree in Vocal Performance at Morgan State University under Dr Lester Green. That same year, Henderson was awarded a scholarship from Waverley Fund Scholarships to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England. Currently, Henderson studies with Michael Harper.

Jessica Hopkins

British soprano Jessica Hopkins studies with Mary Plazas, generously supported by the Alice Orrell and A&N Kendall Award and the Women’s Careers Foundation. Prior to this, she 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.

Recent engagements include a performance at the Eilat Chamber Music Festival in Israel, a pre-concert recital with the RNCM Songsters at The Bridgewater Hall, and roles such as Marianna in Il Signor Bruschino (Edinburgh Fringe) and Merab in Saul (Aylesbury Opera). As a concert soloist, Jessica has performed repertoire including Rutter’s Requiem, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Handel’s Messiah, as well as Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Requiem.

Jessica looks forward to joining Buxton International Festival as a Young Artist this summer for their production of Rossini’s La donna del lago.

Callum McCandless

Postgraduate Callum McCandless is a Scottish bass-baritone studying with Quentin Hayes, generously supported by the Garner Howard Award. He discovered his passion for singing at the age of 11, and he has subsequently sung in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Proms, Usher Hall and Carnegie Hall under the baton of Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

Callum completed an undergraduate degree in classical voice at the RNCM in 2021 and was the recipient of the Elsie Thurston Prize in 2018.

His previous roles include First boy in Scottish Opera’s The Magic Flute (2012), Third Officer in RNCM’s production of Dialogues des Carmélites (2019), Mr Gobineau in RNCM’s production of The Medium (2021), Antonio in RNCM’s production of Le nozze do Figaro (2022).

Morgana Warren-Jones

Morgana is a Welsh mezzo-soprano studying with Hilary Summers. She previously read Music at the University of Leeds and studied voice at Strasbourg Conservatoire. Morgana has performed the roles of Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro and Madame Flora in Menotti’s The Medium during her master’s studies and regularly sings with the RNCM Songsters. She was recently a finalist in the MOCSA Young Welsh Singer of the Year and won the Frederic Cox Award for Singing competition. Later this year, Morgana will join the chorus for Rossini’s La donna del lago (Buxton International Festival), perform the role of Vava in Shostakovich’s Cherry Town, Moscow (WNO Youth Company), and covered the role of Coll in Anna Appleby’s Drought (BBC Philharmonic). She has previously taken part in the Opera North chorus mentoring programme, British Youth Opera’s Serena Fenwick training programme and the Glyndebourne Academy.

The Accompanists

Robin Humphreys

Robin Humphreys is a graduate of the University of Birmingham and a holder of the prestigious Diploma in Professional Performance from the RNCM, 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!

A Principal Lecturer at the RNCM, Robin is a senior music coach within the School of Vocal Studies and Opera, for whom he was also chief répétiteur on the majority of college opera productions from the late 1990s until 2013. He has appeared with the Manchester Camerata in the world première of A Feast of Fables by Paul Reade, 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 RNCM 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 Master’s 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.

Jonathan Fisher

Jonathan Fisher is an accomplished and sought-after collaborative pianist having had notable performances at Leeds Lieder, Oxford Lieder Festival, Ryedale Festival, Harrogate Festival, and The Richard Strauss Society, along with many other recitals for music societies across the UK. He has performed in many prestigious venues throughout the UK including The Purcell Room, The Wigmore Hall, The Bridgewater Hall, and Philharmonic Hall Liverpool.

Jonathan has built his career around art song collaboration, having worked with internationally recognised singers such as Roderick Williams, Benjamin Appl, Sir John Tomlinson, Rachel Nichols, Kathryn Rudge, Anna Stéphany, Lynne Dawson, Linda Richardson, Paul Nilon, and Louise Winter. He has served as a collaborative pianist for the London Master Classes, working alongside tutors Sir John Tomlinson (2018), Nelly Miricioiu (2012 and 2016), and Jennifer Larmore (2017).

Jonathan also regularly performs with award winning instrumentalists. He has performed and toured with the young and vibrant Saxophonist Jess Gillam and has collaborated with Józef Bazsinka (tuba), Chris Swann (clarinet), and Jonathan Rimmer (flute).

In addition to his active performance schedule, Jonathan is committed to working with the next generation of musicians. He works as a Staff Pianist and Coach for the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), where he is the co-founder and Artistic Director of the RNCM Songsters. The RNCM Songsters are a specially selected group of singers and pianists who are trained to excel in song repertoire and promote the unique and intimate setting of recital performance; as part of their 2017-2018 season, Jonathan led the RNCM Songsters in a joint project with The Paris Conservatoire that culminated in a final performance at The Opéra Comique. He is also Artistic Director of the RNCM’s annual Day of Song and holds the position of Head of Keyboard and Pianist-in-Residence at the University of Huddersfield.

Jonathan graduated with first class honours from The University of Huddersfield and has a Master of Music in Performance from the RNCM. He has taken masterclasses and private tuition from Malcom Martineau, Julius Drake, and Roger Vignoles.