Susan Bickley is now firmly established as one of the most versatile and characterful mezzo-sopranos equally at home in the opera house or on the concert platform, with a wide repertory encompassing the Baroque, the great 19th century dramatic roles and the music of today.
She was born in Liverpool, studied music at the City University, London and at the Guildhall School, where she won the Gold Medal for singers. She made her operatic debut in Monteverdi Orfeo at the Maggio Musicale in Florence, singing the role of Proserpina.
In the UK, she has sung Florence Pike Albert Herring, Marcellina Le nozze di Figaro, Kostelnicka Jenufa, Hippolyta A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mrs. Sedley Peter Grimes, Baba the Turk Rake’s Progress, Katya Kabanova and Ghost in Birtwistle's The Last Supper for Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Florence Pike, Anna Electrification of the Soviet Union, Marcellina, Kabanicha Katya Kabanova, Kostelnicka, Donna Elvira Don Giovanni, Nan New Year and Irene Theodora for Glyndebourne Touring Opera; Feodor Boris Godunov for the Royal Opera House; Dorabella Cosi fan Tutte, Second Lady Magic Flute, Andromache King Priam, Kurfürstin The Prince of Homburg, Twice Through the Heart, Meg Page Falstaff, Cassandra The Trojans, Juno Semele and David Sawer’s From Morning to Midnight for English National Opera, Florence Pike (Albert Herring) for Opera North and Juno Semele for Scottish Opera.
Operatic engagements abroad have included Kabanicha for Paris Opera, Octavian Der Rosenkavalier for the Hong Kong Festival, Herodias Salome for San Francisco Opera, Kurfürstin, Sorceress Dido and Aeneas and Countess Geschwitz Lulu for Flanders Opera, Kostelnicka for New Israeli Opera, Handel's Serse at the Göttingen Festival (also recorded by BMG), Clytaemestra in Laman's Agamemnon at the 1997 Holland Festival, Penelope The Return of Ulysses with The Sixteen in Lisbon, Ottavia L'Incoronazione di Poppea in Japan with the Purcell Quartet, Maria Thins in Louis Andriessen/Peter Greenaway's opera Writing to Vermeer for Netherlands Opera, and Ghost in Birtwistle's The Last Supper at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin, conducted by Daniel Barenboim.
Recent engagements include Storge (Jephtha) at Welsh National Opera and English National Opera, Dido (Dido and Aeneas) with the Gabrieli Consort and Paul McCreesh, and Dejaneira (Hercules) with the Sixteen and Harry Christophers.
Susan Bickley has a busy concert schedule with orchestras such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Hallé, BBC Symphony, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, London Sinfonietta, Residentie Orkest, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Sinfonia 21, Nash Ensemble, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, St. James's Baroque Players, Les Arts Florissants and the Ensemble InterContemporain and has given recitals with the Allegri and Brodsky Quartets, the Songmakers' Almanac and Fretwork.
Highlights from her concert schedule include Ligeti's Requiem at the Salzburg Festival, Nicholas Maw's Scenes and Arias as well as Benjamin's Upon Silence and Stravinsky's Requiem Canticles at the BBC Proms, as well as Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with Les Arts Florissants in Vienna and Paris. She performs with leading conductors including Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Roger Norrington, Gennadi Rozhdesvensky, Nicholas McGegan, Paul McCreesh, Mark Wigglesworth, Oliver Knussen, William Christie and Robert King.
Current engagements and future plans include the world premiere staging of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant at English National Opera, The Bartered Bride at the Royal Opera House and Jephtha (Storge) and Tristan und Isolde (Brangaene) for Welsh National Opera. Her busy concert schedule includes the world premiere of Malcolm Hayes’ Odysseus Remembers with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, performances with Fretwork in Groningen and Madrid, and with Psappha in Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and in Manchester.
She frequently records for BBC radio and her commercial recordings include: Handel Serse, Theodora, Solomon, Purcell The Fairy Queen, Dido and Aeneas, Vivaldi Juditha Triumphans, Regnaldo Hahn Songs, Granville Bantock Sappho, George Benjamin Upon Silence and Simon Bainbridge Ad Ora Incerta and Primo Levi Songs. Her recordings are available on EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, BMG, Hyperion and Nimbus. Susan will be recording selected works by Judith Weir for Signum Records / BBC Radio 3 later in 2005.
Born in Dresden, Stephan Loges was a member of the Dresdner Kreuzchor before going on to study at the Hochschule der Künste Berlin and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He was the winner of the 1999 Wigmore Hall International Song Competition.
Concert performances include Schumann’s Paradies und die Peri with Wolfgang Sawallisch and Orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Die Schöpfung with the Mozarteum Orchestra in Salzburg, Brahms Requiem with the Ulster Orchestra, Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten at the Semperoper Dresden conducted by Peter Schreier, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung at the Philharmonie Berlin with Jörg-Peter Weigle and Rossini’s Stabat Mater with Richard Hickox and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. For Hickox he has also sung The Bear at the South Bank Centre as part of their Walton Festival and with Philippe Herreweghe has taken part in performances of Mendelssohn’s Paulus with the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées.
Stephan Loges was a winner of the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and made his Carnegie Hall début in Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem under Helmuth Rilling. Other US concert appearances have been with Paul McCreesh to sing the Messiah with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He has also sung Bach’s St. John Passion with Peter Schreier and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
He has a close affinity for Bach and has sung under Sir John Eliot Gardiner as part of his Bach 2000 project (also recorded for Deutsche Grammophon), sung the Bach Passions with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Stephen Layton and the Gabrieli Consort with Paul McCreesh (also recorded for DG). He made his Proms debut in 2002 with the Matthew Passion under Trevor Pinnock and has appeared at the Philharmonie in Munich with the Münchner Bach Choir and Orchestra and taken part in performances of Bach’s B minor Mass with the RIAS Kammerchor.
In recital he has appeared at the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Klavierfestival Ruhr, 92nd Street Y, La Monnaie Brussels, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival and the Vocal Arts Series in Washington with pianists such as Roger Vignoles, Malcolm Martineau, Graham Johnson, Helmut Deutsch, Eugene Asti, Alexander Schmalcz and Iain Burnside. His is particularly renowned for his extensive and diverse range of repertoire of German Lied which includes Schubert’s cycles Schwanengesang and Winterreise, Brahms’s Die schöne Magelone and Wolf’s Spanisches Liederbuch.
"…the setting drew out of the singer some special quality….with Stephan Loges it was, to my ear, the revelation of a baritone whose quality and production align him with singers from the past such as Herbert Janssen and Gerhard Hüsch. His voice has a deeper centre than either of theirs, but, to me, in the intimacy of the music room at Wotton, he appeared firmly within that tradition." John Steane, The Gramophone, October 04
In opera he has taken part in performances of Ariadne auf Naxos conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and Salome with Richard Hickox, both with the London Symphony Orchestra, performed the Count Le Nozze di Figaro and Schaunard La Boheme for Opera North, sung Aeneas in Dido and Aeneas at Opera de Nancy, conducted by Jane Glover, and Henri de Valois in Chabrier’s Le Roi Malgré Lui for Grange Park. He made his debut with Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels singing in a new opera by Francesconi, he also sang there as Wolfram Tannhäuser and most recently appeared as Papageno Die Zauberflöte for which he received high praise: Stephan Loges created a subtle Papageno, and the warm tone of voice coupled with the rich noble baritone sound which had also been so splendidly employed in his previous portrayal of Wolfram (also at La Monnaie), recalls the glorious tradition of Hermann Prey. Jean-Charles Hoffelé, Concertclassic.com
Recent concerts have included Britten’s War Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the Albert Hall. Future plans, London Mozart Requiem with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Andrew Manze, Beethoven Symphony No 9 with Thomas Zehetmair and the Northern Sinfonia, performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and recitals in London and Brussels.
The pianist Roger Vignoles is one of Britain's most outstanding musicians. Originally inspired by the playing of Gerald Moore, he decided on leaving University to pursue a career as a piano accompanist, completing his essential training with the distinguished Viennese-born teacher Paul Hamburger.
Since then reviewers worldwide have consistently recognised his distinctive qualities as a player. Among his first partners was the great Swedish soprano Elisabeth Söderström, whom he regularly accompanied throughout the 1970s and 80s. During this period, he also developed particularly fruitful collaborations with Dame Kiri te Kanawa; with Sir Thomas Allen, recording many works including Schumann's Dichterliebe and Schubert's Winterreise; and with Sarah Walker, in a wide repertoire of song, from German Lieder and French Mélodies to cabaret songs by Gershwin, Britten and others.
Recent seasons have included tours with Sylvia McNair, Dame Felicity Lott, Susan Graham, Véronique Gens, Sir Thomas Allen and Joan Rodgers, as well as recitals with Olaf Bär, Kathleen Battle, Brigitte Fassbaender, Bernarda Fink, Christine Schaefer, Thomas Hampson, Lorraine Hunt, Stephan and Christoph Genz, Monica Groop and Sarah Walker, including appearances at the Bath, Cheltenham, Brighton, Aldeburgh, Prague, Schleswig-Holstein, Verbier and Ravinia Festivals. He is also a regular visitor to the Schubertiade in Feldkirch.
I n 1997, the Schubert year, he devised and directed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London a week-long series entitled ‘Landscape into Song’, in which his culminating performance of Winterreise with Robert Holl was described by The Times as ‘one of the most memorable performances of the year’. In 1998 he inaugurated the Nagaoka Winter Festival in Japan, giving recitals and masterclasses based on Schubert’s Winterreise and has subsequently returned each year as artistic director. Last December he was the subject of BBC Radio 3’s “Artist in Focus” series. In 2001 he took part in the Schumann Festival at the South Bank in London giving recitals Wolfgang Holzmair, Christiane Oelze and Robert Holl and gave staged performances of the complete Britten Canticles in Barcelona with John Mark Ainsley and Michael Chance.
Among his recent recordings, La Belle Epoque with Susan Graham (devoted to the songs of Reynaldo Hahn), Nuits d’Etoiles with Véronique Gens (Fauré, Debussy, Poulenc) and a CD of Strauss, Mahler and Marx with Katarina Karneus all have been nominated for Gramophone awards, while his recording of Beethoven songs with Stephan Genz on Hyperion won the 1999 Award in the Song Category. Recent releases include the complete Wolf Mörike-Lieder with Stephan Genz and Canciones Amatorias, a CD of Spanish Songs with Bernarda Fink.
Future engagements include recitals with Monica Groop, John Mark Ainsley, Lisa Milne, Bernarda Fink, Christine Brewer, Katarina Karnéus, Wolfgang Holzmair, Heinrich Schiff, Joan Rodgers, Miah Persson, Christopher Maltman and Mark Padmore.