Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin stands as a seminal work in the song repertoire. The cycle depicts a young man’s encounter with love, his perceived rejection and possible suicide. Ultimately, however, it explores ideas far beyond this. Our protagonist, a young miller boy, could be any person who encounters the feelings of lust, love or obsession for the first time. From a flight of fancy he is driven to distraction, potentially only by his own thoughts, he becomes obsessed and beguiled with both brook and girl.
Photo by Gerard Collett
British baritone James Newby is the winner of the 2016 Kathleen Ferrier Award. That same year he was the recipient of the Wigmore Hall/Independent Opera Voice Fellowship, and in 2015 was awarded the Richard Tauber Prize (for best interpretation of a Schubert Lied) and overall Third Prize at the Wigmore Hall/Kohn International Song Competition. In 2017 he was awarded the Trinity Gold Medal by the board of Trinity Laban Conservatoire as well as the OAE Rising Stars prize. James is a BBC New Generation Artist from 2018-2020.
In 2017 James was a Jerwood Young Artist at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and appeared in La Traviata (Messenger), Hamlet (Marcellus/Player 4, world premiere), La Clemenza di Tito and Don Pasquale (Notary), for which he won the prestigious John Christie Award. James is a keen recitalist and has performed at the Newbury Spring Festival and Leeds Lieder Festival with Joseph Middleton, (recorded for BBC Radio 3); Perth International Arts Festival, Australia; Oxford Lieder Festival with Eugene Asti; and Schumann's Dichterliebe at Trinity Laban. In the 16/17 season James sang the role of Mercurio in Cavalli’s La Calisto with La Nuova Musica and David Bates, and made his BBC Proms debut in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music conducted by Sakari Oramo.
Recent/future highlights include the role of Christus in the world premiere of Sally Beamish’s The Judas Passion, a staged Bach St John Passion with Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa, directed by Calixto Bieito, Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro for Nevill Holt Opera, and debuts with the Gabrieli Consort, RTE National Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century. In 18/19 he makes his debut at Théâtre du Châtelet in a revival of Bieito’s St John Passion and at La Monnaie Brussels for Howard Moody’s Push. With the OAE he sings the role of Apollo in Handel’s Apollo e Dafne under Jonathan Cohen, and St Matthew Passion under John Butt. James will also perform at the Ryedale, Chiltern Arts and Three Choirs Festivals and makes his solo recital debut at Wigmore Hall in 2019. James is a recipient of the Musicians’ Company Saloman Seelig Award, and is generously supported by the Drake Calleja Trust.
Pianist Natalie Burch specialises in vocal accompaniment and is widely in demand as a song pianist across London and the UK. She was winner of the accompaniment prize at the 2015 Maureen Lehane Awards at Wigmore Hall, a finalist alongside 2nd Prize winner James Way at the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards and is a current Britten-Pears Young Artist. She was a finalist in the 2017 Somerset Song Prize, a recipient of the Sam Hutchings Prize to study at Oxenfoord with Malcolm Martineau and a Help Musicians grant to study at the 2016 Oxford Lieder Mastercourse led by Wolfgang Holzmair. Natalie is co-founder of SongSpiel who are currently in residency at METAL with Ensemble Perpetuo and composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad working on her song cycle The Thought Machine, and are soon to make the first performance of a new programme based around Dominic Argento’s A Few Words about Chekhov.
Natalie was a fellow at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where she gained a masters with distinction under the tutelage of Eugene Asti and Andrew West. She formerly studied with John Railton before moving to Chetham's School of Music to study solo piano with Peter Lawson. In 2014 she graduated with first class honors from King's College London where she studied musicology and studied piano at the Royal Academy of Music with Daniel-Ben Pienaar and Andrew West. Past performance highlights include Brahms’ Liebeslieder Walzer and Stephen Hough’s Other Love Songsalongside Alisdair Hogarth and the Prince Consort at Wigmore Hall, a new commission by Daniel Kidane for 'Occupy the Pianos' at St John’s Smith Square, solo recitals at Manchester Cathedral and performances of Schumann’s Mignon Lieder, Frauenliebe und Leben and a new commission from William Marsey, Austerity Songs,all at St James’ Piccadilly. She has performed in masterclasses and song projects with Julius Drake, Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, Malcolm Martineau, Robert Holl, Iain Burnside, Dame Felicity Lott, Sir John Tomlinson and Dame Anne Murray amongst others.
As co-founder of SongSpiel, Natalie explores the established song repertoire alongside new commissionscreating more dramatically engaging performances of the genre through rehearsal methods more commonly associated with opera and theatre.