30th & 31st March 2019

Songs of the Sea

Songs of the Sea

The Programme

From the gardens of St Margaret’s Church, Topsham one cannot fail to take in the breathtaking views over the reeds and the waters of the Exe Estuary, it is from here that we begin our voyage of exploration through fantastic songs about the sea, life on it and its mysterious powers. Interspersed with readings of nautical adventure this concert features some well known and loved songs including John Ireland’s Sea Fever and Schubert’s Gondelfahrer as well as some unknown gems and a few surprises!

The Performers

(Photo by Gerard Collett)

(Photo by Gerard Collett)

Saltburn-by-the-Sea soprano Rowan Pierce was awarded the President’s Award by HRH Prince of Wales at the Royal College of Music in 2017. She won both the Song Prize and First Prize at the inaugural Grange Festival International Singing Competition, the Van Someren-Godfrey Prize at the Royal College of Music and the first Schubert Society Singer Prize in 2014.

Rowan has appeared on the concert platform throughout Europe and in South America, performing with ensembles such as the Academy of Ancient Music, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Gabrieli, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Early Opera Company, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Florilegium and Royal Northern Sinfonia. She made her BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and her Wigmore Hall debut with the London Handel Players in 2017.

As a Britten-Pears Young Artist she performed Drusilla in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. Other roles include Galatea in Handel’s Acis and Galatea, Dorinda in Handel’s Orlando, Iris in Handel’s Semele, Susanna and Barbarina in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Miss Wordsworth in Britten’s Albert Herring and Princess in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges. She has also played Elsie in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard and various roles in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, The Fairy Queen and King Arthur.

(Photo by Ben McKee)

(Photo by Ben McKee)

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

(Photo by Ben McKee)

(Photo by Ben McKee)

Born in Sussex, tenor James Way was winner of the 2nd Prize in the 62nd Kathleen Ferrier Awards at Wigmore Hall.  James  is a former Britten-Pears Young Artist, a laureate of the ‘Jardin des Voix’ young artists programme of Les Arts Florissants, and holds an Independent Opera Voice Fellowship.

 Rapidly gaining recognition in the Baroque repertoire, James was awarded the Rising Stars prize by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, with whom he has performed Jupiter in Handel’s Semele under Christophe Roussett and Haydn The Creation under Adam Fischer.

Recent concert highlights include Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Last Night of the Proms), the title role in Handel’s Samson with the Dunedin Consort, the title role in Acis & Galetea with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, the world premiere of Périple d'Hannon by Arthur Levandier with L’Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, and the European premiere of Ross Harris’ FACE with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, with whom he performs Berlioz Les nuits d'été in 2019 conducted by Douglas Boyd. This season and beyond James joins notable ensembles including a Messiah tour with Les Arts Florissants, Bach’s St Matthew Passion (Evangelist) with RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, performances and recordings of Purcell’s King Arthur and The Fairy Queen with the Gabrieli Consort and Players, Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 3 with the CBSO under John Wilson and Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (Tempo) with the Freiburger Barockorchester, under René Jacobs.


British Mezzo-soprano Felicity Turner studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and has been described by Gramophone Magazine as ‘beguiling’ and ‘sheer pleasure’.

Most recently Felicity appeared as Dorabella Così fan tutte (Ryedale Festival Opera), Hänsel Hänsel und Gretel (Covent Garden Chamber Orchestra), and in the chorus of Bergen National Opera for Der fliegende Holländer. Other operatic roles include Golden-Tressed Maiden in Maxwell-Davies’ The Hogboon (LSO/Sir Simon Rattle); Third Boy Die Zauberflöte (Mid Wales Opera, Opera Project); Diana La Calisto, Cherubino Le Nozze di Figaro (Hampstead Garden Opera); Ottavia L’incoronazione di Poppea, Fidalma Il Matrimonio Segreto, Third Lady Die Zauberflöte (GSMD).

Dedicated to making contemporary theatre pieces Felicity has created the roles of The Hoopoe SCRAWW! (Gaggle Haus), and Narrator Clive and other stories (Gestalt Arts); and toured London, Dublin, and New York in Drums & Guns, a song-in-theatre piece devised and directed by Iain Burnside. She performs regularly with SongSpiel, a song collective enlivening the multi-voice art song repertoire, and will tour in The Thought Machine, a song-in-theatre piece devised for children in collaboration with composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad and hand shadographer Drew Colby.

In recital, Felicity has performed at the Wigmore Hall, Holywell Music Room, and Milton Court Concert Hall. She is Britten Pears Young Artist and a 2018 Leeds Lieder Young Artist, and in 2017 won the British Song Competition.

On the concert platform Felicity has appeared at venues such as St John’s Smith Square, St Martin-in-the-Fields, and Cadogan Hall, London, and across the UK, France, and Norway. In 2018 she was the winner of the Cheltenham Baroque Singing Competition and in 2017 won the Sacred Aria Prize at the National Mozart Singing Competition.

Felicity is currently supported by The Opera Awards Foundation.