Our performance of Britten's War Requiem and the cultural events leading up to it will bring together local musicians and internationally-renowned professionals. You can learn more about them on this page, which we will be updating regularly.
Andrew Leach (Conductor)
Andrew Leach has been the conductor of the Woodbridge Choral Society since 1997 and is also a busy pianist, organist, accompanist, piano teacher, composer and chairman of the Suffolk Festival of Performing Arts. He was a music scholar at King's College, Cambridge and studied piano with Dennis Murdoch at the Royal Academy of Music. Andrew's teaching career included many years as a school Director of Music, latterly at Ipswich School. He has conducted performers of all ages at a variety of venues, including Snape Maltings, cathedrals and theatres.
Morgan Pearse (Baritone)
Morgan is already established as one of the most exciting young baritones of his generation. Born in 1988, he studied at the Sydney Conservatorium & University and the Royal College of Music International Opera School, where he won the prestigious Lies Askonas Prize. In 2013 Morgan was selected by YCAT and won the Gold Medal at the Royal Overseas League Competition. He subsequently took the title role in Owen Wingrave with Sydney Chamber Opera and made his debut with ENO as Pompeo in Benvenuto Cellini. In 2015/16 and 2017/18 he sang the role of Figaro in The Barber of Seville with English National Opera.
Claire Weston (Soprano)
Claire graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in 1996, winning the prestigious Leslie and Dorothy Blond Award. Following postgraduate studies with Caroline Crawshaw, she joined English National Opera as Principal Artist in 1999, taking several prominent operatic roles and appearing as soprano soloist in a staged production of Verdi's Requiem. She sang Freia, Ortlinde and Gutrune in the ENO Ring Cycle directed by Phyllida Lloyd. In 2004 she won the Bayreuth Scholarship from the Wagner Society of Great Britain. A busy teacher and recitalist, Claire is Head of Singing at Woodbridge School and Music Director of Suffolk Singers.
Edward Leach (Tenor)
Edward studied Music at Cambridge and, having worked for two years as a teacher, began his singing studies at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in 2014. Now working with Stephanie Doll in Düsseldorf, he appears regularly as a concert soloist in The Netherlands and Germany, in music ranging from the Bach Passions to Stockhausen's Stimmung. Winner of the International Schumann-Inspiration Lied-Duo Prize in 2017, Edward has performed numerous song cycles in recital, alongside Lieder from Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Wolf. In 2018-19 he will present a selection of Schumann songs at 40 venues in Germany, including the Schumann Haus, Zwickau. As an undergraduate Edward researched and wrote about the music of Benjamin Britten. Since then he has performed various of his works, including the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. Having previously sung as a chorister in performances of the War Requiem in China, he is looking forward to his debut in the tenor role.
Woodbridge Choral Society
Founded in 1883, Woodbridge Choral Society are a friendly choir who welcome all voices, young and old. Although we are proud of our long history and recognise our reliance on the 'classical' choral works, we are keen also to select modern musical works to widen our repertoire and sometimes challenge our singers and audiences.
Kingfisher Sinfonia (Leader: Beth Spendlove)
The Kingfisher Sinfonia was founded in 2011 by Leader/Director Beth Spendlove. It is an extremely busy and highly-respected orchestra, with many of the best orchestral musicians in East Anglia. It performs a large number of its own concert programmes each year, from full-scale symphony to smaller-scale string or chamber orchestra, and at a variety of venues including Halesworth, Framlingham, Aldeburgh, Woodbridge and Colchester. In keeping with a challenging historic tradition, some concerts are directed from the Leader's chair whilst others are conducted by the internationally-renowned conductor and composer, Elgar Howarth.
Gainsborough Ensemble (Leader: Kathryn Parry)
The separate twelve-piece chamber orchestra, as distinct from the main orchestra, is intended to be an intimate group of solo players whose joint role is to accompany the tenor and bass soloists in portraying the awfulness of war through Britten's settings of Wilfred Owen's poems. The Gainsborough Ensemble has been specially created for this major occasion but derives its name from the well established Suffolk-based Gainsborough String Quartet which, together with double bass, forms the string section, the other instruments being flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, harp and timpani. All the players are highly-experienced professional musicians based in and/or originally from Suffolk, but many with much wider connections. The Ensemble's Leader, Kathryn Parry, lives in Ipswich but plays regularly in London, and was previously a full time member of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and then the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, whilst harpist Helen Sharp has performed as Principal with the City of London Sinfonia, the Royal Opera House, the Philharmonia, the Britten Sinfonia and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Woodbridge School Cantabile Choir (Director: Claire Weston, Offstage conductor: Chris Milton)