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Top soloists join Choir of York Minster for Handel’s Messiah

Four internationally renowned singers will join the Choir of York Minster for a performance of Handel’s Messiah in the cathedral’s stunning Nave on Saturday 16 March at 7pm.

Acclaimed soloists Elin Pritchard (Soprano), Victoria Simmonds (Alto), Daniel Norman (Tenor), and Morgan Pearse (Baritone), will perform the oratorio alongside the choir and an orchestra.

Composed by George Frideric Handel and first performed in Dublin in 1742, Messiah has since become one of the most famous and popular English oratorios of all time. From the sorrowful tones of He Was Despised to the jubilant culmination of God’s triumph in the Hallelujah chorus, Handel’s Messiah explores the Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ through spectacular choral and orchestral music.

Robert Sharpe, Director of Music at York Minster, said: “It is an honour and a joy to perform this moving, poignant and timeless piece of music during the season of Lent and Easter which is when it was first performed almost 300 years ago.

“Once again, we are thrilled to have an outstanding line-up of world-class soloists for this year’s performance, including baritone Morgan Pearse who will be singing his fourth York Minster Messiah, Elin Pritchard (Soprano), Daniel Norman (Tenor) and Victoria Simmonds (Alto). The staging of this exceptional piece of music in York’s most awe-inspiring setting is an event not to be missed.”

The concert takes place on Saturday 16 March at 7pm with tickets priced from £5 to £30. Tickets are available now via www.yorkminster.org or by calling 01904 557200.

Biographical details – The Soloists  
Elin Pritchard, Soprano 
Welsh Soprano Elin Pritchard studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the National Opera Studio. A Samling Artist, her operatic roles have included Micaëla Carmen (WNO); Female Chorus The Rape of Lucretia (British Youth Opera); Miss Jessel The Turn of the Screw (Opera Holland Park and ENO), Lucia Lucia di Lammermoor (Buxton Festival); Fiordiligi Così fan tutte(Den Jyske Opera); Donna Elvira Don Giovanni (Finnish National Opera); and Donna Elvira, Anne Trulove The Rake’s Progress and Violetta La traviata (Scottish Opera). Recent and future engagements include Alice Ford Falstaffand title role Manon Lescaut (The Grange Festival); Musetta La Bohème(Opera Holland Park and ENO); Giorgetta Il tabarro (Opera Holland Park and Mid Wales Opera), Mimì La Bohème (Welsh National Opera); Ofglen The Handmaid’s Tale (ENO); Kupava The Snow Maiden, Nedda Pagliacci, Flowermaiden Parsifal,  Vixen / The Cunning Little Vixen and Zemfira / Aleko (Opera North) Rusalka (Garsington and at the Edinburgh Festival).  Concerts include Haydn St Nicholas Mass (Winchester Cathedral / English Chamber Orchestra); Mahler Symphony No. 4 (Northern Chords Festival); Poulenc Gloria (Royal Philharmonic Orchestra); Verdi Requiem / Royal Free Singers, Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony (Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra); Hathaway – Eight Arias for a Bardic Life (Buxton Festival), and Opera Galas (Clonter Opera and the Samling Foundation).
Victoria Simmonds, Alto
Victoria Simmonds studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and her made her professional debuts with performances of Rosina for British Youth Opera, Erika in the UK premiere of Barber’s Vanessa, and Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito) for Glyndebourne Touring Opera.
She became a company principal at English National Opera from 2000 to 2005 where her roles included Cherubino/Figaro, Mercedes/Carmen, Zaida/The Turk in Italy, Pitti-Sing/The Mikado, Ascanius/The Trojans, Rosina/The Barber of Seville, Dorabella/Così fan tutte, Hermia/A Midsummer Night's Dream and Zerlina/Don Giovanni.  She notably sang the title role in the world première of Jonathan Dove’s Pinocchio for Opera North to much critical acclaim.  Festival performances have included a staged performance of Handel’s solo cantata La Lucrezia at the Batignano Festival in Italy, the title role in La Perichole and Ines/Maria Padilla both for the Buxton Festival, the title role of Carmen for Raymond Gubbay Limited at the Royal Albert Hall, Isolier/Le Comte Ory for Garsington Opera, Meg Page/Falstaff for Grange Park Opera and Olga/Eugene Onegin for Opera Holland Park.  Abroad she has sung Lucienne/Die Tote Stadt (Korngold) for Netherlands Opera, Wellgunde/Das Rheingold conducted by Sir Simon Rattle at the Aix Festival as well as in concert with the Berlin Philharmonic in Berlin and at the Salzburg Easter Festival and the title role in Ravel L’enfant et le sortiligès at the Concertgebouw. 
Recent and future operatic commitments include Fox/The Cunning Little Vixen and Meg Page / Falstaff for Garsington Opera, Through His Teeth, a new commission by Luke Bedford  for Royal Opera House, Mad Hatter and Alice’s Mother/ Alice in Wonderland, Minsk Woman in Jonathan Dove’s Flight, Angelina/Cenerentola, Donna Elvira / Don Giovanni,  Marcellina / Le nozze di Figaro,  Mother / Little Women and Watkins in the new opera Itch for Opera Holland Park, Angelina for Danish National Opera and the Grange Festival,  Boy in Joanna Lee’s Way Back Home for English National Opera, performances of Janacek: The Diary of One who Disappeared at the Wigmore Hall and the Wattens Festival, the title role / Mignon for New Sussex Opera, a concert performance of Pinocchio with Cambridge Philharmonic, Brangaene / Tristan und Isolde in concert at the Saffron Walden Concert Hall and Minsk Woman and Hippolyta / A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Scottish Opera.   She has sung the roles of Angel 2 and Marie in Written on Skin, by George Benjamin at the Netherlands Opera, Toulouse, Lisbon, Opéra Comique in Paris, The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, Lincoln Centre New York, the Wiener Festwochen, and the Bavarian State Opera Munich as well as on a European Tour with Mahler Chamber Orchestra, in Moscow and at the Beijing and Venice Biennale Festivals.
Victoria appears in recital and concert throughout the UK and Europe and recent concert engagements have included the Philharmonia in the Royal Festival Hall, Janacek Diary of one who disappeared for the Hallé, Ascanius/Les troyens with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis at the BBC Proms, Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the BBC Proms, de Falla’s El sombrero de tres picos with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Neeme Järvi at the Edinburgh International Festival, Mozart Coronation Mass in the Salzburg Festival with the Mozarteum Orchester and Ivor Bolton, and a recording and concert of Rossini’s Ermioni for Opera Rara.
Other recent and forthcoming concert engagements include a tour to Singapore as well as concerts in London with the London Sinfonietta, Janacek Glagolitic Mass with Cambridge University Music Society, Beethoven 9 for Garsington and for the Xi’an Symphony Orchestra, Verdi Requiem for GSMD, The Dream of Gerontius in Wells Cathedral and with Berliner Kantorei, concerts with the Nash Ensemble at the Wigmore Hall, Tippett’s A Child of our Time with Auckland Philharmonic, Messiah with the Orquesta Sinfonica Castilla y Leon, Britten Spring Symphony with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, concerts with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and a recording of Offenbach Fantasio for Opera Rara. She continues to study with David Pollard.
Daniel Norman, Tenor
Acclaimed “multi-talented tenor” Daniel Norman (Financial Times), has been praised for his ability to inhabit complex characters and for his powerful and expressive vocal performances. His career to date has covered a versatile range of repertoire, from early and baroque music through to contemporary works.  Daniel Norman has built an impressive operatic career both in the UK and internationally, working with companies including English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Opera Holland Park, Opera North, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, L’Opéra National de Paris, Nederlandse Reiseopera, Wexford Festival, the Bayerische Staatsoper, New Israeli Opera, Bergen National Opera, and Oviedo Opera.  Recent roles have included Basilio Le Nozze di Figaro for Opera Holland Park, Monostatos Die Zauberflöte for English National Opera, Laca Jenufa for Longborough Festival, Moser Die Meistersinger for Glyndebourne Festival and Sellem, The Rake’s Progress for Glyndebourne on Tour.
He also appears regularly in contemporary opera and music theatre, with highlights including Mao Nixon in China for Opera Boston and at the Fondazione di Arena di Verona; Orpheus the Myth The Mask of Orpheus for ENO; Judas in Birtwistle’s The Last Supper for the London Sinfonietta and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; and Electrician in the Vienna and Boston premieres of Adѐs’s Powder Her Face, also at the Mariinsky Theatre, and in a film version for Channel 4.
Particularly noted for his performances of the music of Benjamin Britten, roles have included Peter Quint, The Turn of the Screw (Glyndebourne on Tour); Squeak, Billy Budd (Opera North, Aldeburgh Festival, and Glyndebourne in New York); Bob Boles, Peter Grimes at the St Endellion Festival; and his role debut in the US as Captain Vere Billy Budd for Central City Opera, Colorado.  Concert highlights include Les Illuminations with Gianandrea Noseda and the BBC Philharmonic; Nocturne with Edward Gardner; St Nicolas at the Gulbenkian in Porto, and with the BBC Concert Orchestra at Lancing College; War Requiem for Philharmonia Taiwan, and with Southbank Sinfonia in Coventry Cathedral; and the first official staging of Britten’s Five Canticles at Westminster Abbey.  Recordings include Maintop in Billy Budd (Hickox/LSO) and three highly acclaimed solo discs with pianist Christopher Gould:  Winter Word/Who Are these Children? (BIS), the Michaelangelo and John Donne Sonnets, and the Canticles (Stone Records). 
Active on the concert platform, Daniel has sung with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Firebird Ensemble (USA), Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Columbia, Het Gelders Orkest, Mahler Chamber Orchestra of Belgium; with appearances at the BBC Proms, Three Choirs Festivals, Aldeburgh Festival, and Oxford Lieder Festival.  Recordings include four volumes of the Hyperion Schubert Edition with Graham Johnson, a Grammy-nominated Beethoven’s 9thSymphony (Vänskä/Minnesota Orchestra), Slender in Sir John in Love (Hickox/Northern Sinfonia), Brett Dean’s Winter Songs with the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet (BIS), Hugh Wood’s Comus (BBCSO/Sir Andrew Davis), and Rimenes in Arne’s Artaxerxes (Classical Opera Company/Linn). 
Daniel Norman was a choral scholar at New College Oxford, where he read Engineering. He went on to study in the US and Canada and at the Royal Academy of Music.    

Morgan Pearse, Baritone
As one of the truly versatile and fearless baritones of his generation, Morgan Pearse has appeared on many of the world’s finest opera and concert stages in a career already filled with countless highlights.

These have included débuts in numerous title roles, such as the critically praised new production of Le Nozze di Figaro at Opernhaus Zürich, The Barber of Seville at English National Opera and Don Giovanni at the Verbier Festival. In past seasons, Morgan has enjoyed great success with performances of Theodora (Valens) and Tolomeo (Araspe) at the Karlsruhe Händelfestpiele, Le Nozze di Figaro (Figaro) and Die Zauberflöte (Papageno) at the Badisches Staatstheater, Don Giovanni (Masetto) and L’Elisir d’Amore (Belcore) for NZ Opera, the title role in Billy Budd for the Bolshoi Theatre, as well as Nero in Kaiser's Octavia and Almiro in Pasquini’s Idalma, both for the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music.
Equally at home in concert repertoire, Morgan’s engagements have included appearances with ensembles including the Academy of Ancient Music, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, King’s College Choir Cambridge, The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, The Philharmonia Orchestra, CBSO, English Chamber Orchestra, Gabrieli Consort, Australian String Quartet, the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, RTVE Madrid, Russian National Orchestra, as well as La Scintilla and the Philharmonia Orchestra of Opernhaus Zürich.
His engagements have also led him to prestigious international venues such as Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Sydney Opera House, and Wigmore Hall, Palau de la Música Catalana Barcelona, Konserthuset Copenhagen, Melbourne Recital Centre, Hamer Hall, St John’s Smith Square, among many others.
An active recording artist, Morgan Pearse appears on several recent recordings, including the Gramophone Award-winning Dussek Messe Sollemnelle and Händel’s Brockes Passion, both with the Academy of Ancient Music on the ensemble’s own AAM label. Other recordings include the critically acclaimed performance of Pasquini’s Idalma (from the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music) on the CPO label, and the world premiere recording of Eleanor Alberga’s The Soul’s Expression for Lyrita. Most recently, he has recorded the world premiere of Dame Ethyl Smyth’s Der Wald with the BBC Concert Orchestra and the BBC Singers and a recording of works by Stanford is due for release in 2024.
First prize winner of the prestigious Cesti Competition in 2016, Morgan Pearse is also the recipient of the Lies Askonas Prize from the Royal College of Music, and the Gold Medal of the Royal Overseas League’s Music Competition.

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