Meet our Samling soloists

Zoë Jackson and Patrick Owston in Venus and Adonis (c) Mark Pinder / Samling

Karon Wright, Artistic and Executive Director of Samling Institute for Young Artists introduces our Christmas Oratorio soloists and explains how collaboration with the Durham Singers benefits these young singers.

Over the years, Samling Institute for Young Artists have enjoyed a close relationship with Durham Singers. Members of both our Samling Academy (young singers aged 14 – 21 based in the North East) and Samling Artists (graduates of our internationally renowned Samling Artist Programme) have been featured soloists for Durham Singers concerts. These performances are an excellent way for our young singers to gain some key solo experience and we’re delighted to once again be teaming up with Durham Singers for the upcoming performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

The evening’s featured soloists are a mix of young professional voices and up-and-coming promising young talent. Samling Artist tenor Timothy Langston, who took part in our Artist Programme in 2015 and is currently in the chorus at Royal Opera House, will be singing Evangelist throughout the evening. A role that recurs in a number of Bach’s most beloved works (including his St John and St Matthew passions), the Evangelist is a key role that holds the entire work together by acting as musical narrator. Timothy will be a familiar face to Durham, as he was one of the featured Samling Artist soloists in Royal Northern Sinfonia’s performances of Handel’s Israel in Egypt in 2017.

Timothy is joined by Samling Academy Singer soloists soprano Zoë Jackson, soprano Martha Cook, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Clarence and baritone Patrick Owston. Audiences in the North East will remember Zoë and Patrick who sang title roles in Samling Academy Opera’s production of Venus and Adonis at Barnard Castle and Sage Gateshead in July 2018, where they collaborated with early music specialist John Butt and the Dunedin Consort. Martha Cook and Elizabeth Clarence joined Samling Academy in 2017 and have enjoyed working with leaders such as our Academy’s music director Caroline Dowdle, singing teachers Patrich MacMahon and Miranda Wright, actor James Garnon and mezzo-soprano Anna Stéphany during their time with us.

A small group of Samling Academy sopranos make up the semi-chorus, duetting with Patrick Owston in Cantatas I and IV.

Opportunities like these – where our youngest singers can sing alongside one of our professional Samling Artists and with a fabulous choir and professional chamber orchestra – are incredibly valuable. They prove to be enriching for all involved. The younger singers can learn from those with more experience, while our more senior singers can add incredible music to their repertoire which will hopefully lead to future engagements. And to be able to perform with such a high-level choir inspires our soloists and encourages them to be at their absolute best.

Twenty three years on after forming our world-renowned Artist Programme, we recently were granted the status of an institute: our formal title now being the Samling Institute for Young Artists. This upcoming performance with Durham Singers is a great way to reaffirm and celebrate our ongoing commitment to young classical singers, both regionally and nationally, and our partnerships and collaborations with a like-minded musical organisation in the area.

(c) Karon Wright / Samling Institute for Young Artists, December 2018