CarrisLibby0Carris Jones, mezzo-soprano, studied at Cambridge University and the RAM, graduating with a DipRAM Distinction, the Academy’s highest performance award. Operatic experience includes cover Cornelia Julius Caesar (ENO), Mother/Witch Hansel and Gretel (Co-Opera), cover Susanna (Ilford), cover Hippolyta A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Il Turco in Italia, The Magic Flute (Garsington), Dido Dido and Aeneas (Eltham Choral Society). Other experience includes Elgar Sea Pictures and Mahler Kindertotenlieder (North London Symphony Orchestra) and Verdi Requiem at the Sheldonian in Ozford. In 2013 she made her Royal Festival Hall solo debut as Renee in the European premier of Shostakovich Orango, with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia.

Libby Burgess accompanied Carris with great sensitivity. Libby is dedicated to the fields of song and chamber music, collaborating regularly with some of the finest singers and instrumentalists of her generation. Her diverse schedule ranges from song recitals in the UK’s major concert halls and festivals, to chamber music in obsure venues around the country or appearances on Radio 3. She is Artistic Director of New Paths, a major new festival of concerts, outreach, and education events in Beverley, Yorkshire.

The Shakespeare theme was taken up by Carris, here’s her varied and delightful programme.

CarisLibby1Schubert – An Silvia

Haydn – She never told her love

Korngold – Willow Song; Blow, blow thou winter wind; Come away death; Adieu good man devil, Hey Robin

Quilter – Three Shakespeare Songs

Cheryl Frances-Hoad – Two Shakespeare Songs

Dring – Take O take those lips away; It was a lover and his lass; Come away deathThe cuckoo

Carris applauding Rachel's performance.

Carris applauding Rachel’s performance.

The second MfE Summer School got off to a glorious summery start at the Music Department of the University of Nottingham today.

There are 150 delegates at the School – the furthest travelled coming from the USA. Some delegates are singers, others instrumentalists. The players gathered first as a full orchestra, and then split into windband and string orchestra, the latter accompanying with the choir during the afternoon. In this the 400th year since his death, the repertoire for everyone has been chosen with Shakespeare in mind.

Carris Jones, mezzo-soprano, travelled up from London to give a masterclass followed by a recital.

Carris asking Richard to select an audience member to sing to.

“Choose someone out there to sing to.”

Two masterclass ‘victims’, Rachel Bacon and Richard Flewitt, both members of the East of England Singers, first sang through a song of their choice. Carris then helped them with technique, interpretation and performance – conveying the song, its story, emotion and meaning, to the audience. This was followed by a beautiful recital – the professionals inspiring the singers and players for the rest of the day.

In the early evening, drinks were enjoyed in the Pope Garden, followed by a delegates dinner before everyone headed home. (For more Olympics? Yes, a few tired folk had stayed up to watch Andy Murray’s golden triumph…!)

The Summer School short concerts by visiting musicians, and the masterclasses each of them P1110261gave, were a different experience for those of us who sing or play regularly with Music for Everyone. They enabled us not only to hear wonderful performances but to then learn how to improve our own technique and performance.

Carris, a mezzo-soprano, read history at Cambridge while also singing as a choral scholar with the excellent Trinity College choir. Afterwards she studied singing and performance at the Royal Academy. She performed Robert Schumann’s song-cycle Frauenliebe und Leben for us with great expression and to the delight of the audience. Timothy Uglow accompanied her with great sensitivity. Such a beautiful performance that emphasised again points made by many of the tutors – the importance of posture, facial expression and engaging the audience.

Four singers (apologies if I missed anyone, I slipped out to the strings for a time), bravely sang their solo pieces to the whole choir. Carris helped each of them points of difficulty in the music or their vocal technique, be that breath control, enunciation or performing rather than singing the notes. The difference Carris’s suggestions made could be heard as the delegates sang again some or all of their pieces. Inspirational, and a big bravo to them all!

Joan, Jeanne (whose hand Carris is holding to swing at the breathing points!), Catherine and Paul.



logo_GreenSometimes everything goes quiet in August, but not this year!

A large, brown envelope dropped through my letter box a few weeks ago brimming with information and music for the three-day Music for Everyone (MfE) Summer School. It starts next Monday, the 17th of August, at the University of Nottingham. I’m looking forward to excellent music-making with the other 203 delegates, lots of fun, and relaxing breaks (Ice cream!) in the beautiful surroundings of the University Park.

Visiting professional musicians, a cappella ensemble Apollo 5, mezzo-soprano Carris Jones, violinist Owen Cox and clarinetist Sarah Watts, will be giving workshops, masterclasses and short public concerts.

No doubt the tutors, Angela Kay, Alex Patterson, Gill Henshaw, assisted by Jane McDouall, Mike Gregory, Isobel Bounford, Owen Cox, and Stefan Reid, will bring out the best in us. Having sung with MfE before, I know it’s going to be great. MfE have invited me to blog about it, which I’ll happily do between singing pieces from Byrd to Rutter, Vivaldi to Kodaly, and a few surprises yet to be revealed. I’ll pop in on the instrumentalists too. They appear to have an exciting programme of classical music, jazz and swing awaiting them. Maybe I should dust off my flute… Did I mention we’ll also be learning how to conduct?!

Helena Durham

A note from the MfE office: Details of the concerts and tickets can be found here.