Meet the musicians performing at the online concert sponsored by The Cross Trust at Perth Festival of the Arts 2021.
Scottish soprano, Lauren McQuistin, studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and
was a soloist with Les Sirènes, BBC Choir of the Year 2012. She made her Scottish Opera/McOpera Collective debut as Marfa in Shostakovich’s Rothschild’s Violin.
Lauren moved to America to pursue a Master of Music with Carol Vaness at Indiana University where, in 2016, her debut as a principal was the title role in Catan’s Florencia en el Amazonas. She went on to perform Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro with Blooming Voce in Bloomington, Indiana, and Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the Centre for Opera Studies in Sulmona, Italy.
Funded by The Cross Trust, Lauren continued her studies at The Yale School of Music where she performed the title role in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia and the Prima Donna in Richard Strauss’ Ariadne Auf Naxos in their scenes production, as well as First Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, a role she performed in full that spring and covered with Central City Opera where she was a studio artist. In 2019 she performed as Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with Yale Opera and was the recipient of Yale School of Music’s Phyllis Curtin Prize. This prize was awarded to Lauren as a graduating voice student with exceptional talent and promise for professional success.
Visit Lauren's website here: https://www.laurenmcquistin.com/
Aberdeen-born Neil Birse is a classically trained jazz pianist and a recent graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. Prior to Guildhall, Neil was pianist for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland, touring for several years around the UK, and artists with whom he toured during this time include Liane Carrol, Tim Garland, Mike Walker, Ian Dixon and Chris Batchelor.
Whilst at Guildhall, Neil was pianist and assistant to the Guildhall Jazz Singers and, in his final year, he appeared on an EP by Glaswegian songwriter Crawford Mack. Post Guildhall, Neil has continued working regularly with various singers and musicians, live and in studio, including the co-production of Be In Today, a big band album by Giles Thornton.
Often working with jazz, folk, classical and rock musicians, Neil is passionate about performance and education and enjoys leading group workshops in schools. Recent
projects include Jazz Piano Meets Pipe Organ in Aberdeen’s Sound Festival, and arranging the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir’s performances in Nae Ordinary Burns Supper. Neil also loves the outdoors.
Ewan is from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and took up the bass guitar at the age of 12. The sound and look of the instrument appealed to him and he soon joined the Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra, run by Richard Michael, where the young left-handed bassist was encouraged by the older members of the band, which he in turn reciprocated to the ‘new starts’.
It was during this time that he became fascinated by the double bass and, after struggling with a right handed instrument, he was advised by Andy Hamill to “… just change the strings around”. Since then he hasn’t looked back and furthered his skills playing with the Inverkeithing Community Big Band.
Thanks to a generous award from The Cross Trust, Ewan attended the Junior Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow for two years and recently became a full-time student at the Conservatoire. Last year he played with National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland featuring the trumpet player Yazz Ahmed, touring the Isle of Skye, Birnam, Glasgow, Belfast and the Sligo Jazz Festival. He continues to enjoy learning and playing with great Jazz names such as Gordon McNeil, Malcolm MacFarlane, Tom Gordon, Mario Caribe and, of course, Richard Ingham.
Richard grew up in a small village in Aberdeenshire and found his interest in music during high school, playing drum kit with rock bands and amateur musical theatre shows.
In 2019, Richard graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a first-class honours in Music Education and is now, supported by a grant from The Cross Trust, studying for a Masters in Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow. Richard is studying under drummer Alyn Cosker and developing his own sound through playing a variety of music, as well as jazz. He plays in the ceilidh band, The Houlies and, along with Matthew Kilner, in the the jazz fusion band Hamlet who, in 2019, released their debut album Act One: Chip in the Wall.
Richard has played in amateur musical theatre productions and in Latin bands, as well the Aberdeen and the Aberdeen University Big Band. Richard is also currently working on his own music and is hoping to release his own original music in the near future.
Visit Richard's website here: https://www.richardglassby.com/
Matthew graduated from the University of Aberdeen with first class honours in Community Music and was awarded joint first place for the Ogston Performance Prize. Matthew, supported by a financial award from The Cross Trust, is now studying for a Masters in Jazz Performance (tenor saxophone), at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire under Mike Williams, as well as with Soweto Kinch.
Matthew has been a regular performer at the Blue Lamp jazz club in Aberdeen, as well with a wide variety of ensembles including (along with Richard Glassby) the jazz fusion band, Hamlet. In 2019 Hamlet released their debut album Act One: Chip in the Wall.
Matthew continues to develop his own sound and approach to improvisation, as well as being an active musician and educator on the Aberdeen and Birmingham music scenes.
Hugh’s areas of performance include chamber music, orchestral playing and historically informed performance. He received his formative education at St. Mary’s Music School (Edinburgh) and, from 2017 and supported by The Cross Trust, he studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London.
Hugh was co-principal cellist of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, exposing him to the leading British venues as well as recording works by Strauss and Holst for Chandos Records. In 2017 he played Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring with NYO at the Festival Berlioz in La Côte-Saint-André, France and throughout 2019 Hugh was part of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s Experience Scheme.
An avid chamber musician, Hugh has performed at Kinnordy Chamber Music Festival, Brighton Early Music Festival and Virtuoso & Belcanto Festival (Lucca) and has worked with many leading conductors including Trevor Pinnock, Thomas Adès, Edward Gardner, John Wilson, Masaako Suzuki, Nicholas Collon and Ryan Wigglesworth.
Hugh is the 1st Prizewinner of the 2020 May Mukle Cello Sonata Prize (Royal Academy of Music) alongside duo partner, Junyan Chen, and 1st Prizewinner of the 2019 Isaacs Pirani Piano Trio Competition (RAM), alongside colleagues Manuel De Almeida-Ferrer and Wouter Valvekens. Since 2021 Hugh has been the first British cellist to hold a scholarship from the Mozart Gesellschaft Dortmund, and makes his concerto debut in October 2021 performing Schumann’s Cello Concerto with the Bremer Philharmoniker.
Hugh plays on a fine Italian cello by G. Celoniatus c. 1720, generously on loan from the Royal Academy of Music.
Visit Hugh's website and Instagram page via the links below:
Junyan began her piano studies at the age of six at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and is currently in her third year of a Bachelor degree at the Royal Academy of Music under Professor Joanna MacGregor, Head of Piano. Junyan balances her playing between solo and ensemble, with a varied repertoire from classical to 20th century and beyond.
Junyan’s competition successes include winning all piano categories at the Osaka 2016 International Music Competition in Japan, where she also won the prestigious Osaka Prefecture Governor’s Award. In 2018, at the City of Vigo International Piano Competition in Spain, she won the Silver Medal, People’s Choice Award, Best Spanish Composition Performance Award and City Award and was the youngest, and only female, competitor in the final.
Junyan has worked with many leading musicians and conductors, including Zhang Liang, Edward Gardner, Cyprine Katsaris, Thomas Kreuzberger, Paul Badura-Skoda, Tomas Vasary, Stefano Fiuzzi, Hilary Coates, Yevgeny Sudbin, Eleanor Alberta, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Adrian Brendel and Wanghya Chu. Since 2016 she has worked with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Xinzhu Symphony Orchestra and Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra and is scheduled to work with The Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra and The Mozart Orchestra (postponed due to COVID-19).