Whilst the Perth Festival of the Arts 2020 was cancelled, we still wish to showcase the talents of The Cross Trust beneficiaries who were due to perform.
Scottish soprano, Lauren McQuistin, studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland before moving to America to pursue a Master of Music with Carol Vaness at Indiana University.
She made her Scottish Opera/McOpera Collective debut as Marfa in Shostakovich’s Rotschild's Violin. She made her IU principal debut in 2016 as the title role in Florencia en el Amazonas. She then went on to perform Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Bloomingvoce.
She performed Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) with COSI, in Sulmona Italy.
At the Yale School of Music she performed as title role of Lucrezia Borgia and the Prima Donna in Ariadne Auf Naxos in their scenes production, as well as First Lady in The Magic Flute; a role she performed in full that spring, and covered with Central City Opera, where she was a studio artist. Her most recent performance was as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin and this year she is a Metropolitan Opera Council Audition Regional Finalist.
Hugh Mackay (b. 2000) is a Scottish cellist whose musical life comprises many different areas of performance including chamber music, orchestral playing and historically-informed performance. He received his formative training from Ruth Beauchamp at St. Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh, and is currently studying modern cello with Hannah Roberts and historical cello with Jonathan Manson at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he holds the Yadegar-Hall Scholarship.
Following competitive auditions last year, Hugh was selected for The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s Experience Scheme, joining them in several concerts through 2019. He has worked with many leading conductors, including Trevor Pinnock, Thomas Adès, Edward Gardner, John Wilson, Masaako Suzuki, Nicholas Collon, and Ryan Wigglesworth.
As cellist of the Clova Quartet, a new and exciting string quartet based in London, Hugh has performed at the Kinnordy Chamber Music Festival (Scotland), and are quickly adding dates in 2020 and 2021 including a series of concerts in Southern Spain. A quartet of diverse musical interests, the Clova Quartet use innovative programming to explore known and unfamiliar works.
Hugh plays on a fine Italian cello by G. Celoniatus c. 1720, generously on loan from the Royal Academy of Music.
Follow Hugh on Twitter at twitter.com/hmackaycellist
A recent graduate from the University of Aberdeen and now studying a Masters in Jazz Performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Matthew is an active musician performing regularly with a variety of ensembles.
Matthew had a busy 2019 having released an album with the band Hamlet, receiving joint first place in the Ogston Performance Prize and receiving a first class honours in Community Music as well as many performances across the country.
Now studying under Mike Williams and Soweto Kinch, Matthew continues to develop his own sound and approach to improvisation as well as being an active musician on the Aberdeen and Birmingham scene.
Ewan Hastie, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, 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. The young left handed bassist was encouraged by the older members of the band which he then reciprocated later to the new starts!
It was during this time that he became fascinated with 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 donation from The Cross Trust, Ewan attended the Junior Royal Conservatoire in Glasgow for two years and just recently became a full time student at the RCS. 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 has recently graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a first-class honours in music education and is now studying a MA in Jazz at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. Richard is studying under Alyn Cosker and is developing his own sound.
Richard plays a variety of music as well as jazz. He plays in the ceilidh band The Houlies and Hamlet, a jazz fusion band, who in 2019 released their debut album.
He has played in amateur musical theatre productions and has also played 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.
Aberdeen born Neil Birse is a classically trained jazz pianist. A recent graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, he is passionate about performance and education. Teachers whilst at Guildhall include Nikki Isles, Malcolm Edmonstone, Jason Rebello,Gareth Williams and Steve Watts.
Prior to Guildhall, Neil was pianist for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland, touring for several years around the UK. Artists he toured with during this time included; Liane Carrol, Tim Garland, Mike Walker, Ian Dixon and Chris Batchelor. Whilst at Guildhall, Neil was pianist and assistant MD to the Guildhall Jazz Singers who performed regularly throughout London. During his final year, Neil also appeared on an EP by Crawford Mack. Post Guildhall, Neil has continued working regularly with varioussingers and musicians, live and in studio, including showcases in Switzerland, and co-producing a big band album by Giles Thornton. Often working with with jazz, folk, classical and rock musicians, he also enjoys leading group workshops in schools and privately.
Recent projects have included a piano and pipe organ duet in Aberdeen’s Sound Festival, and arranging for the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir’s performances in ‘Nae Ordinary BurnsSupper’.
Neil also loves the outdoors.