Artistic Director and Founder of the Orion Orchestra, Toby Purser began his musical studies as a chorister and a music scholar at Winchester College and studied piano in Vienna before returning to read music at Oxford, where he founded the Oxford Philomusica. Having begun his conducting studies with George Hurst, he spent two years at the St. Petersburg State Conservatoire, and then a further three years at the Royal Academy of Music.
Toby has conducted orchestras including the English Chamber Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, London Concert Orchestra, the Orchestra of Opera North, St Petersburg Camerata and St Petersburg Festival Orchestra.
Having made his debut at English National Opera in 2014, Toby will take up a Mackerras Conducting Fellowship at the Company in September 2016.
Three-time nominee and a winner of the British Composer Award in 2010, Raymond Yiu was born in Hong Kong in 1973 and is today one of the most sought-after composers in the UK and internationally.
His specially-composed reworking of Purcell’s aria Fairest Isle, featuring Streetwise Opera, was one of the highlights of the 2015 A Night Under The Stars concert.
Raymond’s compositions include The Original Chinese Conjuror, commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival. In 2013 the work was staged at Vienna’s Musikverein. His works also include Maomao Yü, commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra for superstar pianist Lang Lang and the Silk String Quartet.
His Symphony, commissioned by the BBC, was premièred at the 2015 BBC Proms, and received an enthusiastic reception from critics and audience alike.
Photo Credit: Malcolm Crowthers
Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans performs regularly at opera houses around the world including the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Bavarian State Opera and New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Her concert appearances include the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra the orchestra of Santa Cecilia. She is a regular guest at the BBC Proms.
Rebecca has recorded prolifically, and is a GRAMMY Award winning artist. She hosted the BBC television series A Touch of Classics with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and was a guest artist on the 2008 BBC2 series Maestro.
Rebecca is a Patron of several charities, among them Shelter Cymru, Ty Hapus and Music in Hospitals Cymru/Wales.
Photo Credit: Sian Trenberth
Macedonian pianist Simon Trp?eski performs around the world and is a frequent soloist in the UK with orchestras including the London Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, Philharmonia and Halle.
Born in 1979, Simon has won prizes in international piano competitions in the United Kingdom, Italy and the Czech Republic. From 2001 to 2003 he was a member of the prestigious BBC New Generation Artists, and in May 2003 he won the Young Artist Award of the Royal Philharmonic Society. In 2011 he was the first ever recipient of the title "National Artist of the Republic of Macedonia".
Simon works regularly with young musicians in Macedonia in order to cultivate the talent of the country’s next generation of artists. He makes his home in Skopje, with his family.
Photo Credit: Simon Fowler
Join us on US Election Night to celebrate the vibrant, inventive work of American composers and lyricists, in aid of The Passage.
Internationally-recognised as a conductor and organ recitalist, James O’Donnell has given concerts all over the world including the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Europe, and appeared as organ soloist in the BBC Proms and at many other festivals.
James is Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey, and previously Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral.
During his twelve-year tenure as Master of Music at the Cathedral, the cathedral choir became one of the most highly-regarded choirs in the world, winning many plaudits, including the Gramophone 'Record of the Year' award and the Royal Philharmonic Society award (1999), both of which were unprecedented for a cathedral choir. At Westminster Abbey James’ responsibilities have included directing the music for a service in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and the Wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April 2011.
James was awarded the papal honour of Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory in 1999.
Streetwise Opera is an award-winning charity that uses music to help people who have experienced homelessness make positive changes in their lives. It does this through regular music programmes in homeless centres and arts venues across England, and by staging critically-acclaimed opera productions.
Streetwise Opera’s productions (“Awe-inspiring” The Times) platform the skills of its performers in a professional arena, showing them that whatever life throws at you, it is possible to achieve great things. Underpinning these productions, its workshops area dependable source of creative activity in lives where everything else can be changing. Streetwise Opera has worked at The Passage since its inception in 2000.
The Orion Orchestra exists to promote the best young musicians in the country, and has rapidly built a reputation as one of the most dynamic orchestras on the UK’s music scene. Its performances are recognised for their vitality, energy and imaginative programming and give its players, who are selected from the most talented music college students and recent graduates, experience of working under professional conditions at London’s leading concert venues.
Orion’s recent highlights include a Latin-American programme at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, performances at the Royal Albert Hall, a UK tour with Rick Wakeman and a tour to Singapore. Orion has recorded CDs and a DVD with Rick Wakeman and members of Deep Purple, as well as an acclaimed CD of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 3 with the young virtuoso Panos Karan, and a live recording of British music, which was released by Cameo Classics in 2012.
Baritone Mark Stone was born in London and studied mathematics at King's College, Cambridge, and singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1998 he was awarded the Decca Prize at the Kathleen Ferrier Awards.
Mark has sung in opera houses around the world including Deutsche Oper Berlin, New Zealand Opera, Philadelphia Opera, Hamburg Opera, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and English National Opera. He has sung at the Beijing International Festival. He has worked with orchestras such as the London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and London Symphony Orchestra.
Photo Credit: Hayley Madden
Petroc Trelawny is one of Britain’s leading music and arts broadcasters, having been a frontline presenter on BBC Radio Three since 1998.
Currently, Petroc can be heard presenting Breakfast on BBC Radio Three, as well as live coverage from the BBC Proms and ‘Live in Concert’ programmes. Petroc also presents live televised events and concerts for the BBC and Sky Arts, including Cardiff Singer of the World and the ENO’s Live Performances. Petroc is also a popular host for platform discussions with great musicians and art figures, and has regularly presented at A Night Under The Stars.
As well as presenting, Petroc is also a highly experienced journalist, having reported from China, Zimbabwe and North America. Raised and educated in Cornwall, he started his career at BBC Radio Devon, as a reporter and presenter, then quickly becoming one of the nation's youngest newsreaders, presenting bulletins for BBC Plymouth's Spotlight.
Writer & Broadcaster
Armando Iannucci is a writer and broadcaster, who has written and produced numerous critically acclaimed television and radio comedy shows. The screenplay for his film In The Loop (starring Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander and James Gandolfini) was nominated for an Oscar at the Academy Awards, and his iconic series for BBC, The Thick of It, was nominated for 13 BAFTA Awards, winning 5 during its four series run. Season 4 of Armando’s critically acclaimed HBO comedy Veep took home a number of Emmy awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. He is currently adapting a new version of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield for the big screen, as well as feature film about the death of Stalin.
Armando has been a regular columnist for The Observer, The Telegraph and Gramophone, and has had a number of books published.
Jon Culshaw is regarded by many as Britain's finest impressionist. With a catalogue of over 350 voices and impersonations including Boris Johnson, Professor Brian Cox, Barack Obama, Alan Carr, John Bishop, Michael McIntyre and many more. TV credits include Spitting Image, Dead Ringers, The Impressionable Jon Culshaw, 2DTV, Head Cases, Jon Culshaw's Commercial Breakdown and the BBC's The Impressions Show alongside Debra Stephenson. With an unmatched versatility, Jon is regularly called upon for a host of guest appearances. Other credits include Parkinson, The Royal Variety Performance, We Are Most Amused, The Secret Policeman's Ball, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Stargazing Live. Jon also recently performed an impression tribute to the great Mike Yarwood on the BBC's Bruce's Hall of Fame for which he received much acclaim.
Jon first made international headlines in 1998 by calling the switchboard of No.10 Downing Street and fooling the operators with his William Hague impression. He was put directly through to have a conversation with Prime Minister Tony Blair. The incident was mentioned at Prime Minister's Question Time and reported in Hansard.
Jon is also a regular guest on current affairs programmes providing comic relief with impromptu impersonations of politicians and commentators and can regularly be heard on radio shows including The Now Show and Secret World.
A lifelong astronomy enthusiast, Jon was also a part of the team on of the world’s longest running programme The Sky at Night, first appearing with Sir Patrick Moore on the show’s 50th anniversary, and he recently began writing a monthly column for their magazine called Jon Culshaw’s Exoplanet Excursions. He has also judged on the panel for the Royal Society’s Winton Prize for Science Books
Join us on Tuesday 8 November - the day of the US Presidential Election - for an evening of entertainment at the iconic Royal Festival Hall on London's South Bank, in aid of homelessness charity The Passage.
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Appropriately, this year's concert features music by the leading American composers of the 20th century - including Gershwin, Barber and Bernstein - performed by a line up of top international performers.
There's music from Broadway too, in the form of hits from the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The concert concludes with an organ-and-orchestra arrangement of Stars and Stripes Forever, written especially for the event.
Tickets are available from as little as £12, with premium seats available for £60 - all include a souvenir programme.
The gala concert is bookended by two receptions. Before the concert, we'll welcome you at "Lenny's", our authentic pop-up American diner - all tips go to The Passage!
After the concert, we invite you to experience New York during the "Roaring Twenties", complete with Art Deco interiors, live jazz and a touch of Great Gatsby glamour. Tickets are priced at £30 and £70 respectively, the latter including champagne, bowl food and canapés.
So, whatever your political persuasion, we look forward to seeing you on Election Night to celebrate the Great American Dream, and to unite in support of an organisation that truly transforms people's lives.