A Celebration of Saint Columba

with Water Music by George Frideric Handel

Featured Artists

Conductor
Darren Hargan
Concertmaster
Bojan Čičić
Soprano
Claudia Boyle
Mezzo-Soprano
Carolyn Dobbin
Tenor
John Porter
Baritone
Pablo Galvez
Bass-baritone
Rory Dunne

Handel’s Water Music was written in response to a request by King George I for a concert on the River Thames. In a city with an ancient maritime history, it’s the perfect choice to open the residency of Le Foyer des Artistes at St Columb’s Hall, described by many as lavishly baroque. This debut concert features some of the world’s most outstanding musicians, from across the world, playing on original period instruments led by internationally-renowned baroque violinist, Bojan Čičić.

Featuring

Conductor

Darren Hargan

Concertmaster

Bojan Čičić

Soprano

Claudia Boyle

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Mezzo Soprano

Carolyn Dobbin

John Porter
Tenor

John Porter

Bass-baritone

Pablo Galvez

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Bass-baritone

Rory Dunne

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- Picture David Creedon / Anzenberger
Associate Pianist
Gary Beecher

We are pleased to announce Gary Beecher as Associate Artist with Le Foyer des Artistes and as official pianist for The Concerto Competition, Finalists’ Recital. One of Ireland’s most accomplished young pianists, Gary Beecher is from Cork and leads an extremely varied career as a soloist, chamber musician and accompanist.

He has performed as concert soloist with RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and RTÉ Concert Orchestra. He has also appeared as soloist at the National Concert Hall and RDS in Dublin, University Concert Hall, Limerick, Barbican Centre and Wigmore Hall in London.

In 2019, Gary had a string of success at international competitions, winning the Nadia and Lili Boulanger International Voice-Piano Competition in Paris and the Rudolf Jansen Pianist Prize at the 53rd International Vocal Competition Lied Duo in ‘S-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. In the same year he also won 2nd Pianist Prize at the prestigious International Helmut Deutsch Lied Competition in Vienna.

Gary was also a Fellow and staff accompanist at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London where he completed his Master Degree, mentored by Julius Drake and Charles Owen. He is an alumnus of Cork School of Music, where he studied with Susana and Jan Čáp, Michael McHale and Gabriela Mayer. He is also a former pupil of Jacques Rouvier, Universität der Künste, Berlin, and John O’Conor, Royal Irish Academy of Music (RIAM).

In addition to his concert career, Gary teaches piano at the RIAM, and is coach and accompanist at both the Cork School of Music and the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick.

Darren Hargan
Conductor
Darren Hargan

Darren Hargan is the founder and Artistic Director of Le Foyer des Artistes. He is a conductor and one of the most sought-after vocal coaches and accompanists for singers in Europe. From Derry City in Ireland, he also holds Swiss citizenship.

He studied on the prestigious joint course at the Royal Northern College of Music with the University of Manchester, spending his final year at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. He was subsequently awarded a full scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London.

He began his career at the Opernhaus Zürich in Switzerland under Alexander Pereira where he was engaged for 7 years as pianist and assistant conductor, working with the most famous singers and conductors in the world. During this time he was also principal coach of the Internationales Opernstudio, working with international casts of young singers.

Darren has conducted the Philharmonia Opernhaus Zürich, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Voralberg Sinfonieorchester in Bregenz, ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Vienna, Arnold Schoenberg Choir, and the Karlsbader Sinfonieorchester in the Czech Republic. He has also worked as assistant to Markus Poschner at the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana and the Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera in Lugano, Switzerland.

Passionate about contemporary music, he has conducted several world premières. He has also conducted many works by Schoenberg and Pierre Boulez. He has conducted Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, The Turn of the Screw and a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Switzerland and England for the Britten Centenary. Darren has also worked regularly with period instruments, conducting productions of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte, Don Giovanni, Handel’s Rinaldo as well as Gluck’s Armide and Orfeo with French classical instruments.

He has worked as a guest at Le Grand Théâtre de Genève, Wexford Opera Festival, Festival di Morcote, Selzach Summer Opera Festival, Zürcher Kammerorchester, Locarno Film Festival, Theater Luzern, American Music Institute in Graz, Theater Orchester Biel Solothurn, Theater 11 Zürich, Opera Northern Ireland and Theater an der Wien.

In 2019, he was invited to the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival in Ireland where he conducted Don Pasquale to critical acclaim. He returns later in 2021 to conduct Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi as well as the world première of Ina Boyle’s Maudlin of Paplewick in his own critical performing edition.

Darren studied piano with Irwin Gage and conducting with renowned contemporary music specialist Arturo Tamayo and Marc Kissoczy, Professor of conducting at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste.

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Concertmaster
Bojan Čičić

Croatian-born Bojan Čičić is one of the most outstanding violinists of his generation. A specialist in repertoire ranging from the late 16th century to the romantic violin concertos of Mendelssohn and Beethoven, he is also the leader of both the Academy of Ancient Music and Florilegium.

Bojan is the founder of the Illyria Consort. Established to explore rare repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries, they have appeared at the Utrecht Early Music Festival, the Korkyra Baroque Festival, Festival Laus Polyphoniae, and at the Festival de Sablé. Their debut recording of Giovanni Stefano Carbonelli’s Sonate da camera Nos. 1-6a won critical acclaim and was chosen as one of Presto Classical’s “Presto Recordings of the Year” for 2017. Bojan’s recording with Rachel Podger, of J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins, was also named the best available recording of the work by BBC Music Magazine.

The Illyria Consort’s second disc, a world première recording of Giovanni Giornovich’s London Violin Concertos, was released in March 2019, followed by the second volume of Carbonelli’s Sonate da camera (Nos. 7-12).

He recently appeared as soloist in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the Kioi Hall Chamber Orchestra Tokyo, and with Instruments of Time and Truth in violin concertos by Mendelssohn and Beethoven. In 2021, Bojan will appear as director and soloist with Het Gelders Orkest in the Netherlands, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and the Washington Bach Consort.

In 2016, Bojan was appointed Professor of Baroque Violin at the Royal College of Music, London and he is passionate about training the next generation of instrumentalists in historically-informed playing styles. He lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and two children.

Claudia-Boyle
Soprano
Claudia Boyle

Claudia Boyle is one of Ireland’s most outstanding sopranos. A former member of the Young Singers Project at the Salzburger Festspiele, she has performed internationally to critical acclaim at the most important cultural centres in the world including Zürich, Rome, Dresden, London, Berlin and New York. She has also appeared at Den Norske Opera, Semperoper in Dresden, Danish National Opera, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and English National Opera.

Praise for her exceptional vocal versatility and dramatic ability for contemporary music, Claudia has excelled in the performance of music by Gerald Barry and his contemporaries, appearing at the Rose Theater, New York with the New York Philharmonic, the Barbican Centre, London, the Edinburgh International Festival and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

At the Salzburger Festspiele she has performed with Riccardo Muti, in Tokyo with Paavo Järvi and the NHK Symphony Orchestra, in Liverpool with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Ian Tracey, and in Hannover with Eivind Gullberg Jensen and the NDR Radiophilharmonie in Henze’s Nachtstücke und Arien.

Claudia has also performed with Alan Gilbert and the Orchestre National de Lyon in Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 and with Paarvo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie in Bremen. With Kent Nagano and Ensemble Modern, Claudia sang in the première performances of a new chamber version of Bernstein’s A Quiet Place at the Konzerthaus Berlin with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, which was subsequently recorded for Decca.

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Mezzo Soprano
Carolyn Dobbin

The Northern Irish mezzo-soprano Carolyn Dobbin has performed extensively throughout Ireland, the UK and Europe. She has sung at the Royal Opera House Linbury Studio, English National Opera, Grange Park Opera, Opera Holland Park, Irish National Opera, Mid Wales Opera, Longborough Opera, Dorset Opera Festival, Stadttheater Bern, and the Royal Albert Hall.

A former Samling Scholar, Carolyn began her career as a teacher of art and design before being offered a place at the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. In 2010 she became an Associate Artist at Welsh National Opera and in 2012 she was engaged for 2 years as principal mezzo-soprano at the opera house in Luzern, Switzerland.

Carolyn sang with Richard Bonynge and Retrospect Opera in the recording of Edward Loder’s rare opera Raymond and Agnes. She also established the Northern Irish Song Project with the aim of collecting and record forgotten songs by Northern Irish composers and promoting song cycles by living composers. Her solo CD of songs by Northern Irish composers, recorded with Iain Burnside and released by Delphian Records, featured on BBC Radio 3 and BBC TV in 2018.

John Porter
Tenor
John Porter

From Donegal in Ireland, John Porter is a graduate of the University of Ulster and Royal Academy Opera, London. He is an alumnus of the Georg Solti Accademia in Italy and Les Azuriales in France, and has been a Young Artist at Garsington Opera and Northern Ireland Opera (NIO). More recently, he was a finalist in the prestigious competition at Accademia Teatro alla Scala, Milan.

In 2019/20, John returned to NIO as Alfred in Die Fledermaus and as the Narrator in The Chronic Identity Crisis of Pamplemousse, a new children’s opera by Greg Caffrey. He joined The Belfast Ensemble to sing in the world première of Conor Mitchell’s new stage work Abomination: A DUP Opera Review, which was hailed in The Guardian as ‘an outstanding new work’. John also made his debut as Tamino in The Magic Flute at the Waterperry Opera Festival. In concert, John has performed works such as Bach’s St John Passion, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle.

This year, he performed in the Northern Songs Project for NIO, produced in conjunction with Jackdaws Music Education Trust, as part of their award-winning education project, OperaPLUS.

John makes his debut at the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival in September 2021 as Rinuccio in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. He will also create the role of Aeglamour in the world première performance of Maudlin of Paplewick by Ina Boyle.

John continues to study with Rosa Mannion and he is grateful for the generous support of The Countess of Munster Musical Trust, The Kathleen Trust, The Richard Lewis Jean Shanks Trust, The Nicholas Berwin Charitable Trust, Help Musicians UK, and International Opera Awards Foundation.

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Bass-baritone
Pablo Galvez

Pablo Galvez was born in Guadix, Granada in 1987. He graduated in Pharmacy from the University of Granada and with a Master of Arts in Lyrical and Scenic Interpretation from the University of Jaén in Spain.
He studied with Maestro del Coral Morales and Giulio Zappa, and has also worked with teachers such as Renato Bruson, Mariella Devia, Teresa Berganza, Carlos Chausson, Alfonso Antoniozzi, Joan Pons and Ana Luisa Chova. He has sung with conductors such as Daniel Oren, Francesco I. Ciampa, Daniele Callegari, Miquel Ortega, Gianluca Capuano, Óliver Díaz and Yi-Chen Lin; as well as Stage Directors like Hugo de Ana, Silvia Paoli, Francesco Micheli, Nicola Berlofa, Rosetta Cucchi and Curro Carreres.
In 2009, he won the first prize at the Concurso Juventudes Musicales España and in 2016 first prize at the prestigious As.Li.Co competition, going on to sing Guglielmo in Così fan tutte. He also won third prize at the Concurso Internacional de Canto Ciudad de Logoño in April 2017.
Pablo has sung Morales in Carmen, Masetto in Don Giovanni, and Belcore in L’elisir d’amore at the Teatro Sociale di Como. He has also sung Il Conte d’Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro at the Opera Studio 2015 in Tenerife and at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna in May 2016.

In 2017 he sung Le Comte de Toulouse in Verdi’s Jérusalem at the Festival Verdi of the Teatro Regio di Parma and at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in November 2018 in concert version with conductor, Daniel Oren.

At the Opera of Tenerife he has sung Valentin in Faust and Giorgio Germont in La Traviata. At Oviedo Opera he sung Prosdocimo in Il turco in Italia Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri at the Teatro Comunale in Bologna.

He was a member of the Accademia Rossiniana Alberto Zedda at the Rossini Opera Festival 2018 where he made his debut in Il viaggio a Reims in the roles of Don Alvaro and Don Prudenzio.

Pablo has performed Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and the Petite Messe of Rossini. He has also sung the Solennelle. Requiem por un vivo by Serrano, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, the Requiem of Fauré. Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, Handel’s Messiah and Donizetti’s Messa da Requiem.

In the Zarzuela repertoire Pablo has performed at the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid as Leonello in La Canción del Olvido, Lorenzo Pérez in Doña Francisquita and Vidal Hernando in Luisa Fernanda in the Tenerife Opera season.

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Bass-baritone
Rory Dunne

Rory Dunne studied as a singer and as an actor, and is a graduate of both the TU Dublin Conservatoire and The Bull Alley Theatre Training Company. He has worked with Irish National Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, Vienna Opera Academy, Cork Opera House, Northern Ireland Opera, Opera Collective Ireland, Lyric Opera Productions, Opera in the Open and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra Chorus, performing roles in the National Opera House, Wexford, National Concert Hall, Dublin, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, and Buxton Opera House. He has been awarded prizes from Feis Ceoil, Bernadette Greevy Bursary, Navan Choral Festival and the John McCormack Society, as well as being selected as a finalist in Northern Ireland Opera’s Glenarm Festival of Voice. Performed roles include Capellio in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Colline in Puccini’s La bohème, the title role in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado, Monterone in Verdi’s Rigoletto, the title role in Verdi’s Falstaff, Angelotti and Sciarrone in Puccini’s Tosca, the title role in Telemann’s Pimpinone, Haly in Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri), Dottore Grenvil in Verdi’s La traviata, Greatrakes in Raymond Deane’s Vagabones, Bartolo in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, David in Barber’s A Hand of Bridge, Boatswain in Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore, Fiorello in Rossini’s Il barbieri di Siviglia, and Dancaïre in Bizet’s Carmen. This season he returns to Wexford Festival Opera to sing the role of Bohumir in Dvořák’s Armida. He is a past member of the ABL Aviation Opera Studio and the Wexford Festival Opera Factory.

Jury Chair
Michael McHale

Belfast-born Michael McHale has established himself as one of Ireland’s leading pianists and has developed a busy international career as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician. 

He has performed as a soloist with the Minnesota, Hallé, Moscow Symphony and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestras, City of London Sinfonia, London Mozart Players and all five of the major Irish orchestras, and performed at the Tanglewood and Tokyo Spring Festivals, Wigmore Hall, London, Berlin Konzerthaus, Lincoln Center, New York, Symphony Hall, Boston and Pesti Vigadó in Budapest. 

Michael’s début solo album The Irish Piano was released in 2012 by RTÉ lyric fm and selected as ‘CD of the Week’ by the critic Norman Lebrecht. More recent solo releases include Schubert: Four Impromptus on Ergodos, Miniatures and Modulations on Grand Piano, and a first orchestral album Irish Piano Concertos featuring works by John Field and Philip Hammond with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Courtney Lewis. His discography of over twenty albums includes releases on Delos, Nimbus Alliance, Champs Hill, and seven duo recital albums on Chandos with Michael Collins. The début album of the McGill/McHale Trio Portraits on Cedille featuring special narrations by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali was released in 2017 and immediately entered the Top 25 US Billboard Classical Chart. Upcoming releases include a recording of Strauss’s ‘Burleske’ with the BBC Symphony Orchestra on Chandos, and a recording of two new works by Cliff Eidelman with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Winner of the Terence Judd/Hallé Award in 2009, Michael was also awarded the Brennan and Field Prizes at the 2006 AXA Dublin International Piano Competition, the 2005 Camerata Ireland/Accenture Award, and in 2016 a Major Individual Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Cambridge University and the Royal Academy of Music, and his teachers and mentors include John O’Conor, Réamonn Keary, Christopher Elton, Ronan O’Hora and Barry Douglas. In 2017 Michael was invited to become a Patron of the Ulster Youth Orchestra, and in 2018 he was appointed as a part-time professor of piano for undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Cork School of Music in Ireland.

Michael collaborates regularly with Sir James Galway, Michael Collins, Patricia Rozario, Dame Felicity Lott and Camerata Pacifica. www.michaelmchale.com

“…McHale played with cool authority and understated panache as one expected from a young pianist whose international career is in serious take-off mode…” Dick O’Riordan, Sunday Business Post

“…performed with zest and sensitivity by pianist Michael McHale with the RTÉ National Symphony under Courtney Lewis… McHale makes a potent case for all of it” Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“…McHale was a wonderfully incisive soloist… this was exactly the sort of headlong, exciting adventure that Prokofiev intended it to be…” Michael Dervan, Irish Times