Midwinter Gala Concert

The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

Featured Artists

Darren Hargan
Charlotte Spruit
Kelli-Ann Masterson
Gavan Ring

Sponsored by Alchemy Technology Services, ChallengeCurve, Fleming Steel, Nuprint Technologies Ltd, Arts&BusinessNI, Continuo Foundation, together with funding from Derry City and Strabane District Council, season two opens with the Midwinter Gala Concert

Vivaldi’s epic Four Seasons frame the programme as Le Foyer des Artistes opens season two celebrating the 300th anniversary year of the Venitian masterpiece.  

Playing on historic period instruments, the soloist is award-winning rising superstar Dutch violinist, Charlotte Spruit (23).

And joining the Midwinter Gala Concert are two of Ireland’s opera stars – soprano, Kelli-Ann Masterson, recently described by Opera Magazine as ‘a remarkable Semele with incredible delivery of virtuoso arias’ – and Kerry born tenor, Gavan Ring who is no stranger to stages across the world with appearances this year at La Monnaie De Munt in Brussels and Glyndebourne Festival Opera



Violin Soloist

Charlotte Spruit


Gavin Ring

Kelli-Ann Masterson

Kelli-Ann Masterson

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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.

Violin Soloist
Charlotte Spruit

Charlotte Spruit was born in 2000 in the Netherlands. She is a keen chamber musician and soloist, having performed at prominent locations, such as the Concertgebouw, Wigmore Hall, and the Elbphilharmonie. She performed chamber works with acclaimed musicians including Janine Jansen, Rachel Podger, Gidon Kremer, Tabea Zimmermann, Lawrence Power, and Christian Tetzlaff. As a soloist, Charlotte has played with numerous orchestras, including the Residentie Orkest The Hague, The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, the Pauliner Barockensemble, and Ensemble Esperanza. 

In 2022, Charlotte won the first prize as well as the audience prize and the Genuin Classics prize at the Leipzig International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition. In 2023, Charlotte was a prize-winner at the Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) International Auditions held at Wigmore Hall. Charlotte is also prize winner at many other national and international competitions, such as the Kloster Schöntal International Violin Competition, Concours International Arthur Grumiaux, and the Oskar Back Violin Competition. In 2020, Charlotte received the Anton Kersjes Violin Prize. 

Charlotte began her violin studies aged 4 with Coosje Wijzenbeek. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music with David Takeno, and with Ying Xue at the Royal Academy of Music. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree at the Royal Academy of Music with Rachel Podger, Pavlo Beznosiuk, and Ying Xue.

She participated in masterclasses with a.o. Shunske Sato, Robert Levin, and Liza Ferschtman.

Charlotte is regularly invited to perform in festivals, such as the Chamber Music Connects the World festival at the Kronberg Academy, the International Chamber Music Festival Utrecht, and the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival where she performed with the Doric String Quartet. Charlotte also enjoys exploring different ways of bringing music to the audience, for example by bringing together different forms of art. She has collaborated with artist Jérémie Queyras, creating performances combining painting and music. Together they won the first prize at the Goodmesh Concours in 2022.

Charlotte plays an 18th-century anonymous Italian violin, kindly on loan from the Dutch Musical Instruments Foundation.


Gavin Ring

From Cahersiveen in County Kerry, Irish tenor Gavan Ring studied at the Schola Cantorum at St Finian’s College Mullingar before reading education and music at Dublin City University. An alumnus of the National Opera Studio in London, Gavan is also the first opera singer and the youngest graduate to complete doctoral studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music. Gavan’s ground-breaking doctoral research on Robert O’Dwyer’s Irish language opera Eithne led to the work’s first performance in 107 years. Gavan is the Artistic Administrator of Drogheda Classical Music, an Artistic Partner with Irish National Opera and was a member of the inaugural Cara O’Sullivan Associate Artist Programme at Cork Opera House. Gavan is also a multiple prizewinner at competitions such as the Wigmore Hall Song Competition and the Concorso Lirico Internazionale di Portofino.

Concert highlights include performances with the London Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms and Lucerne Festival under Sir Simon Rattle, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment at the Royal Festival Hall under Sir Mark Elder and the Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra at the Prinzregententheater under Keri Lynn-Wilson. Recital work includes regular broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and RTÉ Lyric FM plus appearances at Wigmore Hall, the Oxford Lieder Festival and the Ludlow English Song Festival collaborating with pianists such as Simon Lepper, Graham Johnson, Eugene Asti, Sholto Kynoch and Iain Burnside. Opera highlights include leading roles at Cork Opera House, Garsington Opera, Glyndebourne, Irish National Opera, La Monnaie De Munt, Opéra Royal de Versailles, Opera Holland Park, Opera North, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera and Wexford Festival Opera.

Discography includes Barry: Alice’s Adventures Underground (Signum Classics 2021), Larchet: The Complete Songs and Airs (Champs Hill 2020), Rossini: Sigismondo (Bayerischen Rundfunks 2019), O’Dwyer: Eithne (RTÉ Lyric FM 2018), Gilbert and Sullivan: HMS Pinafore (Linn Records 2016), Offenbach: Fantasio (Opera Rara 2014) and Fleischmann: Orchestral Works (RTÉ Lyric FM 2010).

Gavan is kindly supported by Howard Gatiss, the Arts Council of Ireland/An Chomhairle Ealaíon, the Skellig Six 18 Distillery, Andrew and Lucy Penny and Michael and Giancarla Alen-Buckley.

Kelli-Ann Masterson
Kelli-Ann Masterson

Irish Soprano Kelli-Ann Masterson is an alumna of both the ABL Irish National Opera Studio 2019-2021 and Northern Ireland Opera Studio 2018-2019.

2021/2022 opera engagements included Marzelline in Beethoven’s Fidelio for Irish National Opera, Duchess/Bottle in Todd’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for Opera Collective Ireland and Amor in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice for Blackwater Valley Opera Festival as well as Semele in Handel’s Semele for Kilkenny Arts Festival. Kelli-Ann was a finalist in the 2022 BA Lirica International Vocal Competition, Italy and is the 2022 Bernadette Greevy bursary recipient from National Concert Hall, Dublin.

Performances in 2022/2023 season include Norina in Don Pasquale in an Irish nationwide tour with Irish National Opera, Sharon Graham/Soprano 2 in Terence McNally’s Masterclass at Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, Elsie Maynard in The Yeomen of the Guard at Buxton Opera House for the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company UK, Handel’s Messiah with the National Concert Orchestra at National Concert Hall, Dublin and guest soloist with the the National Symphony Orchestra in their summer concert series at the National Concert Hall.

Kelli-Ann made her solo operatic debut as Vespetta in the Irish premiere of Pimpinone at Killaloe Chamber music Festival conducted by Peter Whelen for Opera Collective Ireland in 2019. In the same year Kelli-Ann was awarded the Wexford Festival Opera Healy bursary, the WFO & PwC Emerging Artist Bursary, first prize in the Dramatic Cup and Margaret and Tony Quigley Awards at Feis Ceoil and was selected as a Rising Star by UCH Limerick.

Kelli-Ann made her Wexford Festival Opera debut in 2019 singing the role of La Fée in Viardot’s Cendrillon and was praised for her ‘essentially sparkling  performance’. In the same year she created the role of Donal in the world premiere of Raymond Deane’s Vagabones for Opera Collective Ireland. Other notable roles include Irene Buckley’s Ghost Apples for the critically acclaimed 20 Shots of Opera, Rebecca in A Thing I Cannot Name by Amanda Feery, Musetta Cover La BohémeFrasquita cover Carmen and Blonde cover Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Irish National Opera); Alice Cover in Barry’s Alice’s Adventures Underground (INO/Royal Opera House); Chloé in Offenbach’s Daphnis et Chloé (Northern Ireland Opera); Despina in Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte (Clyde Opera Group).

In Autumn 2019, Kelli-Ann made her debut with the RTE Concert Orchestra as soloist with Our Lady’s Choral Society performing Messe Solemnelle at National Concert Hall, Dublin conducted by Proinnsias O’ Duinn. Other oratorio engagements include A Celebration of Handel and Messiah on the Street with Our Lady’s choral society, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Handel’s Messiah and Vivaldi’s Gloria with Dun Laoghaire choral society; Faure’s Requiem with Encore Voices and Saint-Saëns Oratorio de Noël with DIT choral society.

A versatile performer, concert and recital highlights include The French Connection: Franco-Irish Songswith Irish Songmakers in conjunction with BVOF, live-streamed Baroque concert from Castletown House for Irish National Opera, soloist at the AIMS 50th Anniversary Concert at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, outreach performances with the National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company at Norwich Theatre Royal and most recently ‘Covid Care Concert’ Gala Concert at the National Concert Hall, Dublin conducted by David Brophy.

Kelli-Ann completed a Bachelor of Music Education Degree at Trinity College, Dublin followed by a Masters in Music Performance at The DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, now TU Dublin Conservatoire.

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
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.

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.

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