Young Singers Collective

The Young Singers Collective (YSC) was founded by Le Foyer des Artistes to
establish one of the most important formative experiences for exceptionally gifted young singers from throughout the world.

The aim of the YSC is to discover and promote emerging talents who have not yet entered the profession, but who have the potential to embark on an international singing career.

Participants in the Young Singers Collective have the opportunity to visit Derry, one of Ireland’s most historic cities, to work with a world-class artistic team at St Columb’s Hall, the city’s iconic theatre. 

The culmination of the Young Singers Collective is the Concert Finale with Le Foyer des Artistes, conducted by Darren Hargan, on 16 March 2024.

It’s a unique occasion for our patrons to hear some of the world’s new generation of star singers as they begin their international stage careers. 

What’s more, a special community initiative, a fianco, brings together some of the most accomplished musicians from across the north-west of Ireland to play alongside Le Foyer des Artistes musicians during this special event. 

It’s just one of many opportunities for the community to collaborate with us through Open House.

The participants in the Young Singers Collective will be announced by Darren Hargan in January 2024. 

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Artistic Team

Le Foyer Open House person on roof
Artistic Director and Conductor
Darren Hargan
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Pianist and Vocal Coach
Anthony Legge
Acting and Stage Director
Pierre-Emmanuel Rousseau
Pianist and Vocal Coach
Caroline Dowdle

Application requirements

Each applicant is required to upload the necessary documents in order to be eligible for
this event. Please upload the following; ID Card or passport, 2 recent colour portrait
photographs and a copy of your CV. Please ensure that you also include a signed and
dated copy of the Young Singers Collective regulations. 


Open to all singers of any nationality.

Age Limit

32 years old on 9 June 2024.

Application Process (online)

  • 15 August 2023: online registration opens
  • 30 December 2023 at midnight GMT: closing date for registration
  • January 7 2024: Young Singers Collective members will be announced by Darren Hargan 
  • Late applications will not be accepted


Tickets for public attendance of the Young Singer Collective Concert Finale can be booked here.

Travel and accommodation

The Nominees invited to join the Young Singers Collective will arrive on 11 March 2024. Host accommodation will be provided for the duration of the programme and this will be arranged and paid by the Organiser. Any additional expenses incurred are the responsibility of the Nominees.

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Le Foyer Open House person on roof
Artistic Director
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 coaches and accompanists for singers in Europe. From Derry City in Ireland, he is also a Swiss citizen.

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 and returned later in 2021 to conduct Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. 

His critical performing edition of Maudlin of Paplewick by Ina Boyle will be published later this year by Stainer&Bell and he will conduct the world première in 2023. It will be the first in a series of world première publications and performances of works by Irish composers with Le Foyer des Artistes. 

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.

Special Guest
Anthony Legge
Anthony Legge has worked regularly with the principal British opera companies, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Opera Australia, many European opera companies and at Bayreuth, where he assisted on the Kupfer-Barenboim Ring cycle for five years and a new production of Die Meistersinger. He was Head of Music at English National Opera for 14 years where he conducted performances of Dido and Aeneas, Orpheus and Eurydice, Lulu, and Alcina.
He was Director of Opera at the Royal Academy of Music, where he conducted The Magic Flute and Figaro, following on from Sir Colin Davis and also The Rape of Lucretia and Rinaldo. He has been Music Advisor to Grange Park Opera. He was a judge on the Channel 4 Operatunity series.
He has spent the last eight years as Associate Music Director of Opera Australia in Sydney where he conducted much of the operatic repertoire and coached many international singers. He is now freelance and working with Bayreuth, Covent Garden and the London orchestras.
Acting and Stage Director
Pierre-Emmanuel Rousseau

Pierre-Emmanuel Rousseau was born in 1979 and is currently directing La Clemenza di Tito at Angers-Nantes Opera, Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Soirées Lyriques de Sanxay and Teatro Regio di Torino. Future engagements include new productions of Rossini’s Tancredi and Semiramide in Biel and Rouen, Berlioz’s Béatrice et Benedict, in Nantes and Rennes, and Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette in Québec.

In past seasons, Pierre-Emmanuel Rousseau has designed several new productions (sets, costumes and staging) of Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, at the Opéra National du Rhin, as well as Gianni Schicchi for the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival, La Clemenza di Tito, at the Rennes Opera and Angers-Nantes Opéra, Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Opéra National du Rhin, Opéra de Saint-Etienne and the Opéra de Rouen-Normandie, Les Fées du Rhin by Offenbach, at the Grand Théâtre de Tours and at the Theater-Orchester Biel-Solothurn. He also took over Le Comte Ory in Rennes and Rouen, and he created a new production of Don Pasquale for the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival.

Since 2013, Pierre-Emmanuel Rousseau has developed a regular collaboration with the TOBS-Biel, where he has designed productions, sets and costumes for Rossini’s Il Turco in Italia, Viva la Mamma by Donizetti (with a revival in 2015 in Basel and Treviso), Le Comte Ory by Rossini, and Don Pasquale by Donizetti. He was also invited by the Geneva Chamber Opera for Pomme d’Api / Monsieur Choufleuri by Offenbach and Mozart’s Il Re Pastore. With the Geneva Chamber Orchestra, he also created a semi-staging of Mozart’s Schauspieldirektor.

Pierre-Emmanuel Rousseau staged Le Pays du Sourire by Léhar at the Grand Théâtre in Tours, and Don Pasquale at the San Sebastian Festival and the Metz Opera, and Italiana in Algeri at the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival.

In 2010, Pierre-Emmanuel Rousseau directed and designed the costumes of L’Amant Jaloux of Gretry at the Royal Opera of Versailles and at the Opéra Comique winning praise from both critics and the audience. This production was broadcast on Mezzo and France2, and is now available on a DVD.

After winning four first prices at the National Conservatory of Music of Rouen and a major university education, Pierre-Emmanuel Rousseau worked with several directors including Jean-Claude Auvray, John Dew, Stéphane Braunschweig, Jérôme Deschamps and Macha Makeieff.

Pierre-Emmanuel Rousseau has also worked with some prestigious conductors including John Eliot Gardiner, William Christie, Ludovic Morlot, François-Xavier Roth, Jérémie Rhorer, Christophe Rousset Marco Zambelli, Leonardo Garcia Alarcon. Similarly, he has worked with famous singers including Karita Mattila, Sumi Jo, Kenneth Tarver, Véronique Gens, Frédéric Antoun, Stefan Margita, Hélène Guillemette, Julie Boulianne, Olga Peretyatko, Patricia Petitbon, Bernard Richtr, Cynthia Makris and Richard Troxell.

Pianist and Vocal Coach
Caroline Dowdle

Caroline Dowdle was born in South Africa and studied music at the University of
Cape Town, where she was taught by the eminent chamber musician Lamar
Crowson. There she qualified with a Masters in Music before moving to England to
study at the Royal Northern College of Music as a solo pianist, under Renna
Kellaway. She was awarded a fellowship in accompaniment at the college, a post
which she held for 2 years, before moving to London to begin her career as a
freelance pianist. For many years she was a staff pianist at the Britten Pears School
in Aldeburgh, where she worked alongside many of the most eminent singers and
instrumentalists of their generation.

Since then she has performed widely in Britain and in Europe, giving recitals with
singers and instrumentalists at the South Bank and Wigmore Hall, London, in Paris
for Radio France, in Vienna and in Moscow. Since the summer of 2008 she has
been Head of Opera at the Atelier Lyrique at the Verbier Festival and has also
performed frequently in the Festival itself. She has appeared in numerous recitals
with the esteemed baritone, Sir Thomas Allen and in January of 2020, she
performed in recitals with Sir Simon Keenlyside in Madrid and Valencia.

She is a faculty member of the vocal department at the Royal College of Music and
works regularly as a coach with the singers on the Jette Parker Young Artists
Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. She is the Musical Director
of Samling Academy for young singers in the North-east of England, and a regular
leader on the masterclass courses run by the Samling Institute.

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.

“…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