Young Singers Collective

The Young Singers Collective (YSC) was founded by Le Foyer des Artistes to
establish an important formative experience for emerging young talented singer from across the world. 

Singers are invited to apply for the opportunity to work with an international artistic team and perform in the Concert Finale with Le Foyer des Artistes on 28 March 2025.

It’s also a unique occasion for our patrons and sponsors to hear a new generation of star singers at the very beginning of their careers.

What’s more, a special 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 2025 will be announced in February 2025. 

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Young Singers Collective 2023

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
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Acting and Stage Director
John Ramster
GiulioZappa
Pianist and Vocal Coach
Giulio Zappa

Application requirements

Each applicant is required to upload the following documents in order to be eligible for
this programme; 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. 

Eligibility

Open to all singers of any nationality.

Age Limit

32 years old on 28 March 2024.

Application Process (online)

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

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

Travel and accommodation

Singers invited to join the Young Singers Collective will arrive on 25 March 2024. Accommodation will be provided for the duration of the programme and this will be arranged and paid by Le Foyer des Artistes. 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.

He conducted a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Switzerland and England for the Britten Centenary and he has also conducted The Rape of Lucretia, The Turn of the Screw and Noye’s Fludde. 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, Blackwater Opera Valley Festival and in Vienna at Theater an der Wien.

His critical performing edition of Maudlin of Paplewick by Ina Boyle will be published later this year, the first  in a series of world première publications, performances  and recording 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
John Ramster

John Ramster is an award-winning director, teacher and writer. Born in Lowestoft, Suffolk he studied History at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.  He began his operatic career as the assistant of late Clare Venables, before joining the Glyndebourne Festival as an Associate and Revival Producer, working on productions such as the acclaimed Theodora by Peter Sellars, Sir Trevor Nunn’s Peter Grimes and Deborah Warner’s Don Giovanni.

He has directed at the Icelandic National Opera, Bergen National Opera, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Royal Northern College of Music; Turku Festival, Finland, Opera Faber, Portugal and London Handel Festival. At the Belgrade National Opera he won the award for the best director and his pasticcio operamusical Kiss me, Figaro! with the Cambridge Handel Opera Group was nominated for several Off-West-End Awards including Best Production. His staged Messiah with Merry Opera has toured for the last nine years to great acclaim, with over 100 performances.  

A teacher of stagecraft, specifically for young opera singers, John began his teaching career at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. An Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music, he was, for many years, Drama Lecturer and Resident Producer for Royal Academy Opera, directing over twenty productions. John is also an occasional contributor to Radio 3’s opera programming and a reviewer for the periodical Early Music. 

John’s first novel, Ladies’ Man, was translated into seven languages and he is currently writing a book on acting for opera singers and an historical murder mystery, Da Capo, set in Handel’s London. 



Pianist and Vocal Coach
Giulio Zappa

Giulio Zappa was born in Monza in 1971. He studied with Oleg Marshev, finishing his degree in piano with honours at the Conservatory of Novara. He graduated, concurrently, with honours in foreign languages and literature at the State University of Milan, writing his dissertation on Russian opera.

Since 1996, his concert career has taken him all over the world. He has been invited, as vocal coach and recital accompanist, to theatres and festivals throughout Europe and Asia. Giulio has appeared at Opéra National Bordeaux, Opéra de Lorraine, Seoul Art Center, Teatro Real of Madrid, Teatro de la Maestranza Seville, Festival Mozart La Coruña, Rossini Opera Festival Pesaro, Tenerife Opera Festival, Festival de la Ópera de Las Palmas, Wigmore Hall, John Smith’s Square, Rudolfinum Prague, Verdi Conservatory Hall Milano, Biwako Hall and Saint Petersburg Philarmonie. 

At the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro he has been vocal coach and continuo player for productions of La Gazzetta, Torvaldo e Dorliska, La Gazza Ladra, Sigismondo, and Matilde di Shabran which was recorded for Dynamic and Decca.

He has worked as vocal coach at Welsh National Opera and for three seasons at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and has collaborate with some of the most important singers in the world such as Luciano Pavarotti, Piero Cappuccilli, Katia Ricciarelli, Enzo Dara, Leo Nucci, Gregory Kunde, Juan Diego Florez, Bruno Pratico and Mariella Devia 

As a teacher both for singers and accompanists, Giulio has been invited to the Scuola dell’Opera of Bologna, Teatro Real of Madrid, Escuela Superior de Canto de Madrid, University of Jaen, Opera Studio of Tel Aviv and Academy of Bolshoi Theatre Moscow.

Future engagements include recital tours in Madrid, Barcelona, Pesaro, Moscow and Lausanne, Toulouse, Wiener Staatsoper and  Teatro della Scala. Giulio will also return to Israeli Opera, Tel Aviv, Glyndebourne Festival, Bolshoi Theatre Moscow and Rossini Opera Festival, Pesaro.



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