New Zealand-born Holly Mathieson is Assistant Conductor of the RSNO, Resident Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland Junior Orchestra and founder and artistic director of the Horizont Musik-Kollektiv (Berlin). She also teaches on the performance faculty at Goldsmiths University, London. In the 2016-17 season she will be a finalist for the music directorship at Illinois Philharmonic, and debuts with the London Symphony Orchestra and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Highlights of recent seasons include holding one of the world's most prestigious fellowships for young conductors, the Leverhulme Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; a London debut as the 2015 Christine Collins Young Artist Conductor in Associate at Opera Holland Park to critical acclaim; working as assistant conductor with Opera North, Garsington Opera and Longborough Festival Opera; work with Opus Orchestra and Dunedin Symphony Orchestra; and making the finals in the competition for assistant conductor, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.
In the past, she has assisted Esa-Pekka Salonen and Christoph von Dohnanyi at the Philharmonia Orchestra (London), Donald Runnicles at the BBCSSO, and Marin Alsop at the BBC Proms. 2013 saw success in being chosen as one of four young conductors from around the world to participate in the Interaktion Dirigentenwerkstatt des Kritischen Orchesters with players from the Berlin Philharmonic and other German orchestras, and a place as one of Dartington International Summer School's advanced conducting fellows. She was immediately reinvited to Dartington in 2014 as a guest conductor.
Awards for Holly's work include a 2013 Professional Development Grant from Creative NZ, the 2012 AMP Regional Scholarship from Roost Mortgages, the 2009 Patronage Award from Adrienne, Lady Stewart and the NZ Arts Foundation, and the Elman Poole Travelling Scholarship (2006). Holly was named a Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellow in 2008. She was also given a high commendation in the 2013 Taki Concordia Fellowship. in 2016, Zonta NZ named her as one of New Zealand's Top 50 Women of Achievement.
Lancashire-born soprano Soraya Mafi studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and Royal College of Music, supported by the Help Musicians UK Sybil Tutton Award. Soraya continues her studies with renowned soprano Janis Kelly and repertoire coach John Fraser. Soraya’s many awards and prizes include the Maggie Teyte Prize in 2014 and the Susan Chilcott Award in 2016. She was also the 2nd Prize winner of the 2015 Kathleen Ferrier Awards. Soraya is a Harewood Young Artist of the English National Opera. During her time at RCM Soraya has performed the roles of Virtu in James Conway's production of L'incoronazione di Poppea, and Le Feu and Le Rossignol in James Bonas' production of L'Enfant et les Sortileges. She sang the title role in Arianna in Creta for the London Handel Festival under Laurence Cummings and created the role of Cheryl in Iain Burnside's new music theatre piece Journeying Boys. Soraya made her debut at Grange Park Opera as Constance in Dialogues des Carmélites, returning as 2nd Niece in Peter Grimes, and at the Chatelet Theatre Paris as Aminta Il re pastore. She also sang Johanna Sweeney Todd with Welsh National Opera and her first Despina Cosi fan tutte for West Green House Opera. Concert highlights have included Les Illuminations and Messiah at the Royal Festival Hall, Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Mozart’s Goose of Cairo with the London Mozart Players conducted by David Parry, as well as recitals at the Buxton Festival and at the Crush Room of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Soraya Mafi returns to English National Opera as Mabel (Pirates of Penzance) and Tytania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and makes her debut with Opera North as Suor Geneveva Suor Angelica. She will appear in concert with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Peter Dijsktra), Seattle Symphony Orchestra (Ludovic Morlot) and Ensemble Matheus (Jean-Chrisophe Spinosi), and in recital with Graham Johnson at Middle Temple Hall.