Celebrate the New Year with the RSNO’s annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. From For Unto Us a Child is Born to the unforgettable Hallelujah Chorus, this is simply some of the most uplifting music ever written. With the RSNO Chorus conducted by Nicholas McGegan and featuring an all-star cast, enjoy all the glory and joy of this truly timeless masterpiece.
Repertoire includesHandel - Messiah
SoloistsMhairi Lawson - Soprano William Towers - Countertenor Jamie MacDougall - Tenor Stephan Loges - Bass-baritone RSNO Chorus Stephen Doughty - Director, RSNO Chorus
Conductor Nicholas McGegan
As he embarks on his sixth decade on the podium, Nicholas McGegan — long hailed as “one of the finest baroque conductors of his generation” (The Independent) — is recognized for his probing and revelatory explorations of music of all periods. The 2019/20 season marks the final year of his 34-year tenure as Music Director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale. He is Principal Guest Conductor of the Pasadena Symphony.
Best known as a baroque and classical specialist, McGegan has established the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale as one of the world’s leading period-performance ensembles.
Nicholas McGegan’s ability to engage players and audiences alike has made him a pioneer in broadening the reach of historically informed practice beyond the world of period ensembles to conventional symphonic forces. His guest-conducting appearances with major orchestras — including the New York, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong Philharmonics; the Chicago, Dallas, Utah, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Toronto, Sydney, and New Zealand Symphonies; the Philadelphia Orchestra; the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Scottish Chamber Orchestras; and the Amsterdam Concertgebouw — often feature Baroque repertoire alongside Classical, Romantic, 20th-century and even brand-new works. He was Artistic Director at the Göttingen Handel Festival for 20 years (1991-2001) and Principal Guest Conductor at Scottish Opera in the 1990s.
His discography includes more than 100 releases. His recordings with PBO have received two GRAMMY nominations and a Gramophone Award. His other recordings include more than 20 recordings with Hungary’s Capella Savaria and two recent albums with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra under the BIS label.
Highlights of his 2021/22 guest bookings in North America include appearances with the National Symphony Orchestra at both the Kennedy Center and the new Capital One Hall; the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; a string of Messiah engagements with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and Apollo’s Fire; the Santa Barbara Symphony; Pasadena Symphony; a return to St. Louis Symphony Orchestra; and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in the all-Mozart semi-final round. In Europe, he appears with the NDR Radio Philharmonie in Handel’s Acis and Galatea HWV 49 (Mendelssohn’s version); the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra; and several performances with Capella Savaria.
Soprano Mhairi Lawson
Mhairi Lawson has performed in opera houses and concert halls worldwide. In the UK, she has regularly collaborated with such companies as The Gabrieli Consort & Players, The Academy of Ancient Music, English National Opera, The Early Opera Company and The Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and with many leading conductors such as William Christie, Sir Charles Mackerras, Paul McCreesh, Jane Glover and Sir John Eliot Gardiner, in repertoire ranging from traditional folksong to opera.
Recent and future highlights include performances of Purcell’s The Fairy Queen and King Arthur with the Gabrieli Consort, Purcell Songes & Ayres and Handel’s Messiah with the Dunedin Consort, Bach’s St Matthew Passion with BBC NOW, Haydn’s Creation with the Arctic Philharmonic, regular residencies at the Carmel Bach Festival in the USA, and Mhairi continues her recital collaboration with Eugene Asti.
A keen recitalist, engagements have included songs from the British folksong tradition and Lieder by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Strauss and Wolf with appearances in the Edinburgh Festival, Newcastle and York Universities, recordings for BBC Radio 3, and a recital with lutenist Elizabeth Kenny as part of the St Magnus International Festival.
Countertenor William Towers
William Towers read English at Cambridge University and was a postgraduate scholar at the Royal Academy of Music. He appeared extensively as a soloist in Sir John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach Cantata Pilgrimage and his performances in the complete Bach series have been issued on CD.
His opera engagements have included Medoro (Handel Orlando) and Farnace (Mozart Mitridate Re di Ponto) for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden; Oberon (Britten A Midsummer Night’s Dream) for Teatro La Fenice Venice, Teatro Petruzzelli Bari, Teatro Municipale Valli Reggio Emilia, Staatsoper Hanover, for the Royal Opera at the Linbury, and for the Aldeburgh Festival; Apollo (Britten Death in Venice) for La Monnaie Brussels, Staatstheater Stuttgart, Luxembourg Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Prague State Opera, Aldeburgh Festival, Oper Frankfurt and the Bregenz Festival; Ottone (Handel Agrippina), Ruggiero (Vivaldi Orlando Furioso) and Egeo (Handel Teseo) for Frankfurt; Ottone (Handel Ottone) and Ozia (La Guiditta) at the Casa da Musica Porto; Orfeo (Gluck Orfeo) in Monte-Carlo; Ottone (Monteverdi L’incoronazione di Poppea) for the Teatro Real Madrid and Frankfurt; Orlando (Handel Orlando) at the Goettingen Festival, at the Drottningholm Theatre and with the Philharmonia Baroque in San Francisco; Giunio (Porpora L’Agrippina) for the Barber Institute; Poro (Handel Poro) at the Goettingen Festival; Giulio Cesare (Handel Giulio Cesare) for Gothenburg Opera; Unulfo (Handel Rodelinda) for the Bolshoi Moscow; Marco Fabio (Caldara Lucio Papirio Dittatore) for Buxton International Festival; Radamisto (Handel Radamisto) for English Touring Opera; Cristiano Mago (Handel Rinaldo) for Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Lotario (Handel Lotario) for the London Handel Festival; and Eustazio (Handel Rinaldo) for Grange Park Opera.
Equally at home in contemporary work William’s roles include 5th Innocent in Harrison Birtwistle’s Minotaur for the Royal Opera Covent Garden, John Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary for Theater Bonn, The Guest in the UK premiere of Salvatore Sciarrino’s Luci mie traditrici, Bishop Baldwyn in Birtwistle’s Gawain, Der Leiermann in Benedict Mason’s Playing Away, Lance in the world premiere of Paul Frehner’s Sirius on Earth and Little James in Birtwistle’s The Last Supper.
His oratorio and recital schedule has featured appearances in many major venues and festivals in the UK and abroad, including the Wigmore Hall, Symphony Hall Birmingham, Barbican Hall, Royal Albert Hall, the Grosses Festspielhaus Salzburg, Konzerthaus Vienna, Fundación Juan March Madrid, National Auditorium Madrid, Three Choirs Festival, Ravenna Festival, Flanders Early Music Festival, the Festivale de Musique Ancienne de Lyon and La Chaise Dieu. Recent concert performances include Handel’s Solomon in Estonia and Latvia, Handel’s Belshazzar with Nicholas McGegan in San Francisco, Bach’s Mass in B minor with Orquestra Simfonica De Les Illes Balears and Jonathan Cohen, Handel’s Messiah in Dresden with the MDR and with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Laurence Cummings, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Lars Vogt, Bach’s St John Passion with the BBCNOW and John Butt, Bach’s Easter Oratorio with the BBCNOW and Steven Devine, and the premiere of Harrison Birtwistle’s Angel Fighter in the Leipzig Bach Festival.
Recent highlights have included William’s role debut as the Refugee in Jonathan Dove’s Flight for Pacific Opera, Victoria Canada, and reprising the role of include reprising the role of Cristiano Mago in Rinaldo for Glyndebourne Festival Opera on tour. The 2020/21 season sees the release of William’s solo disc ‘Handelian Pyrotechnics’ with the Armonico Consort on Signum Classics.
Tenor Jamie MacDougall
Born in Glasgow, Jamie MacDougall, since 2001, has been Scotland’s voice for classical music on BBC Radio Scotland presenting Grace Notes and Classics Unwrapped. His voice can be heard regularly presenting for BBC Radio 3 and for 16 years he’s anchored the BBC TV’s Proms in the Park from Glasgow as part of the Last Night of the Proms Festivities.
Away from broadcasting Jamie continues to enjoy a busy singing career that takes him around the world.
In 2017 he was Artist in Residence at the St Andrews Voices Festival and together with pianist Tim Dean launched Scotland’s first song recital group, Song Tellers. As a recitalist, Jamie has performed with pianists Malcolm Martineau, Susan Tomes, Graham Johnson, Roger Vignoles and Julius Drake, appearing at the Edinburgh International Festival, the Perth Festival, Australia, the Salzburg and Aldeburgh Festivals.
On the concert platform he has worked with some of the world’s top baroque, chamber and symphony orchestras, including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the St Louis and Houston Symphony Orchestras and most recently the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra in Australia.
In 2014 he took his show Inspirations to the Wintergarten in Berlin and subsequently to Mexico and America. Jamie’s extensive discography of over 45 titles, covers baroque and classical, German, Scottish and English song as well as 20th century music. With the Haydn Trio Eisenstadt he released the 20 CD collection of Haydn Folksong arrangements. His most recent recording with Trio van Beethoven of Beethoven Folk songs will be released in 2018.
In a co-production with Scottish Opera Jamie staged an adaptation of Jimmy Logan’s one man play, Lauder! that helped mark the 150th anniversary of the Theatre Royal in Glasgow. There are plans to take this ‘play with tunes’ on tour in 2019.
Baritone Stephan Loges
Born in Dresden, Stephan Loges was an early winner of the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition. Apart from regular appearances at the Wigmore Hall, recitals have since taken him to venues like New York’s Carnegie Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Vienna Konzerthaus and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
In concert, he has appeared with the MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sapporo Symphony Orchestras; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden and Ensemble Pygmalion.
Operatic highlights include Wolfram Tannhäuser and Papageno Die Zauberflöte at La Monnaie Brussels, Begearss in Milhaud’s La mère coupable and Sprecher Die Zauberflöte at Theater an der Wien; Golaud Pélleas et Mélisande with English Touring Opera; Bruno in Macmillan’s Parthenogenesis for ROH Covent Garden; Moritz in Mernier’s Frühlings Erwachen at Opéra National du Rhin; Astrologer in Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace at the Diabelli Sommer festival, The Blind Man and Father in the world première of Mark Grey’s Frankenstein at La Monnaie, and The Rake’s Progress in a co-production between the opera houses of Caen, Limoges, Reims and Luxembourg.
Recent and future highlights include Boris Berezovsky in the world premiere of The Life & Death of Alexander Litvinenko for Grange Park Opera, a return to English Touring Opera for his role debut as Don Alfonso Così fan tutte and a staged production of Bach’s St John Passion, his role debut as Falke Die Fledermaus with Northern Ireland Opera, and concert performances with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, The English Concert, Residentie Orkest, Gabrieli Consort and Orquestra XXI in repertoire including Bach Brahms, Elgar and Berlioz. Current recital appearances include the Wigmore Hall, Oxford Lieder Festival and Lied Festival Victoria De Los Angeles, Barcelona.
The RSNO Chorus performs in around six different programmes in up to twenty concerts across Scotland with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra each year. The RSNO Chorus has also had great success in recording with the Orchestra. Its recordings, amongst others, of Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, conducted by Neeme Jӓrvi, and Holst’s The Planets, conducted by David Lloyd-Jones, have both attracted high critical acclaim.
In addition to its commitment to the Orchestra, the RSNO Chorus performs independently and has been invited to perform with orchestras in many parts of the world, establishing an international status and touring to Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Israel, Germany, Belfast, Australia, Trondheim and most recently, Amsterdam and Prague. In 2018 it performed Britten’s War Requiem with the RSNO at the BBC Proms.
The RSNO Chorus evolved from a choir formed in 1843 to sing the first full performance of Handel’s Messiah in Scotland. Today, it is one of the most successful choruses in the UK. In recent years, it has performed practically every work in the standard choral repertoire along with contemporary works by renowned composers, including John Adams, Magnus Lindberg, Howard Shore and James MacMillan.
RSNO Chorus Director Stephen Doughty
Stephen Doughty is Chorus Director of the RSNO Chorus and enjoys a varied career as a freelance musician. Commencing his appointment of the RSNO Chorus in September 2022, he previously spent 13 years as the Chorus Master of Belfast Philharmonic Choir who, in addition to their regular performances with the Ulster Orchestra, have given a number of world premieres. He particularly enjoys working with amateur singers and is Musical Director of Edinburgh Bach Choir (since 2017) and has been Musical Director of the Garleton Singers since 1994. Over the years he has also run several, highly-successful ‘come & sing’ events raising funds for a number of charities.
Stephen held the position of Director of Music of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Edinburgh for 18 years, directing the 30-voice choir through the full range of sung services which also included large-scale, orchestrally-accompanied services during the Edinburgh Festival.
As a keyboard player, he plays harpsichord/organ continuo and orchestral piano with all the Scottish orchestras as well as the Ulster Orchestra and has given frequent organ recitals including several four-star recitals on the grand Mulholland Organ in the Ulster Hall, Belfast.
He has compiled a large portfolio of arrangements and orchestrations, particularly for young voices and has received commissions from Children’s Classic Concerts, Ulster Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Recent orchestrations include the premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Seek him that maketh the seven stars and a classical/folk crossover with award-winning band Dallahan marking the anniversary of the Battle of Loos. In addition, the BBC have commissioned a number of arrangements which have been performed at Proms in the Park and BBC Alba and his pieces feature on several recordings.
Finally, he is an Examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.