Christopher Fletcher considers himself to be both fortunate and privileged to have been Plymouth Philharmonic Choir’s conductor since 1996, during which time the choir has come to be recognised as one of the best in the South West. As well as the choir’s regular concerts with professional orchestras and soloists in Plymouth he has conducted the choir in cathedrals and churches all over Europe, including Notre Dame in Paris.
Christopher was born in Leeds. At an early age he began to show considerable musical talent. At the age of ten he won the Northern Choirboy’s Championship in Harrogate singing Hear ye Israel from Mendelssohn’s Elijah and two years after this he became the first boy treble in the Bradford Diocese to be awarded the R.S.C.M. St. Nicolas Award.
In 1978 Christopher was awarded a scholarship to study at Trinity College of Music, London. After graduating Christopher moved to South Devon, since when he has been actively involved in choral singing, church music and teaching. He has been organist and Master of Music at Plymouth R. C. Cathedral since 2001, previously holding a similar post at the Parish and Priory Church of St. Mary, Totnes.
In addition to Plymouth Philharmonic Choir, Christopher is also currently conductor of the Stanborough Chorus, Kingsbridge, and is a former conductor of The Lupridge Singers, The Chagford Singers and the South Devon Choir.
As well as being in demand as a workshop teacher, Christopher helped to found the annual Rotary Club Come and Sing in1999.This is now an annual event which, under his direction, regularly attracts two hundred singers from all over Devon and beyond.
In 2008 he was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary International.
Catherine Hamilton, Soprano
Alison Kettlewell, Mezzo Soprano
Robyn Lyn Evans, Tenor
Darren Jeffery, Bass Baritone
Catherine Hamilton was the first singer to be awarded a Junior Exhibitioner’s scholarship in the history of the Royal Academy of Music at the age of ten. After gaining a BA Hons in Music and English from Southampton University, she returned to the RAM on the post-graduate opera course and was awarded the Diploma of Advanced Studies and an LRAM with Distinction. During her time there, she was chosen to be a soloist for an official recording for HRH Prince William.
Catherine is a versatile performer whose international career has encompassed opera, oratorio, recitals and musical theatre. She made her West End debut in the acclaimed production of Masterclass and toured Germany as Christine in ‘Das Phantom der Oper’. Her many operatic roles have taken her throughout Europe and closer to home for Opera Holland Park’s summer season and Devon Opera’s recent Autumn Gala.
As a soloist for oratorio, Catherine has sung extensively in major venues across the UK and Europe and her recital highlights include singing for the ambassador at the Spanish Institute and The Barbican in London. She was also chosen for the regional premiere of ‘The Great War Symphony’ by Patrick Hawes and a specially commissioned work for the Mayflower 400 celebrations.
Alison Kettlewell was born in Taunton, Somerset and graduated in drama before studying singing at the Royal Northern and on the Opera Course at the Royal College of Music. She was a winner of the AsLiCo Competition for Young Opera Singers of Europe and a finalist in the Kathleen Ferrier Awards.
Highlights include Madame Larina Eugene Onegin for Scottish Opera; Venus in Tannhäuser and Fricka and Waltraute in Der Ring des Nibelungen for Longborough Festival Opera, where her performances were reviewed as “magnificent” and “outstanding”; and Siegrune Die Walküre in concert with the Hallé Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder (BBC Radio 3 broadcast and CD release).
Operatic roles include Charlotte Werther, Suzuki Madama Butterfly, Dorabella Così fan tutte and The Secretary The Consul (Opera Holland Park); Kate Pinkerton Madama Butterfly and Mercédès Carmen (Raymond Gubbay); Donna Elvira Don Giovanni (Como, Pisa and Lucca); Diamantina L’isola di Merlino (Cremona, Mantova and Brescia); Dorisbe Gustavo il re di Svezia (Montepulciano Festival); Diana La Calisto (Batignano Festival); Ramise Arminio (London Handel Festival) and Lucilla La scala di seta (Wexford Festival Opera). Concert performances include Delilah Samson and Delilah at the Brangwyn Hall; and Dangeville Adriana Lecouvreur (Chelsea Opera Group).
Contemporary opera roles have included Matilda and George Cautionary Tales by Errollyn Wallen (Opera North); Mother The Juniper Tree by Roderick Watkins (Almeida Opera, Munich Biennale) and Servant in Param Vir’s Ion (Opéra national du Rhin and Music Theatre Wales in Strasbourg, Berlin and the Linbury Theatre at the Royal Opera House). She also sang the role of Giraffe Early Earth Operas (ENO Baylis).
On the concert platform, her repertoire includes the Bach Passions through to Elgar The Dream of Gerontius and Verdi Requiem. She sang Mary in Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ with the Northern Sinfonia and has performed with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players, and the Orchestra of St John’s at the Barbican, Royal Albert Hall, Symphony Hall, Birmingham and live on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune.
Robyn Lyn Evans is from Ceredigion in mid Wales and is a postgraduate of the Royal College of Music, a graduate of Trinity College Carmarthen, and recipient of the Stuart Burrows Bursary.
His operatic roles include Rodolfo La bohème (English National Opera, Mid Wales Opera, Diva Opera); Don José, Carmen, Alfredo La traviata and Macduff Macbeth (Scottish Opera); Lord Cecil and Roberto Devereux, Ismaele Nabucco, Lord Hervey Anna Bolena (Welsh National Opera); Malcolm Macbeth (Opera North); Don Ottavio Don Giovanni and Rodolfo La bohème (English Touring Opera); Pinkerton Madama Butterfly and Ruggero La rondine (West Green House Opera); Lensky Eugene Onegin, Luigi Il tabarro (Mid Wales Opera); Duke of Mantua Rigoletto (Opera Project, Longborough Festival Opera); Cavaradossi Tosca, Rinuccio Gianni Schicchi and Fenton Falstaff (Opera Project); Nemorino L’elisir d’amore; and Alfred Die Fledermaus (Pavilion Opera).
Robyn can be frequently heard on the concert platform with countless performances from the oratorio repertoire and appearances which have taken him to the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Philharmonic Hall Liverpool, Usher Hall Edinburgh, St David’s Hall Cardiff, as well as guest soloist with choirs touring Europe.
Eddie Wade was warded first place and the Verdi/Wagner Prize at the National Mozart Competition in 1996, Eddie Wade made his Royal Opera House debut as the Mandarin in Turandot in the same season, and has since performed many varied roles with leading companies internationally.
Eddie has sung with all the major British opera companies and has worked with many of the world’s leading conductors, including Sir Charles Mackerras, Sir Mark Elder, Esa Pekka Salonen, Sir Antonio Pappano, Maurizio Benini, Mark Wigglesworth, Carlo Rizzi, Philippe Auguin, Andris Nelsons and Jakub Hrůša.
Recent and notable opera performances include Baron Douphol La Traviata for Nederlandse Reisopera, Julio The Exterminating Angel (Adés) for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Donald Billy Budd for Opera North, Sharpless Madama Butterfly for Den Jyske Opera, Fouquier Tinville Andrea Chenier for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, Baron Douphol La Traviata for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Sonora La Fanciulla del West for Opera North, Prince Arjuna Satyagraha and Mereia/Lepidus Caligula for English National Opera, Gunther Götterdämmerung for Longborough Festival Opera, Eustachio L’Assedio di Calais for English Touring Opera, Rigoletto Rigoletto for Scottish Opera, Speaker Magic Flute, Conte Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro, Foreman Jenůfa, Peter Hansel and Gretel for Welsh National Opera and Baron Douphol La Traviata for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.
Pietro Perugino’s depiction of Mary at the Cross, 1482. (National Gallery, Washington)
STABAT MATER TRANSLATION
The Stabat Mater is a 13th-century Christian hymn to Mary, which portrays her suffering as Jesus Christ’s mother during his crucifixion.
The Latin words and their meaning in a Mass or Requiem are familiar as our choir have sung them many times. Stabat Mater is quite different. It is a 13th century poem attributed to Jacopone da Todi and several composers have used the text in their works. If you are interested in learning more about the meaning of the words that we are singing, one of our tenor singers has produced a translation and has adapted it from a series of English translations on a fascinating website: https://stabatmater.info/stabat-mater-english-translation/. The website is a mine of information – enjoy!