Petersfield Festival soloists spread their wings

Sarah Hard follows the progress of some of the stars of the 2022 Petersfield Musical Festival.

Three vocal soloists who recently starred in Petersfield Musical Festival’s choral concert have climbed the professional ladder this summer with appearances at the prestigious Glyndebourne and Garsington Opera Festivals. Michael Ronan, Amy Holyland and Ella de Jongh were all picked for ‘big break’ solo roles on the world-class stages. Ella was brought up and lives in East Harting.

“PMF was a fantastic experience, especially as a very local soprano, returning to my home town to perform in one of the biggest musical events in the calendar was a joy,” commented Ella, who appeared as lead soprano in Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise at the Festival Hall.

“As a Young Artist, it’s imperative that we have encouragement and safe performance spaces in which to thrive. Petersfield Music Festival provided a platform for us fledgling artists to spread our wings and learn to fly,” she added.

Michael Ronan and Amy Holyland also made their debuts on the main stage at Glyndebourne with small solo roles in Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias. The hilarious and colourful production, directed by Laurent Pelly, stunned the audience with its whacky surrealist antics and received five star accolades in the national press.

Michael and Amy were the bass and mezzo, respectively, in PMF’s choral concert featuring Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus and Haydn’s Mariazeller Mass last March.

Ella continued: PMF was “a fantastic warm-up ready for a busy summer season at Garsington: I was fortunate enough to be covering Miss Jessel in The Turn of the Screw and Foreign Princess in Rusalka. The season took a turn when I received a call at 9am on  9th July to say that the principal had been struck by Covid so I made my Garsington Opera debut, winning the Simon Sanbach Chorus Award for my performance and contribution to the season. “

PMF supports young musicians in their early careers as part of its charitable objectives. In a different arena, flautist Shoshana Yugin-Power, twice winner of the PMF Festival of Young Composers in  January 2016 and February 2022, also made further professional strides when she came first in the Winchester Symphony Orchestra’s Soloist competition in July. The competition, which demanded the performance of a full concerto backed by the WSO, was adjudicated by eminent conductors Christopher Seaman and Robin Browning and was held in Hampshire’s Thornden Hall.

‘Yugin-Power [is] clearly a remarkable all-round musician and she established an immediate rapport with the audience. Her confident character and musical communication gave her the edge on the night,” said Seaman. On this occasion she performed the Reinecke concerto with its elegant decorative and expressive passage-work for flute.

Shoshana is a student at Bedales school. She impressed the PMF judges earlier this year with her idiomatic and creative writing for flute, and demonstrated a sure control of her instrument and power of communication in a performance to an enthusiastic audience at the Festival’s lunchtime recital.

Next up in PMF’s musical calendar is an open choral workshop on 24th September featuring Mozart’s Mass in C Minor conducted by Paul Spicer.

Photo: Ella de Jongh