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Music Seminars in Sillico, Italy
and its Inspiration for Singers page
In great demand as an international concert singer, voice teacher, vocal adjudicator and conference presenter, Martin Elliott’s career now concentrates itself in England, mainland Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Born in London as a national of both Britain and New Zealand, he has built a career specializing in the performance of oratorio and teaching the vocal art.
Educated as a chorister of Westminster Abbey, a music scholar at King’s School, Canterbury and a choral scholar at Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained an honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Martin continued his vocal studies as a postgraduate scholar on the opera course at the London Guildhall School of Music. He subsequently studied with the late Erich Vietheer and more recently with the renowned Wagner bass-baritone, Norman Bailey.
Making his London debut with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in Bellini’s opera I Puritani, Martin has since sung in the major concert halls of both hemispheres, specialising in oratorio and baroque music, but performing a range of repertoire with a great variety of organizations.
His career began with much early and contemporary music, working in nearly every European country and most of its major concert halls, from Norway’s Arctic Northern Lights Festival to Acco’s Festival of Voice in Israel. This included a ten-year period with the electro-acoustic ensemble Singcircle, renowned for their performances of Stockhausen’s Stimmung, singing at the BBC Proms, the World Music Days in Oslo, while making radio and CD recordings, and performing with such groups as Pierre Boulez’s Ensemble Contemporain in Paris.
Martin also appeared on numerous BBC Radio and Television programmes including a role in BBC TV’s “By the Sword Divided”. He sang in the Songmakers’ Almanac’s Schubertiad in the Wigmore Hall and for several years was baritone soloist with the Ballet Rambert, singing Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel and Mozart’s 6 Nocturnes in theatres throughout the UK and in the BBC TV’S ballet “The Cruel Garden”.
In 1992 he founded the Wren Baroque Soloists, making their debut with first recordings of Caldara’s Madrigals and Cantatas for Unicorn Kanchana, and later releasing music by Peerson for Collins Classics. Specialising in music by these composers and also Jeffreys, Purcell, Handel and Bach the ensemble toured Europe from Norway to Turkey, and visited the USA and Canada twice, making their American debut at the prestigious Friends of Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC.
In 1995 Martin started the Wren Baroque orchestra making its debut at London’s Barbican and then the Brighton Festival with performances of Bach’s “St Matthew Passion” and “St John Passion” in Novello’s new English edition by Neil Jenkins, with Neil as Evangelist and Martin as Christ.
Martin created the St Paul’s Experience in 1995 and 1996 at St Paul’s Cathedral, drawing singers, organists and directors from all over the world in the first ever choral and organ course of its kind at this esteemed establishment.
His recitals have often been in support of the Royal Society of Musicians, a charity helping musicians and their families suffering hardship through illness, infirmity and death, and of which Martin is a Court of Assistant. He has created his own unusual concert programmes with Canadian musicians, one for 2 basses and another called “Tenor and Baritone”, as well as touring his own solo recital programme “O for Oratorio” in Canada and New Zealand.
With this background, three teaching posts in England as well as a thriving private practice, Martin’s international career concentrates on oratorio concerts, recitals, masterclasses, and directing and tutoring a wide range of vocal courses. He adjudicated the 1999 Christchurch Competitive Vocal Festival and in 2002 was invited as guest panellist for the annual conference of the Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing in Melbourne presenting a paper and demonstration lecture “The Value of Oratorio to an Operatic Career”, which has since been published in the ANATS journal “The Voice”.
The new century has seen Martin give oratorio debuts in Australia for the Sydney Philharmonia (Bach’s B minor Mass), in New Zealand with the Christchurch City Choir (St. Matthew Passion), and the Auckland Choral Society (Messiah), and in Canada at Edmonton’s Winspear Centre (Bach’s Christmas Oratorio).
Recent oratorio concerts have included Mozart’s Requiem with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in Winchester Cathedral, England with David Hill, and a live broadcast for National Radio of Handel’s Messiah in Wellington, New Zealand, along with Verdi’s Requiem and Bach’s St Matthew Passion for the 100th anniversary of the Bach Elgar choir in Ontario, and also Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum, V. Williams’ 5 Mystical Songs and Rutter’s Mass for the Children in Auckland, New Zealand.
Next season Martin will sing Brahms’ German Requiem in Stratford and Toronto in Ontario, and the Faure Requiem in his home cathedral of Chichester. His teaching extends to running a course “Inspiration for Singers” in Sillico, Tuscany, an idyllic retreat in the mountains north of Lucca.
“Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs saw Martin Elliott approaching George Herbert's poetry with rare intelligence and attention to phrasing."
New Zealand Herald - 30th October 2006