Ragnar Rasmussen is Full Professor in Choir Conducting at the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Tromsø, Norway and artistic director/conductor of the Mimas Chamber Choir, Tromsø, the Coro Giovanile Italiano and the international chamber choir ‘Utopia & Reality’. He was conductor of the Norwegian National Youth Choir in 2008-10, the World Youth Choir in 2010 and the Catalan Youth Choir in 2014. He works frequently with professional choirs and orchestras, and gives masterclasses for choral conductors throughout Europe.
Ragnar is often a member of juries at prestigious national and international choir and conducting competitions. As a composer, he has written several a cappella works, vocal/instrumental works and one opera. In 2012 he was recognised as a member of the Norwegian Society of Composers.
Ragnar has been awarded numerous awards in Norway and abroad, and has been appointed a member of the Norwegian Association for Composers. In December 2008 Ragnar was awarded the Honorary Prize of the Town of Tromsø for his extraordinary artistic achievements, his contribution to artistic enjoyment among his fellow citizens, and his contributions to positive profiling of his home town in Norway and abroad. In December 2009 the Norwegian Choral Association awarded him the Norwegian Choir Prize 2009 for his dedicated work at all levels in his homeland’s choral life.
Aarne is a board member of the IFCM, the Estonian Choral Association and Music Council, and the Council of the World Choir Games. He is Artistic Director/Founder of Estonian Television Girls’ and Children’s Choirs and Principal of Tallinna Georg Ots Music College. He is an educator and producer, and a guest conductor for choral and orchestral projects. He gives masterclasses, ateliers and presentations around the world, including the World Music Forum, the IFCM World Symposium, the ACDA, Polyfollia and Europa Cantat festivals.
Aarne conducted one of the world’s biggest choirs, the Estonian Song Celebration Choir, with 25 000 singers in front of an audience of 100 000. Television and radio productions include the Eurovision Song Contest, the RAI UNO World Christmas Concert, BBC programmes, West Deutsche Rundfunk, Danish Radio, and Finnish, Latvian and Russian television productions.
Aarne worked with Michael Jackson on his HIStory world tour and was Artistic Director of HM Elizabeth II and Their Majesties Japanese Emperor and Empress State Visit Concerts. He has won many awards over the years, including the Order of the White Star of the Republic of Estonia, the Arezzo Foundation Guidoneum Award 2012, Musician of the Year 2007 from Estonian Public National Broadcast and Conductor of the Year 2007 from the Estonian Choral Association.
Born in Belfast, Christopher studied at the University of Edinburgh. He is starting his 13th season as Chorus Director of the Grant Park Music Festival, Chicago, USA (a 100-voice professional choir), 19th year as founder and Artistic Director of the National Youth Choir of Scotland, 7th season as Chorus Master of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, and 21st season as Director of the RSNO Junior Chorus. In 2009 he was appointed Associate Conductor of the Ulster Orchestra and leads them annually in up to five programmes.
His extensive work with young people has included directing the TOTAL Aberdeen Youth Choir for five years, and he was the founder and Artistic Director of the Ulster Youth Choir from 1999 to 2004. Recent recordings in the last year include Songs of Smaller Creatures (a cappella American works) with the Grant Park Chorus, and works for upper voices and two pianos by Richard Rodney Bennett with the NYCoS National Girls Choir and Philip Moore and Andrew West (Signum Label).
In 2009 the Open University awarded him an honorary Master of the University for his services to music and the arts. He holds an honorary doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and in 2013 Chorus America awarded him the Michael Korn Founders Award for the Development of the Professional Choral Art.
Mairead Hurley is Head of Vocal and Drama Studies at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama. She studied piano under at the RIAM and music at UCD, graduating from there with a BMus. Further studies include the repetiteur’s course at the London National Opera Studio and a First Class Honours MMus degree at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama.
Mairead was Head of Music at Opera Ireland from 1998 to 2010. As part of a DIT/Opera Ireland liaison, she was music director for Mozart’s Da Ponte Trilogy presented in the Gaiety Theatre from 2001-2004 and again in 2006. With a repertoire of some 60 operas to date, she has also worked for Wexford Festival Opera, Opera Theatre Company, Opera Northern Ireland and Lyric Opera. Her work with RTE includes the RTE Proms, the RTE Naxos recording of Aida, many recitals, and regular work with both the NSO and RTE Concert Orchestras.
Mairead performs regularly in recital at the NCH, John Field Room, Wexford Festival, Boyle Festival and many more. 2012 saw her make her debut at the prestigious Wigmore Hall in London. She has also officiated at many music festivals and masterclasses throughout the country, including Gerhard Markson’s very successful series of conducting classes in conjunction with the NSO and Dublin Masterclasses.
Greg Beardsell is a leading light in music education and performance. He is Musical Director of the Irish Youth Choir, Deputy Artistic Director of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and Artistic Director of the Ulster Youth Choir, and he has recently been appointed Choral Director for the Gabrieli Young Singers Scheme. He works extensively as a conductor, singer, adjudicator, workshop leader and presenter.
Between 2004 and 2009 Greg was Music Director of the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and in July of last year he ended his tenure as Music Director of the Wooburn Singers. In recent years Greg has worked with the St. Endellion Festival Chorus, the BBC Symphony Chorus, the London Bach Choir and the London Symphony Chorus, and prepared choruses for conductors such as Marin Alsop, Edward Gardner and Sir Colin Davis. He has directed the Sagittarian Consort of Cambridge, the Classical Soloists Orchestra, period specialists La Nuova Musica, the National Youth Orchestras of Ireland and Ulster, the City of London Sinfonia, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra.
Greg was the Official Host for Choir of the Year 2012 and will be performing this role again for 2014. In 2012, Greg taught Craig Revel Horwood, Josie Lawrence and Marcus de Sautoy for BBC 2’s series Maestro at the Opera and throughout 2013 was a guest presenter on The Choir on BBC Radio 3.
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