When the bands have stopped playing and the craft stalls packed away their produce tomorrow (Saturday, September 21), the atmosphere at Heptonstall Festival will change for an all-star candlelit evening concert under canvas in the ruins of the ancient St Thomas a Becket Church.
Very well known to concert-goers in and around the Calder Valley, baritone David Owen Lewis will be singing a programme of romantic arias, Neapolitan love songs and hits from the shows, together with international concert pianist, Margaret Bruce.
David Owen-Lewis was born in the Swansea Valley. He started singing at an early age and has never stopped. He studied at the National Welsh College of Music and Drama and his life has been one long adventure in music ever since.
Having started his career at the end-of-the-pier and then being a member of Opera North for a quarter century, he always found time for oratorio, concerts, music-hall and cabaret, including several years with Pennine Spring Music in Heptonstall. He starred in the Handel opera performed in the old church ruins in 1998.
He now performs regularly with Margaret Bruce in Britain, France and Italy. But equally important to him is his work with Moodswings and Streetwise Opera in Manchester, sharing music with the homeless and people with bi-polar conditions, and also with Mind in Bradford.
Canadian born Margaret Bruce has had an entire repertoire of music written for her by composers as famous as Herbert Howells and Lennox Berkeley. Born on the Pacific Coast, she received a scholarship to Toronto’s Royal Conservatory in her mid teens.
At 18 she came to the Royal College of Music in London and her British debut in 1968 was in Winchester Cathedral and Wigmore Hall. With Peter Gellhorn she established Canadians and Classics at St. Johns Smith Square.
She’s played Mozart at the Barbican with the Royal Philharmonic, Liszt in Slovakia, and varied recitals throughout North America and Europe. The Czech composer Tucapsky has written various work for her, including Tara’s Song for her young grand-daughter. Margaret has held many concerts over the years at her home at Walshaw Lodge and has performed at Pennine Spring. She now plays with David Owen Lewis across the UK and Europe.
Nineteen year old Iyad Sughayer is a young virtuoso Jordanian/Palestinian pianist who studied at Chethams School in Manchester and is now at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he has just been runner-up in the International Concerto Competition. Playing since age of five, Iyad is no stranger to the international stage, having performed in the Middle East, Russia, UK and other countries in Europe.
As well as a solo pianist, Iyad has played concertos with the European Chamber Orchestra, the Prague Youth Orchestra, Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra, Buxton Chamber Orchestra, Cairo Symphony Orchestra and Amman Symphony Orchestra. He has also been awarded 1st prizes in the Chetham’s Concerto Competition and the Chetham’s Beethoven Competition.
He is performing extensively particularly in the UK, his native Jordan and recently at the Madinat Jumeirah Theatre in Dubai and the Mashrek International School in Amman (under the patronage of HRH Princess Rym Ali). He has made a number of recent live recordings of Mozart (Adagio in B Minor and Piano Concerto no 18) and Chopin (Nocturne No 1). He played stunningly at this year’s Pennine Spring Music in Heptonstall, where he was the star of the week.
Victoria Sharp is a leading soprano with the Opera North chorus, of which she has been a member for 25 years. She is currently performing nationwide as the Lady in Waiting in Verdi’s Macbeth, as Ninetta in Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges and in Britten’s Peter Grimes. Her past roles for Opera North have included Barbarina (Le Nozze di Figaro), Despina (Cosi Fan Tutti) and Fasquita (Carmen). She has given a renowned performance of Turandot in which she will sing the title role.
She is a performer much in demand for her oratorio and musical singing around the UK and abroad. She has recent given what was described as a blazing performance at an opera gala of classics in Ilkley, singing Puccini, Lehar, Paganini and Heuberger. She is giving a Christmas performance of Mozart at The Mansion in Leeds.
Vicky has appeared at the Edinburgh Festival, the Cheltenham Festival, the Royal Albert Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Hall. And, of course, she has starred many times with Opera North colleagues at Pennine Spring in Heptonstall.