Opera Brava present
"A Christmas Blessing"
a Carol Concert for 2020

Inspiration

I know that music alone has the power to transcend all things and my hope is that this concert will come across to you with all the love, joy and gratitude that it was recorded with and that you will be truly blessed by it this Christmas.

Amanda Buckland
Co-founder of Opera Brava

Amanda Buckland, Soprano

Amanda
Amanda Buckland

Amanda, joint founder of Opera Brava said, "We are very aware that people will be unable to attend Christmas concerts and performances this year and we wanted to bring some of the joy of Christmas to people and communities in the comfort of their own homes."

"All of us in the arts have faced a truly challenging time during the COVID-19 outbreak. This crisis has prevented us from doing what we love best: using art to connect with each other and our communities. We are thankful to have survived the crisis. We received a Culture Recovery Fund grant and with the ongoing help of our supporters, we can look ahead to 2021 with optimism."
"This concert is our way, as a collective group of singers and musicians, to say thank you and to bring some joy to many this Christmas time."

more about Amanda...

Robert Bottriell, Musical Director

Robert
Robert Bottriell
"I am incredibly proud and humbled to have been a part of something very special. A Christmas Blessing has been brought together by a wonderful group of artists and the brainchild of the lovely Mandy and Bronek Pomorski. Their company Opera Brava has teamed up with Gielgud Films and incredibly talented sound and film professionals to bring together the enormously talented Opera Brava Ensemble and the superbly gifted singers of Opera Brava past and present. I am truly thankful to each and everyone of them for helping bring this to fruition. I am so chuffed that we have been able to produce something that might bring some festive joy and succour at the end of what has been for many, the most difficult and challenging of years."
"A very merry Christmas to you all and I hope that 2021 brings us all better times and even some normality and that everyone can enjoy this Christmas Blessing and perhaps even sing along if they fancied it!"

more about Robert...

Anna Loveday, Mezzo Soprano

Anna
Anna Loveday

How has your life as a musician/singer differed this year due to Covid & Lockdown?

"Unfortunately from the beginning of the first lockdown all the opera work and concert work this year that I had been booked for, was unable to go ahead. It has been a very hard year with no performing and the choir that I conduct also being unable to rehearse and perform. I have been able to teach online thank goodness. I am very pleased to say, however, that all the operas that I should have done this year, were not cancelled, but postponed until 2021. I can't wait to get back on the stage, where I feel most at home."

Why did you decide to take part in A Christmas Blessing?

"Because it will be wonderful to be working once again with other performers in person rather than on the internet and hopefully, we will be able to provide some much needed Christmas cheer to the world."

more about Anna...

Emma Walsh, Soprano

Emma
Emma Walsh

How has your life as a musician/singer differed this year due to Covid & Lockdown?

"I became a mum just before lockdown and the collapse of our industry meant that I really struggled with my identity. I thought I was going to be a working mum and all of a sudden I was a stay at home mummy without clear goals in sight. I couldn’t practise - I lost my desire, my inspiration to make music. And yet life being a mum was joyous! So paradoxical. Lately however, (perhaps because I’m not quite so sleep deprived) I have found my mojo again. I’m singing for me - to hone my technique without pressure or judgement and I’m truly loving it. It’s giving me hope."

Why did you decide to take part in A Christmas Blessing?

"When the opportunity came along to take part in A Christmas Blessing, I jumped at the chance. I’m just dying for my beautiful little son Rex to see his mummy singing with wonderful musicians and lovely people. I love working with Opera Brava. I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with such a super company!"

more about Emma...

Dominic Walsh, Tenor

Dominic
Dominic Walsh

How has your life as a musician/singer differed this year due to Covid & Lockdown?

"We have all been forced into a limbo where we need to maintain our skills, but have nowhere to 'put’ them. Singing with Opera Brava, reminded me that although singing is my job, 50% of the role is sharing music with people. Music is interactive, it connects, it expresses. The Human Condition requires rhythm, pitch and emotion and we musicians have lost that in 2020."

Why did you decide to take part in A Christmas Blessing?

"With such a wonderful program, and one of extremely rare chances to perform in 2020, it was the easiest decision to make. This was my first chance to perform with Opera Brava. It was incredible. Few opera companies offer such positive, enjoyable and supportive environment in which we can make music, Opera Brava provides this and allows us to fill the world with music. The room was filled with love - for music and each other - which will carry us, and hopefully, those who listen, through the winter ahead."

more about Dominic...

Rose Hinton, Violinist

Rose
Rose Hinton

How has your life as a musician/singer differed this year due to Covid & Lockdown?

"My life as a performing violinist has been drastically affected by the Covid-19 lockdown. In March, my partner (a cellist) and I lost all of our work overnight; in time being forced to give up our rented accommodation in London and move to his family home in rural Kent. Lockdown has taught me to focus on what is most important in life. Namely family, good health, security and an appreciation of everything we have available to us. I know how lucky I am to have all of the above. The only thing currently missing in our lives is culture; more specifically musical culture and live performance!"

Why did you decide to take part in A Christmas Blessing?

"Having been starved of collaboration for so long, it was a wonderful feeling to be part of an ensemble again - especially one such as Opera Brava that is a close-knit group of kind and talented people. An opportunity to play heart-warming Christmas music alongside friends and colleagues held a very special significance this year. Music brings joy and comfort to audiences and rouses passion in those performing it. I believe that Opera Brava’s Christmas Blessing will generate these emotions in both its artists and audiences alike."

more about Rose...

Ian Beadle, Baritone

Ian
Ian Beadle

How has your life as a musician/singer differed this year due to Covid & Lockdown?

"Life has certainly been different. In March I was on tour with a production of The Marriage of Figaro when we got sent home before our final few performances. The beginning of lockdown was a great time to learn new roles and enjoy the countryside around me. As things began to open up my sideline business as a deep-tissue massage therapist took over and I was lucky to be able to work with clients. Alongside this I have been doing private singing lessons online and also doing screening on the door of a hospital."

Why did you decide to take part in the Christmas Blessing?

"The Christmas Blessing sounded like a wonderful project to be involved with. Opera Brava is a company that manages to make every production feel like a family. It was great to have the opportunity to be in a room with other musicians again and be able to spread a little cheer, which we all so need right now."

more about Ian...

Nicola Bates, Violinist

Nicola
Nicola Bates

How has your life as a musician/singer differed this year due to Covid & Lockdown?

"I started this year after having the best year of my performance career. Due to COVID and lockdown I was faced with the complete loss of all performance, tours and teaching. I actually had all of my work cancelled on the same day. During the first lockdown I began teaching on Zoom but all avenues for making my living from live music were closed to me. As a freelancer, I did not qualify for any help as I often get paid through orchestras payroll. So, faced with no income and no support, I decided to train as a Personal Trainer. This was a big financial investment but did keep me busy and fit. I have been lucky to work on remote recording projects after investing in software and recording equipment in the first lockdown by selling a much-loved bow. My life has altered beyond recognition but I am really thankful for every opportunity I have still had to make music."

Why did you decide to take part in the Christmas Blessing?

"This was the first live music project I had been offered since playing at the Brit Awards in February. I jumped at the chance to not only play again, but to play music that tells the true story of Christmas. It was an indescribable joy to be in the same space as other musicians, many of whom are friends and to make music together again."

more about Nikki...

Cast & Credits

O little town of Bethlehem
traditional carol
Arranged by Vaughan Williams
Katherine Blumenthal, Emma Walsh, Natasha Day, Anna Loveday, Jane Haughton, Dominic Walsh, Martin Rendle, Ian Beadle, Aiden Smith.

Coventry Carol
Arranged by Martin Shaw
Persha Darling, Anna Loveday, Roger Paterson, Aiden Smith.

Sussex Carol
traditional carol
Arranged by David Willcocks
Amanda Buckland, Persha Darling, Alison Dunne, Jane Haughton, Dominic Walsh, Roger Paterson, Håkan Vramsmo, Aiden Smith.

The little road to Bethlehem
Michael Head
Persha Darling, Katherine Blumenthal, Emma Walsh.

The Three Kings
Peter Cornelius
Arranged by Ivor Atkins
Persha Darling, Katherine Blumenthal, Alison Dunne, Jane Haughton, Martin Rendle, Roger Paterson, Ian Beadle, Jamie Rock, Håkan Vramsmo.

Advent 1955
John Betjeman
David Corbett

Shepherd’s Pipe Carol
John Rutter
Katherine Blumenthal, Persha Darling, Natasha Day, Anna Loveday, Alison Dunne, Dominic Walsh, Martin Rendle, Håkan Vramsmo, Aiden Smith.

In the bleak midwinter
Harold Darke
Amanda Buckland, Anna Loveday, Martin Rendle, Ian Beadle.

O Holy night
Adolphe Adam
Natasha Day, Dominic Walsh.

Hark the Herald Angels sing
Felix Mendelssohn
Amanda Buckland, Emma Walsh, Natasha Day, Anna Loveday, Alison Dunne, Roger Paterson, Martin Rendle, Håkan Vramsmo, Aiden Smith.

The Irish Blessing
Bob Chilcott
Amanda Buckland, Jane Haughton, Roger Paterson, Ian Beadle.

See Amid the Winter Snow
Edwards Caswell
Arranged by Mark Edwards

Artistic Director
Bronek Pomorski
Musical Director
Robert Bottriell
Film Director and Editor
Suzanne Gielgud
Camera Operators
Suzanne Gielgud
Jos St Hilaire
Lucy Creamer
Scarlett Gielgud
Sound Recordist and Sound Mixer
Neil Costello
Technical Manager
David Rogers
Poetry Reading
David Corbett
Sopranos
Amanda Buckland
Katherine Blumenthal
Natasha Day
Emma Walsh
Persha Darling
Mezzo Sopranos
Alison Dunne
Anna Loveday
Jane Haughton
Tenors
Dominic Walsh
Martin Rendle
Roger Paterson
Baritones
Ian Beadle
Håkan Vramsmo
Jamie Rock
Bass
Aiden Smith


Musicians


Violin Leader
Nicola Bates
Violin
Rose Hinton
Viola
Becky Hopkin
Cello
Sarah Davison
Flute/Piccolo
Bethany Tempest
Clarinet
Julia Holmes
Oboe
Geoff Coates
Bassoon
Luke Tucker
Trumpet
Stephen Peneycad


Special Thanks


Father Michael Maine:
Holy Tinity Church, Cuckfield

The Cultural Recovery Fund

Kerry Jones:
Sea Blue Digital Marketing

Nick Lightbody:
Deskspace systems limited

Ensemble Arrangements:
Pocket Publications

Bevec

Edwards Films