Mary's career has encompassed a wide range of roles, including that of performer, teacher, coach and most recently broadcaster and writer. A popular and highly experienced mezzo soprano, Mary has worked with leading conductors and numerous orchestras across the world, and has made a particular feature of the contemporary classical repertoire.
Mary's versatility as a performer has allowed her career to encompass a wide range of vocal genres, from opera, oratorio, chamber music and recital through to musical theatre and straight plays.
She has had a long involvement with outreach and teaching, working with all the major companies in the UK as well as running training programmes both at home and abroad. During Mary's long association with English National Opera, she devised and ran a highly successful performance skills course, 'The Knack', for eleven years, and between 2004 and 2006 she was also an Artistic Associate for the company.
In September 2006, Mary became Head of Singing at Millennium Performing Arts Ltd., now based in new premises in Woolwich, South East London. In November of the same year, she was also appointed Director of Voicelab, a new initiative at London's Southbank Centre. From casting for professional projects to creating and training numerous choirs and small ensembles, Mary is at the heart of vocal activity at the Southbank Centre, encouraging vocal talent in all its manifestations.
Antony Pay also performs on period clarinets, and his recordings of the Mozart, Weber and Crusell Concertos are played on specially reconstructed instruments. He currently plays in Hausmusik and also with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, where he is a frequent soloist. He has written for the Journal Early Music, and contributed a chapter to the Cambridge Companion to the Clarinet. He is working on a book concerned mainly with the use of metaphor in teaching and in learning to play. He now teaches a Summer-course at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena.
Internationally acknowledged as one of the world's leading horn players, Michael Thompson is also regarded as a charismatic and inspirational teacher. As a conductor, he is known as a fine orchestral trainer and has received acclaim for his work with young musicians.
After studies at the Royal Academy of Music, he was appointed principal horn with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the age of eighteen. Within three years he was offered the principal horn positions of both the Philharmonia and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras. He joined the Philharmonia and remained in that post for ten years before leaving to concentrate on his solo and chamber music career. His work as director / soloist or conductor has seen him perform in Japan, Australia, the U.S.A. Europe and Scandinavia, including his debut with the Danish Radio Sinfonietta in Copenhagen, the Ostgota Winds Symphony in Sweden and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. In the UK he has directed the London Sinfonietta, Bournemouth Sinfonietta, Britten Pears Orchestra, Ulster Youth Orchestra and the Royal Academy's Sinfonia and Concert orchestras. He has conducted a number of community orchestras and was Principal Conductor of the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra from 2003 until 2008.
The London Sinfonietta is one of the world’s elite contemporary music ensembles with a reputation built on the virtuosity of its performances and ambitious programming. It is committed to placing new music at the heart of contemporary culture and pushing boundaries; the ensemble regularly undertakes projects with choreographers, video artists, film-makers and collaborations with electronica artists, jazz and folk musicians.
The creation of new music has been at the core of the London Sinfonietta’s work since its foundation in 1968. It has commissioned or premiered over 200 works, ranging from Luciano Berio, Harrison Birtwistle and Steve Reich to the emerging composers involved in its Blue Touch Paper project – including Tansy Davies, Larry Goves and Anna Meredith – an innovative initiative which gives the opportunity to take risks and develop ideas without the pressure of a public performance.
Born in Glasgow in 1952, Knussen grew up near London, where his father was principal double bass of the London Symphony Orchestra. It was with the LSO that he made his debut in April 1968, conducting his First Symphony in London and in Carnegie Hall, New York. In 1970 he was awarded the first of three fellowships to Tanglewood, where he studied with Gunther Schuller. During this time he completed several works which were subsequently widely performed on both sides of the Atlantic and established his early reputation. In 1975 Knussen returned permanently to the UK.
From 1983 till 1998, Knussen was an Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival, and also held posts at the Tanglewood Music Center and with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In 1992, with Colin Matthews, he established the Contemporary Composition and Performance courses at the Britten-Pears School in Snape.
After many years of close collaboration with the London Sinfonietta, Oliver Knussen became Music Director in 1998, and in 2002 was made Conductor Laureate. In 2006 he was appointed Artist in Association with the BCMG. Among his many awards are Honorary Memberships of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Royal Philharmonic Society, an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and the 2004 Association of British Orchestras Award. In 2006 he was named the second recipient of the Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize from Northwestern University, USA.
He has guest-conducted in many parts of the world, including in the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan. As a conductor he has recorded more than thirty CDs of contemporary music, several of which have won international awards - these include Robin Holloway's Concerto for Orchestra No.2, which won NMC's first Gramophone Award, and Maxwell Davies' opera Taverner.
He became a CBE in the 1994 Birthday Honours.
- MP3 DOWNLOAD£7.99
This disc couples two major works composed in the 1970s, Melencolia I and Meridian, a setting of love poetry, with Ritual Fragment, written in 1989. The works display Birtwistle's distinctive and forceful voice and range in mood from austere introspective journeying to moments of unbearable intensity.
Antony Pay clarinet
Mary King mezzo-soprano
Micjhael Thompson horn
Chrisdtopher van Kampen cello
London Sinfonietta Voices
Oliver Knussen conductor
"Needless to say, the performances, as one would expect from Oliver Knussen and the London Sinfonietta, are exemplary... no one should hesitate before acquiring this indispensable disc."
Recording date: 7 & 9 November 1991 (Meridian), 20 November 1991(Melencolia), 21 November 1991 (Fragment)
Recording venue: Rosslyn Hill Chapel, Hampstead (Meridian, Fragment), St Augustine's Church, Kilburn (Melencolia)
Engineers: Tryggvi Tryggvason, Andrew Hallifax, Geoffrey Miles for Modus Music
Producers: Oliver Knussen, Colin Matthews
Editing & mastering: Marian Freeman for Modus Music
Cover image: Adam Birtwistle
(P) 1993 NMC Recordings Ltd