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In the beginning...
Eleanor started her musical career as a pianist at Chetham’s School of Music where she won many prizes and awards, two performance diplomas (LGSM and ARCM) and was prizewinner at several international piano competitions. However, she quickly found a love of singing while performing Schoenberg’s expressionist chamber masterpiece, Pierrot Lunaire, with conductor Daniel Harding. It certainly wasn’t a conventional introduction to a singing career but then Eleanor is anything but conventional! She has since gone on to both play and sing at the highest level in the most prestigious concert halls all over Europe and the USA and has worked with many eminent instrumentalists, singers, groups and conductors such as Robert Craft, Richard Hickox, Pierre Boulez, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Colin Davis and Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
Since singing at Chetham’s School of Music both in the Chamber Choirs and in National Youth Choir, and as choral scholar at Kings College London Eleanor has always loved the complicity and bond of making music singing in choirs. Eleanor was a full-time member of the BBC Singers for nearly five years performing many world premieres live on BBC TV and Radio. She loved her time there as it was her first introduction to the London singing scene. She now sings regularly for the Monteverdi Choir and was proud to be part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations at the BBC Proms including a documentary on BBC2 in which Eleanor made an appearance talking about her experience and love of working with the choir. There are too many wonderful projects to mention but highlights have been the USA tour of Beethoven Missa Solemnis in 2012, Bizet’s Carmen at the Opéra Comique in Paris 2009 and Monteverdi Vespers at the Salzburg Festival 2014. In 2015, it has been a busy year of around 40 concerts with the choir touring all round Europe and the USA in repertoire as diverse as Bach, Monteverdi, Mozart and Janacek (see Concerts page). Eleanor’s diverse musical experiences include singing on many film soundtracks such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and many, many others including backing vocals for the Norwegian rock band Nightwish whose CD was released in April 2015.
Eleanor started her professional musical life as a pianist, gaining two performance diplomas while still at school, competing internationally, giving recitals and concertos and recording a CD all before the age of 19. While studying singing at college she played for countless singing lessons and has since gone on to record on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM as a chamber musician and accompanist.
As repetiteur, she has worked at the RAM, National Opera Studio, RNCM, British Kodály Academy and Abingdon Summer School for Solo Singers and plays regularly for the Monteverdi Choir for masterclasses and auditions and has recently become an accompanist at Trinity College of Music and Goldsmiths College. In 2015 she played the Brahms Liebesliederwaltzer and Schubert part-songs at the WIgmore Hall with John Eliot Gardiner which received critical acclaim in The Times (see press page). Eleanor collaborates with violinist Ofer Falk and several singers. Eleanor has recently formed a clarinet trio, Trio Elfin, with colleagues from the English Baroque soloists, violist, Lisa Cochrane and clarinetist, Fiona Mitchell. (see concerts)
Eleanorʼs repertoire is incredibly varied and eclectic; highlights include performances of the Mozart's arr. Handel's Messiah at King’s College, Cambridge/Stephen Cleobury for BBC Radio 3, Stravinsky Russian Folk Songs/Pierre Boulez at the BBC Proms and Tchaikowsky Were I A Blade of Grass with the BBC Concert Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth both for BBC Radio 3. On the opera stage, Eleanor has sung the roles of Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Hannah Glawari (Merry Widow), 1st Lady (Magic Flute) and several small roles, including Masha (Queen of Spades) with the Kirov Opera/Gianandrea Noseda and has recorded Young Virgin with Robert Craft (Moses und Aaron) and Russian Mother with SIr Richard Hickox (Death in Venice) for Naxos.
(Eleanor with Tanya Holt at the Crazy Coqs, London)
In the field of contemporary music, Eleanor believes it vital to champion new music and as a soloist, regularly sings new and rarely performed works. She commissioned Nicola LeFanu, Adam Gorb, Matthew Taylor, Benjamin Wallwisch and Robert Keeley to write for her for the W.H. Auden centenary in 2007 which she took on a UK tour. She has premiered Alan Charlton’s Look and Bow Down at the Barbican, Mark David Bodenʼs Siegfried Stanzas at the British Composer Awards which was recorded live on BBC Radio 3 among others. With her huge experience in performing new and frequently highly demanding works, she sees it as a mission to encourage the next generation of composers to write for voices and is proud to have given workshops in writing for the voice at the Royal Northern College of Music (Professor Adam Gorb) and at Oxford University (Dr. Martyn Harry). In a lighter vein, Eleanor has an exciting and vivacious cabaret duo, newly re-formed, called Take Two Cabaret with pianist and singer Terry Saunders in which both play and sing and swop roles, sometimes mid-song.
Eleanor was trained in Kodály while at Chethams and feeling frustrated by the low standard of general musicianship enrolled at the British Kodály Academy to learn how to teach the fundamentals of music to children. She now attends the BKA regularly as both singing teacher and in the advanced solfègge classes with professors from the Liszt Academy. Eleanor has given workshops for teachers on how to teach using Kodály tools, in addition to her workshops on how to write for the voice (Oxford University, Royal Northern College of Music and BBC Singers Education workshops). She is hugely proud to be a mentor with the Monteverdi Choir’s apprenticeship scheme has coached the younger members of the choir on Bach’s B Minor Mass. Eleanor sings and plays for the dementia charity Lost Chord, a cause close to her heart, bringing concerts to those in residential homes (see News). Eleanor is currently a member of the peripatetic singing teaching staff at Charterhouse School, Godalming and is vocal coach and accompanist at Trinity College of Music and Goldsmiths College.