The BBC New Generation Artists for the 2021-23 intake have been announced, with a record number of artists featured in the line-up – and the first ever collaborative pianist.
The scheme has previously helped launch the careers of leading artists such as soprano Fatma Said, pianist Beatrice Rana, guitarist Sean Shibe, clarinettist and composer Mark Simpson and violinist Alina Ibragimova.
This year’s BBC New Generation Artists are pianist Tom Borrow, mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston, violinist María Dueñas, Konstantin Krimmel, collaborative pianist Kunal Lahiry, the Mithras Trio, Quatuor Mona and bass William Thomas.
Each intake of New Generation Artists remains on the scheme for two years, but for the second year running, Radio 3 has decided to allow the current New Generation Artists to stay on for an additional year given how many performance opportunities they have missed out on because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These artists include pianist Eric Lu, violist Timothy Ridout and jazz guitarist Rob Luft.
The scheme offers solo recitals and concerts with the BBC’s orchestras, as well as appearances at the BBC Proms, Cheltenham Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, Wigmore Hall, Ulster Hall and Snape Maltings. Radio 3 record many of these performances for broadcast on the station.
Also revealed in today’s announcement is the new partnership between BBC Radio 3 and the Terence Judd Trust and Hallé Orchestra. An annual Terence Judd Award will be presented to a pianist from the New Generation Artist scheme, the first recipient being Elisabeth Brauss, who has been on the scheme since 2018.
Two of the 2021 line-up went to St George’s VA School in Harpenden, which was in the news during the Rugby World Cup because it produced four members of the England rugby team: Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, George Ford and Jack Singleton. It now has two more prestigious alumni – but this time, they’re singers: Helen Charlston and William Thomas.
Find out more about previous musicians featured in the BBC New Generation Artists scheme here.
Who are this year’s BBC New Generation Artists?
Helen Charlston burst onto the music scene in 2018 after winning First Prize in the Handel Singing Competition at the London Handel Festival, as well as being a Rising Star of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. She is known for her performance of operatic roles as well as her recital performances, and has appeared on several significant recordings. She made her recording debut on Delphian with Isolation Songbook, for which she commissioned a tranche of new works inspired by the period of lockdown and isolation.
Born: Harpenden, UK
Career highlight: Performing Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the Gabrieli Consort and Players in Leipzig’s Thomaskirche, where the composer himself would have first directed it.
Musical hero: The mezzo Janet Baker and song composer Barbara Strozzi both embody the most important parts of singing: honesty of delivery through your own unique voice, and the insatiable need to sing and perform above all else.
Dream concert: I’m working on a couple of projects bringing period instruments into a modern setting which are currently fulfilling a dream, but singing my first Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas would be top of the list!
Helen Charlston appeared on the Academy of Ancient Music’s recording of Eccles’s Semele, which was BBC Music Magazine‘s Recording of the Month. She was also featured in the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s recording of JS Bach’s Mass in B Minor alongside Katherine Watson and Iestyn Davies, which BBC Music Magazine reviewed and gave a four-star rating.
She released her debut album, Isolation Songbook, on Delphian earlier this year.
Works by Owain Park, Héloïse Werner et al Helen Charlston (mezzo-soprano), Michael Craddock (baritone), Alexander Soares (piano)
For her debut album, Helen Charlston invited composers to ‘bear witness’ to the period of isolation. With a programme that is wide-reaching and runs the gamut of human emotion, this is a powerful momento for us all.
Review by Freya Parr
Born: Ulm, Germany
Having begun his training as a member of the boys’ choir at his local parish church, baritone Konstantin Krimmel now studies in Stuttgart and made his recording debut in 2019 on Alpha Classics with Saga, a recital album of songs by Schubert, Schumann, Loewe and Jensen, performed with pianist Doriana Tchakarova. Krimell and Tchakarova have performed in vocal recitals across Europe, with dates at Wigmore Hall, Frankfurt Opera and Oxford Lieder Festival.
He also recently appeared on Arcangelo’s recording of Handel’s Brockes-Passion.
Handel Brockes Passion
Sandrine Piau (soprano) et al; Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen Alpha
You’re in safe hands here. Arcangelo bring their Baroque expertise to this pristine interpretation of Handel’s Brockes Passion. The soloists are fabulous, particularly Sandrine Piau, who shimmers above the orchestra.
Review by Freya Parr
Pianist Kunal Lahiry made his orchestral debut at the age of 17 with the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra. He is now a Britten-Pears Young Artist and was selected for Renée Fleming’s inaugural SongStudio programme for collaborative pianists and singers at Carnegie Hall. Lahiry is particularly known for his interpretations of art song and has completed a Masters in song interpretation at the Hochschule für Musik ‘Hanns Eisler’ in Berlin.
What is a collaborative pianist?
A collaborative pianist is a musician that brings together piano performance, accompanying and collaborative teaching methods. Much of their repertoire is part of the instrumental sonata repertoire, as their primary role is accompaniment – but in equal partnership with the other instrumentalist. Malcolm Martineau is considered to be one of the best known collaborative pianists.
Born: Grenada, Spain
Violinist María Dueñas was already won a clutch of major awards since she first came to public attention in 2017, winning first prize at the Zhuhai Mozart International Competition in China when she was just 14. She’s performed with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, made her debut at the Golden Hall in the Vienna Musikverein and appeared at leading festivals such as Verbier. She is just 18 years old.
Comprising violinist Ionel Manciu, cellist Leo Popplewell and pianist Dominic Degavino, the Mithras Trio formed in 2017 at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The trio has undertaken residences at Snape Maltings and at the Schulich School of Music in Montreal. In 2019, the trio was the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society Henderson Award and the winner of the Royal Overseas League Music Competition. As well as playing core repertoire, the Mithras Trio is passionate about contemporary music and has worked with Helen Grimes and Philips and given the world premiere of a new work by Péter Tornyai at the Solti Hall in Budapest.
Founded in 2018 at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris, Quatuor Mona comprises international musicians: violinist Verena Chen, violinist Charlotte Chahuneau, violist Arianna Smith and cellist Elia Cohen Weissart. The ensemble has performed with artists including flautist Emmanuel Pahud and has given debuts at the Edinburgh Festival, among others. In 2020, Quatuor Mona was selected among the most promising young quartets from around the world to perform at the Biennale of String Quartets at the Cité de la Musique.
Born: Tel Aviv, Israel
In 2019, Tom Borrow stepped in to replace pianist – and former BBC New Generation Artist – Khatia Buniatishvili with just 36 hours’ notice in a series of concerts with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also worked and performed the Israel Philharmonic and Santa Cecilia Orchestra, with further dates with major international orchestras in the pipeline.
He was previously mentored by Murray Perahia at the Jerusalem Music Centre’s programme for young musicians and has worked with conductors such as Semyon Bychkov, Xian Zhang and Omer Meir Wellber.
Last year, Borrow signed to Hänssler Classic, with his debut album Romantica due for release soon, featuring solo piano works by Rachmaninov, Liszt, Franck, Scriabin and Chopin.
Bass William Thomas won the Kathleen Ferrier Award in 2018, which helped launch him into the opera world. He has performed in productions at Glyndebourne and Garsington, as well as recitals at Wigmore Hall and a debut with the London Symphony Orchestra under François-Xavier Roth.
Born: Harpenden, UK
Career highlight: Performing Nicholas, the Major-Domo in Barber’s Vanessa at Glyndebourne. Although it was a small role, I learnt so much from being on stage with such fantastic performers and working with director Keith Warner.
Musical hero: The Italian bass Cesare Siepi’s voice was so warm, rich and powerful. And also John Tomlinson, another bass, because he really cares about text, language and character. He is a singing actor rather than just a singer.
Dream concert: The Three Tenors have dined out long enough – it’s time for The Three Basses! How about John Tomlinson, Cesare Siepi and George London singing the Bass and Heldenbaritone hits?