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Clonter is delighted to be presenting a recital to be given by Lixin Liu, last year’s winner of the Claire Croiza and Betty Bannerman Award for French Song – established for students at the Royal Northern College of Music. The recital will take place in the elegant Georgian Music Room at Clonterbrook.


Lixin Liu is a soprano who is generously supported by James and Mary Glass Scholarship at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. She obtained her Bachelor Degree and Master Degree from the RNCM in 2015 and 2017, and is now undertaking a course in Advanced Studies in Musical Performance under the tutelage of Mary Plazas. She recently received The Claire Croiza and Betty Bannerman Prize for the Singing of French song, which was kindly supported by Clonter Opera. She was also one of the finalists for the Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for the Singing of Strauss in 2017. During her studies at the RNCM, Lixin has performed the role of Nannetta in Verdi’s Falstaff, Sophie in Werther, Constance in Dialogues de Carmelites, Clara in La Vie Parisienne, Laurette in Le Docteur Miracle and Ilia in Idomeneo with RNCM Opera Scenes productions. She has also played the role of Gretel in Hansel und Gretel, Clorinda in La Cenerentola and Fox Cub in The Cunning Little Vixen in variety of summer music course performances. Her appearances as a solo include performing at London Cadogan Hall, London’s O2 Arena and Leeds Town Hall. In addition, she has been invited to the Chinese Consulate General in Manchester numerous times to perform at various occasions. She was invited to sing in a Chinese New Year Gala in February 2017 for HuNan TV World Channel. Recently, Lixin has enjoyed performing as Frasquita “Carmen in 40 Minutes”; a project with RNCM Orchestra and Symphony chorus and featuring as a soloist in Mozart’s Exutate Jubilate with Warrington Musical Society. She performed the role of Sprite in RNCM December 2017 production of Massenet’s Cendrillon. Lixin has been a member of the RNCM ‘Songsters’ since the group’s creation in 2015 which has afforded her numerous opportunities to perform in concerts and work with great artists such as Sir Thomas Allen, Julius Drake, Sir John Tomlinson, Alice Coote, Joan Rodgers, and Susan Bullock.


Claire Croiza made her opera début in Nancy in 1905 in Messaline by Isidore de Lara. In 1906 she made her first appearance at La Monnaie in Brussels, as Dalila in Samson et Dalila, beginning a long association with that theatre which included the roles of Dido (Berlioz), Carmen, Léonor (La favorite), Charlotte (Werther) and the title role in Fauré’s opera Pénélope. Although she first established herself as an operatic singer, she increasingly developed her career as a recitalist specialising in mélodies, and she undertook recital tours in numerous countries,including frequent visits to London where she was very well received. She had a great feeling for the French language and was always able to enunciate the words in clear and natural way without sacrificing the flow of the music. Several contemporary composers chose to accompany her personally in performances of their songs, including Ravel (in Shéhérazade), Fauré (in the premiere of Le jardin clos), Poulenc, Roussel, and Swiss-French composer Arthur Honegger. From 1922, she also worked as a teacher, giving classes in interpretation at the École Normale, and from 1934 at the Paris Conservatoire. Her pupils included Janine Micheau, Suzanne Juyol, and the baritones Jacques Jansen, Camille Maurane and Gérard Souzay. Her reputation was concisely summed up by a reviewer in The Times reporting on a Wigmore Hall concert in 1932: “Mme. Croiza is a supreme interpreter of modern French songs. She brings to them an exquisite sensibility that reveals every shade of meaning in the poems.”


Betty Bannerman was a distinguished mezzo soprano who enjoyed a career spanning some seven decades, latterly as a teacher. She specialised in French song and was a pupil and friend of the great French mezzo Claire Croiza. Bannerman’s own voice ranged from low G to the high A flat. She had a rich, warm tone and exemplary diction in whatever language she was singing. A regular soloist at the Three Choirs Festivals before and after the Second World War, she sang in the Elgar oratorios and in choral works by Kodáy, Lambert, Mendelssohn and Bliss. She gave more than 200 solo recitals for the BBC; she was a soloist in Bach Passions conducted by Vaughan Williams at the Leith Hill Festivals and worked often with such conductors as Ansermet, Beecham, Goossens and Boult. Besides French song, she excelled in German Lieder, Old Italian songs and the English repertoire from Purcell to Britten. Bannerman spent six months in Berlin with Lilli Lehmann and made a special study of lieder with von Zur Mühlen. Her first important London recital was at the Aeolian Hall in 1927. The next year she attended a Croiza recital, which made such an impression that she immediately asked to become her pupil, and for the next 10 years studied with her for a month every year.

Extracts from piece written by Michael Kennedy, 2 March 1992, Daily Telegraph.


Robin Humphreys – Accompanist

Robin Humphreys is a graduate of the University of Birmingham and a holder of the prestigious Diploma in Professional Performance from the Royal Northern College of Music, where he studied piano accompaniment with David Lloyd. Appearing in concert for over 35 years, he enjoys a successful career as an accompanist and répétiteur (praised as “world-class” by Louise Flind for “Opera Today”), the breadth of his repertoire being reflected in television and radio broadcasts ranging from BBC Radio 3 to Emmerdale! A Principal Lecturer at the RNCM, Robin is a senior music coach within the School of Vocal Studies and Opera, for whom he was also chief répétiteur on the majority of college opera productions from the late 1990s until 2013. He has appeared with the Manchester Camerata in the world première of “A Feast of Fables” by Paul Reade, has been Musical Director for Feelgood Theatre Productions and, from 1990-2000, Opera & Concert Productions (Worldwide) Ltd with whom he toured throughout the Gulf, the Indian sub-continent and the Far East. Robin has a particularly close association with Clonter Opera Theatre in Cheshire, where he regularly works as Assistant Musical Director and Accompanist. He is also an accompanist member of the British & International Federation of Festivals.


Tickets £24 to include tea

Doors Open 2.30pm

Concert Begins 3pm

Afternoon Tea 4pm

BOOK THROUGH CLONTER BOX OFFICE ONLY01260 224 514 email boxoffice@clonter.org