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Spring performances by exciting new opera talent

03 February 2010

Students from the International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University open their Spring season of events with a song recital featuring works by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Grieg on Friday 5 February 2010.

Open to the general public, the song recital entitled "Songs from the Exotic" is an opportunity to hear some exceptional talent up-close and personal in the intimate setting of Birchwood House the Academy’s home in Penylan, Cardiff.

Reflecting the truly international nature of the Academy, this first recital of the year features Mexican Soprano, Ana Schwedhelm, British Mezzo-Soprano, Miranda Westcott and fellow antipodeans Carleen Ebbs (New Zealand) and Richard Lane (Australia). Michael Pollock will be accompanying the students on the piano.

Commenting on the event, Ana Schwedhelm said: "I love performing this beautiful undervalued type of repertoire. The art-form evolved from people singing in their drawing rooms to friends and family. It still has that same intimacy and complicity between audience and performers, which is slightly scary for the performer but at the same time magical. It is half-way between recitation, storytelling and a sonata for voice and piano. Each set of songs we are performing transports you to a different world, to a different time. In the Mendelssohn songs, I sing you have gone from a love invitation to reflection at the end of a life to witches dancing around the fire!"

Public performances of both song repertoire and operatic works are an integral part of the student’s training at the Academy giving them the opportunity to show the results of hours of dedicated practice. Academy students can also be heard this Spring performing in a masterclass with international conductor, Carlo Rizzi on 23 February and in an Operatic Gala on 12 March. The second and final Song Recital will take place on 5 March.

Additional exclusive events for the "Friends" of the Academy are also staged throughout the year. This term an international Welsh Soprano will give a masterclass with the students for the Friends on 11th February. For more details of how to become a Friend, please call 02920 481853.

Tickets for the Song Recital and all the other events are available from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales Audience Line on 03700 101051 or on-line at, costing £12 full price, £10 concession and £3 for students and under-16s.


Notes to editors

1 A podcast of Michael Pollock and Ana Schwedhelm talking about the Song Recital is available for media use. Please contact the public relations office for further information.

2 International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University
The International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University was formed to perfect the voices and musicianship of a new elite in world Opera. It is an initiative by Cardiff University and the Academy’s director, the renowned Welsh tenor Dennis O’Neill CBE. Students are selected from among the world’s most promising opera singers and each is given an individually-tailored programme of coaching. The programme includes daily one-to-one tuition, regular public performances in Wales and internationally, and a unique series of masterclasses from some of the world’s most eminent singers, conductors, accompanists and coaches. The Academy is ideally sited at Birchwood House, in the Cyncoed district of Cardiff, with specialised practice facilities and student accommodation in secluded, landscaped grounds.

2. Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans.

Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Visit the University website at:

3. For further information
Victoria Dando
Public Relations
Cardiff University
Tel: 02920 879074