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Sir David Maddison Opera Prize 2021

June 18, 2021 @ 6:30 pm - 11:30 pm


At long last, this eagerly awaited and twice postponed keynote event in the Athenaeum calendar, seems set to go ahead with six outstanding young singers already tipped by pundits to be future stars of the Opera world.     The accompanist for the event is a rising star in his own right and we are very fortunate to have secured his services for the night.

To ensure wherever possible the safety of Proprietors, Performers, and Athenaeum Staff, the Sir David Maddison Opera Prize will this year be staged with Covid 19 Social distancing and infection preventative measures in place.    The event will take place on the evening of Friday June the 18th, with arrivals from 6.30pm, and with the contest performance commencing at 7pm.  There will be an interval during which a two course supper will be served in the Members dining room at 8.30pm, after which attendees will return to the Newsroom for the prize giving and reprise performances of the winner and runner up in the contest.

The stylish trophy and the cash prizes are this year to be presented to the singers by The Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside Mr. Mark Blundell and Mrs Suzanne Blundell.  The proceedings should close at approximately 10.30pm, after which pre-ordered drinks from the Members bar may be consumed whilst seated and maintaining social distancing.

Tickets for the event are in very limited supply due to social distancing considerations and are virtually sold out, though I would urge any Club Members who are really keen to attend, to join the waiting list for tickets in the event of any cancellations, of which there are usually one or two.   The following is the procedure which we would ask Proprietors and their guests to observe on the evening of June the 18th.


You will be met on arrival at the Athenaeum main entrance by Club Secretary Jack Birley, you will be asked to conduct a temperature check, and to confirm contact details for Test and Trace.  Staff will be on hand to help facilitate your safe passage whilst social distancing, via the temporary cloakroom, and then up the spiral staircase to the Newsroom.  You will then be asked to immediately take your reserved seat to maintain social distancing, after which a welcome drink of champagne will be served to you by a member of staff.    We ask you please to remain in your allocated seat until the performance interval, (unless requiring to use the toilet facilities) whereupon Athenaeum staff will ask members to make their way upstairs to the Members dining room in a controlled table by table manner, thus maintaining social distancing.

Following the meal being served, attendees will be asked by staff to make their way back to the newsroom in a controlled table by table manner, and then proceed back to their allocated seats in the Newsroom for the second half of the evening’s performance.   At the close of the performance pre-ordered drinks served by staff may be consumed by event attendees if they remain in their allocated seating.   Proprietors and their guests will be bid farewell by the Club Secretary as from 11pm with the club closing for the night at 11.30pm.


I am confident that if everyone concerned is kind and responsible enough to follow the aforementioned procedures the event will pass as successfully as the inaugural Sir David Maddison Opera Prize, and with everyone kept at safe social distancing.      We are indebted this year to the generosity of several Athenaeum Proprietors for very kindly sponsoring the event, HH Judge David Hodge QC, David Holdsworth esq, John Blain, and former Club Presidents Hilary Gatenby and Michael Shankland.  With myself and my wife Tanya sponsoring the Opera Prize trophy, and the Singers travel expenses.


The judging panel for the contest will be chaired by Melvin Tay, a versatile young Singaporean conductor, who will be joined by the renowned tenor Nick Hardy, and lifelong Opera aficionado Tanya Robins. The contest promises to surpass the inaugural event, with not just five but six top class singers who are most definitely opera stars of the future.   Choice of repertoire is eclectic and is drawn from the shows as well as mainstream Opera.   2019 Sir David Maddison Opera prize winner Molly Barker sang one of my favourite aria’s ‘O mio babbino caro’ and brought the house to its feet, and this year one of the contestants has obliged by including another one of my personal favourites the amazing  ‘Una voce Poco fa’    from The Barber of Seville by Rossini, here performed by the sensational Catherine Trottmann



For those not fortunate enough to obtain tickets for this year’s contest, the Club’s General Manager John Blain has arranged for the evening’s performance to be filmed professionally and then the recording will be made available to the Clubs membership to view at their leisure.  It is also planned at my suggestion to use scenes from the performance in a short promotional video designed to showcase the Liverpool Athenaeum and the many benefits of membership.

There now follows photo images and biographies of the RNCM Students contesting for this year’s Sir David Maddison Opera Prize, and also of the very accomplished concert pianist whom I have been fortunate to have retained to accompany the contestants on the Athenaeum Kemble.   My warmest wishes to all, and I do hope that you enjoy the forthcoming performances.     


David J Cox.  Producer and Founder of The Sir David Maddison Opera Prize, and of the Opera at the Athenaeum series of Concerts.   


Naomi Rogers

Naomi is a mezzo-soprano from Suffolk, currently studying for her Master of Music in Performance at the Royal Northern College of Music, having also completed her undergraduate studies there. She studies under the tutelage of Louise Winter, is a current participant of the Opera North Mentorship Scheme and is generously supported by the Annie Ridyard Scholarship, Mario Lanza Educational Trust, Split Infinitive and the Helen Mackaness Award.

Naomi’s most recent operatic performances at the RNCM include: Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites (Soeur Martha), Vaughan William’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (Madam Bubble), Puccini’s Suor Angelica (Maestra della Novizie), Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne (Clara), Kurt Weill’s Street Scene (cameo role) and Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Peaseblossom). This summer Naomi performed for Buxton’s International Opera Festival in the operas Georgiana (multiple composers) covering the role of Grey, and in the chorus of both Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Caldara’s Lucio Papirio Dittatore. She also premiered the brand new opera Dotter Of Her Father’s Eyes by Gary Lloyd, singing the title role, at the Dublin 2019 WorldCon, held in the Convention Centre Dublin and is currently working with Opera North on their production of Turn of the Screw by Britten.

As a regular concert performer, Naomi’s highlights are performing as guest soloist at the International Opera Awards 2019 which took place at the Saddler’s Wells Theatre in London, singing Mozart repertoire with the Hallé Orchestra at the Bridgewater Hall, and performing the orchestrated arrangement of De Falla’s Siete canciones populares españolas with the ArkEnsemble in the RNCM concert hall. Last year Naomi was a finalist in the prestigious Frederic Cox competition at the RNCM and in the same month made her recording debut as soloist in Sullivan Songs alongside David Owen Norris.


Erin Fflur

The Welsh Mezzo-Soprano Erin Fflur is originally from Y Felinheli in North Wales.

She is currently in her final year studying Master of Music Vocal Studies and Opera at The Royal Northern College of Music under the tutelage of Louise Winter. Her studies are generously supported by the Gwilym Gwalchmai Scholarship, Côr y Traeth Scholarship, Masonic Talent Aid Award, Alice Orrell and A&N Kendall Award, Mario Lanza Education Foundation Award and John Llewelyn Roberts Memorial Award. Erin enjoys competing at numerous Eisteddfod’s in Wales and has been successful in competitions such as The Mezzo-Soprano Solo, Opera Solo, Welsh Song Solo and Lieder Solo.

Erin appeared in her first ever opera at the age of ten years old as the role of Cartrin in the Welsh National Opera production of Wild Cats. Her opera roles in the RNCM Opera Scenes include Minskwoman from Flight by Dove, Mere Marie from the Dialogues des Carmelites by Poulenc, Bianca from Rape of Lucretia by Britten, Miss Todd from The Old Maid And The Thief by Menotti and Madam de la Haltière from Cendrillon by Massenet. Recently Erin performed the role of Ruth from the Opera Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan at The RNCM alongside the Symphony Chorus and Orchestra. And in December she appeared as the role of Souer Valentine at The RNCM Christmas production of Dialogues des Carmelites by Poulenc.

In the summer she will be performing the role of Cousin Hebe in The National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company’s production of HMS Pinafore. Soon after she will be joining Wexford Festival Opera Company to perform as the role of Cornelia from Giulio Cesare by Handel and Dama from Macbeth by Verdi in their Pocket Opera.

In 2016 Erin was a member of the chorus for the RNCM production of Street Scene by Weill. Recently she performed as a member of the chorus for The National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company performing Pirates of Penzance, The Gondoliers, Yeomen of the Guard and The Mikado and will be joining them again this year as a member of their chorus for the opera’s The Pirates of Penzance, Patience and The Sorcerer. And she will also be joining the chorus for Wexford Festival Opera in their productions of Ein Wintermärchen by Goldmark, Le Songe d’une nuit d’été by Thomas and Edmea by Catalani.

Erin’s performance of Oratorio and Mass include Messiah and Samson by Handel, Requiem by Mozart, Elijah by Mendelssohn, Mass in C Major by Beethoven, Te Deum by Bruckner and Stabat Matter by Jenkins. Erin’s recent performances include – The Age of Kings by Edward Gregson the former RNCM principal, she performed the work alongside The Black Dyke Band in a concert here at The RNCM to celebrate his 70th birthday. And she recently toured around Germany performing in numerous venues around Germany including Cologne and Frankfurt.

Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks is a baritone from Amersham, Buckinghamshire currently studying a Postgraduate Diploma at the RNCM under the tutelage of Matthew Best.

Operatic roles include Tarabotto (L’Inganno Felice), Superintendent (Albert Herring), Gamekeeper (Cunning Little Vixen), Pig (The ​Enchanted Pig) and notably Lieutenant Cholmondeley in a semi-staged production of Yeomen of the Guard in ​Birmingham’s Symphony Hall conducted by John Wilson alongside a professional cast including Thomas Allen and ​Benjamin Hullet with the CBSO. Peter has extensive experience with Gilbert & Sullivan operettas having been part of the ensemble of the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Companies 2018 and 2019 tours.

Peter has also been involved with contemporary opera having performed the premiere of Sebastiano Dessanay’s opera The Cry of the Double Bass at the 2017 Tête-a-Tête festival in London. Peter most recently joined the chorus of the Wexford Festival Opera for their 2019 season singing in the ensemble for Don Quichotte and Adina.

Peter began his musical journey with choral singing and remains very involved in choral music having regularly returned to his alma mater (University of Birmingham) ​ to sing solos in Rossini’s Petite Messe Sollenelle and Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem. Peter also regularly sings in several church choirs and is a Choral Scholar at the Oratory Church of St Chad in Manchester and has previously been a Choral Scholar with the Hallé Chorus and St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham. Upcoming engagements include rejoining the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company for their 2020 tour performing four more G&S operettas as part of the chorus.

Peter is generously supported at the RNCM by the Berry Award and the Richard Newitt Fund.


Ross Cumming

Scottish Baritone Ross Cumming is currently studying at the Royal Northern College of Music for his Vocal Masters, under the tutelage of Matthew Best..

Since beginning at the RNCM Ross has performed the lead Baritone roles in various RNCM Opera productions including – Le Marquis de la Force, Dialogues des Carmelites (Poulenc), Sir Thomas Bertram, Mansfield Park (Dove) and The Forester, The Cunning Little Vixen (Janáček).

During 2021 Ross has also performed in online productions, including the titular role in Mozart’s Don Giovanniand Simone in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.

Ross has been selected to be on the Young Artist Programme at the Buxton International Opera Festival 2021 and in July will be performing the role of Le Baron de Pictordu, Cendrillon (Pauline Viardot).  Later this summer he will be performing the role of Guglielmo in Cumbria Opera Festival’s production of Cosí fan tutte (Mozart).  He is also looking forward to rescheduled performances as Count Heinrich in the Opera North Youth Company’s production of The Black Spider (Judith Weir).

Furthermore, as part of the RNCM Songsters, Ross has worked with Sir Graham Vick, Brindley Sherratt and Julius Drake on Lieder, French Chanson, English Art Song and Opera.

His concert solo performances include Diesel in West Side Story conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner and baritone solos in Mozart Requiem, Faure Requiem, Duruflé Requiem, Beethoven Symphony No.9, Mozart Mass in C Minor and Handel Messiah.

Ross was a member of the Dunedin Consort’s 2019/20 Young Artist Programme ‘Bridging the Gap’ joining the leading Scottish Baroque ensemble on various concerts around Scotland. Currently he has a place on the 2020/21 Genesis Sixteen programme joining Harry Christophers and Eamonn Dougan for residential courses and performances across the UK.

Ross recently won the Bessie Cronshaw/Frost Brownson Song Cycle Competition, and looks forward to further developing his performance skills at the Alexander Gibson Opera School, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland from September 2021.

Ross is kindly supported by The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, The Caird Trust and Robert Nicol Trust.


Madison Horman


New Zealand soprano Madison Horman is currently studying towards a Masters of Music at the RNCM under the tutelage of Eiddwen Harrhy, and will be beginning a Post Graduate Diploma in September. She holds a Trinity ATCL diploma in Musical Theatre, and has performed extensively in New Zealand’s regional musical theatre scene. Partial operatic roles include Ellen Orford in Britten’s Peter Grimes, the title role in Strauss Arabella and Electra in Mozart’s Idomeneo. In the 2019/20 season, Ms Horman performed excerpts of Ellen Orford in an extensive two day RNCM conducting masterclass with full orchestra.    Ms Horman has been a winner in the New Zealand Aria competition, the International Trinity College Exhibition Prize, and was nominated for the bi-annual National Young Performer awards in both 2016 and2018.  In both 2020 and 2021, Ms Horman was a finalist in the prestigious Frederic Cox Award competition at the RNCM.  This year she was one of two sopranos selected for the Opera North Chorus Mentorship scheme.

Ms Horman is generously sponsored by the O’ Donnell Trust grant, the Dame Eva Turner scholarship, Tayla Made Foundation, and the Mary and James Glass Scholarship.


Liam Karai

Liam Karai is a British Bass-baritone currently studying for a Masters of Music in Performance at the Royal Northern College of Music. He has already completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Leicester reading Banking and Finance whilst on a vocal scholarship. He is working under the tutelage of Quentin Hayes (ROH Principal 2000-05) and has been cast in both RNCM Operas this season as the Badger/Priest in Janacek’s ‘Cunning Little Vixen’ and is set to play the Minskman in Jonathan Dove’s ‘Flight’ in 2021. He is also set to play the role of Leporello in Allo Opera’s Don Giovanni in the summer of 2021. His Opera experience includes singing as a member of the Bergen National Opera chorus touring Bergen, Oslo and London with a production of Peter Grimes (Britten). In addition, he has performed a variety of opera scenes including Figaro (Le Nozze Di Figaro), Don Giovanni (Don Giovanni), Baculus (Der Wildschütz), Don Alfonso (Cosi Fan Tutte) & Papageno (Der Zauberflote).

Liam was awarded the Sir John Tomlinson Scholarship upon joining the RNCM, and whilst studying was joint winner of the Frederic Cox Award as well the Joaninha Award representing the RNCM. Liam’s concert experience includes performing a range of Lied from Winterreise as well as specific Schumannpieces. Liam was also the winner of the Pomerance Prize at the University of Leicester due to his outstanding contribution to music at the University and won a number of competitions including the Operatic Solo Award in the Leicester competitive festival of Music & Dramatic Art. Alongside singing, Liam has a passion for musical theatre and straight acting. Examples of this include performing the role of Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austin) which has been delayed due to Covid and his lead role in ‘The Producers’ musical (Mel Brooks).


Christopher Pulleyn

Christopher Pulleyn is the Junior Fellow Repetiteur at the RNCM for 2019-2021, acting as principal Repetiteur for the colleges annual opera productions including Francis Poulencs Dialogues des Carmelites, Janaceks The Cunning Little Vixen and Jonathan Doves Mansfield Park and Flight.   He studied English Literature at York University, after which he gradually developed a career as a collaborative pianist and has gone on to work with a number of major arts organisations around the country including Opera North, Glyndebourne, Sage Gateshead, BBC Proms and Huddersfield Choral Society. He has worked for a number of years with Opera North on their many education and outreach programmes and has been involved in some of their recent productions including The Magic flute, Cavalleria Rusticana, I Pagliacci, and the UK Premiere of Kevin Puts Silent night.   He studies privately with Michael Dussek, Head of Accompaniment at the Royal Academy of Music.


6:30pm-7:00pm: Arrivals, champagne reception

7:00pm – 8:15pm: Opera Contest

8:30pm-9:45pm: Two Course Supper in the Dining Room

10:00pm-10:30pm: Opera Contest



Classic Coq au Vin with Chestnut Mushrooms, Parsnip Purée, Roast Chantenay Carrots, Potato Croquettes


(v) Baked Crepe filled with wild mushrooms, Brie du Meaux, buttered spinach, potato croquet (v)

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Clementine & Prosecco Trifle




June 18, 2021
6:30 pm - 11:30 pm
Event Category:


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