2016 Chilcott Award
Awarded: funding for further studies/career development
28 year-old soprano, Soraya Mafi, was awarded the £10,000 Chilcott Award in July 2016. The award is given to a ‘major young artist with the potential to make an international impact’.
Lancashire-born soprano Soraya Mafi studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Sandra Dugdale (supported by Selfridges) and Royal College of Music with Janis Kelly, (supported by the Help Musicians UK Sybil Tutton Award and The Countess of Munster). Soraya continues her studies with renowned soprano Janis Kelly and coach David Harper. Soraya’s many awards and prizes include the Royal Overseas League 2015, the Maggie Teyte Prize 2014, an Independent Opera Award and 2nd Prize in the 2015 Kathleen Ferrier Awards. Soraya is a Harewood Young Artist of the English National Opera supported by The Bruce Tollis Fellowship.
During her time at RCM, Soraya performed the roles of Virtu in James Conway's production of L'incoronazione di Poppea, Le Feu and Le Rossignol in James Bonas' production of L'Enfant et les Sortileges and the title role in Arianna in Creta for The London Handel Festival conducted by Laurence Cummings. Soraya created the role of Cheryl in Iain Burnside's new music theatre piece Journeying Boys and made her début appearances for the Grange Park Opera, as Constance in Dialogues des Carmélites, and Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, as Aminta in Il Re Pastore.
Concert highlights include Les Illuminations and Messiah at The Royal Festival Hall, Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Mozart’s Goose of Cairo with the London Mozart Players conducted by David Parry; and in recital for the Buxton Festival, the Royal Opera House Crush Room and with Graham Johnson at the Middle Temple Hall.
In 2015/16 season, Soraya made her debut for the Welsh National Opera as Johanna in Sweeney Todd and returned to the English National Opera for The Magic Flute and Jenufa. She will also make her role début as Despina for West Green House Opera.
2016/17 season sees Soraya making her Opera North début, performances with The Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Peter Dijsktra, a tour of Viennese Concerts with The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and performances throughout France with Jean-Christophe Spinosi and his orchestra Ensemble Mattheus. She will make role débuts as Mabel in Mike Leigh's production of The Pirates of Penzance for ENO and as Yum-Yum in Jonathan Miller's production of The Mikado for ENO at The Winter Gardens, Blackpool. Soraya will also make her opera recording début with the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Emily Hoile, harpist: studied at the Juilliard School in New York thanks to funding from the RPS Julius Isserlis Scholarship.
DID YOU KNOW?
1830: Midsummer Night’s Dream is ‘very beautiful, and encored, but it is awfully, fearfully difficult, so much so that last Saturday morning Mendelssohn was SEVEN hours rehearsing.’