Laura Banes (Chairman), Kristen Kennish, Felix McGonigal, Richard Slimmon, Catriona Sutherland-Hawes, Lindale Thompson, Felicity Toube, Sloane Warren
W11 Opera is proud to acknowledge the support given to us by our patrons, all of whom have special links with us.
“I think every child should have the opportunity to do something like W11 Opera. It makes a major difference not just to anyone thinking of a stage career but to your whole life.”
Eve Best’s first stage role was that of a sheep in the 1980 W11 Opera production of Mak the Sheep Stealer! She appeared in three further productions and was later to return to W11 in the early 90s as Stage Director for Travellers Tale, Antiphony and The Dancing Princesses.
After studying English at Oxford she went on to RADA before commencing her successful stage career. In 1999 her performance in ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore at the Young Vic Theatre won both the Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle Awards for Best newcomer.
In 2005 Eve starred in Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler at the Almeida and Duke of York’s theatres. She won both the prestigious Olivier Award and the Critics Circle Best Actress Award for her performance in the leading role.
Eve’s earlier theatre work includes Howard Davies’ production at the National Theatre of Mourning Becomes Electra, for which she also won the Critics Circle Best Actress Award. Amongst her many other stage roles she has starred in the National’s The Coast of Utopia, The Cherry Orchard and as Masha in Katie Mitchell’s production of The Three Sisters. More recently Eve Best starred opposite Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic and on Broadway in the much acclaimed revival of Eugene O’Neill’s A Moon for the Misbegotten.
In 2011 she played Beatrice in Much Ado about Nothing at The Globe and is currently co-starring as Dr. Eleanor O’Hara in the critically acclaimed Showtime series Nurse Jackie. Other recent roles include Wallis Simpson in the award-winning film The King’s Speech and Petra Mayler in the BBC TV Serial, The Shadow Line. Eve played the title role in the revival of The Duchess of Malfi at the Old Vic in 2012. In Summer 2013 she directed Macbeth at The Globe, where in Summer 2014 she will star as Cleopatra.
“Although every year is a new commission, the one constant is that this talented cast rise to the challenge of ‘their’ opera. It is an exciting undertaking and something of an adventure as the children learn their roles and experience the joy that comes with live performance.”
Philip was the highly successful Music Director of W11 Opera for ten years from 2000-2009, and also heavily involved in the commissioning of all the new operas. In addition he was vocal coach for the W11 Opera children performing annually with Opera Holland Park.
After leaving school Philip Colman studied at Trinity College of Music. He now lectures there, mainly in Improvisation, Creative Musicianship and Keyboard Skills, and piano and composition within the Junior Department.
He works freelance as a recitalist, accompanist and pianist for coaching and session-work. He is a conductor, rehearsal director and vocal coach for opera groups, choirs and orchestras, including the London Chorale, Goldsmiths Choral Union, City of London Chamber Choir, Harrow Light Opera and Greenwich Musical Theatre Academy.
Philip has acted as pianist, songwriter and arranger for television programmes, as an arranger for the Royal Opera House, and as a pianist for the National Film Theatre, Ballet Rambert, RADA, London Contemporary Dance Theatre and the BBC children’s programme Playschool.
“There’s music as a way to be famous, and all of that side of it. And there’s music because you love singing.”
At the age of thirteen Sophie first performed with W11 Opera. Two years later she was back to star as Gaston in the 1994 production of Antiphony which, coincidentally, was directed by another W11 Opera patron, Eve Best. Within three years she was already enjoying chart success as lead vocalist with the indie band theaudience. By 2000 she was a solo artist and recorded several hit records including the No 1 Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) and the even more popular solo Murder on the Dancefloor which stayed in the charts for 23 weeks.
Sophie took a break from the music industry after her first two albums in order to spend the early years with her first son and then released a third album in Spring 2007. Since then she had two more children and also found time to release three more albums, the latest being Wanderlust, released in January 2014.
Sebastian Faulks is one of Britain’s most popular novelists. His first book, A Trick of the Light, was published in 1984. Later novels include the bestselling Birdsong (1993) and more recently Engleby (2007) and Devil May Care (2008), a new James Bond novel commissioned by the Ian Fleming estate to mark the centenary of Ian Fleming’s birth. In November 2013 his latest novel, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, was published.
He can sometimes be heard on the book quiz, The Write Stuff, on Radio Four. He is a long-time resident of W11. His elder son William performed in the W11 2003 production Game Over and his two nephews were also cast members over a number of years. He was awarded the CBE in 2002.
George Fenton composed Birthday for W11 Opera in 1982, revived in 1998.
In 1982 he was nominated for an Oscar for his score for Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. Since 1982 he has been nominated for four more Oscars (for Cry Freedom, The Fisher King, and Dangerous Liaisons) and three Golden Globes, won three BAFTAs, two Ivor Novello Awards, and two Emmys and written music for more than 100 television productions including Bergerac, The Jewel in the Crown, Talking Heads, and The Blue Planet.
Following the broadcast of The Blue Planet in 2001 for which he won Ivor Novello, BAFTA, and Emmy awards for best television score, he has taken the show, Blue Planet Live! on tour around the world. He has subsequently written the score for the BBC documentary series Planet Earth.
Recent notable film scores include Nicholas Hytner’s The History Boys and Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes The Barley, winner of the 2006 Palme d’Or in Cannes and the 2017 BAFTA winning I, Daniel Blake.
In 2007 Fenton was awarded a fellowship of the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters, which presents the Ivor Novello awards. George Fenton is a visiting professor at the Royal College of Music in London, and regularly appears on television arts shows and documentaries as an authority on music.
“W11 Opera has been an unforgettable experience for me: I was working with children who wanted to be there because it was a neighbourhood project, also I was working with composers on new pieces, always an exciting prospect, and it lasted 18 years!”
Nicholas Kraemer co-founded W11 Opera with Serena Hughes in 1971 when Britten’s Noye’s Fludde was presented in St. James’s Church in W11. He went on to conduct every performance of the company during its first eighteen years. He was also responsible for commissioning the operas during that period, thus building the foundation of W11’s now substantial repertoire.
At the time Nicholas Kraemer was principally a harpsichordist with ensembles such as the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and the Monteverdi Orchestra. From 1983 to 1985 he was Associate Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and from 1986 to 1992 he was Artistic Director of the Irish Chamber Orchestra. He was Artistic Director of the London Bach Orchestra from 1985 to 1993. Subsequently he has been closely associated with numerous orchestras around the world.
He is currently Permanent Guest Conductor of the Manchester Camerata and Principal Guest Conductor of Music of the Baroque, Chicago. He has contributed to several feature films, most notably as Baroque music director for The Madness of King George.
For some of Nicholas Kraemer’s reminiscences, click here.
Lucy Le Fanu
Lucy Le Fanu was Company Manager of W11 Opera from 1998 and Co-chairman from 2007 to 2011. She started putting on concerts and music theatre from an early age and has hardly stopped.
She studied at St Andrews and London Universities, then taught philosophy and music in the early days of the Open University. After the arrival of her four children she became actively involved in projects for families of children with special needs.
Always passionate about playing the flute and singing, she took an LTCL at the Trinity College of Music. She subsequently taught music, and continues to play and sing enthusiastically. Her children were all eager cast members of W11 Opera from 1989 onwards, and so began her connection with W11 which has persisted ever since.
Lucy is also a trustee of Longborough Festival Opera.
Lady Valerie Solti
As Valerie Pitts, Lady Solti enjoyed a high-flying television career in the 1960s. Her work ranged from arts reporting to presenting BBC’s Playschool. In 1967 she married the legendary conductor Sir Georg Solti and gave up her work to support him and bring up their two daughters, Claudia and Gabrielle, both of whom appeared in W11 Opera productions in the early 80s.
After George Solti’s death in 1997, Lady Solti, Gabrielle and Claudia began the Solti Foundation to assist young musicians.