Sunday 24 November 2019   Holy Trinity Church, Knaresborough


Soloists and players for 2019



Alexis Cooling (soprano) Performance, singing, dancing and music have been the focus for the majority of my life. I have learned and benefitted from the team spirit, sacrifice, dedication and discipline required to be a success. My 10 year commitment to the Wakefield Cathedral Choir has given me the opportunity to partake in concerts, CD recordings and live radio and TV broadcasts, often as a soloist, both at home and abroad. I was a BBC Young Chorister of the Year finalist in 2011.

I have trained in classical voice since the age of 12 and have learned the importance of interpretation and characterisation while studying a wide repertoire such as Handel, Haydn and Bach oratorio, English and international art songs, the musicals of Sondheim and Webber and arias by Mozart, Strauss and Puccini. I graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire last year.


Claire Filer (mezzo) was born in New Zealand where she began a career that has involved studying and performing in the US, the UK and Europe. Claire holds an MA (Distinction) from her studies with Dennis O’Neill at the Wales International Academy of Voice, an MMus from The Boston Conservatory and a BMus(Hons – 1st class) from The University of Auckland.

Oratorio engagements include Handel Messiah and Jephtha, Mozart Requiem, Beethoven 9th Symphony, Bach Magnificat and St John Passion, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle, Duruflé Requiem, Haydn Missa Sancti Nicolai, Missa Cellensis in Honorem, Mass in Time of War and Lord Nelson Mass, Saint-Saëns Messe de Requiem and Oratorio de Noël, Jenkins The Armed Man, Dvořák Stabat Mater, Vaughan Williams Mass in G Minor, and Vivaldi Gloria.


Ben Thapa (tenor) studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal College of Music and the Wales International Academy of Voice, supported by the Musicians Benevolent Fund, the Wagner Society and the Joaninha Trust.  Currently, Ben runs a busy diary on opera and concert stages across the UK and abroad.

Recent successes include the role of Arbace (Idomeneo, Buxton Festival), Siegfried (The Quest for the Ring, Royal Festival Hall/Opera North), as well as concert performances taking in the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields and Birmingham Symphony Hall.  Ben has performed several recitals at Leeds Town Hall, including premiering Simon Lindley's Five Hymns to the Virgin.  Recordings include Mat of the Mint (The Beggars Opera, Royal Opera, Chandos).

In 2012, Ben performed the role of the President in the UK premiere of Stockhausen's Mittwoch aus Licht for Birmingham Opera Company, repeated in 2013 at the BBC Proms.  Further operatic roles include Tamino (​Die Zauberflöte) and Florestan (Fidelio) for Garsington Opera Emerging Artists, Vanya Kudrjas (Katya Kabanova) for Scottish Opera, Tito (La Clemenza di Tito) at the Teatru Manoel, Malta, Kuzka (Kovanschina) for Birmingham Opera Company and Melot (Tristan und Isolde) for Longborough Festival Opera.  Ben's concert repertory is incredibly varied, ranging from Monteverdi Vespers and the Bach Passions, through to the dramatic Romantic repertory, including Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Verdi, Puccini and Elgar.

Current and forthcoming highlights include the cover of Florestan (Fidelio) for Welsh National Opera, the cover of Anatole (War and Peace) for Welsh National Opera's residency at the Royal Opera House, Monostatos (Die Zauberflöte) for Opera de Bauge, Haydn Creation in the Royal Hall, Harrogate, performances of Schubert Winterreise and Wagner Wesendonck Lieder, Beethoven 9th Symphony at St John's, Smith Square, The Shepherd (Tristan und Isolde, Saffron Hall) and Handel Messiah with the Black Dyke Band.



TBA (bass)





Adrian Selway organ became an organist and choirmaster in his early teens, studying under Gwilym Isaac, Sub Organist at Canterbury Cathedral. He went on to study organ with Eric Chadwick and also piano, cello and choir training at The Royal Manchester College of Music. Graduating with ‘Special Merit in Performance’ and having gained his Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists he continued his education at Newton Park College in Bath and was appointed Assistant Director of Music at The Royal Masonic Boys School in Bushey. Further teaching appointments included Head of music at Ripon Grammar School and Director of Music at The Royal Merchant Navy School, Bearwood College in Wokingham. Adrian has toured widely as a recitalist and was Organ Tutor at Harrogate Ladies College for many years touring with the Director of Music and the Chapel Choir, playing in many of our cathedrals and also to Paris, playing at Notre Dame, St Eustace, La Madeleine and Chartres Cathedral. Adrian maintains his great interest in choir training and is currently Organist and Choirmaster at St Paul’s United Reformed Church in Harrogate and also teaches organ and piano at Ashville College. In his spare time, Adrian produces miniature watercolour paintings and builds dolls houses and miniature harpsichords.


Beryl Pankhurst harpsichord was born and educated in Liverpool and studied piano, organ and accompaniment at the Royal Manchester College of Music from which she graduated with distinction, also winning the Pinson prize for Bach playing.  Although she has performed as soloist on many occasions, her main passion is in accompanying. She has been the official accompanist for the Harrogate Choral Society for over 30 years.


Fiona Mayo cello was born in Johannesburg, and enjoyed a delightful barefoot childhood surrounded by unusual pets. She demanded 'cello lessons at 9 and has played ever since. After spending 20 years in Norfolk, working in hospitals and schools, she came to Harrogate where she teaches and plays. Her interests include her garden, chameleons, border collies, champagne and repairing 'cellos.


Andrew Jackson trumpet is a founder member and former principal cornet  with the Harrogate Band. He has performed as a soloist in York Minster, Ripon Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. His musical taste can be best described as eclectic. For the past fifteen years he has played bass guitar and trumpet with the popular function band The Nightjars, who play regularly across the U.K and Europe. Since taking early retirement five years ago from his job in banking I.T, music has become his full time occupation. 


Nick Garrett trumpet is the principal cornet player and events manager for the Harrogate Brass Band and trumpet player for a function band Em and Them.
This year he launched the Harrogate Band's Women Make Music Campaign which has resulted in the Band premiering brand new works by upcoming composers. The Band have appeared on TV every year in the last 8 years Nick has been manager.
Nick made his Messiah debut last year.


Jack Littlewood timpani is 14 years old and attends Harrogate Grammar School. He has been learning to play percussion for about 7 years and passed his Rockschool grade 8 exam this year. He plays percussion in Harrogate Youth Wind Orchestra at Harrogate Music Centre and has performed with Harrogate Symphony Orchestra. He has successfully taken part in the Harrogate music festival for 4 years and reached the Young Musicians’ final this year. Jack also plays trombone in the senior Tewit Youth Band and toured Canada with them this summer. He likes playing football, skiing and travelling to different countries.


David Andrews joins us again as Musical Director. As ever he has gathered a talented team of soloists and instrumentalists to support him. David is a highly experienced violinist, organist and choral conductor. He has been both the Deputy Head and Director of Music at Harrogate Ladies’ College and contributed substantially to musical life and education both locally and further afield.