Monday, 20 November 2017

Artist Spotlight - Tenor Jonathan Hanley

Jonathan Hanley is tenor soloist in our upcoming performance of Handel, Vivaldi and Hadyn at the York Early Music Christmas Festival.  Jonathan is a lay clerk at Peterborough Cathedral and pursues both a choral and solo singing career. Over the last year, he has been a member of the prestigious Genesis Sixteen programme for young singers. As a soloist, Jonathan has performed with a number of ensembles, including appearances at the Trame Sonore Chamber Music Festival in Mantua, the Malcolm Arnold Festival, and the Beverley and York Early Music Festivals. Recent repertoire has included Handel Saul and Messiah, Schütz St John Passion, Bach Magnificat, Haydn Creation, Britten Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings, Monteverdi 1610 Vespers, Malcolm Arnold Song of Simeon, and Beethoven 9th Symphony. He has appeared as a recitalist in programmes of English song and lieder across the country. He is a soloist on a forthcoming CD of Humfrey Verse Anthems with Edward Higginbottom and the Instruments of Time and Truth. Jonathan currently studies with Richard Edgar Wilson.

We began by asking Jonathan to tell us a bit more about performing with Yorkshire Bach Choir...

I started singing with Yorkshire Bach Choir in my first year at university, way back in 2011, and have really enjoyed returning to York to join them since moving to Peterborough 2 years ago. They’re always programmes of fantastic music performed with style and conviction, and it’s really wonderful to come back and perform with such a dedicated and fun bunch!

I’m guessing you’ve sung some of the repertoire before, what do you interests you about this particular piece?

I love all of the music in the programme but the Handel is a particular favourite. I love the Italian influences and its virtuosity – it’s physically thrilling to sing. What I find most interesting about the piece is variety of different choral writing – particularly the semiquaver figures in ‘secundum ordinem Melchisedech’ and the ‘conquasabit’ with all its repeated crotchets. I also think the ‘de torrente’ is one of the most stunning pieces of music. I do think he could’ve added in an extra tenor solo though!

Detail of Handel statue by Louis-François Roubiliac
 What is the hardest thing about performing?

I think the hardest thing about performing is finding the balance between thinking about technique, stagecraft, expression and communication. It’s easy to get wrapped up in one thing, a particular text, for example, which makes the other things slip to the back of your mind - maybe the secret is to have them slip only half way!

Is there any piece of music or repertoire that haven’t had the opportunity to perform yet but would like to?

There are three things that I would love to sing before I die (!) which are the Evangelist in the Bach St John Passion, Elgar Gerontius and Britten St Nicolas – I was Baby St Nicolas as a chorister and I can remember thinking as I stepped down from the pulpit where I had been singing to let St Nicolas on for the end of the movement that I wanted to sing it.

Who is the composer (dead or alive) that you’d most like to meet?

Benjamin Britten.

What is your musical guilty pleasure?

I don’t know whether I should be that guilty about it, but every Christmas, I have to listen to ‘Messiah – a Soulful Celebration’. If you don’t know it, have a listen! 

Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration (Various artists)

When you’re not practising or performing, how else do you like to spend your time?

Probably in the kitchen or watching my latest Netflix obsession.

How do you mostly listen to music?

I’m always plugged into my iPhone when I’m on the move, and have a really good Bose speaker at home which I’m sure annoy my neighbours.

If you hadn’t become a musician, what other job would you have liked to do?

I went to university originally intending to do a law conversion after my history degree, and I think I would enjoy being a lawyer and arguing for a living!

Who would play you in the film of your life?

I have no idea, but I would like to think it would be Jude Law!

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

As a History graduate, this is an extremely difficult question to answer, but as a medievalist I think I would have to go back to fifteenth-century Europe, but I couldn’t be more specific than that – there would be too much to see!

We look forward to hearing Jonathan as tenor soloist in Handel Dixit Dominus and Haydn Nelson Mass with Yorkshire Bach Choir and Yorkshire Baroque Soloists conducted by Peter Seymour. Vocal soloists include Bethany Seymour, Wendy Goodson (Sopranos), Nancy Cole (Mezzo Soprano) & Frederick Long (Bass).  The programme also includes Vivaldi Gloria.

The concert takes place on Saturday 9 December 7.30pm at Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York.

The concert is part of the York Early Music Festival.

A handful of final tickets for the concert are available in advance via 

No comments:

Post a Comment