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“Martin Elliott as Christ sang with particular beauty of tone" Barbican Hall - Bach's St. Matthew Passion - Church Times
With a career as an international concert singer, voice teacher, vocal adjudicator and conference presenter, Martin Elliott now concentrates on using his experience for the benefit of students of voice, himself having worked extensively across the UK, mainland Europe, and in Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
Born in London as a national of both Britain and New Zealand, he has built a career specializing in the performance of oratorio, baroque and electro-acoustic music and the teaching of the vocal art. Educated as a chorister of Westminster Abbey, a music scholar at King’s School, Canterbury and a choral scholar at Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained an honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Martin continued his vocal studies as a postgraduate scholar on the opera course at the London Guildhall School of Music. He subsequently studied with the late Erich Vietheer and more recently with the renowned Wagner bass-baritone, Norman Bailey.
Making his London debut with the London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican in Bellini’s opera “I Puritani”, Martin has since sung in the major concert halls of both hemispheres, performing a range of repertoire with a great variety of performance organizations. His career began with much early and contemporary music, working in nearly every European country and most of its major concert halls, from Norway’s Arctic Northern Lights Festival to Acco’s Festival of Voice in Israel. This included a ten-year period with the electro-acoustic ensemble Singcircle, renowned for their performances of Stockhausen’s Stimmung, singing at the BBC Proms, the World Music Days in Oslo, while making radio and CD recordings, and performing with such groups as Pierre Boulez’s Ensemble Contemporain in Paris.
He also spent 3 years as vocal soloist with the Ballet Rambert, working with the choreographers Christopher Bruce and Richard Alston, singing Weill’s “Mahagonny Songspiel” and “Berlin Requiem”, Mozart’s “6 Nocturnes” for 3 singers and basset-horns, and Holst Part-Songs in theatres throughout the UK and also in BBC TV’S ballet “The Cruel Garden”.
Martin has appeared on numerous BBC Radio and Television programmes including a role in BBC TV’s “By the Sword Divided”. He featured as soloist in BBC Radio’s “Octave of the Nativity” and has sung in Graham Johnson’s Songmakers’ Almanac’s “Schubertiad” in the Wigmore Hall.
In 1992 he founded the Wren Baroque Soloists, with first recordings of Caldara’s “Madrigals and Cantatas” for Unicorn Kanchana, and later releasing music by Peerson for Collins Classics. Specialising in music by these composers and also Jeffreys, Purcell, Handel and Bach, the ensemble toured Europe from Norway to Turkey, and visited the USA and Canada twice, making their US debut at the prestigious Friends of Dumbarton Oaks in Washington DC.
In 1995 Martin started the Wren Baroque orchestra with its debut at London’s Barbican Hall and then in the Brighton Festival with performances of Bach’s “St Matthew Passion” and “St John Passion” in Novello’s new English edition by Neil Jenkins, with Neil as Evangelist and Martin as Christ.
Martin created the St Paul’s Experience in 1995 and 1996 at St Paul’s Cathedral, drawing singers, organists and directors from all over the world in the first ever choral and organ course of its kind at this esteemed establishment. He has travelled the world giving choral and vocal masterclasses, while opening his one-to-one teaching to students across the continents.
His recitals have often been in support of the Royal Society of Musicians, a charity helping musicians and their families suffering hardship through illness, infirmity and death, and of which Martin has been a Court of Assistant. He has created his own unusual concert programmes with Canadian musicians, one for 2 basses and another called “Tenor and Baritone”, as well as touring his own solo recital programme “O for Oratorio” in Canada and New Zealand.
With this background, which has included a variety of teaching posts in England, Martin now spends time supporting vocal students in a variety of disciplines and genres. He adjudicated the 1999 Christchurch (NZ) Competitive Vocal Festival and in 2002 was invited as guest panellist for the annual conference of the Australian National Association of Teachers of Singing in Melbourne presenting a paper and demonstration lecture “The Value of Oratorio to an Operatic Career”, which has since been published in the ANATS journal “The Voice”.
Oratorio concerts in the last decade have included Mozart’s “Requiem” with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in Winchester Cathedral, England with David Hill, and a live broadcast for National Radio of Handel’s “Messiah” in Wellington, New Zealand, along with Verdi’s “Requiem” and Bach’s “St Matthew Passion” for the 100th anniversary of the Bach Elgar choir in Ontario, and also Mozart’s “Requiem”, Handel’s “Dettingen Te Deum”, V. Williams’ “5 Mystical Songs” and Rutter’s “Mass for the Children” in Auckland, New Zealand. Further concerts included Brahms’ “German Requiem” in Stratford and Toronto in Ontario, and Faure’s “Requiem” in his home cathedral of Chichester.
In October 2014 he conducted the chapel choir of the Royal Academy, Sandhurst in their regular Sunday worship, and in 2015 he gave his first public concert as a piano accompanist in the heart of France, and now regularly accompanies his students for assessments and courses.
Martin’s teaching has extended to running an annual course “Inspiration for Singers” in Sillico, Tuscany, an idyllic retreat in the mountains north of Lucca, and which has been successfully transferred to La Maison Verte in Roujan, France, and is now also scheduled for Oxford, England in 2016.
“Vaughan Williams' Five Mystical Songs saw Martin Elliott approaching George Herbert's poetry with rare intelligence and attention to phrasing." NZ Herald - 2006
“Martin Elliott as Christ sang with particular beauty of tone" Barbican Hall - Bach's St. Matthew Passion - Church Times - 1999