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Fri 24 May 2024 – 3:00 pm

Clonter is delighted to be presenting a recital to be given by Jessica Hopkins, last year’s winner of the Betty Bannerman Award for French Song, established for students at the Royal Northern College of Music. The recital will take place in the Music Room at Clonterbrook (1 minute drive from Clonter Opera Theatre).


Fiançailles pour rire Francis Poulenc
La Dame d’André
Dans l’herbe
Il vole
Mon cadavr
est doux comme un gant

Ivre d’amour Jules Massenet
Premier danse Jules Massenet

Proses Lyriques Claude Debussy
De rêve
De grève
De fleurs
De soir

Deux Poèmes de Louis Aragon Francis Poulenc
Fêtes galantes

Jessica Hopkins – Soprano

Soprano Jessica Hopkins is currently studying for an PGDip under Mary Plazas at the RNCM, where she previously completed her MMus. Prior to this, she read music as a choral scholar at Clare College, Cambridge. Recent roles include Snow Maiden (The Snow Maiden, RNCM), Maria Bertram (Mansfield Park, RNCM), Cendrillon (Massenet’s Cendrillon, Bedfordshire Youth Opera) and Clorinda (La Cenerentola, Aylesbury Opera), and she looks forward to performing as Giulia in La Scala di Seta at the RNCM this March. Jessica took part in the 2022-23 RNCM/Opera North Chorus Mentor Scheme and appeared as a Young Artist with the Buxton International Festival for their 2022 and 2023 seasons, performing in the chorus for La donna del lago and La Sonnambula. Jessica is extremely grateful to Help Musicians UK, the Tillett Trust, the Colin Keer Trust, the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and the Waverley Fund for their support towards her studies this year.

Nico de Villiers – Accompanist

Nico de Villiers is a British-South African pianist, coach, and author. He holds degrees from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the University of Michigan, as well as the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Nico was the recipient of the ABRSM International Undergraduate Scholarship, a University of Michigan Teaching Assistant Scholarship, and scholarships from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama scholarship fund. He performed as soloist, accompanist, and chamber musician in the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and Royal Festival Hall, the Barbican, and St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London; Birmingham Symphony Hall; the Rudolf Oetkerhalle in Bielefeld and the Kammermusiksaal in Bonn, Germany; the Mozarteum Grosser Saal in Salzburg, Austria; the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Netherlands, and the Terrace Theatre at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Recital partners have included sopranos Chen Reiss, Siobhan Stagg, Barbara Bonney, baritone William Berger, and bass Matthew Rose. Festival performances include the Salzburg Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Oxford Lieder Festival, Chopin Birthday Festival in Warsaw, Poland, and the International Johannesburg Mozart Festival in South Africa. He performed in broadcasts for BBC Radio 3, Dutch National Radio, and Polish Radio. Nico is the Deputy Head of Vocal Studies in the School of Vocal Studies and Opera at the Royal Northern College of Music. He previously served as a vocal coach on the vocal faculties of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Royal College of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatory in London, and the University of Michigan School of Music. As researcher, Nico’s focus has been on the vocal music of Dutch-American composer Richard Hageman. In addition to publishing articles in Classical Singer  and Opera Magazine, Nico co-authored Richard Hageman: From Holland to Hollywood (Peter Lang, 2020), the first critical biography on Richard Hageman, with co-authors Kathryn Kalinak and Asing Walthaus. In 2022, Nico collaborated with soprano Siobhan Stagg in recording Voices: Songs by Richard Hageman (Aloud Records), the first album solely dedicated to Hageman’s songs. Nico’s forthcoming monograph on Richard Hageman — Song Composer (Peter Lang) is due for release in November 2024.

About Betty Bannerman

Betty Bannerman was a distinguished mezzo soprano who enjoyed a career spanning some seven decades, latterly as a teacher.

She specialised in French song and was a pupil and friend of the great French mezzo Claire Croiza. Bannerman’s own voice ranged from low G to the high A flat. She had a rich, warm tone and exemplary diction in whatever language she was singing. A regular soloist at the Three Choirs Festivals before and after the Second World War, she sang in the Elgar oratorios and in choral works by Kodáy, Lambert, Mendelssohn and Bliss. She gave more than 200 solo recitals for the BBC; she was a soloist in Bach Passions conducted by Vaughan Williams at the Leith Hill Festivals and worked often with such conductors as Ansermet, Beecham, Goossens and Boult. Besides French song, she excelled in German Lieder, Old Italian songs and the English repertoire from Purcell to Britten. Bannerman spent six months in Berlin with Lilli Lehmann and made a special study of lieder with von Zur Mühlen. Her first important London recital was at the Aeolian Hall in 1927. The next year she attended a Croiza recital, which made such an impression that she immediately asked to become her pupil, and for the next 10 years studied with her for a month every year.

(Extracts from piece written by Michael Kennedy, 2 March 1992, Daily Telegraph)

Ticket Pricing & Booking Information

Tickets £20, FREE for Patrons – Click here for details on how to become a Patron

Doors Open 2.30pm

Performance 3pm

Duration Approx. 1 hour

Ticket price includes post-performance tea, coffee and cake.


The Music Room at Clonterbrook House, Swettenham Heath, Congleton, CW12 2LS

Priority Booking for Patrons 9th February

Priority Booking for Friends 16th February

General Sale 23rd February