"I suddenly realise how much emotion lurks within these decorated vocal lines, which sound easy but most certainly are not. That these performers absorb the audience from start to finish with their singing alone is huge testimony to their musical prowess. The promising Ursula’s Arrow has a lot to contribute to early vocal music, simply by showing us how beautiful it can be. Five Stars." Fringe Opera
Ursula's Arrow was formed with the aim of bringing early music a modern sensibility, performing works by women composers that have been ignored, repressed and forgotten, and commissioning new works for period instruments. Performances with the Walbrook Music Trust, London Feminist Library, and the United Nations He4She campaign. Currently developing our 2020/2021 programme and schedule - please get in contact for further information.
Soprano Sarah Dacey is a singer, composer, arranger and teacher based in London. She studied Music at the University of York, completing an MA in Contemporary Studies and then with Alison Pearce at the Royal Academy of Music in London, graduating from the PGDiploma Vocal Studies course with Distinction. .She made her international opera debut with Opéra de Baugé as 'Amor' in 'Orfeo ed Euridice' and since then has performed at the Royal Opera House (Elspeth Brooke's 'Dot, Squiggle & Rest'), the Tête à Tête Opera Festival (Richard Barnard's 'Hidden Valley'), the roles of 'Irene', 'Nurse' and 'Mary' in 'Jerry Springer: The Opera' at the Lost Theatre and premieres a new opera by Hannah Kendall ('The Knife of Dawn') at the Roundhouse in October 2016. Concert performances include Nielsen's 'Symphony No.3' with Henley Symphony Orchestra, Will Todd's 'Mass in Blue' with Hertford Choral Society and Bath Spa University Choir, Mozart's 'Coronation Mass' with Derby Choral Union, Haydn's 'Creation' with Benson Choral Society, 'Carmina Burana' with St. Helen's Choral Society and Poulenc's 'Gloria' with Thames Philharmonic Choir. An advocate of new music, Sarah has worked with many of today’s finest composers including Anna Meredith, Errollyn Wallen, Rob Fokkens and Tansy Davies. She has sung in countless UK premieres including those of Stockhausen’s 'Litanie' and Xenakis’ 'Idmen'. She was the soprano soloist in the London premiere of Claude Vivier’s 'Glaubst du an die Unsterblichkeit der Seele' with the London Contemporary Orchestra and gave the Qatari premiere of Gavin Bryars’ 'The Adnan Songbook' with members of the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra in Doha. She performs regularly with a great variety of professional ensembles including the BBC Singers, Philharmonia Voices, The Octandre Ensemble, The Riot Ensemble, Galvanize Ensemble, multimedia group SoundKarD and is a founding member of two exciting and very different vocal groups - Juice Vocal Ensemble and Twilight Ensemble. She is also a keen collaborator, performing with Viola da Gamba player Liam Byrne, Harpist Fontane Liang, Cellist Zosia Jagodzinska and Berlin-based String Quartet, Oriel Quartet. Sarah is a keen composer and arranger and has been broadcast on Radio 3, Radio 4 and BBC 6 Music. Her music has been performed in the Wigmore Hall, the Tate Modern, the Three Choirs Festival and the Tête à Tête Opera Festival. Some of her arrangements and works for Juice Vocal Ensemble have recently been published by UYMP in a compilation entitled the 'Songspin Songbook', a sheet music version of Juice's debut album with the Nonclassical label.
Mezzo-soprano CN Lester CN Lester is a writer, musician, academic, and leading LGBTI activist. Co-founder of the UK's first national queer youth organisation, they curate the trans art event Transpose for Barbican, and work internationally as a trans and feminist educator and speaker. Their work has featured on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, SBS, The Guardian, ABC, The Independent, Newsnight, and at Sydney Opera House. A singer-songwriter and a classical performer, composer and researcher, CN specialises in early and modern music, particularly by women composers. CN is a performance and performance practice doctoral student at MuGI, University of Huddersfield, focusing on questions of gender and reception in composition and performance, particularly in relation to the works and reception of Barbara Strozzi. They received their BMus from Kings College London, their MMus from Goldsmiths, and is a student of Alison Wells. Gigs/engagements include work at The Barbican, Southbank Centre, Snape Maltings, The Royal Exchange, Fluid Festival, Queer Prides throughout Europe, and art galleries/bars/recital halls/book and coffee shops/universities throughout the UK. They have released three independent, crowd-funded albums: "Ashes" (2012), "Aether" (2014) and "Come Home" (2017) - all available via iTunes, Amazon and Spotify. "Trans Like Me" (Virago/Seal) is their first book, named as one of the three essential works on trans issues by The New York Times. With glowing reviews from The Times Literary Supplement and Publishers Weekly, "Trans Like Me" is a collection of essays on gender, society, history, and building better futures.
Toby Carr is a lutenist and guitarist from London, who is known as an engaging and responsive artist, performing with some of the finest musicians in the business. Having studied at Trinity Laban (BMus) and the Guildhall School ofMusic and Drama (MPerf) with David Miller, William Carter, Graham Devine and Robert Brightmore, he is now active in the UK and beyond as a soloist, continuo player and chamber musician. A specialism in music of the Seventeenth Century has led to a varied diary of performances and research projects in the field of historically informed performance, bringing old music to new audiences in exciting and innovative ways.
Toby has worked with internationally renowned organisations such as the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Dunedin Consort, Early Opera Company, RTE Symphony Orchestra and Irish Baroque Orchestra. As a continuo player for early opera, Toby has played for English Touring Opera’s period instrument group the Old Street Band for seasons in 2016, 2017 and 2018, as well as working for Longborough Festival Opera, Glyndebourne Youth Opera, Bury Court Opera and Brighton Early Music Festival Opera. Toby is also active as a performer with the next generation of early music groups, as a founding member of Ceruleo and Lux Musicae London, as well as a frequent collaborator with groups such as Fieri Consort and Musica Poetica. Toby performs with Dame Emma Kirkby and her group Dowland Works, and made his Wigmore Hall debut with them at her 70th birthday celebration concert in February 2019. Settled in south-east London with his wife and frequent collaborator, baroque harpist Aileen Henry, Toby’s interests outside of music include cooking and travelling, though when not working he generally tries to do as little as possible.
Aileen Henry Aileen studied at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance with Gabriella Dall’Olio and Frances Kelly gaining her BMus and MMus in harp performance. While an undergraduate at Trinity, Aileen was introduced to the baroque harp and, falling for the beauty of the instrument and its music decide to pursue it alongside the modern harp. During her time at Trinity Aileen had the opportunity to play with many early music ensembles and in her final year performed Handel’s oratorio Belshazzar under Nicholas Kraemer. Since finishing her studies Aileen has been working with many ensembles and orchestras around the UK and Europe both as a continuo player and an orchestral harpist. She has performed at Brighton Early Music Festival, Valletta International Baroque Festival, Utrecht’s Oude Musiek Festival, Hampstead Garden Opera, London Handel Festival and Greenwich International Early Music Festival. Aileen is looking forward to working with English Touring Opera in the autumn and is delighted to be invited back by Brighton Early Music Festival to play in their upcoming baroque opera in the Autumn. Recently Aileen has been working with groups such as the Fieri Consort, Musica Poetica, Marian Consort, Dame Emma Kirkby’s Dowland Works, Glyndebourne Youth Opera, Scholars & Gentlemen, Charivari Agreable and Florisma, with whom she recorded Handel’s Nine German Aria’s, which was recently released under Convivium Records Aileen is a founding member of the group Lux Musicae London who have had an exciting time recently, from being selected for Brighton early Music Festival’s Live Scheme 2016/17, reaching the final of Concours internationale de Journées de Musiques Anciennes in Paris, being selected for the International Young Artists Presentation in AMUZ: Laus Polyphoniae Festival in Antwerp, to being invited to perform at the Fringe of the MA Festival Brugge and the Fabulous Fringe of Utrecht’s Oude Musiek Festival.
Why "Ursula's Arrow"? Because of the tradition naming Saint Ursula as the patron saint of women's scholarship and protection. Read more about Saint Ursula here.