Montgomery County Music Festival



About the Festival

About the





The soloists for the 2024 Montgomery County Music Festival are:

Holly Teague (Soprano)
Helena Cooke (Mezzo)
William Smith (Tenor)
Ben Watkins (Baritone)

Holly Teague (soprano)

Details to follow.

Helena Cooke (mezzo)

Helena Cooke London-based mezzo Helena Cooke studies singing with Veronica Veysey-Campbell.

After graduating from The University of York with a first class honours degree in Music, Helena worked as a Lay Clerk with the Choir of Clare College Cambridge, recording and touring extensively.

Since then, Helena has enjoyed a busy freelance career in London. She has worked with a large number of groups including BBC Singers, English Concert, Recordare, Sonoro, and Britten Sinfonia Voices. She has also done film session work with London Voices and RSVP Voices. Helena is also a regular alto in the choir of HM Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula, Tower of London.

Equally comfortable as a soloist, Helena performs with choral societies up and down the country. Recent highlights include Elijah, and CPE Bach's Magnificat. In 2022, Helena performed the role of Sorceress in Hampstead Garden Opera's production of Dido and Aeneas. She has also performed Britten's Canticle Abraham and Isaac with Mark Padmore at the St Endellion Summer Music Festival.

Helena recently became a member of Levedy Ensemble, an all-female voice and harp quintet of opera singers with choral backgrounds. Her first engagements with them included concerts in Switzerland, two of which were in a prison - work which forms an important part of the group's objectives.

Alongside singing, Helena is also an award-winning photographer and regularly shoots for all kinds of musicians and groups.

William Smith (tenor)

William SmithWilliam graduated from Birmingham conservatoire of music where he studied with Christine Cairns and Henry Herfod. He continued his studies in Paris with Glenn Chambers and is now based in London and studying with David Pollard.

Previous operatic roles include El Dancaire in Bizet's Carmen, Belmonte in Mozart's Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail, Mozart in Rimsky Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri and Tom Rakewell in Stravinsky's The Rakes Progress. William performs a wide range wide range of oratorio roles throughout the U.K.

As a song recitalist William performs regularly with his accompanist Simon Bate. October 2022 saw them launch "The Marches Songbook", an organisation enabling collaborative partnerships between poets, composers and performers in the Marches and Welsh borders region. The first successful performances of works written for the songbook include settings of Shropshire poet Jean Atkin by the Montgomery County Music Festival's conductor Patrick Larley. There are many future songs and programs planned, featuring works by artists and performers of this borders region. Please follow developments at The Marches Songbook.

Ben Watkins (baritone)

Ben Watkins Welsh baritone Ben Watkins, originally from Aberystwyth, graduated from GSMD in 2015; he continues his studies with David Pollard. His roles performed on stage include Silvio, Bartley, Eugene Onegin, Tonio and Alfio (cover) Fleville and Jake Wallace. Most recently Ben performed the role of Le Baron de Pictordu in Cendrillon by Pauline Viardot for Wexford Festival Opera.

A keen recitalist, Ben has taken part in masterclasses with Sophie Daneman, Ann Murray, and most recently with Dame Anne Evans in the Machynlleth Music Festival under the directorship of Julius Drake. In February 2020, Ben performed his first Die schöne Müllerin for Hertford Music Club.

In recent years Ben has focussed a growing amount of his attention on his thriving teaching practice in London. He has found himself, at an unusually young age, credited as the full time teacher of students who have been heard at many of the leading UK and European companies.