Sopranos: Abbi Temple, Elizabeth Drury, Suzzie Vango
Altos: Suzie Purkis, Sarah Tenant-Flowers
Papagena is a rarity, an all-female consort of five professional singers set up to explore music from medieval times to the present day written specifically for female voices. The group’s programming defies pigeonholing; drawing richly on traditional folk music and women’s working songs from around the world, Papagena juxtaposes these pieces with more classical repertoire from Hildegard of Bingen to Katy Perry, as well as writing its own material and commissioning from an eclectic range of composers including Errollyn Wallen, Oliver Tarney and Jim Clements. Medieval, classical, folk and contemporary music is interwoven into intriguing programmes which fascinate diverse audiences and the group also undertakes education projects involving both school and adult voices.
Formally launched in 2015, the group has performed at numerous festivals including the Edinburgh Festival, Brandenburg Choral Festival (London), the Shropshire Music Trust, Music at Christchurch Priory Festival, Sandstone Ridge, Nottingham Cathedral and Bromsgrove Festivals and the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester. Papagena has devised programmes and performed with the Orchestra of the Swan in Stratford and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and has toured extensively throughout the UK.
Papagena’s first album, Nuns and Roses, was produced and released under its own label in 2017. Its second album The Darkest Midnight was released in November 2018 under the SOMM record label and reached No 6 in the classical charts as well as the No 1 classical download position. It was selected as Recording of the Month in December 2018 by Music Web International. Its third album Hush! was released on the SOMM label in March 2020 and received stunning reviews in all major journals including Gramophone.
Papagena made its BBC debut in 2018, singing live during the International Women’s Day concert on Radio 3. Since then the group has given two further live performances on the BBC, on both In Tune (Radio 3) and Woman’s Hour (Radio 4) and appears regularly on Scala Radio. In 2018 Papagena was also selected to be one of Making Music’s coveted Selected Artists for the 2019/2020 season.
Forthcoming projects include further recordings and touring collaborations with the Orchestra of the Swan, world premiere performances of two Stabat Maters by Orazio Vecchi (1550-1605) and John Duggan (b.1963) respectively, and the launch of Papagena’s new programme Still Moving in autumn 2021, together with a series of video and podcast projects also launched this year.
“an exhilarating, unworked sound…leaves you marvelling. Certain well-established, all-male groups could learn a thing or two from these fine musicians.” (Alexander Coghlan, Gramophone Magazine May 2020)
“crème de la crème in the crowded a cappella space” (Edinburgh Festival 2018)
“voices of considerable bloom, enviable pitching, impeccable diction and a real sense of fun…think a young Hilliard Ensemble” (Prickle Arts, Edinburgh)
“…went down a storm…the extraordinary voices of Papagena” (Sarah Walker, BBC Radio 3)
“you will be, as I was, instantly hooked by the bewitching sound of Papagena”
(Music Web International)
“I want to hear them live!” (Norman Lebrecht)