About the musicians

UNA BARRY (soprano) has enjoyed a busy career down the years whereby her extensive repertoire from the baroque to the present day and her outstanding musical ability have enabled her to accept solo engagements and broadcasts all over Britain, Ireland and Continental Europe as well as in Australia, Finland and Kenya.  This repertoire covers the operatic stage with her time at Kent Opera and Scottish Opera in roles such as The Governess in Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, First Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Aminta in Mozart’s Il Rè Pastore and The Priestess in Gluck’s Iphigenie in Tauris at the Edinburgh International Festival, as well as Alison Cox’s The Time Killing and Brian Hughes’s Stars and Shadows in Manchester as a post-graduate student at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester.  Una has also given many song recitals, ranging from Purcell to Messiaen and more contemporary music, but it is now in oratorio for which she is best known.  As the Daily Telegraph wrote of her Manchester Midday Concert, “Una Barry possesses a strong, true soprano voice which is the expression of a marked intelligence and a vivid response”.  She has sung Bach’s St John Passion for King's College, Cambridge, and given numerous performances Purcell, Bach and Handel with Pro Cantiones Antiqua as their guest soprano in Belgium, Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany.  In Finland she also gave three critically acclaimed performances of Verdi’s Requiem, and most recently in Chester Cathedral a performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis where it was reported in the press that “her quality of tone resulted in a most thrilling performance”. Una has sung all the major oratorio works in most major concert halls and cathedrals.  After leaving the RNCM where she was student with David Knowles, she studied principally with Josephine Veasey, Heather Harper, Richard Smart and Paul Hamburger in London.  There were more recent periods of study in Bayreuth with Anna Reynolds and Jean Cox from 2002 to 2004 which enabled her to delve into the more dramatic operatic repertoire of Beethoven, Verdi, Puccini and Wagner but still keeping her more usual lyric and oratorio repertoire.  This period of study enabled her to sing the role of Aida in a concert performance of the Verdi opera in London, directed by Victor Morris, formerly Head of Music at English National Opera.  Una now studies periodically with David Jones from New York and regularly with Sonja Nerdrum, the soprano and now a French language coach at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.  Una has recently increased her private teaching practice in London as well as being called upon as an examiner and adjudicator.  

DAVID KNOWLES (piano), a naturalised Icelander of Welsh and German ancestry, was born in Bath, England. He began studying piano at the age of 8 and cello at the age of 12.  In 1976, he entered the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, England with piano as first study. He decided to concentrate on piano accompaniment and graduated in 1980. He was awarded two scholarships to further his studies on the professional performer course.  In 1982, David moved to Iceland to take up a teaching position and gradually became involved with performance work.  He was the Director of Music at the Catholic Cathedral in Reykjavik, coach and accompanist at the Reykjavik School of Singing, as well as teaching piano and cello at the Icelandic Suzuki Association School. David performed and recorded frequently for Icelandic radio and television, as well as making television appearances in many other countries, including Norway, Sweden, Italy and Romania. Since moving to Hong Kong in 1994, he has performed with instrumentalists, vocalists and choirs at most public performance venues in the City, as well as making a number of recordings for Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK).   He has worked as an accompanist at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts in both the vocal and wind/percussion departments of the Academy.  Apart from his work as an accompanist, David also teaches and coaches on a freelance basis, often working with and accompanying students up to diploma level for examinations and competitions.  In his free time he is an enthusiastic cook.