Artists Performing at the St Michael's Arts Festival 2017
Mathew o keefe
After beginning his musical training at the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School and the Centre for Young Musicians, Matthew graduated from King’s College London with a 1st class music degree in 2016. During his time at King’s, he was awarded the Purcell music prize and, in his final year, the music department’s Jelf Medal nomination. Matthew was president of the Opera Society; assistant conductor of KCL Symphony Orchestra; ran the Big Band; and was Director of Music for the Catholic Society. As a choral scholar at King's (under David Trendell and then Joe Fort), Matthew studied singing with Michael Chance, Professor at the Royal Academy of Music. Now working as a freelance conductor and singer, he is Director of Music at St Thomas of Canterbury Church, Fulham, and of choral singing at the Centre for Young Musicians. In 2014, he founded Scherzo, a young professional vocal consort, which performs on a monthly basis around London. In March 2017, Matthew founded Brixton Chamber Orchestra, which is committed to bringing more free and accessible classical music to the area. In July 2017, he launched new fringe opera company LunchBreak Opera, with a production of Puccini’s Suor Angelica. He studies conducting with Peter Ash, and plans to continue into conservatoire in due course.
Sarah De Nordwall
Sarah de Nordwall is a poet and storyteller, who calls herself a Bard with a Bard School. In 1993 she was inspired by an account of the ancient Bards of Ireland, who were called to ‘speak truth to the king without fear’ and to ‘entertain all from the Peasant to the King’. This she determined to do, and she set out to found a Bard School like the ones of old, that trained one for such a mission. Since then, she has been writing and performing her poems and stories in her unique style, for 20 years, all around the UK, and also in Saskatchewan, Transylvania and Lourdes, from day centres for the homeless to the House of Lords.
Sarah is also a 'Catholic Voice' who speaks out on TV and radio when invited to express a layperson’s view of hot button issues.
She has recently returned from Boston, where she was a Bard in Residence at a Catholic High School, also performing at a house concert in a family home attended by writers and children, families and priests. She is particularly dedicated to the revival of culture in the home, and to what she calls 'The Domestic Shalom'. Pop up Bard Schools can last a day, a week or a term. They inspire everyone, whether seminarian, student or retired executive, to integrate faith, reason, creativity and social outreach, by delving afresh into the mystery of the artistic process under grace.
Malcolm Billings did not reach the study of history and archaeology by a conventional route. Although he was interested in the subjects at school in Melbourne, Australia, his career in London at the BBC was centred on Current Affairs. During the 1960s, through to July 1977, he broadcast for BBC RADIO 4 as a reporter and presenter on the flagship “TODAY PROGRAMME”.
He moved aside in Broadcasting House to take up a new role as presenter of the RADIO 4 series “ORIGINS”. The programme quickly became established as an important source of archaeological information, and proof that radio could create archaeological “pictures” as sharp as any TV series dealing with the subject. One memorable and ground breaking feature was the excavation and conservation of the Terracotta Warriors at Xian in China. Presenter Malcolm Billings, Producer Christopher Stone, and Dr Jessica Rawson, Keeper of the Department of Oriental Antiquities, recorded the first authoritative feature on the “Warriors” for BBC Radio, in July 1980.
Malcolm’s contribution to archaeology on the BBC World Service included the long running series, “Heritage”. The brief was also world-wide and included programmes recorded in the Canadian Arctic, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Australia, Mexico, Syria, the Nile Valley, & Jordan. The excavation of James Town - the first English settlement in Virginia - was produced by Brigid O’Hara and presented by Malcolm Billings. Another programme featured Dr Geoffrey King of SOAS, University of London, who traced the history of the pilgrim “Hejaz Railway” from Damascus to Medina in Saudi Arabia, and was one of the last “Heritage” radio feature programmes recorded on location before the recent war broke out in the Middle East. During the last two years Malcolm has given public lectures at the Keynon Institute, Jerusalem; the Levantine Foundation, London; and the British Museum.
John Bromley Davenport QC trained as an actor at LAMDA before enjoying a successful career in the law. Alongside his professional work as a Barrister, John has maintained a keen interest in theatre, performing his one-man adaptions of A Christmas Carol and Three Men in a Boat on both sides of the Atlantic for over 30 years, to considerable critical acclaim. His biography of the eminent scientist Sir Bernard Lovell 'Space has no Frontier' was published in 2013. John is a regular contributor to the letters pages of both The Times and The Telegraph, and an entertaining raconteur on the after-dinner speaker circuit.