Great Den Bosch Prize An award for the best singer in the competition, who gets to perform in a KRO television concert.
1st prize ƒ 2.500, the medal of Muziekstad Den Bosch, a diploma, a concert with the Brabant Orchestra, broadcast by KRO Radio
2nd prize ƒ 1.000, Honorary diploma, a concert with the Brabant Orchestra, broadcast by KRO Radio
Prize Countertenors Should one or more counter tenors participate, the Jury can award them with a special prize
Honorary mentioning For those participants who did not win a First or Second Prize, but who managed to distinguish themselves nonetheless
KRO Broadcasting Corporation Prize KRO Broadcasting Corporation offers each First Prize winner a radio concert
VARA Broadcasting Corporation Prize VARA Broadcasting Corporation selects their own pick of finalists to appear in a VARA Radio broadcast.
Prize ‘BUMA Foundation’ ƒ 500 for the best performance of a modern Dutch composition
Young Talent prize ‘Toonkunst’ ƒ 1.250 Study allowance for a Dutch singer who shows promise at any point in the competition and who is not among the winners.
Friends of Song Prize Five concert recitals with this Foundation, for a singer with special talent for the song repertoire.
Prize ‘Janine Micheau’  
Honorary diploma All finalists receive a Honorary diploma
Not awarded  
1st prize Nelly Miricioiù Soprano  RO
2nd prize Coby Dijk Soprano  NL
1st prize Not awarded    
2nd prize Liliane Bizineche Mezzo-soprano RO
2nd prize Mary Burgett Mezzo-soprano USA
1st prize  Not awarded    
2nd prize Christopher Royall Countertenor UK
1st prize Not awarded    
2nd prize Howard Crook Tenor USA
1st prize  Not awarded    
2nd prize Henry Herford Baritone UK
2nd prize Peter Savidge Baritone UK
Kalevi Olli Bass-baritone FI
Judith Mok Soprano NL
Piet Nievelstein Baritone NL
Catriona Bell Soprano UK
Howard Crook Tenor USA
Dariusz Niemirowicz Baritone PO
Dariusz Niemirowicz Baritone PO
Fiona Dobie Soprano NL
Howard Crook Tenor USA
Henry Herford Baritone UK
Peter Savidge Baritone UK
Nelly Miricioiù Soprano RO



Nelly Miricioiù

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  • Nelly Miricioiù receives her IVC Den Bosch 1979 Award (1979/2014 © 401ivca.com)
  • Nelly Miricioiù in Brasov, 1979 (1979/2014 © 401ivca.com)

‘Romanian soprano Nelly Miricioiù is indeed one who can sing gloriously During the finals she stepped up the challenge by throwing in al, of her stage experience. Perhaps it was not objectively exceptional what she did, but her ‘E strano’ from La traviata brought he audience to frenzy. Especially the high notes were tossed out with mighty splendor.’ (Hein Zomerdijk, ‘Vocalistenconcours is uniek,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 10, 1979.)

‘It was foremost her interpretation of the aria ‘È strano!’ with the dazzling cabaletta ‘Sempre libera’ that brought the fierce glow of dramatic eruptions by the likes of Maria Callas in our minds.’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Miricioiù ging met de eerste prijs strijken,’ NRC, September 10, 1979)

‘Soprano Nelly Miricioiù is an opera diva pur sang, who commands all elements of the trade to perfection. Her arias of Bellini, Charpentier and Donizetti were a triumph of vocal virtuosity and a deserved triumph for the artist, who brought the audience to a frenzy.’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Zangers beter op het slotconcert,’ NRC?, September 14, 1979)

‘This extraordinary diva can sing anything and sing it well .’ (Rodney Milnes in Opera Magazine)

Hailed as a singing-actress, Nelly Miricioiù’s repertoire soon extended from Mozart and bel canto to Verdi, Puccini and the verismo to modern Italian opera Respighi and Zandonai, taking in French and Russian composers too. She won the International Vocal Competition (IVC) Den Bosch 1979, among many other competitions, and soon emerged as a prima donna assoluta in both verismo and bel canto repertoire. She was cherished from London to Washington, and from La Scala to Paris, but above all, she was the Dutch matinee idol for almost 30 years.

Born in Adjud, Romania, Miricioiù (March 31, 1952) started singing at age 5, and she was soon hailed as a child prodigy. At 9 she started studying piano and at 14 she won her first singing contest, ‘Young Talents, Great hopes.’ Miricioiù in Opera:

‘My mother was an amateur singer. When I was just five, a sore throat prevented her from taking part in a concert where she was due to sing some folk songs, so I said, ‘I'll do it, and I know your songs!’ So they stood me on a chair. When the accordionist started, I said, ‘Maestro, that is not my key.’ Everybody was just bemused. I was soon heard on Romanian radio and in recordings, since I never had a child's voice. At 14, when I sang on television, I sounded as if I was 25.’

In 1972 she was the youngest contestant in the Francisco Viñas Competition in Barcelona; in 1975 she won the First Prize at the very first Maria Callas Grand Prix in Athens. Miricioiù made her operatic debut in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, as the Queen of the Night at Iași Opera House, and continued to sing at Brasov Opera House between 1975-1978 in roles such as Mimi in La bohème, Micaela in Carmen and Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus. More 1st Prizes followed and by September 1979 she also arrived to the International Vocal Competition (IVC) Den Bosch, Netherlands. She arrived there as a mature artist, and immediately established herself as the favorite of audience and press alike. When she confirmed her status in the finals with the dazzling ‘È strano!... Sempre libera’ from La traviata, there was no stopping her. She was the only competitor in that particular competition to achieve a 1st Prize, and in the concluding Gala Concert most people truly wondered why she wasn’t also given the Great Prize of the City of Den Bosch? The splendid recording of the concert sustains this question, and makes one wonder what more a singer could possibly do to achieve that Prize? In retrospect, we are sure that had there already been an orchestra finale, there would have been no stopping her from also taking that prize home. Without such a finale, it may well have been that the full power of her voice and her theatrical instincts could not fully unfold with mere piano accompaniment.

All in all, there can be no doubt that Miricioiù achieved not just a career of world class, but, more than any other IVC winner, she also became the idol of Dutch audiences over the decades (one might make an exception for Elly Ameling, who was the pride and glory of the Dutch audiences in song repertoire from her IVC Victory in 1956 until the mid 1980s). Miricioiù ultimately also became a frequent juror at the IVC in the 21st Century, in addition to which she gave a number of Master classes there. In short, we can only be too happy that she let the IVC staff either persuade herself, or the Brasov Opera to release her for the IVC Gala Concert 1979, where she made the mentioned deep impression on press and audience alike, which we gladly demonstrate by a sample of her ‘Sempre libera’ of that very concert. Until any of her previous western European vocal competition efforts emerges from the vaults of time, this IVC Gala Concert recording from our own archives momentarily stands as her earliest extant west European concert debut recording.

Nelly Miricioiu mp3
Verdi: La traviata ‘Sempre libera’
Nelly Miricoiù (Violetta), Brabants Orkest – André Vandernoot (conductor), IVC Gala Concert, Casino Theatre, Den Bosch, September 12, 1979


Born under the star of the oppressive Ceaușescu regime, she faced some tough choices following her IVC Victory. There was no ‘free travel,’ visa could be denied at random, and as her compatriot and IVC 1969 1St Prize Winner Maria Slatinaru told us previously, the government took the largest cut out of singer’s foreign wages. The stress eventually caused a nervous breakdown. It was at that point that Miricioiù was given the chance to go to… the Philippines! A guest conductor at one of her Bucharest performances (where she was now regularly appearing in broadcasts) invited her there, precisely at the moment when the Securitate was harassing her. In 1981, while on the Philippines, Miricioiù decided to defect to the West. This was made possible by the Scottish Opera, where she debuted in the same year as Violetta in La Traviata. Manon Lescaut and Tosca followed. A year later she had her big breakthrough at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden as Nedda in Pagliacci opposite John Vickers, Piero Cappuccilli and Thomas Allen. After her successful debut she became a household name at the Royal Opera House where she has sung for over two decades in roles such as Marguerite in Faust, Antonia in Tales of Hoffmann, Valentine in Les Huguenots, Norma, Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux to name just a few. In 1996 she was trusted with the revival of the infamous Tosca production for Maria Callas. The revival was a huge success and established her as one of the best Tosca's seen on stage. In 1983, Nelly Miricioiù was called to replace Luciana Serra at Teatro alla Scala Milan as Lucia di Lamermoor. Her debut on the demanding stage was an absolute triumph. There was unanimous praise from the critics and newspapers for her extraordinary performance. After this success, she went on to sing on the stages of the most important opera houses in Europe such as Amsterdam, Brussels, Rome, Hamburg, Berlin, Geneva, Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, Paris, Madrid, and Barcelona etc. She has been highly praised and acclaimed for her characterization of roles as diverse as Violetta in La traviata (a role which she has reprised more than 350 times), Mimi and Musetta in La Boheme, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, Silvana in La fiamma, Adriana in Adriana Lecouvreur (a role which she debuted at La Scala in 2000), Francesca in Francesca da Rimini, Isabella in Robert le diable, Elisabetta in Don Carlo, Gilda in Rigoletto, the four soprano roles in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Magda in La rondine, Norma by Bellini, Lucrezia Borgia and the three Donizetti queens, Thais, Semiramide, and many more, including the mesmerizing title role in Iris by Mascagni (created by her great Romanian predecessor Hariclea Darclée in 1898).

Her Armenaide in Rossini’s Tancredi at the 1992 Salzburg festival was greatly admired and she continues to sing other Rossini roles such as Armida, Semiramide and Ermione to similar acclaim. In 1989 she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York as Mimi in La bohème. She continued to sing also in Philadelphia, Dallas and San Francisco and in 2007 she made her house debut at New York City Opera as Agrippina. In South America, she has had success in Santiago and the famous Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires.

A ‘Dutch’ Diva!

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Where many IVC prize winners frequently appeared in The Concertgebouw for various Dutch radio broadcasts, most famously the VARA Matinee series (Howard Crook, for instance, debuted there within a month from his 2nd prize in the same 1979 IVC), it took Miricioiù rather long before she returned to The Netherlands, in order to perform the title role in Massenet’s Thaïs, on January 19, 1985. Her Concertgebouw debut now belongs to Dutch operatic history, since it started her special bond with the Dutch audiences, who hailed her as the only true successor to VARA Matinee legends Magda Olivero in the veristic repertoire, and Joan Sutherland in the bel canto repertoire. As with Olivero and Sutherland before her, some people divided their operatic lives in terms of the reappearance of Miricioiù, from the Thaïs debut in 1985, to the Verdi Requiem (November 30 Concertgebouw/ December 1 Utrecht, 1985) and Boïto’s Mefistofele in the same year, and from there to Rossini’s Tancredi in Amsterdam and Utrecht 1987, the Dutch premiere of his Armida on September 24, 1988, the title role in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena on September 12, 1989, or his Lucrezia Borgia on May 18, 1991. From then on she was the one and only Matinee idol until the final Caterina Cornaro on March 20, 2010.

Nelly Miricioiu mp3
Zandonai: Francesca da Rimini ‘Benvenuto, signore mio cognato’
Nelly Miricoiù (Francesca), Kaludi Kaludov (Paolo), Radio Symphonie Orkest – Giuliano Carella (Conductor), Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, 2000.


Universally acclaimed for her luscious sound, impeccable technique and exceptional theatrical stage presence individual sound, with her hall marks being the veristic ring and the rich, golden vibrato that seems inborn in Romanian sopranos from Elena Theodorescu and Hariclea Darclée to Stella Roman, Virginia Zeani, and former IVC Winners & participants Maria Slatinaru-Nistor, Maria Krilovici, and Mariana Nicolesco, up to Angela Gheorghiu today. Among them, Miricioiù clearly belonged to the exceedingly rare breed of the assolutas, comprising the entire bel canto repertoire from the Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti era up to the veristic masterpieces by Puccini, Leoncavallo, Mascagni, and Zandonai. With her unique voice, light and colorful in texture while still able to battle the heavy orchestrations of verismo composers, she succeeded Callas, Sutherland and Caballé mostly by continuing their efforts to revive more of the forgotten bel canto repertoire, if by the likes of Mercadante, Rossini, and Donizetti, or by the likes of Zandonai (Francesca da Rimini), Mascagni (Iris), Respighi (La fiamma), and many others. In her own way, Miricioiù continued what the three great bel canto divas before her had started, which is testified by the discography on 401DutchDivas.nl page, where we also present filmed excerpts from interviews that I had with her over the years on various subjects.


  • Liliane Bizineche
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  • Liliane Bizineche

Liliane Bizineche was awarded the 2nd prize among mezzo sopranos because she demonstrated that she could really do more than just produce beautiful note. She might have reached higher, had not her fourth number from La favorita proved too much of a challenge.’ (Hein Zomerdijk, ‘Vocalistenconcours is uniek,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 10, 1979.)

‘The Romanian mezzo Liliane Bizineche unfolded more warmth in her voice than she had hitherto revealed, especially in her aria from Saint-Saëns. Perhaps she still needs to grow a bit for Carmen, which lacked refinement, although we add that she presented herself at the competition as a specialist in the song gene, in which domain she is perfectly at home.’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Zangers beter op het slotconcert,’ NRC?, September 14, 1979)

Liliana Bizineche (July 6, 1956, Brașov) studied singing at the Conservatory in Cluj from 1974 to 1980. Her voice teacher there was Ionel Pantea and she studied opera with I.A. Arbore. Following her formal studies she further perfected her technique with Ileana Cotrubaș, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Regina Resnik. Her stage debut took place as Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro in the Opera House Cluj-Napoka, in the same year that she won the Second prize for mezzo-sopranos at the International Vocal Competition (IVC) Den Bosch, 1979. The IVC was the third victory she reaped in International Competition, following victories in Athens (2nd) and Barcelona (3d). By 1980 she came in 1st in Paris, then 2 nd in Rio de Janeiro 1981, and again 1st in Leipzig 1982. All the while she was engaged at the Cluj-Napoka Opera, where she remained until 1987. Her repertoire included the mezzo parts in Werther, Carmen, Cavalleria rusticana, Il matrimonio segreto, Nabucco, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, Boris Godunov, Norma, Così fan tutte and so on.

Liliane Bizineche mp3
Dvorak: Biblische Lieder
Kölner Philharmonic – Gerd Albrecht (conductor


She gave guest performances in France (L’Opéra), Austria (Wiener Staatsoper), Italy, Spain, Portugal (San Carlo) Germany, Brazil, Argentina (Teatro Colon), USSR, Canada, Mexico, Belgium, and Switzerland. Conductors that she worked with included Georges Prêtre, Yehudi Menuhin, Michel Corboz, Kurt Masur, Pinchas Steinberg, and Claudio Scimone. She sang with the likes of Nicolai Gedda, José van Dam, Shirley Verrett, Alfredo Kraus, Peter Schreier, Teresa Berganza, José Carreras, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Lella Cuberli, Matteo Manuguerra, and Gundula Janowitz. Her voice was recorded on Erato (Schumann: Requiem für Mignon), Gallo, Cascavelle (Honegger: Judith), and Claves. She appears in recordings of Honegger’s Judith; Canções Espanholas by Garcia-Lorca, Pisador, Encina, Giuliani, De Falla; Liszt: Missa Solemnis; Schubert: ‘Mass Nº5’ & ‘Mass Nº4;’ Händel: The Messiah; Verdi: Messa de Requiem; João Domingos Bomtempo: Requiem à la mémoire de L.de Camões; Jean Perrin: De Profundis; Fernando Lopes Graça: Requiem pelas vítimas do fascismo em Portugal; Schumann: Requiem für Mignon; Schubert: Messe en La Bemol Majo.

Mary Burgett

Mary Burgett

‘The super slim, dark American mezzo Mary Burgett may not have an exceptionally large voice for an opera specialist, but she proved how to use her well trained instrument in the over familiar aria from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia . She gave a wonderful interpretation of it, brimming youth and sparkling with enthusiasm. Ravel’s ‘Asie’ was imbued with all the hazy sensuality that it requires, while she proved her metal as an opera diva completely in the rarely heard aria from Tchaikovsky’s Jeanne d’Arc.’ (Hein Zomerdijk, ‘Vocalistenconcours is uniek,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 10, 1979.)

‘Her appearance had great charm, and by this she managed to captivate the audience.’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Eervolle Tweede Prijs voor de sopraan Coby Dijk,’ NRC?, September 10, 1979)

American mezzo-soprano Mary Burgett studied at the University of Boston and at the Wiener Hochschule für Musik. Prior to her arrival at the International Vocal Competition (IVC) Den Bosch she appeared in concerts in Boston, St.-Louis, Vienna, Frankfurt am Mainz, Giessen and Hamburg. She arrived to Den Bosch as a Prize Winner at the Mario Del Monaco Competition. Post her Second Prize at the IVC 1979, not a trace of a further career could be found regarding this seductive diva, who inspired the otherwise more reserved critic Hein Zomerdijk to pay her lavish compliments on both voice and appearance. Fortunately, we have at least a memento of her appearance in the form of a photograph, and a memento of her artistry in the form of the recorded Gala Concert, which features her prominently.

Mary Burgett mp3
Massenet: Werther ‘Air des lettres’
Mary Burgett (Charlotte), Brabants Orkest – André Vandernoot (conductor), IVC Gala Concert, Casino Theatre, Den Bosch, September 12, 1979


Nothing further is known to us about Mary Burgett. Should you have additional biographical/career info, photographs and/or recordings, we invite you to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Howard Crook

Howard Crook

‘Among tenors, the American Howard Crook sounded like a distinguished, knowledgeable singer. His voice wasn’t even that impressive when compared to the natural talents of his immediate competitors Tsukoika and Peter Jeffes. Yet, Crook’s mature artistry, his innate musicality and his impeccable technique proved too much of an obstacle for them to challenge Crook’s 2nd prize.’ (Hein Zomerdijk, ‘Vocalistenconcours is uniek,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 10, 1979.)

American lyric tenor Howard Crook (June 15, 1947, Rutherford, New Jersey) was educated at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio and then University of Illinois, where he received a master's degree in music, specialising in opera. According to some biographies, he worked in theatre and mime for a few years, ‘until he ventured on a singing career post his winning 2nd Prize at the International Vocal Competition (IVC) Den Bosch 1979.’

Chronology wise it is clear that Howard Crook’s Prize winning IVC 1979 participation was instrumental in propelling him to the fore front of the then just emerging early French baroque scene, although the tenor had been performing for nearly a decade when he arrived to Den Bosch. His stage debut apparently was an impromptu 1970 debut as Eisenstein in a 1970 Cleveland production of Die Fledermaus. It was this performance that made Crook aware of his true vocation, which he then further developed in… The Netherlands, where he lived from his IVC 1979 participation onwards, although his trip to Den Bosch was not his first visit to The Netherlands. His earlier presence there is confirmed by a legendary 1973 production of Donizetti’s Il borgomastro di Zaandam in the wake of the early Donizetti renaissance, in Zaandam (with former IVC finalists Ans Philippo and Pieter van den Berg in the cast). When Crook arrived to the IVC 1979, he brought with him promotional brochures that suggested he was an American superstar, a status that he further boosted by adding the Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Rotterdam Philharmonic to the list of orchestras that he had performed with. Along with 1 st Prizewinner Nelly Miricioiù he was therefore by far the most experienced participant in the contest. Both could already look back to recital LP debuts, in the tenor’s case this was a recital of Henry Purcell arias & duets with countertenor Jeffrey Dooley (1977, LP Nonesuch H-71343). Following his 2nd Prize (also in Paris), he specialized in early baroque opera, most notably the French branch of it, also know by the name of Lully & co. There he found his niche and within it he achieved a career that most Great Prize of the City of Den Bosch might well envy him for. Thus, he also silenced all critics and Jury members who had at one point in time argued that singers on the verge of the age limit had no business competing at all, since they should have found their place by then. In many ways, Crook is the example par excellence of what the IVC was once founded for: to spark talent by propelling it into the full light.

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From 1979 onwards, his vocal progress is documented in a number of historic broadcasts, starting from his IVC Gala Concert on September 12, immediately followed by his IVC VARA Prize winning broadcast in religious works by Mozart on November 17. Another notable Dutch Radio appearance was made for KRO Radio on September 15, 1984, when he appeared as Captain Ricccardo in the Dutch creation of Massenet’s Chérubin, an opera that continues where Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro ended (it was published on a now rare KRO LP set; at the very last minute, Crook stepped in for his indisposed IVC predecessor Hein Meens). Crook’s debut with the Dutch national opera took place on April 8, 1983, as Belmonte in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail. This was followed by Grimoaldo in Händel’s Rodelinda on September 23 of the same year with a cast that brought IVC juror Cora Canne Meijer on stage with IVC Winners and finalists Jard van Nes and Pieter van den Berg. {HYPER TO THERE EXISTING EMPTY PAGES} On May 1, 1985 Crook starred in the title role of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande; on May 5, 1990, he returned as a celebrity tenor for the title role in Gluck’s Orfeo, conducted by Stephen Stubbs. Onwards, Crook performed and recorded with all the leading conductors in the early baroque scene, and he became especially instrumental in the Early French baroque revival in Belgium and France (he also lived half in France at one point). Among his now legendary modern time recreations are the high-tenor roles of the French Baroque, such as Lully's Atys with William Christie, Lully's Armide with Philippe Herreweghe, then also Lully's Alceste, Amadis, Isis, andAcis et Galathée. Next come Rameau's Castor et Pollux, Pigmalion, and Les Indes galantes; Leclair'sScylla et Glaucus, but also Berlioz' Les nuits d'été. In the Italian repertoire we mention Cavalli’s L’Ormindo, Gluck’sLa clemenza di Tito. In the realm of English baroque he was renowned for his appearances in Handel's Messiah and Purcell's The Fairy-Queen. Being half Dutch by now, he was of course also a specialist in Bach's Mattheus Passion (o.a. with John Eliot Gardiner). His repertoire also included oratorio by Haydn and Mozart, from the latter most notably Davide penitente. Crook currently teaches baroque singing at the CNR conservatory in Paris, and regularly gives master classes.

Christopher Royall

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‘As the only countertenor in the finals, Christopher Royall was unchallenged in his vocal register, yet his 2nd prize was wholly deserved. This is a very musical singer who succeeded in making repertoire rarities such as the songs of Tippet sound as familiar as the expected baroque pieces that his vocal category is usually associated with. ’ (Hein Zomerdijk, ‘Vocalistenconcours is uniek,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 10, 1979)

‘The countertenor took a slower tempo than the conductor initiated in ‘He was despised,’ from Händel’s Messiah, and Royall was right to do so, since his concept was better suited to the aria.’ (Hein Zomerdijk, ‘Prestaties Vocalisten Uitstekend,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 14, 1979)

‘Countertenor Christopher Royall proved this his voice type indeed lends a special atmosphere to, for example, an aria as the one he sang from Händel’s Messiah.’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Zangers beter op het slotconcert,’ NRC?, September 14, 1979)

We know rather little about English counter-tenor Christopher Royall (April 20, 1952), who studied at St Johns College, Cambridge, and The Royal College of Music. His main teacher was Paul Esswood. By 1978 he was a member of the Kent Opera. According to the website of The Sixteen, he made his debut with them at St John's, Smith Square, London on May 12, the 1979 and he is still a member of the group to date. He is also Senior Vicar-Choral at St Paul’s Cathedral and teaches singing at St Edmunds College and Latymer School, Edmonton. With The Sixteen but also as a soloist he participated in over 20 baroque recordings ranging from Purcell to Bach. We present him here in an excerpt from his IVC Gala Concert performance of September 12, 1979.

Christopher Royall mp3
Händel: The Messiah ‘O thou that tallest good tiding from Zion’
Christopher Royall (countertenor), Brabants Orkest – André Vandernoot (conductor), IVC Gala Concert, Casino Theatre, Den Bosch, September 12, 1979


Nothing further is known to us about Christopher Royall. Should you have additional biographical/career info, photographs and/or recordings, we invite you to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Coby Dijk

Coby Dijk

‘Among sopranos the Dutch Coby Dijk made a fine impression. Her Mozart aria from Exultate Jubilate was superior to the singing of her preceding rival from Austria, and her Debussy song came out very well’ (Hein Zomerdijk, Eigentijdse muziek wint terrein in Den Bosch,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 7, 1979)

‘A compliment should be made to Coby Dijk, who sang Debussy’s ‘Pantomime’ touchingly, with impeccable technique.’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Hoge stemmen op Internationaal Vocalistenconcours,’ September 7, 1979)

‘We are happy for our barely 25 years old Coby Dijk to have won the 2nd prize among sopranos. Even if she did not wholly succeed in the tour de force that ‘Grossmächtige Prinzessin’ from Richard Strauss’ Ariadne of Naxos is, perhaps due to the upcoming ‘citizen of the world that she had to bring to the competition, it was still clear that she can become a first rate singer.’ (Hein Zomerdijk, ‘Vocalistenconcours is uniek,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 10, 1979.)

‘It was truly nice to see a Dutch vocalist win a prize of sorts at the IVC, and the beneficent was soprano Coby Dijk, who reaped the Second Prize. After songs by Schubert and Milhaud, she sang one of the most difficult arias in the entre repertoire, Richard Strauss’ ‘Grossmächtige Prinzessin’ from Ariadne auf Naxos . That was a matter of all or nothing, would she survive, she was there, would she fail, she would lose with honor in the bravery of her attempt. She managed, though, and sang the aria with allure, self-assured, and with pointed diction. Her achievement was even more impressive, given that she is expected to have a baby shortly. The two songs were stylish as well, and given that she currently attends the opera courses at the Conservatory of Den Haag, she will have plenty of possibilities to achieve true success in this field.’’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Miricioiù ging met de eerste prijs strijken,’ ‘Eervolle tweede prijs voor Coby Dijk,’ NRC/??, September 10, 1979)

Coby Dijk surpassed herself during the Gala Concert with an aria by Bellini in which the warmth of her timbre blended superbly with a sensitive, elastic performance.’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Zangers beter op het slotconcert,’ NRC?, September 14, 1979)

Dutch soprano Coby Dijk (November 16, 1953, The Hague) studies six years at the Conservatory in The Hague, before graduating as a soloist, in addition to which she took a degree in teaching. Her main teacher was Meinard Kraak, and at the time of her IVC participation she was attending the opera course at the same Conservatory. She then entered the extensive Dutch oratorio and radio circuit. From her Second Prize at the 1979 International Vocal Competition (IVC) Den Bosch as well as from the above mentioned quotes it is clear that her talents at the time were considerable, especially given the far more experienced competitors she had to deal with. Just how fine a singer she was then, can be heard on her IVC Gala Concert recording of “Ah non credea mirarti’

Coby Dijk mp3
Bellini: La sonnambula ‘Ah non credea mirati’
Coby Dijk (Amina), Brabants Orkest – André Vandernoot (conductor), IVC Gala Concert, Casino Theatre, Den Bosch, September 12, 1979

Coby Dijk 2

Her only staged opera performance we could trace was as 1e Dame in Die Zauberflöte, in The Hague 1982, a production of the Lyrische Komedie. We suspect that as a teenager she starred as the lovely protagonist in the hit single ‘Duizend liedjes/ Mijn droom-adres’. Regrettably, nothing further is known to us about Coby Dijk. Should you have additional biographical/career info, photographs and/or recordings, we invite you to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Henry Herford

Henry Herford

‘His ‘L’invitation au voyage’ was sung better than a soprano competitor had done it. He knew how to color his voice.’ (Hein Zomerdijk, ‘Vocalistenconcours is uniek,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 10, 1979.)

Scottish baritone Henry Herford (February 24, 1947, Edinburgh, Scotland) read Classics and English at Cambridge University, and studied singing at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where he was awarded the Curtis Gold Medal. He joined the Glyndebourne Opera Chorus for 1977 and 1978, singing leading roles on tour, before arriving to the IVC 1979. Even prior to his IVC participation he also frequently performed for BBC radio. His Second Prize there proved the starting point of a solo career that eventually resulted in a repertoire of over seventy roles with opera companies throughout the UK and Europe, including at Covent Garden, Glyndebourne and Scottish Opera.

Henry Herford mp3
Mozart Le nozze di Figaro ‘Hai la finta la causa… Verdro metio sospiro’
Henry Herford (Almaviva), Brabants Orkest – André Vandernoot (conductor), IVC Gala Concert, Casino Theatre, Den Bosch, September 12, 1979


Notable among his roles are the Count in Le nozze di Figaro, Guglielmo and Alfonso in Così fan tutte, the title role in Don Giovanni, Germont in La Traviata, Silvio in Pagliacci, Dr Falke in Die Fledermaus, the Forester in Janacek’s The cunning little vixen, Smirnov in William Walton's The bear, and Demetrius in Britten’s A Midsummer Night's Dream, which he recorded for Virgin Records. Herford has made a specialty of the music of Charles Ives, having recorded many of his songs. He is currently the RNCM's Tutor in French Song.

Peter Savidge

Peter Savidge

‘It was a wonderful experience to listen to the baritone Peter Savidge in, among others, an aria from Bach’s Weihnachtsoratrium, in which the orchestra, including the trumpeter, played a prominent role as well.’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Zangers beter op het slotconcert,’ NRC?, September 14, 1979)

‘The experienced Peter Savidge is luxury casting’ (Alfred Hickling, The Guardian)

English baritone Peter Savidge (December 9, 1951) has performed for the major opera companies in the UK and for many leading houses in Europe and elsewhere. He had studied with John Carol Case in London, and with Hans Hotter in Munich. His elegant and well-focused style of singing has been singled out for particularly high praise. Prior to his International Vocal Competition 1979 participation he had appeared in Covent Garden and on BBC radio. With Welsh National Opera roles include Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Danilo in The merry widow, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Schaunard and Marcello in La bohème, Falke in Die Fledermaus, Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos, Figaro inIl barbiere di Siviglia, Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, Raimbaud in Rossini’s Le comte Ory, Alfonso in Donizetti’s La favorita, Ping in Turandot, Lieutenant of the Tower in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Yeomen of the Guard, Goryanchikov in Janacek’s House of the dead and Ned Keene in Britten’s Peter Grimes. For Opera North he added Capulet in Gounod’sRoméo et Juliette, Theseus in Britten’s A midsummer nights dream, various roles in Weinberg’s The portrait, Macheath in the The threepenny opera, Giuseppe in Gilbert & Sullivan’s The gondoliers, Storch in Richard Strauss’ Intermezzo, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, again Ned Keene, Valentin in Gounod’s Faust and most recently also Sharpless in Madama Butterfly. He also played Gaylord Ravenal in their highly acclaimed co- production of Showboat with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Rambaldo in Puccini’s La rondine, Zurga in Bizet’s Les pêcheurs des perles, Dulcamara in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Così fan Tutte and Traveller in Britten’s Death in Venice. For the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, he has taken the roles of Ned Keene, Travel Agency Clerk in Death in Venice, The Baron in Massenet’s Chérubin, Lescaut in Massenet’s Manon, and roles in Verdi’s Don Carlo, Britten’s Billy Budd and Puccini’s La fanciulla del West. For Glyndebourne Touring Opera he has sung The Marquis in Song of love and death and Don Alfonso. For Scottish Opera he sang the title role in Don Giovanni, created the leading role of Thomas Muir in the world premiere of David Horne’s Friend of the people, performed Don Alfonso, and Gunther in Götterdammerung in the widely acclaimed Ring Cycle, Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier and Mangus in Tippett’s The knot garden. Operatic roles elsewhere have included the seven baritone roles in the French premiere of Death in Venice in Nancy and Liege, Valentin in Tel Aviv, Ned Keene in Dublin, Cologne, Genova and Strasbourg, Don Alfonso for Opera du Rhin Strasbourg, Mercurio in La Calisto in Berlin, Belcore at L’Opéra Comique in Paris, Don Alfonso in Nantes. He sang Harry Easter in Street Scene for the Kurt Weill Festival in Dessau, Theseus in A midsummer night’s dream at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma and created the title role in Abelard et Eloise in Strasbourg and at the Chatelet, Paris. He has performed the role of Choregos in Birtwistle’sPunch and Judy in Porto, and Collatinus in Britten’s The rape of Lucretia in Reggio Emilia, Parma and Modena; Mr. Flint in Billy Budd in Genova and Garibaldo in Händel’s Rodelinda; The Traveller in Death in Venice for Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. Apart from appearing in all major British concert venues, Peter Savidge sung at the festivals of Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, Florence, Venice, Tours, Brussels, Vienna, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Amsterdam, Oslo, and the Three Choirs Festivals. We present him here with the aria that reaped him such a fine review from Chris de Jong-Stolle at the International Vocal Competition (IVC) Den Bosch, ‘Grosser Herren, starker könig.’

Peter Savidge mp3
Bach: Weihnachtsoratorium ‘Grosser Herren, starker König’
Peter Savidge (baritone), Brabants Orkest – André Vandernoot (conductor), IVC Gala Concert, Casino Theatre, Den Bosch, September 12, 1979


Peter Savidge has recently been in demand in Europe as baritone soloist in Britten’s War Requiem, including a premiere in Hungary, in Buenos Aires for a series of performances of Beethoven’s ‘Symphony No. 9’ with Frans Bruggen and a tour of Bach’s ‘B Minor Mass’ with Ton Koopman. He has given performances of Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater with the Rotterdam Philharmonic under Gergiev and The Dream of Gerontius and Belshazzar’s Feast with the Warsaw Philharmonic. For the BBC, he has broadcast a wide range of solo and choral works – notably works by Copland, Henze, Honegger and Martin for Austrian Radio Dallapiccola. He has recorded albums of songs by Vaughan Williams, Bax and Bantock, and recorded under such conductors Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Charles Mackerras and most recently Albert Herring with Steuart Bedford. Additionally, he was seen as Mr Coyle in the Channel 4 film of Britten’s Owen Wingrave.


Kalevi Olli

Kalevi Olli

Kalevi Olli (May 28,1951) is a Finnish concert and oratorio baritone (and composer and conductor) who has concertized throughout Europe. His student years at the Sibelius Academy Helsinki lasted from 1971 to 1978, during which period he also contributed compositions and vocals to a pop-folk band a la Beach Boys and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The band had a record deal and several vinyl albums were released in 1973 and 1974. In 1974 became a vocalist at the National Opera Chorus, and sang at the Savonlinna Opera Festival Choir. During the period 1975-1977, Olli sang lots of small roles in National Opera, after which he became a soloist, singing there in various periods up to 1995. From 1976-1990, Olli made ​​nearly one hundred-radio recording. By 1978, following his victories in some local voice competitions, he was engaged by the Frankfurt Opera House, where he continued his career as well as his voice training with K.H. Jarius. Simultaneously, he embarked on a tour of Vocal Competitions, among them the International Vocal Competition (IVC) Den Bosch 1979. There he was rewarded with an Honorary Diploma, which today counts as a Third Prize.

Kalevi Olli mp3
Schumann: ‘Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die…’
Kalevi Olli (baritone), date unknown.


Olli's musical breakthrough came after winning the International Genfer Musikwettbewerb in 1981. While still singing in Frankfurt, where he sang until 1986, he also appeared at the opera houses of Heidelberg (1980-1981) and Dortmundt (1985-1986). In these years he sang up to 150 performances per year, in opera and concert, touring all over Europe. Olli moved back to Finland in August 1986, where he participated in many musical activities and festivals, in addition to which he also started writing performance reviews and columns. His return to the National Opera in 1995 with Don Bartolo in Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia resulted in a total of 40 performances over the years. He visited the Royal Opera in Stockholm a dozen times as Varlaam in Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. In 2013, he was granted a state pension.


Catriona Bell

‘At just 22 years of age, the British Catriona Bell compensated for some shortcomings in projection by an accomplished technique and great warmth. All in all, her achievements are remarkable for a girl her age, and thus she reaped an ƒ 1000 BUMA Prize, along with Howard Crook and Dariusz Niemirowicz.’ (Hein Zomerdijk, ‘Vocalistenconcours is uniek,’ Brabants Dagblad, September 10, 1979.)

British mezzo-soprano (February 20, 1957) Catriona Bell achieved her International Vocal Competition (IVC) Den Bosch 1979 BUMA Prize with her technical skills and warmth, although she wasn’t yet a complete artist in terms of placement and projection. Still, her achievements were remarkable, given that she was only 22. She studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music in Glasgow, where she won a Sir James Caird Scholarship and by September 1979 she was studying with Vida Harford in London. We further know nothing about Catriona Bell (who should not be mistaken for the Australian lyric coloratura soprano by the same name, but a few decades younger). Should you have additional biographical/career info, photographs and/or recordings, we invite you to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Dariusz Niemirowicz

Dariusz Niemirowicz

After the university-entrance diploma, 1971 in Warsaw, Poland, Dariusz Niemirowicz (December 19, 1952) began studying singing at the secondary music school in Warsaw with Professor Zofia Bregy. From 1973 to 1978 he studied singing at the music college in Warsaw with Professor Alina Bolechowska. Following his Prize ‘Donemus’ at the International Vocal Competition (IVC) Den Bosch 1979, Niemirowicz gained his first stage experience at the Warsaw Chamber Opera and at the Teatr Wielki. After several guest appearances he received an engagement at the Coburg State Theatre in 1981. Following came engagements in Heidelberg and Gelsenkirchen as well as guest appearances throughout Germany. In 1990 he made his way to the Volksoper and the Vienna State Opera. 1997 he returned to a German stage and has enjoyed success at the Stadttheater in Freiburg. He was a frequent guest on several Swiss stages.

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As a freelance artist, he also acts in his native Poland. His repertoire covers both buffo roles like Don Pasquale or Don Magnifico and serious roles such as Sarastro, Leporello and Mefistofele. Niemirowicz also performed on concert stages around the world. His special love and devotion applies to oratorios such as Elijah, Paulus, Die Schöpfung. His concert repertoire includes works by Bach, Beethoven, Bruckner, Buxtehude, Donizetti, Dvorak, Handel, Haydn, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Puccini, Reinthaler, Rossini, Saint-Saëns, Schubert, Schütz, von Suppé, Telemann, or Verdi. Since 2006 he teaches singing at the Music Academy in Warsaw.



Judith Mok (Soprano – NL)

Judith Mok

Judith Mok (1953) was born in Bergen, the Netherlands. After Graduating at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague at a very young age, she won French and Dutch State Grants to study in Vienna under Christa Ludwig and her mother Eugenia. In Paris she studied French repertoire with Pierre Bernac and Noemie Perugia. She participated in master classes for contemporary music by Cathy Berberian, John Cage, Karl Heinz Stockhausen and IVC Juror Dorothy Dorrow. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf also chose her for master classes. Prizes followed at the international vocalist competitions in Den Bosch and Barcelona.

Judith Mok mp3
Rachmaninov: ‘Vocalize
Judith Mok (soprano)


Her lieder, oratorio and opera repertoire led to appearances at numerous festivals including Salzburg, Edinburgh, Paris and the Holland Festival. She has worked in North and South America and in almost every country in Europe, having sung with orchestras such as London Sinfonietta, the Netherlands Philharmonic, de Nederlands Blazers Ensemble, the Mozart Players, the Freiburgerbarock and Amsterdam Baroque, and the Vienna Symphony in concert halls such as the Concertgebouw, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Queen Elisabeth Hall, Theatre du Chatelet and the Bastille, Teatro Colon Buenos Aires. She has performed and recorded operas by Mozart, Philidor, Handel, Puccini, Richard Strauss and Wagner with conductors such as Berstein, Nicolaus Harnoncourt, Rostropovitch, Edo de Waart, Ed Spanjaard, Hartmut Haennchen, Jean-Claude Malgoire and many others. Having dedicated part of her career to contemporary music, composers such as Louis Andriessen, Gerardo Gandini, Bob Zimmerman and Jeff Hamburg have written works for her that she recorded on CD. She was also chosen by the Oscar-winning Chinese composer Tan Dun to perform his works in several countries. She has worked with contemporary music ensembles like the Nieuw Ensemble, and Ensemble Contrechamps in Geneva. She sang the opening of the Musica Festival in Strasbourg (Il Canto Sospeso by Luigi Nono), in addition to creating her own a capella recital. Irish composer Elaine Agnew wrote a piece 'Snowhole' for her and the Irish Chamber Orchestra which was performed at the National Concert Hall Dublin. Her love for chamber music led to her singing duos, and with this repertoire she toured in Europe and the Americas. She also recorded it on CD. Her second CD ‘Otro cantar’ was hailed by piano virtuoso Martha Argerich and awarded 'best cd of the month' in Europe by the magazine 'Luister'. She was also invited to give a gala concert in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam as a wedding present for the Dutch crown prince Willem Alexander and his wife Maxima. Her last tour combined with the Trio Argentino has been hailed as a major musical event. In recent years Mok migrated to Ireland, where she has formed the Hamsa ensemble, a versatile group of solo musicians with Sephardic Music at its core.

Judith Mok mp3
Traditional: ‘Nani - A Sephardic lullaby’
Judith Mok (soprano), with Nick Roth and Cora Venus Lunny


Their appearances in Paris, Dublin, together with santour virtuoso Javid Afsari Rad and Istanbul Cultural City have been recorded for by German, Turkish and Irish television. Mok has made many television and radio recordings, including BBC, NDR, NOS, France Musique, FR3, and RTÉ. She has sung and acted in several feature films with actors Eliot Gould and Jacqueline Bisset, including the award-winning Goodnight Vienna!


Piet Nievelstein

‘Another Dutch vocalist, Piet Nievelstein was the righteous winner of the Friends of Song Prize, since he made the most of his song interpretations.’ (Chris de Jong-Stolle, ‘Sopraan Coby Dijk wint tweede prijs,’ NRC?, September 10, 1979)

Little is know to us of the career of Piet Nievelstein (December 8, 1947), except that he studied at the Maastricht Conservatory with Mia Besselink. He performed in scenic performances of Il barbiere di Siviglia (Fiorello, Heerlen, 1981), Die Zauberflöte (Papageno, Sittard, 1983, with fellow IVC Prize Winners Jacqueline JacobsJudith Mok and Guus Hoekman in the cast), an Carmen (Dancaïre, Heerlen, 1985, with IVC Winner Maria van Dongen and IVC finalist Nico Boer in the cast). Nothing further is known to us about Piet Nievelstein. Should you have additional biographical/career info, photographs and/or recordings, we invite you to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Fiona Dobie

Fiona Dobie

'..The marvellous Fiona Dobie, whose spirited Despina was one of the evening's principle attractions.' (Michael John White, The Stage)

'...An entertaining and diminutive Papagena' (Tom Sutcliffe, The Guardian on Glyndebourne on Tour)

'Pamina was tellingly portrayed by the Scottish soprano Fiona Dobie, as a rounded character progressing from innocence and sweetness to strength and courage. Her voice, always well projected, is tuneful, flexible and capable of subtle color variation. Musically too, Miss Dobie proved herself a born Mozartian.' (Paul Hamburger, Western Gazette.)

'Mabel was played by Fiona Dobie whose glorious voice soared elegantly and decoratively among the highest of notes.' (Chichester Observer on Pirates of Penzance,' The London Savoyards. Chichester Festival Theatre)


Fiona Dobie (March 7, 1951) was born in Glasgow and first studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and then at the Royal College of Music on a Sir James Caird Scholarship. Her opera work began at Glyndebourne, singing Papagena with Glyndebourne on Tour. She has since performed around 30 roles with opera companies, including The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Opera North, Kent Opera, Musica nel Chiostro and the Buxton, Brighton and Miami Festivals. Notable roles include Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Despina in Così fan Tutte, Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail , Lucia in Rape of Lucretia, Second Niece in Peter Grimes, Rowan in Let's make an opera and, more recently, Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro, Despina in Così fan tutte and Mrs Grose in The turn of the screw. She has made many television appearances and her recordings include Peep Bo in the Brent Walker video of The Mikado and Pepik in The cunning little vixen with ROH conducted by Simon Rattle. Oratorio and orchestral concerts include ‘Chants d'Auvergne’ by Canteloube under Sir Simon Rattle, Frasquita in Bizet's Carmen with Sir Roger Norrington, Ilia in Idomeneo by Mozart with Richard Hickox, Faure's Requiem with Vernon Handley, Britten's ‘Les Illuminations’ with Nicholas Kraemer, Bach's ‘Magnificat’ with Roderick Brydon and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Handel's ‘Utrecht Te Deum’ with Simon Preston and The Academy of Ancient Music, Bach's St John Passion with Christ Church Choir and Stephen Darlington, Handel's Messiah with OSJ and John Lubbock, Barber's ‘Knoxville Summer of 1915’ with the BBC Scottish SO, Gemma in Prokofiev's Madelena with the BBC Northern SO and Sir Edward Downes, and Mozart's ‘Mass in C’ with Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Fiona Dobie mp3
Medley Richard Strauss: ‘Freundliches Vision,’ Schlechtes Wetter,’
Händel: Messiah ‘I know that my redeemer liveth,’ ‘If God be for us,’ ‘Come unto him’ (2010, private recordings by the artist © 2010 Fiona Dobie)


As a recitalist, she won early recognition as a finalist in the Kathleen Ferrier Competition, also winning the Lieder prize at the RSAMD, the Henry Leslie Prize and Dame Clara Butt Award at the RCM and the French Song prize at s'Hertogenbosch International Singing Competition. She was also a South East Arts Young Musician and Greater London Arts Young Musician. She broadcast on Dutch and Belgian radio stations and many times for the BBC, including recitals with David Owen Norris, Roger Vignoles, Graham Johnson, Iain Ledingham, John Lenehan, Tim Roberts, Evelyn Nallen, Geoff Davidson, Bill Lloyd, Peter Evans, Chris Purves and Andrew Marriner. She has also performed with Alisdair Hogarth, Hester Dickinson, Nicholas Daniel, Julius Drake, Maggie Cole, Michael Collins, Gordon Hunt, Jacob Herringman, Philip Thorby, Gregory Martin, Christopher Maltman and Malcolm Martineau. Currently, Fiona is a sought after voice teacher who enjoys sharing the things that inspire her. She collaborates with singers to improve their technique and performance, and works regularly in businesses teaching voice and presentation skills and team singing.