Piers Playfair is the Artistic Director of the 23Arts Initiative, which he founded with his wife Lucy in 2011. The 23Arts Initiative is a US-based non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting world-class performing artists and programmes. 23Arts has a history of presenting year-round artist residencies, community outreach, educational visits and both pop-up style as well as traditional concert hall performances spanning across countless unique locations and venues. Featuring internationally recognised artists across all genres with a focus on classical, jazz, gospel, and blues, the mission of 23Arts is to provide a platform for the creation of new forward-thinking and ground-breaking independent productions.
Pianist, composer, and writer Ethan Iverson was a founding member of The Bad Plus, a game-changing collective with Reid Anderson and David King. Quickly heralded as “better than anyone at melding the sensibilities of post-60’s jazz and indie rock.”, TBP performed across the world and in venues as diverse as the Village Vanguard, Carnegie Hall, and Bonnaroo and collaborated with Joshua Redman, Bill Frisell, and the Mark Morris Dance Group. In addition to their tuneful and provocative original music, TBP was known for their covers. Geezer Butler called The Bad Plus’s version of “Iron Man” “the best Black Sabbath cover, ever!”. The band created a faithful arrangement of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and a radical reinvention of Ornette Coleman’s Science Fiction. During the TBP era, Ethan balanced work with the cutting-edge collective alongside performances and recordings with jazz masters like Billy Hart, Paul Motian, Tootie Heath, Ron Carter, and Charlie Haden. After a 17-year tenure, Ethan left TBP to pursue diverse interests and aesthetics. His discography now includes two recordings for ECM (a duo album of original compositions with Mark Turner and a volume of standards tracked live at the Village Vanguard with Tom Harrell), Bud Powell in the 21st Century (a vigorous reconsideration of the bebop master which landed Ethan on the March 2021 cover of DownBeat), and a current release Every Note Is True - his first for the Blue Note Label - which features Larry Grenadier and Jack DeJohnette, released to critical acclaim in early 2022 and cementing Ethan’s place as “a master of melody” (DownBeat). Working also consistently outside the jazz sphere, Ethan created the score to Pepperland, an evening-length exploration/explosion of The Beatles with the Mark Morris Dance Group, premiered an original piano concerto with the American Composers Orchestra, and has accompanied noted classical musicians Miranda Cuckson and Mark Padmore in recital. His concurrent writing career includes the now 20-year old website Do The Math, a repository of musician-to-musician interviews and varied essays. As “NYC’s most thoughtful and passionate student of jazz tradition – the most admirable sort of artist-scholar,” Time Out New York selected Ethan as one of 25 essential New York jazz icons. Ethan has also published articles about music in the New Yorker, NPR, The Nation, and JazzTimes.
Selected by The Times as “The Face to Watch in Opera 2020” and by Der Theaterverlag as one of the outstanding artists of 2020, British-Armenian soprano Anush Hovhannisyan began her career as a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. She is the winner of First and Public Prizes, Deutsche Grammophon and Royal Danish Opera Special Prizes at the 2016 Stella Maris Competition, the winner of the 2014 Ernst Haefliger International Swiss Competition and represented Armenia at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2017.
Nominated for the International Opera Awards, she made a highly acclaimed debut with Scottish Opera as Violetta La traviata, which saw Opera Magazine writing, “(she) has the coloratura, the musical intelligence, the rock-solid technique, the evenness throughout an ample vocal range, the dramatic versatility, the imposing but graceful physique - and indeed the pathos” and The Sunday Times acclaiming “a ‘star is born’ moment.”
Recent engagements have included a return to The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as Musetta La bohème, her debut with L’Orchestre de Chambre de Genève singing Shostakovich Symphony No. 14 and Copland's American Songs and Opera in Song: Violetta and Tatyana for Opera Holland Park. Engagements during 2021 / 2022 include Emma Khovanschina for her debut at the Opéra national de Paris, Parasha Mavra for Scottish Opera, Tatyana Eugene Onegin for Opera Holland Park, Leonora Oberto for Chelsea Opera Group, Violetta La traviata for both The Royal Opera and The Israeli Opera and A Night at the Opera with Nevill Holt Opera for Proms at St Jude’s.
Engagements in 2022 / 2023 currently include Mimì La bohème for Welsh National Opera, Violetta La traviata at the Royal Danish Opera and Rachmaninov The Bells with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Her repertoire further includes Adina L’elisir d‘amore, the title role in Maria Stuarda, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira Don Giovanni, Sylvia de Linadès L’Ange de Nisida, Mirra Sardanapolo, Sita Le Roi de Lahore, Tamara The Demon and Hélène Les vêpres siciliennes. Her concert repertoire includes Beethoven Symphony No. 9, Berg Seven Early Songs, Poulenc Gloria, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle and Stabat Mater, Shostakovich Symphony No. 14, Richard Strauss Four Last Songs and Verdi Requiem.
Now based in London, Anush Hovhannisyan began studying violin aged six at the A. Spendiaryan Music School and went on to study singing at the Yerevan State Conservatory and at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. She is a Samling Artist, and her many awards and scholarships further include the Clonter Opera Prize, the Bayreuth Prize from the Wagner Society of Scotland, Karaviotis Prize at the Les Azuriales International Singing Competition and the Ian Smith of Stornoway Award for Opera, awarded by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Anush Hovhannisyan has performed with renowned conductors such as Semyon Bychkov, Sir Mark Elder, Gianluigi Gelmetti, Koen Kessels, Nicola Luisotti, Daniel Oren, Carlo Rizzi, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jonathan Santagada, Sir Antonio Pappano, and Mark Wigglesworth, and worked with companies such as the Opera Holland Park, Opera Rara, Stadttheater Klagenfurt, Teatro Verdi Trieste, the BBC Symphony Orchestra (at the BBC Proms) and the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Her recordings and broadcasts include Shostakovich Symphony No. 14 with the Southbank Sinfonia and Emma Khovanschina with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC Radio 3), Decades - A Century of Song, Vols 2 and 4 for Vivat CD, Rimsky-Korsakov Romances for Stone Records (a Sunday Times ‘Album of the Week’), Songs by Scriabin for Decca’s complete piano anthology of his music, BBC Radio 3’s Big Chamber Day and The Royal Ballet’s Woolf Works, now available on Opus Arte DVD.
A keen advocate and mentor of young musicians, Anush Hovhannisyan is a member of the Board of the Mascarade Opera Foundation and the National Student Opera Society with a strong belief in supporting the industry by guiding young musicians.
This is her debut at The Grange Festival.