Singer will star with international artists

Samling production of Albert Herring, featuring Morpeth singer Alex Banfield.
Samling production of Albert Herring, featuring Morpeth singer Alex Banfield.
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A MORPETH singer is showing his star quality as he takes on the title role of a new production.

Talented tenor Alex Banfield has been chosen to star as Albert Herring in Benjamin Britten’s comic masterpiece staged by the Samling.

The production, which will include performances at the Sage Gateshead, not only marks the centenary year of Britten, but also the end of Samling Academy’s first year.

The academy programme, which is led by Samling in partnership with Newcastle University, Durham University and Sage Gateshead Weekend School, enables young singers and pianists from or studying in the North East to perform alongside leading international artists and teachers.

Current academy member Alex is one of the gifted young singers who will demonstrate what they have learned in front of an audience.

Alex, who will take up a place at the Royal Northern College of Music in September, said: “I am very excited about the whole thing.

“I get to work with James Baillieu, an amazing musician, with Johnny Herford a professional singer, and we have direction and coaching from Miranda Wright. All of that and I get to work and perform with friends I made at Samling — amazing.”

The comedy tells the tale of a shy lad in a grocer’s shop, who is forced into the limelight when the village committee crowns him May King. The honour of May Queen is usually bestowed on a young woman of good character, but when none in the village meets the exacting standards of Lady Billows, poor Albert is chosen instead. However, all does not go to plan.

Samling teacher and Director Miranda Wright, pianist and Music Director James Baillieu and baritone Johnny Herford, who takes the role of Sid, are all scholars of Samling’s prestigious Masterclass programme.

Albert Herring can be seen at Saltburn Community Theatre on Wednesday, at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £10, available on 01287 624997.

It will be at Sage Gateshead on Friday, August 16 and Saturday, August 17, each evening at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12, available on 0191 443 4661.

For information visit www.sagegateshead.com or www.saltburnarts.co.uk