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Iestyn Davies

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Biography

Iestyn Davies is known for the suppleness, power, and natural sound of his countertenor voice, whether in early opera, Baroque sacred music, or in contemporary works. Davies was active in the early 1990s as a boy soprano, but didn't draw wide notice as a countertenor until the early years of the new century. He advanced quickly with a multi-pronged approach, appearing in operas by Handel, Purcell, and Monteverdi; in concerts and recitals featuring music by Frescobaldi, Porpora, Handel, and Vivaldi; and in 20th century and contemporary fare by Britten, Tavener, Finnissy, and others. Davies has regularly toured the U.K., Europe, and the U.S. and has appeared at many of the leading concert and operatic venues, including La Scala, Teatro Real in Madrid, Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, Lincoln Center, London's Royal Festival Hall, and many more. He has recorded for Naxos, Decca, Chandos, and other leading labels. Iestyn Davies was born in York, U.K., in 1979. His father Ioan, longtime cellist in the Fitzwilliam Quartet, mentored him early on. Young Iestyn first studied piano and recorder, and from age eight sang in Cambridge's St. John's College Choir. At 13 Davies appeared as Cupid on the Richard Hickox-led Chandos recording of Purcell's Timon of Athens. After briefly singing tenor and bass, Davies was, at 16, singing countertenor at Wells Cathedral School. Still, he would go on to earn degrees in archaeology and anthropology at St. John's College, Cambridge, before taking advanced studies in voice at London's Royal Academy of Music. Davies appeared on the 2002 Naxos recording of Walton's Magnificat, led by Christopher Robinson. Gradually he built his career and by fall 2004 was making headway abroad: he appeared in Purcell's King Arthur at the Festival d'Ile de France and in Handel's Messiah at Rome's Lateran Basilica. In 2006 Davies' recording of Messiah on Naxos drew high praise and that same year he also earned critical acclaim for his performance in the work at both the Concertgebouw and Madrid's Teatro Principal. In 2009 Davies had successful tours of Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the U.S., and the following year was given the Royal Philharmonic Society's Young Artist award. He also debuted in 2010 at the New York City Opera as Arsace in Handel's Partenope and made appearances in Bordeaux, France (Hamor in Handel's Jephtha), Vienna (title roles in Handel's Tolomeo and Ottone), and sang at other prestigious venues in Luxembourg, Paris, and Milan.

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