Young British/New-Zealand mezzo-soprano Joanna Harries grew up in South Wales and was a choral scholar at the University of Cambridge. She studied with Jane Irwin at the Royal Northern College of Music before taking up a scholarship to the Alexander Gibson Opera Studio at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, studying with Wilma MacDougall. She currently studies with Gary Coward.
Joanna’s operatic roles span from early to contemporary opera. Credits include Nun in Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel (Scottish Opera); Awen (cover) in the new opera Gair ar Gnawd (Welsh National Opera); Dido/Dido and Aeneas (Dartington International Summer School & Festival); Varava/Kat’a Kabanova (Fulham Opera); Der Trommler/Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Ottone/Agrippina, and Jenny Hildebrand/Street Scene (all Royal Conservatoire of Scotland); and the principal role of Girl/Psychatrist in a new opera based on Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch (Highbury Opera Theatre). She has also worked with Opera Holland Park , Grange Park Opera and Welsh National Opera.
As a concert soloist, performances include Bach’s Easter Oratorio at the Bach Festival Świdnica in Poland; Macmillan’s Seven Last Words From The Cross with the BBC Philharmonic and Huddersfield Choral Society at Harrogate Royal Hall; Handel’s Messiah at Lincoln Cathedral; and Haydn’s Maria Theresa Mass at Chester Cathedral. Her repertoire includes many of the major oratorios by J.S. Bach, C.P.E Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, Haydn and Mozart, through to Dvořák and Vaughan Williams.
A keen recitalist, Joanna is a 2018 Britten-Pears artist and one of the six current Handel House Talent young artists selected by Laurence Cummings. She is the winner of the first Edith Brass Prize for Lieder at the RCS and has performed programmes of song and Lieder at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the National Portrait Gallery in London, as part of the “Introducing” series at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, and in a programme of Russian music at Pushkin House. In 2015 she was selected to take part in the Oxford Lieder Festival Mastercourse with pianist Rachel Fright.
Joanna is in demand as a performer of contemporary music, creating roles in several new operas and premiering vocal works by Melissa Douglas (Sonnet 116 at the John Ryland’s Library, Manchester), Michael Betteridge (Dawn Chorus at the Royal Exchange Theatre), and Anna Appleby (winning composition, 2015 Rosamond Prize). She performed as vocal soloist in the UK revival of Steve Reich’s video opera Three Tales (Ensemble BPM) and regularly collaborates with artist Maeve Rendle, performing her works of performance art at Manchester Art Gallery and the Harris Museum in Preston.
An experienced ensemble singer, Joanna was a choral scholar while at Cambridge University and sang with the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge under Stephen Layton. Since then she has performed with ensembles such as Vocalconsort Berlin, was a founder member of the Portrait Choir at the National Portrait Gallery in London and a regular singer with the BBC daily service singers in Manchester.
She is co-founder, with contralto Jessica Dandy, of SongPath – a charitable venture which promotes walking and music-making in the context of mental health. SongPath’s inaugural event takes place in Cumbria in 2019 as part of the Ulverston Music Festival.
Joanna is grateful for awards from the Fondation Michelle / Fonds Culturel National Luxembourg, the Simon Fletcher Charitable Trust, the Ryan Davies Memorial Fund, the Mario Lanza Foundation, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Trust, the Tillett Trust, the Hope Scott Trust, the Dartington Hall Trust, and the Gwilym Gwalchmai Jones Award (RNCM).