Julien Van Mellaerts & James Baillieu
New Zealand baritone Julien Van Mellaerts (baritone) is the only person ever to have won first prize in both the Kathleen Ferrier Awards and the Wigmore Hall Kohn Foundation International Song Competition. Together with world renowned South African pianist James Baillieu, professor and head of piano accompaniment at the Royal Academy of Music in London, they are some of the leading young performers of art song and Lieder.
Growing up near Warkworth, then studying in Dunedin, Julien is now taking his career to an international level. He returned to New Zealand in 2018 to sing Schaunard in NZ Opera’s production of La Bohème
“…alert to the specifics of style, language and character in each miniature narrative. No surprise that Van Mellaerts, witty and wiry-toned, walked away with the top prize.” The Times (2017).
Julien has recently graduated from the Royal College of Music International Opera School, where he was a Fishmongers Scholar studying with Russell Smythe. On graduation, he was awarded the Tagore Gold Medal. Before moving to London, Julien studied music and languages at the University of Otago, NZ. Recent operatic roles include: Second soldier and second Nazarene in Salome at the Verbier Festival with Charles Dutoit; Dandini in La Cenerentola with Diva Opera; Schaunard in La Bohème as a Christine Collins Young Artist at Opera Holland Park; Danilo in Lehar’s The Merry Widow for Ryedale Festival; Le mari/le directeur in Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias, Mr Gedge in Albert Herring, and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus at the RCMIOS. Highlights this season include baritone soloist with the Royal Ballet in their production of Elizabeth, with performances at the Barbican and on tour, the world premiere of 'Christmas Carol' by Will Todd with Opera Holland Park, Schaunard in La Bohème with New Zealand Opera, the title role in Eugene Onegin with the Cambridge Philharmonic, the Referee in Mozart vs the Machine for Mahogany Opera Group, recitals with Julius Drake in Madrid, performances at Wigmore and Cadogan Hall, baritone soloist in Fauré Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall, and recitals at the London Song, Leeds Lieder and Oxford Lieder Festivals. He is incredibly grateful for the continued support of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, Hunn Trust, John Wates, Josephine Baker Trust, Concordia Foundation and the Peace and Prosperity Trust. Accolades include the Kiwi Music Scholarship and a Countess of Munster Award 2016/2017, winner of the 2016 Joan Chissell Schumann Song Prize, 2016 Brooks-Van Der Pump English Song Competition, and the 2015 Maureen Lehane Vocal Awards.
Described by The Daily Telegraph as "in a class of his own" James Baillieu (piano) has been the prize-winner of the Wigmore Hall Song Competition, Das Lied International Song Competition, Kathleen Ferrier and Richard Tauber Competitions. He was selected for representation by Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) in 2010 and in 2012 received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship and a Geoffrey Parsons Memorial Trust Award. In 2016 he was shortlisted for the Royal Philharmonic Society Outstanding Young Artist Award.
“Baillieu, with his warm sound and empathetic ear, is one of our favourite pianists these days. His playing reminds us of something Steven Blier said about the job of the accompanist, how it’s like taking a singer by the hand and leading them down a hallway of doors. At each door, the pianist opens it for the singer, and asks if they want to go in; if they do, they join them enthusiastically, and if they don’t, the pianist simply invites the singer through the next door. Baillieu has a knack for creating a soloistic phrase out of a singer’s intent; he follows, without losing his autonomy.” Jenna Douglas, Schmopera, 2017
James has given solo and chamber recitals throughout Europe and further afield. He collaborates with a wide range of singers and instrumentalists including Lawrence Power, Jack Liebeck, the Elias and Heath Quartets, Ian Bostridge, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Annette Dasch, Pumeza Matshikiza, Jamie Barton, Markus Werba and Catherine Wyn Rogers. Venues include Wigmore Hall, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Berlin Konzerthaus, Vienna Musikverein, the Barbican Centre London, Wiener Konzerthaus, Cologne Philharmonie and the Laeiszhalle Hamburg. Festivals include Festpillene i Bergen, Spitalfields, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Bath, City of London, Aix-en-Provence, Verbier, St Magnus, Derry, Norfolk & Norwich and Brighton Festivals. As a soloist, he has appeared with the Ulster Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Wiener Kammersymphonie. An innovative programmer, James has already curated a number of projects, including series for the Brighton Festival, Wigmore Hall, BBC Radio 3, Bath International Festival and Perth Concert Hall.