Scottish Soprano Rachel Speirs is a graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music where she won the Betty Bannerman Award for French Song 2020, the Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for the singing of Strauss in 2019 adjudicated by Sir Simon Keenlyside, and was a finalist in the Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Prize in 2020 adjudicated by Dame Ann Murray and Sarah Tynan.
In 2021-2022, Rachel sang the role of Lotty with Retrospect Opera for their recording of G.A. MacFarren's The Soldier's Legacy alongside baritone Quentin Hayes, tenor Joseph Doody, and mezzo-soprano Gaynor Keeble. Rachel also joined the Chorus of Opera North in various projects, and sang with English Touring Opera Chorus for their Spring 2022 mainstage tour as well as the Soprano roles in How To Find Your Name, an opera for SEND audiences. Other recent engagements include Brahms Requiem with Leeds Philharmonic Chorus, recording William Alwyn's Songs of Innocence with the Victoria String Quartet, recordings with the Northern Film Orchestra, Bach B Minor Mass with Southport Bach Choir, 'Discovering Lieder' workshops in primary schools with Leeds Lieder, and creative workshops for people with dementia with SoundUp Arts. In Summer 2022, Rachel will join the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company in Pirates of Penzance, Iolanthe, and Utopia Ltd.
In 2020 Rachel sang the role of Maria Bertram in Mansfield Park conducted by Nicholas Kok and directed by Stephen Barlow, and was due to join Grange Park Opera and Wexford Festival Opera for their Summer seasons. Rachel continued to create and share music throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and collaborated digitally with companies including the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Clonter Opera, Random Opera, and SoundUp Arts to create recorded performances, participatory music resources, digital workshops, and online live concerts. In January 2021 Rachel was appointed Co-Director of SoundUp Arts CIC and continues to work in this role alongside her performing career. In July 2021 Rachel sang Mrs Nordstrom in A Little Night Music for Buxton International Festival.
Earlier operatic engagements include Voice of a Bird The Pilgrim's Progress conducted by David Parry, Suor Osmina Suor Angelica with Martin Andre, and Mustardseed A Midsummer Night's Dream for RNCM Opera, as well as Papagena/cover Pamina The Magic Flute for Flat Pack Music . Rachel has also performed Second Lady and Second Spirit Die Zauberflöte, Mary Hildebrand Street Scene, excerpts as Aminta Il re pastore and Rose Lakmé, and Chorus for Cosi fan Tutte and The Merry Widow at the RNCM. Other Chorus appearances include Carmen and Madame Butterfly with Heritage Opera, and The Rake’s Progress directed by Stephen Unwin and Don Giovanni directed by James Hurley for British Youth Opera.
Rachel sings regularly in recital and on the concert platform, and has been praised particularly for her interpretation of German Lieder. Recent concert engagements include Haydn's The Creation, Handel's Messiah, Gounod's Messe Solennelle, Vivaldi's Gloria, and Bach's Weihnachts -Oratorium. Recent recital highlights include a recorded recital of French Song with pianist Robin Humphreys in the Clonterbrook Music Room, regular appearances in the Haddon Hall lunchtime recital series, a concert featuring the music of Janacek at The Lake District Summer Festival with Paul Nilon and Louise Winter, and performances of Schubert's Der Hirt auf dem Felsen with pianist Caroline Clemmow and clarinettist Linda Merrick, principal of the RNCM. Rachel premiered John Joubert’s final work for the voice ‘Remember’ alongside the Villiers Quartet and recorderist John Turner at the William Alwyn Festival in Blythburgh in 2018. This was closely followed by a performance of works by John Manduell, William Alwyn, Peter Crossley-Holland, and Thomas Pitfield as part of a celebration concert for the late founding principal of the RNCM, Sir John Manduell. Rachel recently recorded Manduell's Trois chansons de la renaissance with pianist Peter Lawson for Divine Art Records.
In January 2021, Rachel was appointed Co-Director of SoundUp Arts, a Community Interest Company which creates creative resources and activities for people affected by dementia. During the pandemic, Rachel also worked as a Dementia Group Leader for Together Dementia Support. She is passionate about the effects on wellbeing and quality of life that music, creativity, and the Arts can have for people living with dementia and those who support them. Rachel has a wide-ranging CV of teaching, administration, and outreach work and has worked in this capacity for English Touring Opera, Grange Park Opera, Together Dementia Support, Healthy Arts, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, The Sixteen, Stagecoach Performing Arts, and RNCM Learning and Participation Department.