A long-treasured Edinburgh tradition to welcome the New Year, The Edinburgh Royal Choral Union will perform Handel’s Messiah at the Usher Hall for the 136th time; conducted by Chorus Director Michael Bawtree. See below for more information on the featured soloists.

Picnics are permitted again, but please refrain from bringing alcohol into the venue. The venue has a bar license.

Emma Morwood - Soprano

Born in Belfast, Emma Morwood studied at the University of Edinburgh and the Royal Northern College of Music, where she was a major prize winner. Now studying with Karen Cargill, Emma has sung with many of Europe’s finest orchestras and conductors.

Recent concert highlights include Haydn Creation with the Ulster Orchestra; Strauss Vier letzte Lieder at Glasgow City Halls; Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder at the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow; and a tour of Handel Messiah with the Irish Baroque Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra. In May 2023, Emma performed the role of Despina in the new Irish National Opera production of Mozart’s Cosí fan tutte. Other recent roles include the lead role of Iris Robinson in Abomination: a DUP Opera by Conor Mitchell, at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, with the Belfast Ensemble; and Musetta in Northern Ireland Opera’s critically acclaimed production of La Bohème.

Alexander Chance - Countertenor

Alexander Chance was a Choral Scholar and read Classics at New College,
Oxford. Recent concert appearances include a tour of Bach’s St Matthew Passion with Freiburger Barockorchester; Bach’s St John Passion with John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists (recorded for Deutsche Grammophon); Bach’s B Minor Mass with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan; Handel’s Messiah with orchestras such as the Academy of Ancient Music, the London Handel Players and the Instruments of Time and Truth; and regular solo recitals throughout Europe with lutenist Toby Carr.

In 2022, Alexander became the first countertenor to win the International Handel Singing Competition, also winning the Audience Prize. Highlights this season include a debut for Welsh National Opera, a debut solo recital at the Wigmore Hall, and a solo recital at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.

Elgan Llyr Thomas - Tenor

Elgan Llŷr Thomas studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He is a former English National Opera Harewood Artist and a former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist. 

Elgan’s engagements have included his debut at the Royal Opera House, as First Noble of Brabant Lohengrin; Lysander A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nemorino L’elisir d’amore and Rinuccio Gianni Schicchi for Scottish Opera; and Tom Rakewell The Rake’s Progress at the Aldeburgh, Klara and Ojai Festivals. His current engagements include Gérald Lakmé for Chelsea Opera Group, Prunier La rondine for Opera North, A Child of Our Time in King’s College, Cambridge, and a recital at Ludlow English Song Festival.

Elgan’s recordings include Orbin in Elgar’s Caractacus with the Orchestra of Opera North on Hyperion, Havergal Brian’s Faust for Dutton Epoch, and his debut song recital Unveiled with Iain Burnside and Craig Ogden on Delphian.

Thomas Chenhall - Baritone 

Thomas Chenhall is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music. He made his international debut as Laquais in Don Quichotte at Wexford International Opera Festival in 2019 and recently made his Royal Opera House concert debut as part of its lunchtime recital series. Previous engagements in 2023 include Schaunard in Puccini’s La Bohème (Hurn Court Opera), Ben in Opera on the Move’s production of Giancarlo Menotti’s The Telephone and a debut with Clonter Opera Festival as Sid in its production of Albert Herring. In 2021 he was a finalist in the 4th Eva Marton International Singing Competition in Budapest.

In choral concerts Thomas has performed the solos for Handel’s Messiah with Cupar Choral Society and Stainer’s Crucifixion with the St Andrews Trinity Singers, as well as various performances with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in collaboration with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.