The soprano Laura Monaghan was a core member of the Opera Holland Park chorus for several years, singing in the main productions of the summer seasons, as a cast member in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and working with the OHP Inspire team around the year. After a long battle with cancer, Laura died in the summer of 2018.

In July 2018, Opera Holland Park performed Fauré’s Requiem in Laura’s memory. Following the performance Linda Hirst, Laura’s teacher at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, the British bass Matthew Rose and James Clutton, OHP’s Director of Music, decided to set up a bursary in Laura’s name to be awarded each year to one member of the Opera Holland Park Chorus.

The Laura Monaghan Bursary will be used to fund coaching sessions, singing lessons and other expenses to assist career development. The recipient of the bursary will be chosen annually by James Clutton in consultation with the Opera Holland Park production team and chorus masters. This singer will be somebody who is consistently hard-working, always prepared for rehearsal, and has a positive attitude on and offstage. It will be someone who has finished full-time study, shares Laura’s interest in contemporary music, and is at a point in their career where they are progressing but would benefit from additional support and guidance.

Speaking on Laura’s dedication as a musician, Linda Hirst said: “Laura was one of the few students in my tenure as Head of Department at Trinity Laban who was genuinely interested in new music as well as being able to sing to her best ability. She was tireless, vividly intelligent and an instinctive performer who gave her soul.”

Matthew Rose said “Laura was one of the most incredible people I ever had the pleasure of knowing. She had the most stunning intelligence, was musical beyond belief, had utter determination, keen awareness, a sharp wit, and was the most amazing and loyal friend. I am so honoured to have had her in my life and I still can’t believe we are without her. I hope that we can keep Laura’s inspiration alive always with this award, and encourage others to strive for greatness and beauty in music and opera.”

James Clutton, Director of Opera, writes “The chorus plays a vital role at Opera Holland Park and Laura was an integral member of our company. We miss her so much but with this bursary we will continue to remember her and her love of work and life. We are pleased to announce that the first winner of the Laura Monaghan Bursary is mezzo soprano Yolanda Grant-Thompson. Yolanda trained at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music, was a member of the Opera Holland Park Chorus in the 2019 productions of L’arlesiana and Iolanta, and has been part of the Inspire team in our Operaunity workshops. Over the next year we will work with Yolanda to put the bursary to the best possible use to assist her continuing development as an artist.”

Monique Foulger, OHP Associate Producer; Dominic Ellis-Peckham, chorus master for L’arlesiana and Iolanta; Yolanda Grant-Thompson, the recipient of The Laura Monaghan Bursary; James Clutton, OHP Director of Opera; Miriam Verghese, OHP Production Assistant; and Imogen van Santvoort, OHP Associate Producer.