June 2023

Gabrielle Liandu

Introducing Gabriella Liandu, Our Soprano Soloist For Mass In Blue – Oct 2022

Gabriella Liandu

At our December concert, we’re delighted to be joined by mezzo-soprano soloist, Gabriella Liandu.

Gabriella is a Zambian-Scottish singer and creative who was raised in the Middle East but now firmly has Birmingham as her home. Gabriella completed her Vocal and Operatic Studies at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, graduating with a first class Honours in Music followed by a Master with distinction in Jazz. She won the Jazzlines THSH Final Year Prize for Overall Excellence in Performance and Leadership and the award of Leverhulme Arts Scholar.

Gabriella’s strong cultural upbringing and eclectic background is reflected through her artistry and style as a writer and performer. Her experience covers a wide range of genres with repertoire expanding from Early Classical to Choral, Modern Jazz and more.
The connection with notorious is through Clare and Ex Cathedra, the acclaimed chamber choir that Clare sings with, where Gabriella was originally appointed Student Scholar and is now Graduate

Clare tells us more about why Gabriella is the perfect fit for notorious: “I chose Gabriella as I’ve sung with her and produced a concert where she was a soloist. I was so impressed with both Gabriella’s gorgeous voice and her friendly and approachable attitude off-stage.

As notorious is all about combining good music in an accessible and friendly way, she fit the bill as the perfect soloist for us. Plus her jazz background means she is really comfortable with improvisation – I admire anyone who can do that as I struggle!
But seriously, she’s a lovely person who has that perfect mix of classical and jazz style singing which I think is essential for Mass in Blue.”

You can check out Gabriella’s beautiful tone and versatility as an artist, including her own
compositions, via her YouTube channel:


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Robin Valk

Farewell To Our Mega-Bass Extraordinaire, Robin Valk - Nov 2022

It was with huge sadness and heavy hearts that we said goodbye to our friend and extraordinary bass talent, Robin Valk, who sadly passed away this summer.

Though you will be familiar with seeing Robin singing in notorious and hearing his dulcet low tones, you may not be as familiar with the huge part Robin played in the Birmingham music scene and beyond as a staunch supporter and promoter of local music talent through a whole host of radio shows and podcasts.

On the day of Robin’s funeral in August, when many choir members gathered to bid farewell, our Musical Director Clare Edwards shared her own tribute to Robin via our Facebook channel, alongside memories from choir members, which we wanted to share with our notorious Friends.

The first section of our December concert at CBSO Centre will be dedicated to Robin, featuring poignant and reflective music including John Tavener’s O, Do Not Move, Will Todd’s arrangement of Amazing Grace, and a different piece from notorious’ commissioned composer, Eriks Esenvalds,
Stars (look out for the wine glasses…).

A message from our MD, Clare Edwards – 12 August 2022
On behalf of everyone in Notorious and very much personally from me – I want today to pay tribute to Robin Valk, a friend, a bass in Notorious, and a legend. Robin was a professional enthusiast. A champion of music of all genres and a fierce defender of local radio and the power of radio to support local musicians. I met Robin around the tables of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce in 2005 at a Birmingham Music Network meeting and we instantly hit it off.
Over the years we worked on numerous projects together and one day he asked if he was too old to join Notorious! As a bass in the choir, he became a beloved part of the family and didn’t just sing but helped the choir with promotions and painstakingly recorded every rehearsal for people who missed them or wanted to listen back each week.
My favourite quote of his is that he was conducted by two people in his lifetime. Me and Igor Stravinsky… that will always make me smile. As for what he meant to Notorious members: I’ll leave that to a few of the many choir members who
have sent us their memories…

Messages from the choir:
I’ve got very fond memories of Robin. Firstly of his beautiful silky radio voice. I remember him championing local artists on BRMB back in the day, and more recently in his podcasts. So to stand next to him in Notorious was initially a bit daunting, singing with a legend! But then I discovered the humble Robin who wanted to develop a skill. And he applied his beautiful silky voice to singing bass lines! I will always value my memories of the stories he told, his humour and warmth. Lovely man, he will be sorely missed. (Richard Salt)

I’m very sorry to hear this, it is sad news. Robin was certainly a stalwart of the men’s section and it was lovely to often see his face during the Zoom rehearsals during the pandemic and to hear how proud he was to become a grandad. My condolences to his family. (Laura Breakwell)

Two things come to mind. Firstly, I saw that his family said that choir meant a lot to Robin. I immediately thought that Robin meant a lot to a lot of choir members as well. Very much one of the “family”.

The other thing that I think of is that Robin took care and interest to be sensitively supportive of me and Lucinda around her illness and the knock-on effect on us all. It was noticed and really appreciated. A really good guy. (Luke Turnbull)

I’m so very sorry to hear that Robin has passed away. From the first time I met him, at his first rehearsal with Notorious choir, his enthusiasm for music, for people and for life shone through. When he got ill, I know he was determined to do everything in his power to keep going and to really enjoy life for as long as he possibly could. And he was such a kind man, always checking in if someone looked a little down and doing what he could to help whoever needed it. He really was a true gent and I shall miss him. (Julia Rosenbaum)

I’m so sorry to hear of Robin’s passing, I shall really miss him. We had a shared love of music and websites and I loved our chats. He always started conversations with “So what’s new?”; and always had such a passion for life. As a second Alto we also loved Robin’s low notes projecting over our shoulders! Rest in peace dear friend, and sending love to Vic and your family. (Josie Hobbs)

Here is a lovely post Robin wrote about performing in Notorious in 2017:

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David austin grey

Introducing Pianist David Austin Grey And His Quartet – Nov 2022

David Austin Grey pianist

We are really excited to be joined by the David Austin Grey quartet for Will Todd’s Mass in Blue next week.

David Austin Grey is a UK-based pianist, composer and educator working across multiple musical disciplines.

David has worked throughout the UK and performed internationally, including residencies and collaborations in Brazil, the United States and South Asia. His most long-standing group, Hansu-Tori, has received national press and radio play (BBC Radio 3, Jazzwise Magazine, Jazz FM, BBC Introducing, The Observer, BBC WM and BBC Radio Scotland.

A graduate of the University of Birmingham and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, David has worked with well-respected artists and institutions such as Birmingham Royal Ballet, the British Council, Courtney Pine, Eliza Shaddad, Freya Roy, Soweto Kinch, Xhosa Cole, Michael League, and Black Voices. He has also supporting Grammy-winning artists Marcus Miller, Terri-Lyne Carrington and Snarky Puppy.

Music Director Clare Edwards tells us more about her connection with David:

“I’ve known David for many years having worked with him at the Flyover Show in Hockley and more recently at Symphony Hall. I’ve always loved his jazz piano playing and found him to be an engaging performer. I really wanted to put a complete jazz group together to work on Mass in Blue, rather than a random selection of performers, and I knew that David had his band and could bring the magic of an energetic jazz quartet to our concert.”

You can hear more from Clare in this video about why she wanted to work with David again.


David’s quartet is completed with three of the UK’s finest young improvising musicians – Chris Young (alto sax), James Owston (double bass) and Nathan Jones (drums) – all graduates of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and impressive writers, performers and composers in their own right.

The quartet will perform their own set at the concert before we all come together in the second half for a Latin mass like no other.

To hear examples of David’s work, check out the media area of his website here:


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