Bio

Olga Vocal Ensemble creates musical joy – a joy she wants to share with the world. These five young men stand ready to conquer every heart with their powerful, clear voices, and charismatic presentation.


Olga is a young a cappella singing group that approaches old traditions in a fresh way. She combines enthusiasm, humor, and drama with genuine vocal clarity to enrapture both young and old. Her repertoire covers a thousand years of musical joy, and the ensemble is already known for her unique programs, in which moving classical music comes together with popular repertoire – from medieval Icelandic drinking songs to nostalgic hits from your grandfather’s day. The characteristic sound of Olga blends all music into a compelling whole.


Olga Vocal Ensemble was founded in 2012 at the Utrecht Conservatory in the Netherlands. With Dutch, Icelandic, English, and Russian singers, and music from many nationalities and genres, she is a truly international ensemble. She has already had countless successful concerts both in and out of the Netherlands, including a month-long tour of the United States in 2017. Tours to wild and craggy Iceland have been a regular fixture since the very beginning. After offering an invitation on Icelandic national television, the ensemble once sang for 13 women named Olga together in one concert hall. In addition to this, the Olga boys recorded their first CD in 2014, their second CD in 2016, were coached by former King’s Singer Paul Phoenix, and adopted a red kettle as Olga’s mascot.


Here’s a nice quote about Olga by Paul Phoenix:

“In October 2014 I had the pleasure of spending three days working with Olga Vocal Ensemble at the Utrecht Music Conservatorium. Amongst many ensembles I’ve coached and worked with around the world, Olga stands out as a group performing to the highest standards and having great potential for the future. I love their style, their humour and spirit, as well as the unique sound which stems from their Icelandic roots and their love of folk music. See them in concert, listen to their recordings and be charmed by their wit!”

Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith

tenor

Matthew Lawrence Smith, tenor, gained a master in Music degree from the University of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA in 1996. He was also an apprentice with the professional Skylight Opera Company in Milwaukee. His first production as a professional was The Elixir of Love by Donizetti.

After returning home to Great Britain in 1998, Matthew worked as a singer in musicals such as Tess (Savoy, London) Phantom of the Opera, Wonderful Town (Bernstein), and took the position of choral lay tenor at the world famous Hampton Court Palace for a year. During this period, Matthew toured in opera productions around the UK, Ireland, and USA in 2002-2004 for Columbia Artists. He also sang a production of Evita in Beirut, and, in 2003-2006, he toured with the international performing act The Three Waiters.

Matthew has been a full-time member of the Dutch Radio Choir since 2006, singing in over 300 productions varying from renaissance to gospel. He also performed with other groups – notably Cappella Amsterdam, the Dutch National Opera Choir, the Reisopera, and in the UK with Opera Project, a leading UK touring company.

Jonathan Ploeg

Jonathan Ploeg

tenor

Jonathan Ploeg, tenor, was born in 1987 in Hilversum, the Netherlands, and grew up in a musical family. He played oboe for nine years but gradually found his way into singing. In 2011, he started his bachelor of singing with Jón Þorsteinsson at the Conservatory of Utrecht in the Netherlands. In May of 2015, he received his bachelor diploma, both for singing and choral conducting, with honors. Jonathan has sung in Olga Vocal Ensemble since its founding in 2013. Since then he has been on several successful tours, recorded multiple albums, and performed in festivals in the Netherlands, including the prestigious Grachtenfestival in Amsterdam (2015).

Jonathan is a singing teacher, and he conducts the Utrecht-based JIP Chamber Choir. He is also asked on a regular basis to conduct other ensembles and choirs. As a soloist, Jonathan has sung the roles of Gloria Cassis in the operetta Les Brigands by J. Offenbach, Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte by W. A. Mozart, and Mr. Pierre in A Vinganca di Cigana by A. Moreira, and the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

Arjan Lienaerts

Arjan Lienaerts

baritone

Arjan Lienaerts, baritone, was born in Sittard, The Netherlands and started playing the harpsichord, piano, and guitar at a young age. He discovered his passion for singing as a boy soprano in the children’s choir ‘Limburgse Koorschool Cantarella’. In 2007, he received a BA in Social Sciences (University College Utrecht) followed in 2011 by a BMus in Musical Theatre (Fontys Conservatory). Between 2011 and 2014, he lived in London, where he continued his studies at the Royal Academy of Music. There he received a Postgraduate Diploma in Musical Theatre (with honors) in 2012.

Since graduating, Arjan has been a cast member of the Thursford Christmas Spectacular and of Sweeney Todd at the Reisopera. He also sang at the Royal Albert Hall with the Maida Vale Singers for the BBC Proms in 2012. When he is not singing with Olga, he works as a pianist, conductor, composer, arranger, vocal coach, and piano teacher. Together with Hedwig van Leuven, he is part of a pop/jazz-duo called hearhear.

Pétur Oddbergur Heimisson

Pétur Oddbergur Heimisson

bass-baritone

Pétur Oddbergur Heimisson, bass-baritone, is from Reykjavík, Iceland, and studied with Jón Þorsteinsson at the Conservatory of Utrecht in the Netherlands from 2009 to 2015, receiving both a bachelor and a master’s degree in classical singing there. Pétur has sung with various choirs in the Netherlands, such as the Dutch Radio Choir, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, and Ars Musica Chamber Choir.

 

As a soloist, Pétur has sung Mozart’s Requiem, Rossini’s Le petite messe solenelle, the bass arias in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and Crucifixus by Stainer. In opera, Pétur has sung such roles as Uberto in La serva padrona, Sarastro in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro and Apollo in Händel’s Apollo and Daphne. He is a founding member of Olga Vocal Ensemble.

 

Pétur has also worked as a producer for various projects, such as a concert and masterclass with the English a cappella group the King’s Singers in Reykjavík, Iceland, and three masterclasses with Paul Phoenix, former tenor of the King’s Singers, both in Iceland and in the Netherlands.

Philip Barkhudarov

Philip Barkhudarov

bass

Philip Barkhudarov, bass, studied with Jón Þorsteinsson at the Conservatory of Utrecht in the Netherlands from 2009 to 2014. Originally from Moscow, Russia, he grew up in New Mexico in the United States and holds a bachelor degree in physics and a masters degree in computer science from Utrecht University (2007 and 2010, respectively). Philip has sung in America, Europe, and Australia, with various professional choirs and ensembles such as the Dutch Radio Choir, the Netherlands Chamber Choir, Cappella Amsterdam, Cappella Pratensis, and the Santa Fe Desert Chorale.

 

As a soloist, Philip has sung Christ in Bach’s St. Matthew and St. John Passions, and as a soloist in the Bach’s B Minor Mass, Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s Schöpfung, Mendelssohn’s Elias, Handel’s Messiah, and numerous other pieces, including more unusual and modern repertoire, such as Rautavaara’s Vigilia. In opera, Philip has sung such roles as Antinous in Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, Sarastro in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Collatinus in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia, and Salieri in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Mozart and Salieri. He is a founding member of Olga Vocal Ensemble.

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