Edinburgh Recital

November 22, 2015 — 67 Comments

What a wonderful weekend! On Saturday I had the privilege to perform alongside George Todica for the Edinburgh Society of Musicians.  It was a very welcoming society and a relaxing atmosphere to perform my first hour long solo evening recital that I had organised, designed and performed alone with piano accompaniment without any other soloists in the programme.


Pascal Barnier Sent Me This Beautiful Image That He Created For Our Recital

The evening’s programme comprised of:

“Haugtussa” the full cycle by Grieg

Four of Aaron Copland’s American Folk Songs

Four Scottish Folk Songs

‘Quando M’en Vo’  – Puccini

‘Wo Bin Ich?’ – Humperdink

‘Song To The Moon’ – Dvorak


The Edinburgh Society Of Musicians – The Performance Area

Before starting the concert I was a bit nervous as it was the longest I was going to sing by myself. This brings challenges of vocal stamina as the voice is produced by muscles activating and relaxing. Similarly to a long distance athlete you need endurance, fuel and energy to last the entire event.

Leading up to the concert I was practising my words regularly and I think in the future I will keep working on this so that I can relax a little more mentally in the concert, but I think that because my attention was highly activated I could create and spontaneously react to ideas George created on the piano.

I am excited to be performing the Haugtussa again in March 2016 and can’t wait to see the progression the piece will make over time.

The program was well received and we were commended for a professional performance.

For me the highlight of the evening was meeting everyone after the event including fellow musicians along with a pianist who knew the ‘Haugtussa’ cycle as he had performed it before, and we received some great advice and feedback.


Charlotte Hoather                                                   George Todica

A Little Time To Reflect

November 15, 2015 — 55 Comments

Today I had the luxury to attend the last of the Hilary Rosin Coffee Concert series at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The series will resume again in February 2016 and I can’t recommend them enough. They have been a wonderful way to spend time with friends on Sundays so far and I will miss them in the coming weeks.

In the concert’s programme we had the opportunity to listen to a small female choir, selected from the RCS Voices, sing Brahms ‘Vier Gesänge’. It was a beautiful piece with angelic quality accompanied by two horns and harp. Definitely worth a listen to on YouTube.


I Hove Wonderful Memories Of My Trip To Paris In 2014, My Thoughts Are With All Those Touched By This Tragedy.

At the beginning of the concert a very touching introduction was given in which we were asked to think about how music can join us together in little communities, people who share similar interests. However these communities also provide support to each other and the opportunity to remember those that have been affected by tragedy around the world.

Nothing brings this home more than the tragic events which took place in Paris last Friday (13th November 2015), to think that this time last year I was celebrating my birthday in this wonderful city and my heart goes out to everyone touched by this dreadful tragedy.

Within in each of us there is a voice, a voice that we can use to spread the idea of peace around the world.  Whether you choose to use music, the spoken word or put your thoughts down on paper the power is within us all to make a difference.  If we work hard enough then maybe one day we can be part of one great big community and put these tragedies behind us forever.

bbc news

BBC News ( Click On The Picture To Read Updates )

Update 18th Nov 2015

I read this brilliant article by Sinfini Music on the Music of defiance. “For musicians and music-lovers, the fact that the primary target was a place of music-making has hit home hard”. http://www.sinfinimusic.com/uk/features/blogs/ecoutez-paris/parisians-respond-to-terrorist-attacks-of-13-nov-2015-with-music-and-la-marseillaise


Audition Season

November 8, 2015 — 72 Comments

I will be having my Master of Music postgraduate program auditions soon and I’m trying to recollect all the advice I have received during my training here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and from people I have met along the way.


This picture was taken a couple of months before my Undergraduate auditions

In this blog post I want to talk about my undergraduate audition experiences. It may help answer some questions for those about to take their first auditions but if not it is my account of what I discovered and I hope that you find it interesting. I don’t pretend to know all the answers but I know that when I was auditioning I would have been grateful for more knowledge.

I personally think it’s important to feel as confident and calm as possible on the day so that you can sing at your best. For me I can help aid this by planning and making decisions before the event for example; what I’m going to wear; how I’m going to get there; who am I going with; when and what am I going to eat. They may seem like silly questions but I like to know that on the day the only thing I have to make decisions about are artistic and creative ones when I sing. I was once told that we have a limit on how many decisions we can make in one day. I think this is really interesting and I will research into this to see if it’s true, (one day).


Try and travel to the Conservatoire using public transport, remember that if you are offered a place this is probably how you will be travelling between home and your place of study.  Check the routes, timings and how many changes you will need and this will help with journey times.  Book your train tickets early it’s less costly and you don’t run the risk of there being no seats available as I did trying to book a week before going to Cardiff.

It can be an anxious time but think of this as a new skill to master, the audition will be important to you and the anxiety you may feel is just because you are about to encounter something totally new in your life.


Ralph Strehle, a professor at the RCS once advised me to create a ‘positive list’. This is essentially a list of things people have said about my singing that they liked or thought were a strength. This could be comments from an exam critique, a teacher, a friend or audience member. The list may start off as just one bullet point, however it only takes a moment to realise that as your training progresses the list will grow. Reflecting on what’s good can improve your attitude, increase your optimism and boost your wellness.

Like preparing for an interview, research the school you are applying to. I know the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland voice department have a Facebook page now, on which they keep updates of what is going on and what our alumni our achieving. It can be quite exciting to see what is happening and can help you to form some informed questions that you would like to ask during your audition. But for these questions focus on what interests you and don’t be afraid to ask.


Check out the audition requirements for each Conservatoire as they will vary.  Each will ask for a specific selection of song types but within each genre the song choice is yours. Some have a written exam and others may ask for a spoken monologue and a sight reading test so be prepared.

Most conservatories have two rounds and some possibly three. I can say without embarrassment that I didn’t get through every round at some colleges but I did at several others. We all are diverse and so are the Conservatoires. All you can do is be yourself and show them where you are at that moment in your journey and they will decide whether you are ready to work in their way.


Just remember that everybody’s voice develops at a different pace and there is no set age to join a Conservatoire. In my year there are a range of ages and it is OK and normal to re-apply if unsuccessful the first time around and you’ve set your heart on going to a Conservatoire, or to take time out before you commence the audition process.    There are 16 vocalists in my year 11 girls and five boys, some Conservatoires take more at undergraduate and some take less but if singing is your passion then they are fabulous institutions to train at.

Lastly and probably the most important thing to remember on the day is that the audition panel are looking for students so remember that they want you to succeed.







I had a very musical day on Friday 30th of October. At lunchtime I was able to grab a sandwich and listen to a concert held in the Jubilee Hall at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, where two of my close friends George Todica and Daniel Ciobanu performed.


George Todica                                                             Daniel Petrica Ciobanu

The exciting and very musical program involved works by Scriabin, Ravel, Liszt and Trofin. I particularly enjoyed George’s interpretation of Valses Nobles et Sentimales. Before playing he explained in his introduction that the climax takes place on the seventh piece of this cycle and that the eighth acts as an epilogue and compared it to the way an older person recollects memories of their past. The concert ended with a bang with two piano four hand pieces in which the two performers were practically dancing around the piano performing a wild duet of Romanian folk music.

After this I ran back to the Royal Conservatoire of  Scotland to observe some of the Opera school students receiving coaching from Kathryn Harries in the AGOS studio. Kathryn Harries is the Director of the National Opera Studio, which is based in London, after having a very successful performing career as an operatic soprano. She has an exuberant personality and successfully commanded the space for continuous four hour block.

Kathryn Harries

Kathryn Harries

It was interesting to carefully and attentively watch this event as I was able to receive a lot of information and ideas that I can put towards my own practise. The main idea I have taken away is that subconscious body movements performed whilst singing can sometimes give an insight into what is happening. For example some students would throw a shoulder forward (slightly) at the start of phrases. Demonstrating their eagerness to begin the phrase well however it made for an aggressive sound. And another student held their arm in tight against them with their hand forming in a fist which was linked to the tight vocal line. However gestures can also unlock and aid a singer’s ability to improve a weakness. She explained that because we can’t see our instrument when we play we must use the tools of imagination. An example of her technique was to involve swinging arm movements which would mirror the action of expanding ribs to reinforce the engagement of the support and to keep the ribs out wide whilst singing. This aided most of the singers on stage and definitely an exercise I will try. She gave us lots of tips and encouraged our practise to be specific rather than general.

However one thing that I think is a transferable piece of advice when learning, improving a skill or completing a task at work  is to treat yourself consistently like a little puppy, don’t ever kick it because it’s not doing it right or give up on it because it can’t do it the first, fifth or the tenth time. Instead be patient and loving.


The cherry on the cake was going to the Sunday coffee concert today at the Royal Conservatoire at 11:30. The programme was a great selection from German composers involving pupils and professors performing together. It was wonderful to see such a high standard of musical interpretation. A personal highlight were the Schubert pieces performed by Julia Daramy-Williams and Julian Tovey in which two rich voices superbly conveyed poems by Goethe.



Sadly I could not record the singers today but here is my performance of Schubert’s  “Gretchen am Spinnrade” from 2014.  I really must try and get the opportunity to record this again next year, for those of you who have not seen it I hope that you enjoy it.



Last night at the gala fundraising evening hosted by Bowdon Festival Opera I had a fabulous time catching up with friends, spending time with my family and performing alongside a group of singers brought together for the event from around the UK and Ireland.

To open the evening’s performance, I was accompanied by the festival chorus and performed two of Gretel’s arias from Englebert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel”: Ein Männlein steht im Walde and Abendsegen (Evening Prayer).

It was great fun to perform these arias again especially with the chorus providing an English translation of ‘The Evening Prayer’. In a packed program I also enjoyed performing in the second half of the evening along with vocalists singing excerpts from Dido and Aeneas; Macbeth; Don Giovanni and many more.

The evening was a great success and I am so pleased that I could play a part in it.  It’s so expensive to put on an opera production that without the support provided by these fundraisers it would be impossible to do, so I must pass on a big thank you to everyone that came along and especially to all the people who organised the evening. As Jayne explained during her final speech, many festivals and music groups don’t get the financial support from Lottery funds or Art Grants so it was great to see the local community support the event, it was also wonderful to see so many new students participating in the evening and the progress they are making.

Today after a few hours with my Mum and Dad I have the long drive back up to Glasgow, so I can only manage a short post tonight. Thank goodness the clocks went back last night and I gained an extra hour.



Carmen – Georges Bizet

October 18, 2015 — 58 Comments

On Thursday night I had the pleasure to watch Carmen at Theatre Royal, in Glasgow with my friend Jessica.

Charlotte And Jess Carmen

Scottish Opera’s production was full of heat and energy, despite its beige stage design (but I might be biased as my favourite colour is rainbow), Carmen (Justina Gringyte) and Don José (Noah Stewart) shared some passionate moments and a Spanish flair was created through flamenco dancing and ruffled skirts.

The chorus and small roles interacted well with the props to create some really wonderful effects that captured the audience’s attention. A great example of this was during the Toreador fight, appearing in the last act, where the performers stood at an elevated line of rope and acted reactions to the fight in slow motion accompanied by lighting affects similar to those from my high school disco which combined to make time to stand still in the middle of all the excitement.

EFT Carmen Masthead

It was brilliant also to watch two former students of the RCS perform in the chorus; Heather Jameison and Luke Sinclair both stood out due to their great charisma on stage and commitment to their characters.

I found it very useful to watch this production which involved the use of a minimal set and interaction with props as during this year I will be performing in a scene from an opera with my colleagues from the RCS, which will probably be performed in a space with only props to set the scene. I learnt some interesting tricks on how to take advantage of the space during an aria whilst being isolated against large backdrops, also the importance of interacting with other characters on stage to create atmosphere and to progress the story.

Georges_bizet 1875

Georges Bizet

Georges Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ premiered in Paris on the 3rd March 1875 and ran for only 36 performances as the audiences reacted with indifference to the production. Sadly Bizet died at the age of only 36 before the initial run was completed and never knew the success that his opera would eventually achieve.  Following a series of performances around Europe it returned to Paris in 1883, growing in popularity becoming a firm favourite of Parisian audiences.  It is still one of the best known operas and its arias the “Habanera” sung by Carmen and the “Toreador Song” sung by Escamillo are probably two of the most recognisable operatic songs.

Maria Callas – “Habanera”

From the movie Carmen, with Julia Migenes-Johnson as Carmen, Placido Domingo as Don José , and Ruggero Raimondi as El Matador.

The opera was written by Bizet in the style of Opera Comique which allowed for dialogue to be used between the arias. The story demonstrates the destructive power that an unrequited love can produce.

We follow the life of an innocent and naïve young soldier Don José who has been promised in matrimony by his mother to his childhood sweetheart Micaëla.  However he encounters a wild and intoxicating young Gypsy woman who completely captivates him changing the direction of his life forever.

Following his first encounter when he is beguiled by Carmen she manages to persuade him to release her from jail, for his actions he then finds himself locked up for a month.  When he gets released he searches out Carmen who he meets in an Inn. As the evening progresses he knows that he should return to his barracks but she asks him to desert and leave with her.  He wrestles with his emotions but finds the decision is made for him following a fight in the Inn with a superior officer, he now cannot go back and leaves his military life behind and sneaks off with Carmen.

But all soon unravels for Don José as Carmen starts to get bored with him. Micaëla who has been searching for Don José finds them both and pleads with José to leave Carmen and return home.  Despite feeling the sting of Carmen’s sharp tongue José is determined to stay with her until Micaëla tells him that his Mother is dying.  Don José swears to return to Carmen as soon as he can as he is concerned that she has become infatuated with the bullfighter Escamillo.

The story comes to its dramatic conclusion as we find Carmen at the bullfight with Escamillo who sing of their love for each other. Carmen when confronted by Don José throws his ring back at him and attempts to enter the arena to be with Escamillo. Don José blinded by his emotions and filled with rage at being cast aside by Carmen after all his sacrifices for her, lunges at her stabbing her.  As Carmen lays dying Don José proclaims his love for her and as the tragedy comes to its conclusion Don José confesses to killing Carmen.

The production has now moved to tour the Highlands and will end its run in Edinburgh

His Majesty’s Theatre, Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen AB25 1GL
Thu 22 Oct 7.30pm•Sat 24 Oct 7.30pm

Eden Court, Bishops Road, Inverness IV3 5SA
Tue 27 Oct 7.15pm•Thu 29 Oct 7.15pm•Sat 31 Oct 7.15pm

Festival Theatre, 13–29 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9FT
Tue 3 Nov 7.15pm•Fri 6 Nov 7.15pm•Sun 8 Nov 4.00pm
Thu 12 Nov 7.15pm•Sat 14 Nov 7.15pm

Dixit Dominus – Handel

October 11, 2015 — 55 Comments

As a member of the RCS Chamber Choir I will be taking part in the performance of Handel’s “Dixit Dominus” in a choral concert to be held at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow on the 8th December 2015.

st marys

St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow

George Friedrich Handel was born in Germany in 1685 and after studying in Germany and Italy he eventually moved to England 1712 where he settled and lived happily eventually becoming a British subject in 1727.  Handel was considered a brilliant composer whose works covered a wide breadth of music genres such as operas, anthems, oratorios and organ concertos.


George Friderich Handel

“Dixit Dominus” is a setting of the Latin text of the “Psalm 110” which Handel completed in April 1707 whilst living in Italy and under the patronage of the Colonna family who were a powerful and influential family in Italy at that time.


Colonna Family Crest

The score was not published until 1867 over 100 years after his death.

Handel was accomplished at bringing both the voice and instrumentation together in his works, this piece is no different requiring five vocal soloists ( two sopranos, an alto, tenor and bass ) along with chorus and instrumentalists.



Rehearsals In Full Swing

Our conductor for the ensemble is Timothy Dean Head of Opera  who is being assisted by James Slimings a fellow student.

We rehearse for two hours each Tuesday evening, initially we practised together but recently we have been split into two groups, male voices and female voices.  This helps us to work on the musical lines within our voice types before bringing it all back together as a single ensemble.

It is great to work with everyone on these projects as there are so many talented singers and musicians here at the Conservatoire.  I can’t wait to see how it all comes together over the coming weeks and should prove to be a fabulous evening for all those that can make it along to the performance.


RCS Header 2015

The image for the post was taken from a new Facebook header that Pascal Barnier very kindly created for me, based on this being the start of the final and fourth year of my undergraduate degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  Lots happening I’ll keep you posted :).




Just a quick update, as you can see our indoor garden is flourishing with the exception of the chives which I think we cut back a little too enthusiastically :)  So fingers crossed they will continue to thrive as we go into Winter.