Tonight I had intended to put up a post about my visit to the Opera National de Paris and provide a little back story for you but that has been put on hold temporarily :)

Why? you may ask, well as you know I find it very hard to resist a challenge, particularly one from one of my oldest friends Oscar White especially as he immersed himself in a bath full of freezing cold water for his ALS ice bucket challenge, he always was over the top lol.  So when I finished my singing practise tonight and Dad finally found some ice (as everywhere was sold out!) I got changed and decided to give it a go.

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The ice bucket challenge, social media’s latest craze, is designed to raise money and awareness for the neurodegenerative illness ALS.  In an official letter this week, the ALS Association said: “Never before have been in a better position to fuel our fight against this disease. Increased awareness and unprecedented financial support will enable us to think outside the box.”

What is ALS?

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis affects the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons degenerate and die which makes it increasingly difficult to move muscles.

When muscles aren’t used enough, they stop working. Sufferers begin to feel weak, especially in their arms, legs, and during speech, swallowing and breathing. As muscle tissue atrophies, limbs start to get smaller. In the later stages of the illness, patients may become totally paralysed.

There is no known cause of ALS, though there is a proven hereditary factor in some cases. In about 90 per cent of cases, nobody knows how or why the illness struck. There is also no known cure, though the millions being raised by the ALS association will go towards researching these great unknowns.

In the UK the illness is often referred to as motor neurone disease (MND), and the leading organisation is the Motor Neurone Disease Association. MacMillan Cancer Support are also taking donations.

In the US it is sometimes known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, named after the all-time great baseball player from the early 20th Century whose time at the top ended when he was stricken with the illness in 1939.

You can donate at The ALS Association

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On Matt’s birthday we made chocolate cake. Whilst it was baking in the oven we talked about our late break holiday that my Dad had booked us all on to Paris, France.

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It was only a one hour flight from Manchester and it was somewhere that Matt, Tom and I had always wanted to visit.

We were looking forward to seeing all the sights and with a bit of luck some sunny weather was predicted.

We arrived in the early evening so we decided our first foray into Paris would be along the River Seine to see Notre Dame Cathedral. The views along the banks of the Seine were exquisitely beautiful and it made for a fabulous first evening in Paris.

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Outside “The Louvre” with my lovely brothers.

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We decided to walk along the banks of “La Seine” to “Notre-Dame de Paris”

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Outside “Notre-Dame de Paris”

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In the “Square Jean XXIII” where small concerts are often performed.

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Lover’s padlocks on the “Pont de L’Archeveche”.

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Just taking 5 minutes before heading back to the hotel.

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River boat cruises are very popular.

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We saw Graffiti on the tops of buildings and you have to ask “How” and “Why”.

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Intriguing, does anybody know what this is ?

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Paris art, “Oh La La, does my bottom look big in this?” lol

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We visited the “Opera National de Paris” later in the week. We saw it when we first arrived and I’ll tell you more about it in my next post.

Tonight’s post is only a short one as my brother Matt is coming home tonight as it is his birthday later this week and I am looking forward to spending some time with him.:)

Here is a video of my performance of “Wishing You were Somehow Here Again” from “The Phantom Of The Opera” which I hope will give you a flavour of the concert.

I had such a wonderful time last Sunday performing with the Tideswell Male Voice Choir at Gawsworth Hall. It was great to perform again with the choir who always make me feel so welcome, especially Dennis Kay ( the musical director ) who makes this all possible

The Tudor house and gardens provided an incredible setting for the concert and I want to say a big thank you to Christopher Ellis ( keyboards ) and Derrick McGill ( percussion ) for the truly atmospheric accompaniment.

Chris And Derrick

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“One Voice” – the opening song from the concert

I found out that we had a professional photographer in the audience last Sunday who has kindly allowed us to use some of the pictures that he took.

Here is a picture of Matthew Mellor performing “Master Of The House” from “Les Miserables”. It was great fun to join in with the rest of the choir to help set the scene

Photograph by Simon Bull Images

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Whirlwind

August 11, 2014 — 47 Comments

What a whirlwind of a day yesterday at the beautiful Gawsworth Hall Theatre. This beautiful ancient Cheshire Manor House with its Tudor courtyard forms the backdrop for the venue. Fortunately the Grandstand and performers areas are covered and protected from most of the elements; however it rained throughout the rehearsals as we caught the tail end of hurricane Bertha :(

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I began my day at 8am by having a good breakfast following which a skilled hairdresser looped my hair and pinned it into place ready for the performance that night.

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This month I’d discovered that a friend from Tap class and High School had qualified as a beautician; Daniella is now working freelance and building her own business which I really admire. I hardly ever wear much makeup, usually only for stage work, or for special occasions, so consequently I’m not very experienced. I usually end up getting mascara all up my eyelids and if I’ve already put eye shadow on that’s a bit annoying, blending powders and not getting a chin line is a skill I’m still mastering and let’s not mention my attempts at eye liner! So I took the opportunity to have a master-class from Danielle ready for the performance, great fun and lovely to catch up.

You all know by now that I have a wonderful amount of support from my family and friends, yesterday my parents drove me to the event for 1pm for a meeting and full cast rehearsals. I got the opportunity to rehearse my first act songs, ‘Think of Me’ and ‘Wishing you were Somehow Here Again’ from the Phantom of the Opera with Christopher Ellis and Derrick McGill ( Des ) who provided atmospheric accompaniment including timpani, trills and skills. My brother Tom said that they added so much to the songs and he was really impressed.

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The audience came dressed for the weather and were not put off by the chance of more rain .

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It was great to see everyone was in the mood for a great show.

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During my first solo song, “Think Of Me” from “The Phantom Of The Opera”.

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Then with a cloak to help set the scene for my next song “Wishing You were Somehow Here Again” from “the Phantom Of The Opera”.

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After the interval and a quick change I performed Eponine’s songs “On My Own” and “A Little Fall Of Rain” from “Les Miserables”.

Then good fortune shone down on us,the rain cleared up just before the performance, and although it was still quite windy the skies stayed that way until the end of the show.  On the way home the rain poured down for the entire journey with the roads flooding.

I loved that despite the weather people still brought their gazebos and enjoyed their picnics overlooking the beautiful lake, we’re hardy souls us Brits. :)

Click through to see Tideswell Male Voice Choir’s next events or you can see photos from last night on their Facebook page .

My next shows with the choir are on 8th November at The Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield, Derbyshire and 9th November 2014 at Buxton Opera House: ‘Never Forget’ A Remembrance Spectacular. Tickets

Opera In The Park

August 7, 2014 — 33 Comments

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Christopher Gillett writes in Sinfinimusic:   “Now, it’s not unusual for singers to spend as many as eight or nine years closeted as a student, during which time they become saddled with staggering amounts of debt.

After that, if they are well-developed, lucky, or happen to tick the right boxes, the young singer may get taken by an opera house into its ‘studio’ or young artist programme (YAP), doing a lot of understudying and singing minor roles. Those that don’t can find it very difficult to get noticed, some even resorting to paying small companies to allow them to sing principal roles”

Yikes! However there was a bit of good news:

Opera Holland Park has come up with a brilliant and heart-warming solution. For one of its productions – this year it was The Turn of the Screw – it has a proper, public performance specifically for the young artists who have covered the rest of the shows. There are no half measures, no compromises. They get to do one performance and the public pays to see it. They even get their own dress rehearsal. I think that’s just brilliant. I take my hat off to Holland Park.”

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Which leads me on nicely to tell you about my fabulous opportunity on Wednesday night to see Bellini’s ‘Norma’ at Opera Holland Park (OHP), my first live outdoor opera, absolutely sublime, with Dane Lam conducting the City of London Sinfonia orchestra and I was also pleased to see two singers I knew; Huw Montague Rendall from the Royal College of Music (a finalist whom I met at the Ferrier competition) and Luke Sinclair from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in the chorus.  Dane Lam was the first conductor that I ever worked with at JRNCM and has always inspired me to work hard to achieve my dreams. He has just been appointed Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of China’s Xi’an Symphony Orchestra He is due to take on the challenge in October this year ( 2014 ) and I do wish him every success.

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I had one hiccup when I walked out of the wrong exit of OHP grounds and followed a group of people to the wrong tube line, everyone I asked for advice on how to get to the Circle Line were tourists and my phone was nearly dead so I didn’t want to use up too much 3G trying to Google Map myself. I had a very small amount of cash and asked a black cab if it was enough to get me to the nearest circle line tube station, he was very friendly and helpful and got me to the right connection. My Mum said she’d have booked me a cab if she’d have known I’d be walking around London on my own but I’d got an Oyster Card for the Tube (underground) and my brother Matt had taken me after work to make sure I knew my Tube connections.

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Getting Ready For My First Day In London.

 

I am looking forward to a week of singing and I hope that you all have a fabulous week too :)

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Geraldine, Me and Rhys ( http://www.photomaestro.co.uk ) Just After My Photo-Shoot

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Checking Out The Shops On Carnaby Street

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We Finished Off Saturday Night With A Family Meal Out. This Is Me With My Younger Brother Tom.

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We Had A Quick Look Around Seven Dials Near Covent Garden Before Leaving The City Centre To Find My Student Digs For The Week.

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I Just Had To Brighten Up My Room For The Coming Week With A Few Home Comforts

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I Decided To Treat Myself To A Manicure To Start Off My Week Away, Can You Guess What Colour I Had My Toe Nails Done ? Just Click On The Picture To See :)

Concert Rehearsal

July 30, 2014 — 31 Comments

I missed putting a post out on Sunday as I was cherishing a little family time and catching up with my Mum and Dad. My parents always tell me that they can tell when I’m back home, as the laundry has a pink wash :)

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I soon got back into my routine as I returned to work on Monday and managed to sort out my evening schedule to fit in my singing practice, yoga and make some time to catch up with all my friends on my blog and social media to relax.

Today I had arranged to take a couple of hours off work to meet with Christopher Ellis, the principal accompanist and assistant Director of Music for the Tideswell Male Voice Choir, to go over some of my songs for the concert at Gawsworth Hall on Sunday 10th August. Following the success of their concert at Gawsworth Hall last year the choir is to perform their medley of songs from the musical “Les Miserables” in the second half in which I will be singing Eponine’s songs.

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Christopher Ellis and Me

The concert is also to include some new songs from the choir and solo performances from Madeleine Osborne, Erin Alexander, Kieron-Connor Valentine, Matthew Mellor, Phil Rigley and myself. I will be performing two songs from “The Phantom Of The Opera” “Think Of Me” and “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again”. To add a little more atmosphere to the concert this year percussionist Derrick McGill will be joining us and I am looking forward to listening to his suggestions and working with him and Chris on the musical arrangements.

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My Good Friend Erin Alexander, Christopher Ellis and Me

The rehearsal went brilliantly and it was great to catch up with Chris. He is a fabulous pianist and I appreciate his creative and imaginative input whilst rehearsing, as it enables me to add a little sparkle to the songs ready for the performance. The time flew by and it was not long before I had to return to work. I hope the choir rehearsal in the evening went well also. I can’t wait to see all the choir and soloists again, I’m looking forward to catching up with everyone in the pre-show rehearsals at Gawsworth Hall :)

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Back At Work This Afternoon