I am thrilled to share with you that at the start of the summer break on the 3rd of July I have been invited to sing at the Greater Manchester Chief Constable’s Charity Ball to be held at the Hilton hotel in Manchester. This year the theme for the evening is based on the board game “Cluedo” and those of you familiar with the game will guess that I just had to be Miss Scarlett.

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The event supports two fabulous charities. The first is Retrak, a charity that that works to help street children in Africa. It provides assistance to enhance their education, improve their life chances and where possible help them to find their families. I was amazed to read that in Uganda for instance over 50% of the country’s population is under the age 14 with over 6,000 children living homeless on the streets of the country’s capital city Kampala.

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The second charity is the Greater Manchester High Sheriff’s Police Trust which is a charity that supports the local community and helps to fund projects whose aims are to improve the lives of those people living in disadvantaged communities within Greater Manchester. In supporting these worthwhile projects it focuses on ways to make a difference to the lives of those people affected by crime and the causes of crime.

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I believe that the ball has been sold out so fingers crossed it will be a successful evening for the event organiser Tracie Carmody who puts so much of her time and energy into making this evening one to remember for those that attend. Last year they raised over £ 40,000.00 and I do hope that this year they can better that

Part of the fundraising for the evening will be a charity auction and I know that they are hoping that those who may not be able to attend but still wish to contribute can help out by donating prizes for the raffle or items suitable to be auctioned off.  If you want to help out in this way you can contact Tracie at ccscharityball@gmp.police.uk

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Here are some pictures from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland “Sir John In Love” opera production.  Firstly here are a few behind the scenes photos that I managed to grab :)

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I managed to take these pictures after each costume change for “Sir John In Love”

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Some of the  cast in costume and ready to go.

I am sure I will not be alone in saying a big thank you to the designers Guiseppe and Emma Belli for creating the stunning stage sets and for setting the mood with the fabulous costumes.  I found this great stop motion video created by Stuart Leech of the stage and sets being constructed by the RCS workshop staff at Spiers Lock.

The following pictures are copyright of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland ( KK Dundas ) and appear on their Flickr page. I have tried to include a good selection of their images to help you get a sense of the production as it has been so much fun to be part of it.

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The opera was fabulous to be part of and judging by the review in the “The Herald” newspaper the audience enjoyed it too :)

I have also included an audio interview with head of Opera at the RCS Timothy Dean that a fellow fourth year B Mus student Max Fane recorded.

Update : here is a lovely explanation of the story along with a fabulous four star review by bachtrach check it out http://bachtrack.com/review-sir-john-in-love-royal-conservatoire-glasgow-may-2015

The established photographic artist Pascal Barnier combined his holiday to Scotland with an opportunity to see me in my first operatic main role, as Eve in the Dove Opera “The Walk from the Garden” in Glasgow. He also came along to listen to me sing with my friends in the RCS Chamber Choir at our concert in St Mary’s Cathedral. Pascal is the artist that created several of my social media banners and I love his work and his passion for colour, vibrations and light that he says he imagines when listening to my singing.

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Having My Picture Taken With Pascal Barnier Just After My Performance In “The Walk From The Garden”

 

Over the past few months he has been listening to my first album “Canzoni D’Amore” whilst he creates and I’m truly honoured that he has used my songs as inspiration for some of his work. He has decided to group these images together and use them in a book “A Collision of Classical Music and Photographic Art”.

We first met on Facebook about 18 months ago when Pascal created a blog of his works. It’s great to collaborate with other artists and the photographic creations he gave to my parents last month were just lovely. I have also helped him out by reading the French to English translations of his other books and made suggested improvements to his English translations, although I didn’t want to alter the flow too much as I felt that it was important that his work sounded authentically French.

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I was thrilled when Pascal agreed to let me interview him for my blog.

Pascal did you study art or photography in Higher Education or are you self-taught?

Both.

I actually studied photography autodidact until I was 18 years old. I then took a degree in Graphic Art and Printing along with photography lessons and art history. Then a 35mm projection degree to explore the continuous use of light.

When I read a magazine or book on the art in printing, it inspired me to meet the artists, to find out about their techniques and to work with the best images for reproduction. I seek to know the history of my photographic subjects.

I was also Head of the foundation of a painter. It was in an old chapel, the wall covered with a fresco of 700 m2, which represented the vision of the painter, the Apocalypse of St. John.

For about two years I have done personal research on art and parallel research on light.

So I would say that about 40% of my studies were through academic routes and 60% through self-taught research.

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Where does your passion for your work originate?

I have always been fascinated by light. The sunrise, sunsets and lightning during storms, sun rays through the clouds or through the branches of trees in the forest. At first I tried to draw, then to paint and finally I discovered photography.

When I was little, my grandfather always said, if you want to achieve something, work hard at it, keep learning until you arrive at what you want. So for 30 years, I have not stopped and my passion is still there. I can patiently wait for hours at sunset, or walk for kilometers in order to take a picture, and for me it’s magical every time.

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What inspires you, for example in your flamingo series I wondered why watering cans?

I have a degree on the acquisition of language and sign language. For me, shapes, objects, colours tell stories, they produce vibrations and make music. Flamingos standing on one leg, remind me of Yogi or Egyptian scribes, observing the world like someone ancient and wise, their pink feathers to me take on the colour of the morning sky, in the light of the new day.

In my work, I try to offer the public a different view on the world. The flamingos are there to act as guides, which encourages the viewer of my images to visit the locations rather than just watch as a spectator.

Watering cans symbolizes sharing, I hope that my images carry with them lessons that flow like water. To me a safe it is filled, it is closed, it is buried, but a watering can when it is full, it can be emptied when you need it, and fill it back up and start again.

As an artist who is in a touring show, every day they start with a new audience, sharing their passion, their work to bring happiness to everyone who comes along.

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What is your musical taste, do you play any instruments?

I love music that tells me story that fills the imagination with background images, such as classical, jazz and folk. I do not like repetitive music, containing a phrase that is repeated indefinitely.

I love the harp, violin, and piano because you can feel the music as the vibrations penetrate through your skin. Unfortunately, I’m not a traditional musician, but rather a different type musician, someone who plays the camera to compose visual melodies.

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What inspired you to make me the subject of your work?

Your first comment on my blog attracted me to yours, a wonderful discovery. Which I have continued to read ever since. I liked the way you talked about your passion and I found so much in common between the ways we both worked. Then there was your voice, I had to organize recitals in the painter’s foundation and had come across many singers who I considered “technicians” of their art. But your voice overwhelmed me with light, colours and images. I knew then that our artistic worlds would in some way fuse together. Working with you is to be in a world where song gives birth to pictures and where images are singing. Why would I not want to share this with the world around me?

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Is there anywhere that people can see your work?

I have a website that I hope will integrate with my library and also my shop (late June) But you can find my work at the following sites :

http://www.bgallery.co.uk
www.saatchiart.com/pascalbarnier
http://www.pptart.net
https://www.daylighted.com

and soon, I hope to exhibit my work at a shop in Brittany, in La Baule, with photos on paper, aluminum, plexiglass, books, CD, scarves and mugs.

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When I was putting together my slides for my PechaKucha presentation last week it made me think about everyone that social media has introduced me to.  I have met such a vast array of gifted people passionate about what they write and so helpful in sharing their knowledge with me.

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Grieg Academy

 

This year I have been working solidly on acquiring more languages and concentrating on sensitive interpretation of the new songs I’m adding to my repertoire.  As you know I’ve been digging deeper into the texts and musicality of each piece. At the beginning of the academic year George Todica and I sent in an audition application for a master-class in Bergen, Norway.

 

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Bergen

 

We were thrilled to be accepted to take part in the ‘International Workshop on the Songs of Edvard Grieg’ from May 29th to 31st.

The conference selected 25 applicants, eight in the form of duos (singers and pianists) plus individual singers and individual pianists.  The applicants are from many Countries: USA, Canada, UK, Romania, Russia, Ireland, Japan, China, Hungary, Italy and Sweden.

 

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Edvard Grieg – ( 1843 to 1907 )

 

The workshop will consist of informal, open teaching sessions with teachers from the Grieg Academy Staff and also professional free-lance singers including: Njål Sparbo, Marianne Beate Kielland and Ann-Helen Moen.  An expert in phonetics Wenche Ophaug will be working on language pronunciation and there will be a final concert in Grieg’s Villa at Troldhaugen on the last evening 31st May.

 

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Grieg’s Villa at Troldhaugen

 

I am very grateful for the support of my fellow vocal student Martina Starr-Lassen who grew up not far from Bergen, she has been wonderful in helping me with Norwegian pronunciation as I wanted to learn my chosen song cycle in the original language they were composed in.  This has been an enjoyable challenge.

We were very grateful to receive financial support from the Deablitz Fund awarded by the RCS Director of Music towards this opportunity to help to purchase our airfare and the conference organisers have funded the course and part of the accommodation which has made our participation possible.

 

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Inside The Grieg Academy – Bergen

 

When we received our acceptance letter we chose to start learning the Haugtussa, Op. 67, or The Mountain Maid which is a song cycle for soprano and piano composed by Edvard Grieg in 1895 and published in 1898. It is the only song cycle in his entire repertoire. The text was written by the Norwegian writer Arne Garborg from his book of poetry Haugtussa.

It tells the story of , a young herding girl, and her first love affair with a boy, her first heartache. Both the lyrics, which brim over with imagery of gurgling brooks and tasty blueberries, and the music that mimics this imagery, intertwine the main character’s personal story and the mystic spring-like landscape that surrounds her, which may even motivate it.

The song cycle consists of the following eight songs:

1. Det Syng -“The Enticement” – Haugtussa is dreaming
2. Veslemøy – ‘Young Maiden’ – A description of the slender 18 yr old Haugtussa. She has second sight and sees what others fail to see. Viewed by others in her community as strange. She can see the spirits of the other worlds – trolls, hill folk, even the devil.
3. Blabaer-Li – “Blueberry Slope” – Haugtussa is watching over her flock and sees a field of blueberries.
4. Mote – “The Tryst” – Haugtussa looks out upon the hill and sees the boy of her dreams.
5. Elsk – “Love” – Haugtussa declares her love for the boy Jon. She finds it easy to cope with her gifts while she has her love, there is lots of pathetic fallacy, so love comes in summer, but when she hears of Jon’s desertion it is ‘an evening towards autumn’ trolls and spirits appear in the night, in mist and cold shadows.
6. Killingdans – “Kidlings’ Dance” – Haugtussa dances with her flock of goats.
7. Vond Dag – “Hurtful Day” – A rainy day; he promised he would come, but she sat there alone.
8. Ved Gjaetle-Bekken – “At the Brook” – Haugtussa sits by the brook speaking to it of her sadness.

Only three weeks away now, very exciting.

Sir John In Love

April 30, 2015 — 40 Comments
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Jessica , Me and Eva

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Opera for this term is ‘Sir John in Love’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams it is an opera in four acts based on Shakespeare’s ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’. In the preface to the score Vaughan Williams stated his ‘chief object’ was ‘to fit this wonderful comedy with, I trust, not unpleasant music’.

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Jessica Hurst and Eva Macfarlane in costume and ready to start

The opera premiered at the Royal College of Music in London in their ‘Parry Opera Theatre’ in 1929. The first professional performance was at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in Islington, London in 1946. It has also been performed in 1978 and 1988 at the Bronx Opera in New York City.

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It is so much fun to be involved with the rehearsals. ( Photo reproduced with permission of  Gordon Munro )

It’s been a treat seeing the Opera and Master’s students rehearse and to be part of the ensemble. I’ve listened to ‘When Daisies Pied’ hundreds of times in music festivals but didn’t realise it was from this opera. ‘Greensleeves’ a traditional English folk song and tune also features in the musical score. Often people remark on the use of folk songs a genre of music that you know I love.

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The performances start on Saturday 9th May with the final performance on Friday 15th May.

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Hair and Makeup

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Before starting my post today I would just like to say that following the earthquake in Nepal that everyone affected will be in my prayers.  if you are in the UK it is possible to help by texting DONATE5 To 70008 to give £5.00 #NepalEarthQuake @SaveChildrenUK or you can donate directly through Save the Children on their website

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 I was recently asked if I would present a 20 x 20 second slide PechaKucha (Japanese for ‘chatter’) session on my experience of using technology alongside my music degree.   The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images.

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It doesn’t sound much 20 seconds speech per slide does it, until I timed myself, it’s not just one sentence per slide!  However, the whole point of this simple presentation form is so that you don’t waffle.  The conference is on the 5th May and is organised by the National Association for Music in Higher Education.

There will be seven students from a range of institutions and I’m the second student to speak.  I was excited about the opportunity and have been putting the slides together trying to finalise them this weekend so the lead tutor can have a look. I keep reminding myself PechaKucha nights are often held in bars and are a ‘FUN’ activity, then I noticed we’re on just after the tea and coffee break at 11:15!

I read that the key is to present something you love and I do love my music and sharing it with all of you so…..watch this space.  What can go wrong in 6 minutes 40 seconds right? I think I’ll wear pink so psychologically they’re not expected much from a stereotypical blonde wearing pink and if all else fails I could always burst into song.

If any of you have done one of these presentations or have any advice, even if you’ve only experience of being in the audience at such an event, I’d be very grateful for your thoughts. For example, is it acceptable to glance at 20 cards as I go along or should I try and memorise them?

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I was vocally tired after a busy three weeks so finalising my end of year reflection essay due in Monday and preparations for this conference forced me to take a bit of a break from singing practise.

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The weather has been so good in Glasgow recently that I took the opportunity to go to an international food market with my flat mate Rob today, we were inspired to make a paella, a first for me both to eat and to cook.  It was delicious this is just a bowl of leftovers.

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With so much fresh produce on offer I just had to try my hand at something for pudding  :)  So I whipped up a lemon meringue pie.
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The food pictures are getting better don’t you think hahaha :)

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Tomorrow is the 23rd of April, St George’s Day in England and to help celebrate the occasion I thought I would share with you a beautifully composed song by the great English composer Michael Head (28 January 1900 – 24 August 1976).

The song that I have chosen uses the words of Seamus O’Sullivan’s famous poem “A Piper”, which conjures up fabulous images of a joyful celebration in which everyone involved puts aside their differences, forget their worries, stops their chores and for a brief moment rejoice in the happiness brought about by the beautiful music.

The words are brought to life by the vivid colour produced by the music of Michael Head and I do hope that you enjoy it.

A Piper – Music by Michael Head

A piper in the streets today
set up, and tuned, and started to play,
And away, away, away on the tide
of his music we started; on ev’ry side
Doors and windows were opened wide,
And men left down their work and came
And women with petticoats coloured like flame.
And little bare feet that were blue with cold
went dancing, dancing back to the age of gold,
And all the world went gay, went gay
For half an hour in the streets today.

The performance was from a recital that was held on the 19th September 2014 in St George The Martyr Church, Preston.