Happy May Day

May 1, 2016 — 58 Comments

I can’t believe that it is the 1st of May already, this year is just flying by with the end of my undergraduate course zooming towards me faster and faster. This weekend I have been researching and concluding the work on two of my academic essays and because I get so absorbed I find that the hours just disappear and I nearly forgot to put my post on. So rather than bore you all with the intricacies of my essays I wanted instead to share with you one of the craft projects that I started last time I was at home. I find the distraction of doing something totally different takes my mind off my studies for a while, then when I return to college I find that I am better able to push on and tackle new projects with extra energy and focus.

I wanted to create some gifts for friends that were a little different from the thank you cards that I would usually make at home. I flicked through some magazines and discussed some ideas with my Mum and decided to create some hanging hearts as they seemed an ideal way of saying thank you:)

I started with MDF hearts about 20cm by 20cm

MDF-Heart

Then with the trusty essentials, PVA glue, foam risers, double sided tape and a hot glue gun it was time to get started.

Equipment

The first job is to select scraps of paper in colours and designs that you think will go together.

Paper-Scraps

For the first heart I cut out the backing paper with scissors, glued it down and finished off with a scalpel to fit.

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Stick it on to the MDF with PVA glue.

Cutting-and-Sticking

To decorate I used chalk to dust the torn edges of pictures I had chosen. A torn map and a car I cut out of a sheet of men’s toppers you can get from craft shops.

Chalking

I finished off with a some musical accents, an mdf clock and a little ribbon to hang it with:)

Journey

For the next heart I layered scraps of paper in strips and stuck them to the heart using PVA glue. Once dry I turned it over and cut off the excess paper with the scalpel.

Sticking-On-The-Scraps

I wanted to use an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme for this heart using some decoupage images.

Alice-In-Wonderland-Decoupage

Cutting them out and building up the picture with foam pads can be fiddly work.

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After putting together the rest of the items and glueing them down here is the finished article.  Playing cards from a set out of a Christmas cracker, a ‘drink me’ bottle from craft supplies from The Works, I cut out the teapot and china cup from a craft book and added hot glue to make the tea and coloured it when it was dry. Hope you enjoyed my craft day.

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This week we have celebrated some wonderful anniversaries. On Thursday 21st, celebrations took place for the Queen’s 90th Birthday and on St. George’s Day (Saturday 23rd) I had the pleasure to celebrate the anniversary of the 100th Alderley Edge Music Festival by performing in their fabulous gala concert.

Festival-Brochure

It was a wonderful event and celebrated the hard work and the success of the festival over the years and took place in the newly renovated Festival Hall. The hall was fantastically decorated with red, white and blue balloons and the stage had a star-lit back curtain which provided a beautiful setting for the concert and helped create a fabulous atmosphere! The full-house audience were neatly sat in lines of long tables that reached the length of the hall, ornamented with tremendous hors d’oeuvres and little British flags for everyone. The event was organised by the very talented Anna Meadmore who also compared the evening with her witty and reminiscent introductions. It was quite a party atmosphere!

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Natasha Agarwal and Me

The performers were from across the disciplines of music, speech and drama and showcased some of the talented individuals that participated in the festivals over the years and who have gone on to study or work professionally in their chosen fields. It was wonderful to see people that I watched when I was younger grow into very talented young men and women. It was lovely be reunited with the fabulous volunteers without whom the festival couldn’t take place and who were still so enthusiastic about the event, not forgetting the wonderful accompanists who were able to take centre stage for a change with two pieces for eight hands. I was also able meet some new faces who’s careers are beginning to take off. I wish everyone the best of luck with their future successes.

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Matthew Thistleton and Me

I had the pleasure of performing with Matthew Thistleton “La Ci Darem La Mano” from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”. We both arrived at the event without previously ever meeting and we only had a 20 minute slot to spontaneously create the romantic and cheeky staging that we devised between us in a short rehearsal.  It was wonderful to perform alongside him as he was so easy to work with and gave me lots of actions to react to, especially when he dropped to one knee and grabbed me at my waist! I hope we can share the stage again in the future.

The whole evening went tremendously well and I wish the festival another 100 successful years as I have many fond memories of entering numerous classes, photocopying and sellotaping reams of music scores for the accompanists, running from room to room (and even building to building!) singing my heart out and enjoying picnics in the middle of it all. But mostly I will be thankful for the musical lessons it taught me like how to pick yourself up after mistakes, gave advice on what to work on and how to deal with losses, how to work with accompanists and give your tempi and most importantly the friendships made along the way!

I would definitely recommend anyone interested in singing, instrumental playing or acting to look at the federation of music festivals and consider applying!

Rule-Brittannia

Performers:
Adam Slater – Clarinet
Sophie Roberts – Special Composition
Oliver Rushton – Speech and Drama
Rosie Lomas – Soprano
Simeon Evans – Saxophone
Charlotte Deams – Speech and Drama
Charlotte Heaven – Cornet
Natasha Agarwal – Soprano
David Schofield – Piano
Marie Dixon – Music Hall
Dan Parr – Speech and Drama
Paul Exton McGuiness – Trombone
Helen Meadmore – Speech and Drama
Laurence Jeffcoate – Tenor
Emma Rushworth – Violin
Charlotte Hoather – Soprano
Matthew Thistleton – Bass
William Jeys – Trumpet

The Accompanists:
Tim Kennedy
Catherine Hall Smith
Kathleen Hesford
Stewart Death

Grandma

Me, Matt and Tom with our Pepa and Mema

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Me with my Mema

Sadly this week I also lost my Mema (Grandma), a loving woman whose life we will continue to celebrate through the memories that we have of her. Last night I dedicated my performance to her and I chose to sing in red dress as it was her favourite colour and though she will be missed it is comforting to know that I have another angel in heaven watching over me. God Bless Mema.

Triviso-Map

Last weekend I had a short yet musical holiday to Treviso in Italy, where the sun was shining bright so I could recharge my batteries before a busy final term at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  The main reason for my visit was that I had been accepted to compete in the 8th International Competition “Giovani Musicisti – Città di Treviso”.

I had to prepare five arias for the preliminary round and a 15 minute program for the final. As always I prepared as well as I could and after visiting the Leeds lieder master-class the previous weekend I had some new ideas to try out to help improve my communication of the arias and the portrayal of the characters.

The other competitors were wonderful and very friendly. During the competition it was lovely to hear voices from Switzerland, Slovenia, China, Lithuania, Italy, Poland and Georgia and to be able perform alongside them.

Triviso-Italy

The stage was in a large converted cinema, that paid homage to Charlie Chaplin in its corridors with screen shots from his movies. The stage had rich velvet curtains draping the performance space, a selection of fresh cut flowers and two grand pianos. The day before the competition we were able to have a short rehearsal on the stage to test the acoustics and to get a feel for the space.

On the day of the competition at lunchtime I performed Rusalka’s “Song to the Moon” by Dvorak and “Prendi Per Me Sei Libero” by Donizetti in the preliminary round.  Following which I stayed to watch the other contestants who performed some glorious Arias such as ‘Chi Bel Sogno Di Doretta’ by Puccini and ‘Don José’s Flower Aria’ by Bizet. We all then had to wait until late afternoon for the results of who would go through to the final that evening.

At 16:00 a sheet was posted onto the notice board with the names of the contestants through to the final, mine was the only name on the list for my category which I thought a little strange at the time.  Apparently the competition has a very strict rule that unless you get at least 85/100 you cannot proceed to the final. I was shocked as the standard of singing from everyone there was very high.  So I began to mentally and physically prepare for the final which I knew would be both exciting and demanding as the standards were so high.  This meant dashing back to my hotel room to get my dress ready to perform again at 17:00 alongside the finalists from the older category.

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The River Sile In Treviso

In the early evening I went on stage again to perform my final program and gave it everything I’ve got. I tried to give every musical phrase a reason and a thought which provoked it. But in all honesty I don’t remember much as I went to a place of sheer concentration and the time just disappeared. But I know that I had a lot of fun and the adrenaline gave me such a rush I had to be careful descending from the stage via the stairs as my feet were quivering haha.

I then watched the three older singers who performed in the final of their category. All very lovely and extremely talented singers. The three were Chinese but study in Bologna so I was able to converse in Italian with them. (Which was very exciting!)

Then came the time for deliberation. The performers and audience had to leave and await the verdict. When the three judges had finished we were called forward. The three judges, who were all opera singers gave their verdict in Italian mainly, which I could understand but they broke it down into English at times (possibly because of the look of deep concentration on my face). Sadly they didn’t award any prizes to either category as they said this industry is very tough and often you learn more and will then work harder from receiving a ‘No’.

They explained that if we were all auditioning for work in Italy though we all sang well we still had areas that we needed to improve. They further explained that to be an opera singer you must be able to navigate and be efficient in all five main areas, idiomatic pronunciation, legato, projection, breathing, acting (colouring the voice).   Afterwards I was able to speak to the judges individually and discuss in more detail what I needed to address first and their comments have enabled me to create new tasks to work on with my teacher going into my final term and then to continue with during my master’s degree.

Reaching the final in my first non-UK based ‘International Competition’ was such an exciting experience and I can’t wait to try again.

So perhaps they were right telling me ‘No, try harder’.  Which is what I have already started to do after returning to Glasgow.

(Even though I don’t know how I have managed to raise the bar – I think I need an extra hour in every day:)  )

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Lewis Carroll

 

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Last Sunday 3rd April I was invited along with George Todica to attend the Leeds Lieder Festival hosted at the Leeds College of Music. The Leeds Lieder festival is an amazing opportunity for anyone interested in Art song to immerse themselves in this fabulous art form through performances, master-classes and pre –concert talks.

The master class on the Sunday was on between 10:00 am to 13:00 pm, presented by Roderick Williams, a baritone and the Artistic Director of the festival. It featured four duos from UK conservatoires and I thoroughly enjoyed their programmes and the insight provided by Roderick to each of the pieces. The master-class was very thought provoking and left me with plenty to think about for my own performances.

In the afternoon George and I performed alongside four other duos in the Master-class Fringe Concert held in the recital room. It was great opportunity to perform with other students from all over the country in this fabulous festival.

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The other duos were :
Andrew Henley ( tenor ) and Conal Bembridge-Sayers ( piano ) from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Emily Gray ( mezzo soprano ) and Francesca Fierro ( piano ) from Trinity Laban.
Adam Gouldin ( baritone ) and Marcus Bingham ( piano ) from Leeds College of Music
Michael Vickers ( baritone ) and Ljubica Stojanovic ( piano ) from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

During conversations with members of audience after the concert I got a real sense of the enthusiasm and passion that they had for the event and I was so pleased to have taken part.

If you are in the Leeds area next year between the 21st and the 23rd April then I would encourage you to drop in and listen to what is on offer I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

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Last Wednesday, 30th March I was invited to take part in a concert at Walton Hall in their beautiful recital room, hosted by the Friends Walton Hall, Warrington. It brought together past winners of the “Warrington Competition for Young Musicians”. The competition is held every two years and brings together young musicians from across all disciplines to compete in a friendly and supportive environment. Russell Lomas who was my accompanist when I took part in 2012 was there to support us again and it was great to perform with him again. Since 2012 I have been fortunate enough to sing alongside Russell at many events and he has been both an encouraging and supportive friend and mentor throughout my undergraduate studies.

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Meera Maharaj

To start the evening off  the very talented Meera Maharaj, who studies at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, played the flute beautifully. For her programme she played “Soliloquy for Solo Flute” by Libermann and “Ballade” by Martin in the first half and “Sonata for Flute and Piano” by Carl Vine after the interval. She was ably accompanied by Jeremy So on the piano.

The other instrumentalist was Elliot Gresty, he studies at the Royal College of Music in London and brought the pieces that he played on his clarinet to life beautifully as he performed for us. I have performed alongside Elliot before several times  it was great to meet up with him again. For his programme Elliot played “Concerto in A Major KV 622 ( 2nd Movement )” by Mozart and “Fantasiestucke Opus 73” by Schumann in the first half of the concert and to close the second half he played “Rigoletto-Fantasia da Concerto” by Luigi Bassi.

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Me, Russell Lomas and Elliott Gresty

It was a fabulous evening and the time just flew by, the audience were so appreciative of our performances and it was lovely to meet up, chat and answer questions after the concert.

I am going to try posting this using the timer function today as I will be travelling back up to Glasgow tonight and won’t be back until quite late, fingers crossed that it works.

Update: got back home safely after a long, tiring drive, happy my post timer worked this week ☺️ thanks for reading, have a fabulous week.

Happy Easter

March 28, 2016 — 68 Comments

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I would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter and I hope that you have had a fabulous time. I travelled home for the weekend along with my two brothers Matthew and Thomas to chill out and relax ahead of what is going to be a rather busy few months.

We braved the weather and had a walk around Chester which is beautiful old city close to where my parents live.  I have posted a few pictures of our day out to try and capture some of the history of the city but to really take it all in you just have to come and visit.

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Chester Cathedral

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The Clock Tower

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The Famous Chester Rows ( Covered Walkways )

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Inside the Grosvenor Centre with Matt, Tom and Anna

On Wednesday 30th March I will be performing alongside some old friends at Walton Hall in Warrington and if the rehearsals are anything to go by it will be a wonderful evening.

Walton-Hall-Concert There is plenty more to come and I will keep you posted as we get closer to each event.

I have posted a recent recording of “Quando M’en Vo” from Puccini’s “La Boheme” which I hope you enjoy listening too.

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On Thursday alongside my fellow 4th year undergraduate students we performed in a scene from “Cosi fan Tutte”.  It was the finale from Act 1 and I performed the part of Fiordiligi  with Inkeri Kallio as Doribella. The other performers were :

Don Alfonso – Jack Sandison
Ferrando – Robert Forrest
Guglielmo – Timothy Edmundson
Despina – Xinhui Lai

In the opera Don Alfonso makes bet with two younger men, Ferrando and Guglielmo that all women are fickle and are easily tempted.  As the two men believe their fiancés, Fiordiligi and Doribella, are loyal and faithful they see this as an easy bet to win and decide to play along. Pretending to have been called up to go to war the two men agree to return in disguise and attempt to tempt the others fiancé.  Will the deception work? Will the two sisters succumb to the advances of their new suitors?

In the scene that we performed Despina the maid had been persuaded by Don Alfonso to help him win his bet.  She works with the two men who are now disguised as two Albanians to tempt the two sisters to stray.  As part of the deception the two men threaten to poison themselves if Fiordiligi and Doribella do not accept their amorous advances. After refusing their efforts Ferrando and Guglielmo pretend to take the poison and Despina (now disguised as a doctor) saves them from dying.

Pretending to be under the effects of the poison the two men demand a kiss form the sisters who adamantly refuse.  Fearing the bet will be lost both Don Alfonso and the disguised Despina encourage the two sisters to agree to the amorous demands as the Act draws to a close.

I had a great time with everyone:)

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Then after school I packed up for the weekend as we had to travel to Reading in Berkshire for a concert which was on Friday, 18th March.

George Todica was both accompanying me in the concert and also playing three piano pieces by Franz Liszt, Maurice Ravel and George Enescu.  We arrived in the afternoon and after being shown the recital room we warmed up before getting changed for the performance. During the afternoon we had a look around the beautiful arts centre which was buzzing with life and a fantastic credit to the community.

During our performance we were made to feel so welcome by the enthusiastic audience and the evening just flew by.  We met so many lovely people and enjoyed chatting with them after the concert about the music that we performed.  I would like to say a special thank you to Penny and Brian for their hospitality.

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