On Wednesday this week I traveled back up to Glasgow so that I could start rehearsals on Friday 22nd July as a soloist for the Scottish Opera Connect Company. It was wonderful to meet up with the current members of the Company at the rehearsal space at Elmbank Crescent and start the preparations for Sunday’s performance.

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This year they have been asked to showcase their work during the opening ceremony of the 32nd World Conference of the International Society for Music Education.  The event is taking place at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall tonight ( Sunday 24th July 2016 ) at 18:30 pm.  It is a fabulous venue, and I am thrilled to performing here again as part of such a fabulous occasion.

Glasgow Royal Concert Halls

 

Scottish Opera Connect Company comprises of the Connect Chorus, the Connect Orchestra, and Connect Stage management, which all provide valuable experience for young people between the ages of 14 and 21 in all aspects of Opera.  It is a fantastic program and one that I have been proud to be associated with.  For this event, they are showcasing the work that they do by performing a 15-minute excerpt from Scottish Opera’s “Cabinet of Doctor Caligari”.

The production was commissioned by Scottish Opera for the Connect Company and composed by Karen MacIver and librettist Allan Dunn.  The story, based on the 1920’s German silent horror movie “Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari”, relates a tale of murder, intrigue, and mayhem.

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The Poster From The 1920’s Film “Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari”

In this adaptation, we find the story set in Scotland and unfolds in Glasgow Green and within the Gartloch Asylum. Doctor Gallagher travels around the fairs and festivals using his somnambulist ( a great word for someone under a hypnotic trance ) called Cesare to commit evil murderous deeds.  At one of these fairs, my character ‘Jane’ is told by Cesare while he is in a hypnotic trance that her friend Ellen will die.  Following Ellen’s death Jane and her boyfriend Francis ( played by Glen Cunningham ) decide to investigate further but the whole experience tips Jane over the edge and with her sanity failing she is recommended to attend a doctor Caligari at the Gartloch Asylum. The story concludes as Doctor Caligari and his alter ego Doctor Gallagher are exposed as being one and the same person, and his murderous deeds are finally uncovered.

 

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Leah Duncan, Me, Glen Cunningham and Erin Spence

The whole production brought enthusiastically to life by the conductor, Chris Gray, and the director Julie Brown has been a wonderful experience to be a part of, and it has been a pleasure to work with them again.  The professionalism that they bring to these productions provides the members of the Connect Company a real taste of what it would be like to take to the stage as a professional performer.  Being asked to perform as a professional soloist alongside so many talented and enthusiastic young performers from the Connect Company has been an experience that I will cherish forever, and I will always be grateful to Scottish Opera for allowing me to be a small part of this empowering educational project.

Here are some pictures with the members of the Connect Company.

With the staff backstage, Rose Ann, Laura McIntosh and in the bottom picture Jodie Mitchell with me and Sophie Holloway

Here a couple of pictures whilst we were on stage performing this evening taken by Ankna Arokiam:)

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I found out today that Nicky Spence, a patron of the Connect Company, set out from Glasgow on a sponsored cycle ride to London in aid of Help Musicians UK who carry out such tremendous work in helping to provide much-needed funding to selected musicians to assist in their studies and professional development.

Ahead of some exciting projects that I have coming up over the next couple of months I took the opportunity this week to visit my teacher, Judith Howarth, for an energising lesson to help me in my preparations.

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Me With Judith Howarth

We worked on a variety of music, which I will be excited to tell you all about very soon. Whilst I was there we chatted about different operatic roles and it was lovely of her to show me some of the pictures that she has in her home from her fabulous career; so many different roles that she has performed from all around the World. Her mum created photo albums with pictures and newspaper clippings displaying her musical journey, It was so inspiring, so I thought I would take a picture of the two of us and start creating a post degree scrapbook for myself with my Mum and to share my own experiences with you all here on my blog.

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This weekend I went back home for a catch up and to relax with my Mum and Dad, we took advantage of the sunny weather today and did a little gardening. It was lovely to spend a few hours in the peacefulness of the garden with my Mum and to practice as we worked, even the birds joined in with my singing:)  they especially enjoyed “There’s a worm at the bottom of the garden and his name is Wiggly Woo”

I love the flowers in my Mum’s garden, and always did as a child. Both of my Grandfather’s enjoy growing their own vegetables and tending to their flowers so gardening has always been a family affair for me. I’m sure that is what inspires me to wear such colourful clothes as it always reminds me of my childhood and brings a smile to my face.

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Nasty Weeds

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As You Can See There Were A Lot Of Them

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I Cant Believe That Dad Let Me Loose On The Mower

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Dead Heading The Pots

Don’t ask me what the names of any of the flowers are but aren’t colours fabulous:)  I hope this little bit of an English summer brings a smile to your face as it certainly made me happy.

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Last Saturday, the 2nd July George Todica and I were asked if we could perform a recital in support of the Pendsey Trust by my friend Jane Froehlich. Lucy Laycock, Jane’s Godchild has been raising money for the charity and Jane suggested to her that a small recital may be an excellent way to raise some money.

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Jane Froehlich, Me and George Todica

The Pendsey Trust raises money to help educate children in India who have type 1 diabetes. The cost of the insulin needed by these children is so expensive for their families that many of them do not survive into adulthood. Whilst in India in 2011 Lucy interviewed an Indian doctor, Dr Pendsey, who explained the problem and what he was doing to help. Dr Pendesy, believed that by providing financial scholarships to educate the children they could find better jobs, which in turn would help them to fund their own medication and go on to have a healthy and happier future. On her return to England, Lucy along with three others established the charitable trust and through the trust continue to raise awareness of the problem along with well needed funds.

Pendsey Trust

Both George and I were happy to be able to help out and had a lovely evening. It was a real treat to meet everyone and chat during the interval and after the performance. Jane felt that the evening was a real success and has already been asked if she intends to host another recital .

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Following my post about my graduation I received so many lovely comments, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your tireless support and heart felt encouragement. I cannot tell you how much it means to me, knowing that so many of you are willing me on, it is such a huge boost.

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I have several projects on the go at the moment and I can’t wait to share them with you over the summer. My Dad has managed to prepare a couple of the videos from my recent performance of Zerlina in Don Giovanni which I wanted to share with you. The first is “Giovinette Che Fate All’Amore” and the second is “Vedrai Carino”, these were fun to perform and I hope that you enjoy them.

Graduation Day

July 7, 2016 — 177 Comments

On Tuesday 5th July at my Graduation ceremony the four years studying here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland came to an end with my award of a Bachelor of Music (Performance) with honours of the First Class. I have met some wonderful and inspirational teachers, shared my dreams with new friends and learnt so much during my time here. I have been truly fortunate to study what I love and I know that the skills that I have been taught here will stay with me as I continue my studies. I’m thrilled to have studied at an Institution with graduates that come from no less than 65 countries all across the world. It was also quite unique and wonderful to be presented to our friends and family by walking on stage following Ross Miller on Bagpipes.

We heard inspirational advice from our Principal Professor Jeffrey Sharkey and an encouraging commencement speech from Texas-born cellist Ralph Kirshbaum from his experiences in a long and fulfilling music career, who had been honoured with a Doctor of Music Degree (honoris causa).

Unfortunately Stephen Robertson, the head of vocals could not be with us for graduation as his presence would have made the day perfect.  He has been a constant source of inspiration for me during my four years here at the RCS, always there to provide support and encouragement to overcome what at first may have seemed insurmountable.  For all his help and guidance I must say a big thank you and hope that our paths will cross again in the future.

To all of you that have followed my training progress over the past four years, I want you to know that you have been a very important part of my development and I hope you stay with me for the next stage of my adventure. I have several exciting projects over the summer to share with you soon, keep in touch.

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With My Mum And Dad Getting Ready To Go To The Ceremony

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My Brother Matt and Me

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The Start Of The Graduation Ceremony

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Collecting My Degree

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A Fabulous Ceremony, I Was So Happy

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Norman Beedie, A Wonderful Teacher

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Helen McVey, Very Inspirational

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Alistair MacDonald, Helped Me Explore Music

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Isobel Anderson, Our Alexander Technique Lecturer

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Celebrating With My Nana and Grandad

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Flowers From My Brother Thomas And His Girlfriend Anna

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Claire Rucket, Davidona Pittock, Maria Sappho and Me

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Leila Marshall And Me

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George Todica And Me On The Steps Outside The RCS

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With Alex McFadzen

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Back: Nathan Jenkins, Next Line: Tim Edmundson, Robert Forrest and Alex McFadzen, On My Line: Susannah Bedford, Jessica Hurst, Me and Claire Rucket, Front: Beth Taylor

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In Front Of The RCS Entrance At The End Of The Day

 

Last night after a busy rehearsal schedule the Opera Britain production of Don Giovanni had it’s first performance.  Throughout the day we had busied ourselves as everything came together and the production took on a life of it’s own.  When you are caught up in it all sometimes it is hard to envisage how the final production will appear to the audience.  It is such an exciting experience and one that ceases to amaze me as the concepts put together by the Director, in this production Conleth Stanley, start to take shape around you.

The musical accompaniment provided by Jonathan Ellis was wonderful and we were all kept in line musically by the talented Tom Newall who as conductor brought the show to life.

My fellow cast members were:

Don Giovanni – Lewis Dillon
Leporello – Darwin Leonard
Donna Anna – Lorna Rushton
Donna Elvira – Heather Heighway
Don Ottavio – Catalin Lazurka
Masetto – Matthew Mannion
Il Commentadore – David Palmer
and myself playing Zerlina.

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Catalin Lazurka

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Darwin Leonard

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David Palmer

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Lewis Dillon

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Lorna Rushton and Niamh St John

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Matthew Mannion

Rochelle Hart

Heather Heighway

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Some Of Our Wonderful Chorus

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The Whole Cast

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In Costume And Ready For Act I

I must a say a very special thank you to Jayne Wilson, Artistic Director and Dr Robert Alderson, Chairman, for bringing us all together for this amazing experience:)

Now as if by magic I hope this post publishes on time as I have set the timer and will be keeping my fingers crossed as I will be assisting with lighting in tonight’s production as Niamh St John performs the role of Zerlina.

An Evening Of Song

June 19, 2016 — 40 Comments

It is good to be back home for a few weeks whilst I prepare for Opera Britain’s production of ‘Don Giovanni’ in Bowdon, Cheshire. Especially as its Father’s Day and I got to spend some time today in the middle of a very busy schedule with my parents. There will be two performances of the opera as it is double cast, I will be performing the role of Zerlina on Saturday the 25th June in Bowdon alongside Matthew Mannion as Masetto and Niamh St John and Jakob Mahase will perform the same roles in Withington, Manchester on Sunday the 26th June.

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Jakob Mahase, Matthew Mannion, Me and Niamh St John

The rehearsals are well underway and it has been great to meet up with old friends and make some new ones. Many of the cast are from DIT ( the Dublin Conservatoire ) and rehearsing with them is great fun .

It is wonderful to see the staging coming together under the watchful eye of Conleth Stanley and get a fabulous sense of the musicality of the production carefully conducted by Tom Newall.

As usual a big thank you to Jayne who is busy organising everything for us all.

Last night along with many other willing performers we took part in a Gala Evening of song to help raise money for the Company so that they can continue with the amazing work they do.

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The Performers From The Opera Gala 18th June 2016

If any of you are in the area and can come along to support us we would love to see you there:)

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If you want to check out the story of Don Giovanni you can get a flavour of it HERE

I’ve been friends with Karen Gadient on our blogs for several years now and it was wonderful to meet up with Karen and her husband David during their touring holiday of Scotland  whilst they were in Glasgow.  She is just as lovely in real life as she is on her fabulous art blog check it out HERE.

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David and Karen Gadient with Me In The Willow Tea Rooms, Glasgow

That’s A Wrap

June 12, 2016 — 49 Comments
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Packing Away The Set For The Last Time

What a wonderful experience! Over 20 shows completed across various venues in Scotland, reaching out to different primary schools and families from even further afield. It has really been a joy.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the company and all the team at Scottish Opera Education. I have learnt so many wonderful things that I can take with me and use throughout my training and in any future productions that I participate in.

Performing for children aged 5-8 has been a real treat, even though it feels like I have exhausted all my smiling muscles, and yet the experience has left me with my batteries feeling fully recharged and I now feel so full of life.

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Every Time a new group came to watch we had to tell the story as if it was our first performance, to keep the magic alive and our energies high. It was interesting to see how each group interacted with the story and it was so rewarding to see their reactions, gleeful laughter and imaginative ideas on how to help us fix up the town. I have smelt shoes, broken baguettes, folded paper fortune tellers, banged sweeties and eventually solved the problem with my trusty glue stick.

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This experience has also helped me to think on my feet and answer questions from the audience very fast. It reinforced how much I love performing and how important it is to make opera and classical music accessible and enjoyable for children and hopefully foster a love of these beautiful works. I think this is so important because we need to keep the art form fresh and inviting to new audiences and encourage them to become regular visitors to opera productions in the future.

I do hope that I can work more on opera for children and collaborate with other talented performers in order to tell these imaginative stories through spoken word, music, singing and actions.

I am looking forward to starting the rehearsals next week for Opera Britain’s production of Don Giovanni and I get to explore my vampish side for the role of Zerlina.  This is such a contrast to the last few weeks and should also prove to be great fun. Next Saturday the 18th June the whole cast is putting on a fund raiser and we all get to perform some of our favourite songs, it should prove to be a fun evening.

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