Carnoustie-Church

On the 29th April, I will be returning to Scotland to perform with the Angus Choral Society at Carnoustie Church, Carnoustie at 7:30 pm.  The Musical Director, Norman Beedie asked me to join them for the evening to perform the soprano solos in the “Harmonie Messe” by Haydn.

The other singers joining me to perform the other solo parts of the mass are Thomas Kinch- Tenor, Stephanie Maitland- Mezzo Soprano, and Ciprian Serban- Bass. The organist for the evening will be Graeme Stevenson and the Tayside Symphony Orchestra Winds & Friends will be providing the orchestral accompaniment.

The piece was written in 1802 and was Haydn’s last major work. The title of the mass “Harmonie” comes from German terminology due to the prominence of the wind ensemble in the mass.

I am looking forward to performing alongside the members of the Angus Choral Society and my old friends and colleagues from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in what should be a wonderful evening.

If you are in the area on the 29th April why not come along and join us, the tickets cost £10.00 and will be available on the door..

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I would also like to pass on my thanks to all the people who asked about me following the awful attack on Westminster Bridge last Wednesday, 22nd April.  I am safe and well but my thoughts go out to all those that were touched by the day’s events, those that lost a loved one, or who are comforting those who were injured.

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Finally, I would like to wish my Mum a happy Mother’s Day. I couldn’t be with her today due to rehearsal commitments but thankfully with the help of my iPad I managed to FaceTime her and spend a little time with her online.  I can’t wait to see her in a couple of weeks when I will get to travel home for a short break.

Spring Term Exams

March 19, 2017 — 61 Comments

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I have had a fabulous day today, both productive and entertaining.  It is Spring term exams next week and everyone is busy preparing repertoire for assessment.  I was up early to get some rehearsal time in with my very talented friend, Prajna Indrawati. Prajna is from Indonesia and is currently studying for her Masters in Piano at the RCM and kindly agreed to accompany me in my exam.

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Prajna and Me

It was a lovely bright spring morning and the RCM looked very majestic in the sunshine.  I enjoyed the rehearsal and it helped me to get a feel for how the pieces are developing. My exam slot is 10:00 am on Wednesday but on Tuesday I will be singing an aria with Prajna as part of her assessment, and also singing two Lieder with another student Laura Ayoub as part of her accompaniment assessment. It is going to be a busy couple of days.

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The Royal College Of Music

This afternoon we were offered the opportunity to watch the dress rehearsal of ‘Faramondo’ which the RCM is staging in conjunction with the London Handel Festival. The Festival runs from March 18th through to April 24th and also hosts a number of amazing concerts and recitals.  You can watch  ‘Faramondo’ on Monday 20th March, Tuesday 21 March, Thursday 23 March and Saturday 25 March, in the Britten Theatre at the RCM.

It was wonderful to watch the dress rehearsal and see my fellow students from the RCM and the RCM International Opera School perform this fabulous opera.  They brought the story to life in a dynamic interpretation under the watchful eye of the conductor Laurence Cummings and accompanied by the London Handel Orchestra. What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon 🙂

 

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the magical moment of receiving an email inviting me to attend a special event on the 7th March 2017 at the Royal College of Music. His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, would be visiting the R.C.M. in his capacity as President of the Royal College of Music. During the annual President’s visit, HRH confers honorary awards for services to music and the Royal College.

In the email, we were asked to keep the information confidential which as you can imagine was incredibly hard for me, especially when I felt like Cinderella being invited to the ball!! I was practically bursting at the seams to discuss it with you.

My-Invitation

Before the event, we had to collect our invitations in person having first produced a form of photographic I.D, and then send an email to confirm our attendance. We were told that when attending the event, we would need to present our invitations and student I.D.s otherwise we wouldn’t be allowed onto the premises.

Having collected my invitation, I then put it away in a safe place, usually one so safe that I can’t remember, but I was so excited and so determined not to forget where it was, that I told my Mum where I put ‘the letter’ (a.k.a secret invitation) in my room. She seemed a little bewildered as to why I would need to keep a letter safe, but I guess she is used to my silly antics and went along with me.

The night before the event I was planning which outfit to choose, enjoying deciding what to wear, and what I was going to do with my hair, etc. I finally decided to go for a colourful light blue dress with flower bursts all over it, since spring was just around the corner! In the letter with the invitation we were told that we had to swap our invitation for a ticket and that this would be available from 9:15 on the day, so this meant an early start. With everything laid out ready, I settled down and tried to get some sleep.

 

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Claire Swale, Katie Thompson, Hannah Crear, Me, Davidona Pittock, and Samuel Dewese

 

On the morning of the big day, I traveled into College with two of my friends, we felt so glamorous and eager to collect our tickets. We were met by security guards at school who asked for our ID, we exchanged our invitations for our tickets surrounded everywhere by beautiful flower arrangements. Every one of us was full of excitement and smiles. It was such a wonderful atmosphere, and a joy to be part of. I took my seat in the Amaryllis Hall at 9:45 ready for the ceremony to begin at 10:00.

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It was slick and well organised with everything running to schedule. When HRH entered the Hall, I was desperate to catch a glimpse and wished that he would come close enough so that maybe I would catch his eye. I managed to see him and smile and then I watched the procession take to their positions. The RCM brass ensemble began to play the National Anthem, and we were all invited to join in. I found it quite overwhelming to sing the National Anthem in the presence of HRH, and it felt quite a surreal moment for me, I loved every second. Then followed the presentation of the awards, medals, fellowships and doctorates, which were all handed out. With musical performances decorating the event.

I have decided that I will have to work even harder and wish on even bigger stars so that one day I can curtsy and shake the hand of one of the Royal Family! Now what an experience that would be!

If you want to read more about the event click through to the Royal College of Music website [click here]

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Four Years On

March 5, 2017 — 104 Comments

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This week is the fourth anniversary of my blog, and I feel so fortunate to be a part of the wider blogging community.

For any newcomers to my blog, when I began my goal was to improve my writing. As part of my first year as an Undergraduate, I was struggling to answer questions for the critical writing module within the word count allowed, which was often as short as 500 words long. The discipline of writing my blog posts helped, forcing me to be more concise. At that time writing for me was difficult and not something that I found enjoyable. But accessing the knowledge and receiving the assistance of some great wordsmiths through reading their blogs and them kindly commenting on mine changed my opinion and helped me to increase my enjoyment of writing.

Over the years I have met many people from all over the world, through their blogs and other social media ( Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube and more lately Instagram ) I have seen the world through their eyes and come to appreciate the vast amount that we all have in common. Blogging has become a celebration of what we share and allowed me to broaden my knowledge through the diverse interests of my friends within this enlarged community.

I hope that in return through my love of classical singing and opera I have helped introduce a few more people to this beautiful art form that means so much to me.

I don’t know where the next four years will take me, but I can’t wait to share them with you all.

My New Website Is Ready

February 26, 2017 — 69 Comments

This weekend I decided quite on the spur of the moment to pack up a weekend bag and travel home to see my parents. I had quite a bit of work to complete on my website, and I knew that my Mum and Dad could help me with it, so Friday night after lessons I virtually ran down to the underground station and then fought my way through the rush hour commuters, wheelie bag in hand. The train that I had booked was due to leave at 17:07 and I arrived on the platform at 17:05, just enough time to jump on the nearest carriage before the train moved off from the platform, that was too close a call even for me. I found my seat and settled down for the journey home.

It was great to see my parents at the station, and we had a lovely evening relaxing and sorting out images, text and setting the links for my website update. Having talked it through with my Dad, he suggested rather than moving my blog over to my website that I should just change the links in the menu. Which gives the impression that the site is all in one place but saves me possibly losing all my page links and archives. When I get the time to check out the process a little more, I may eventually move the blog but for now, let me know what you think. You can get through to my website using the Home Button on the menu on my blog as the page selections have been re-mapped 🙂

Anyway, enough of the technical stuff and on to the rest of my weekend. My younger Brother, Thomas was competing in a National Inter-Varsity dance competition in Blackpool. It is probably the biggest event in his competition calendar, and as my Mum and Dad were traveling up to watch him, it was a great opportunity for me to tag along, show my support for him and have a little catch-up.

We all jumped in the car and made the hour and a half journey North from my parent’s house to Blackpool on the Fylde coast in Lancashire. When we were small we used to travel up to Blackpool quite often, whether it was to visit relatives, go for a walk along the promenade, make sand castles on the beach, fly our kites or go to the Pleasure Beach, we always had a very good time. I felt a little nostalgic as we drove into the Town and I could see Blackpool Tower up ahead. The Town has changed from what I remember, the number of families taking holidays there has dropped with the advent of cheap air travel and guaranteed sunshine which has led to an unfortunate decline for the town. But the friendliness of the people is still there in abundance, and once you are in Blackpool, you don’t let a little thing like strong winds and a bit of rain stop your enjoyment.

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Blackpool Tower

We parked up and made our way over to The Winter Gardens, in its heyday this was the entertainment hub of the North West with many West End shows making their way there. The building is just as grand now as it ever was and the Theatre looked amazing. The Ballroom where Tom was dancing was huge, and after we had wished him luck, we made our way to the viewing gallery and settled in for the end of the morning session. In the morning, Tom was competing in the Ballroom novice two-dance and out of 170 couples who entered he came 19th which was an excellent achievement.

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Tom and his partner Natalie

During the lunch time break, we walked down to the seafront to buy some chunky chips with salt and vinegar, an absolute must as you walk along the windy promenade. It would have been perfect, but a cheeky little seagull decided to air bomb us and left a lovely little present in our chip tray boohoo 😦  I then went and bought some Blackpool rock (a hard candy dentists hate if you overdo it) for my friends at College, another tradition that you just have to share while you are visiting the Town.

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Feeling windblown and refreshed in the sea air we made our way back to watch Tom in the afternoon session. He was competing in the Latin novice two-dance but unfortunately this time he only got as far as the second round, but I thought he was amazing and it made me want to take up my Latin and Ballroom again. There are just not enough hours in the day 🙂  The Glasgow University team that he dances for all danced fabulously. Saulius and his partner Heather came 3rd in the ex-student advanced 5 dance ballroom and 5th in the Latin ex-student advanced 5 dance.

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Saulius, Thomas, Heather, Natalie, Hana, Antonio, Ryan and Anna

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Anna, Ryan, Antonio, Hana, Natalie, Thomas, Heather and Saulius

This morning I spent some time in my Mum’s craft room making some Thank You and Birthday cards to replenish my stock, and after a lovely weekend visit I traveled back down to London and feel energized for the week ahead.

After several weeks of rehearsals and performances, it was nice to have a little time this week to recharge and become inspired by new repertoire and watch other performers on stage including supporting my friends watching their scenes.

Also last week I had the pleasure of going to watch “Adriana Lecouvreur” at the Royal Opera House. Whilst I’m living in London, I’m trying to see and hear as much as I can and make the most of the student deals that are available. The production was breathtaking and I was able to see one of my singing inspirations, Angela Gheorghiu, who gave an exciting and thrilling performance, but I must say the whole cast was phenomenal. Everybody had such beautiful voices with incredible projection.

roh-friday-17-02-17As a student of Opera, I was interested in how much the set design of this production shaped and aided the story. On stage, there was a working baroque theatre, which allowed for multiple scenes to be portrayed such as a backstage area with dressing rooms, the wings of the theatre, a palace, the actual performing stage and many others. As the story unfolded on stage, our imaginations were entranced by these transformations as the characters glided from one setting to another seamlessly and very naturally.

There was a particularly beautiful moment when there was a ballet depicting a performance of ‘The Judgment of Paris’ within the opera during the palace scene. It created so many dimensions, and it was interesting as the dancers had comedic moments when they made mistakes due to the ‘onstage audience’ diverting their attention as the love rivalry between the Princess and Adriana created a frosty atmosphere. As a performer, I couldn’t help but want to watch the ballerinas while at the same time trying desperately to take it all in. It was such detailed direction I wish I could afford to go and see it all over again.

I have tried to write a brief synopsis of the story which I hope gives you an idea of what was happening on stage:

This tragic story centers around an actress, Adriana Lecouvreur and the men who fall in love with her. Michonnet, the stage manager of the company that she performs for, is one of her admirers. He tells Adriana of his feelings for her, but she tells him that her heart belongs to a soldier, Maurizio, who is in the service of the Count of Saxony. But like all good operas Maurizio is no soldier; instead, we find out that he is actually the Count of Saxony.

Maurizio has another, more important admirer, the Princess of Bouillon. During a party thrown by the Prince de Bouillon, the plot thickens as the Princess tells Maurizio that her heart belongs to him, but he tells her that he does not feel the same way. She guesses that he has taken a lover and though he will not reveal her name the Princess is desperate to find out who her rival is. As the Prince arrives at the party, the Princess is left having to escape so as not to be found out. In the darkness, she is helped to escape by Adriana, and the Princess grows ever more suspicious of her.

The Princess is even more determined to find out the truth, and her suspicions deepen as the story continues to unfold. Adriana is told by the Princess that Maurizio has been injured in a duel and Adriana gives away her true feelings for him when he later joins the group uninjured. The Princess concludes that Adriana is her love rival and decides to have her revenge.

As the story comes to its tragic end, Adriana receives what she believes is an unwanted gift returned by her lover, Maurizio. She kisses the flowers, hurt by the thought that Maurizio no longer loves her and throws them away. But Maurizio finds her and tells her that she is the one for him and asks her to marry him. As the couple embrace, Maurizio fears for her as she trembles in his arms. The flowers had been poisoned by the Princess who gets her revenge as Adriana dies in the arms of her lover.

Here are some of the pictures from the Royal Opera House Flickr website.

Angela Gheorghiu and Brian Jagde in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Gerald Finley and Angela Gheorghiu in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Gerald Finley, Angela Gheorghiu and Bálint Szabó in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Production Photo of Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Angela Gheorghiu in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Ksenia Dudnikova, Angela Gheorghiu and Brian Jagde in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Angela Gheorghiu in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Angela Gheorghiu in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Angela Gheorghiu and Brian Jagde in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Goodness gracious, I feel like I have just been flying today. I participated in my first solo concert today with a classical orchestra. The concert was part of the Weber in London concert series taking place at Royal College of Music, London.

As an ensemble, we performed “La Dolce Speranza” by Weber alongside the wonderful conductor Ben Palmer. It was great to work with the orchestra and Ben.

In order to prepare for the first rehearsal with the RCM classic orchestra, I received some coaching from repetitors to prepare the music. It was so helpful to work on the aria with the amazing staff at the RCM, as I could find very little information about this aria and no one had recorded it before so I needed to explore the aria from scratch. It taught me many new skills that I can’t wait to transfer to other concert arias that I want to add to my repertoire. Initially, I had to prepare the piece to different tempos as I wasn’t sure how fast it would be taken by the conductor.

 

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During The Rehearsal ( Picture Taken From RCM Twitter )

In the first rehearsal on Thursday 9th Feb, I was quite nervous but the overwhelming kindness from the orchestra enabled me to be both brave and excited. Ben Palmer recommended that I sang facing the orchestra for the first rehearsal so I could take in all their sound and sing into the depth of beautiful music they create. The rehearsal for my solo took place in the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall and lasted about an hour. It was during this rehearsal that I finally got a sense of the faster tempo and I felt the performance starting to come together.

 

The next day we then had a shorter rehearsal of 20 minutes and we ran through the piece twice at the tempo which we would take for the concert. I had to put in a little extra homework to get the coloratura runs to the desired tempo but it was rewarding when I was able to keep up with the speed Ben took.

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Today we had a run through in the morning and then I had to change outfit, do my hair and makeup and prepare myself for the performance. I had such fun, I wish I was doing it all over again this evening. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to work with the orchestra again in the future.

To finish I just want to say a big thank you to the RCM for the opportunity and for the generosity and awesome playing from the orchestra beautifully led by the wonderful Ben Palmer.

The area around the RCM had restricted access due to the BAFTAS which were being held this evening across the road at the Albert Hall so I want to also pass on my gratitude and thanks to everyone who took the trouble to come along this afternoon and watch our performances as it made the day extra special. It was also nice to meet new friends after the performance and catch up with my friends from College who had come along to support me.

 

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Tonight’s BAFTAs As Seen From The RCM ( Picture Taken By Carola Krebs )