Walkabout

January 15, 2017 — 69 Comments

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This week has been another interesting and exciting week for me. With lots of challenges to overcome, starting with a tube strike by the London Underground on Monday. It could not have come on a worse day for me as at Midday I had an audition on the other side of London to get to.  The trip using the tube connections would have taken me about 50 minutes normally. So when I heard about the tube strike I gave myself an extra hour and half to use the buses with the goal to get there 30 minutes before my warm up time. A Northerner’s ignorance! I also thought it would be a great idea to take my trusty pink wheelie trolley bag with all my belongings rather than just a back-pack. [Which turned out to be a blessing as I’ll tell you later.]

It started well as the first part of the journey was OK, my bus stop is relatively near the beginning of the bus route so I was able to get a seat with my bag.  For the first 5 minutes I thought, goodness this tube stress is just malarkey, I have a seat and the bus is moving! HOWEVER at the next stop next to what would have normally been a busy tube station the amount of people waiting for the bus was just insane. The only thing I can compare it to is leaving the Manchester City Football stadium at the end of match and everybody trying to get on the same bus. The bus was packed both upstairs and down within minutes, bodies against bodies with very little wriggle room. People were pushing, desperate to get on, they seemed willing to risk getting their limbs trapped in doors, with families not being able to board together they had to agree to separate and travel on separate buses. The risk assessor inside of me was wishing I had a seat belt but I was quickly reassured because we were moving at a snail’s pace.

We were making very slow progress and the minutes were slowly ticking by. I was conscious of the time but kept telling myself “You left with plenty of time, you will make it”. Then suddenly it was announced that due to the long delay the bus was now having to change route and proceeded to kick off all the passengers a mile from the stop it was supposed to take me to.  My adrenaline kicked in and I managed to walk to the next connection which was a mile away in about 10 minutes. But the bus stop I had planned to use was queuing around the block.  Remembering the crush that I saw earlier I decided to walk back along the route and find a quieter stop. Every road was jammed solid, the buses, taxis, cars weren’t making progress even the bikes were finding it difficult! Success! I found the terminus for the bus route and managed to board the bus and soon we started moving along side streets  towards my next destination, but when we joined Oxford street again we ground to a halt.

I only traveled 800 yards in 30 minutes, with my audition time looming, I worked out it would take me about 35 minutes to walk the remaining 2.5 miles, and that If I stayed on the bus I would probably miss my slot. So I asked the bus driver to let me off and luckily he was a very nice man and he let me off at the next stop. I then zoomed and jogged like nothing before. Friends of mine will laugh as I am a terrible runner and would have been better off doing jetés down the pavement. So I weaved through the crowds with my four wheel wheelie bag (which has now had a very good review based on its mobility skills!) And to be honest, I must have had the look of fearless determination as people began to move out of my way as I flew towards them.

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My Trusty Wheelie Bag

You’ll be relieved to know I made it just in time, to get changed fast and warm up before singing. Phew!!

Now I’ve been kicking myself for not getting a picture of the crowds for my blog, but here are a few I have found online. I must admit I did try to take a picture but people look at you very funny and I didn’t want to advantage of other people’s misfortune.

 

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Picture From The Evening Standard – Tube Strike 2017

Then following the Audition I had to return to Royal College of Music for a rehearsal and I had the bright idea to walk back along the bus route rather than wait for the next bus.  The traffic was moving so slowly I just kept walking from stop to stop.  It started raining and after 2 miles but still no bus had caught me up.  I kept going down the Strand, then walked down the Mall, past Buckingham Palace and then up Constitution Hill.  I was started to tire now, but still no bus had passed me so I decided to refill with cheeseburger and a coke because my city mapper app had told me that I had burnt off the equivalent calories to this from the walk of my first half alone. So why not make the most of it. When I got to the Hard Rock Café it looked shut from the front door and I couldn’t see much life inside. I was panicking because there wasn’t much I could afford in the area, Kensington darling! I was starving and in need of a burger, so I searched for a possible way in. Luckily! It was under refurbishment so they were seating customers’ downstairs in the original part of the restaurant. Which was super cool! Sadly, I had not walked far enough for an Oreo cheesecake.  After a quick recharge I walked the rest of the journey and made it to school on time for my rehearsals which were fab!

Opera Mom

January 9, 2017 — 85 Comments

Over the Christmas break at home, I watched with my Mum a TV programme called “Dance Moms”. My Mum is a fan of this program with its many controversies, in the UK it is on 5 Star every weekday with a double bill on a Tuesday. The show comes in for a lot of criticism because it is speculated the fights between Moms are staged to boost the ratings and that some of the competitions are fake. The dance teacher Abby Lee Miller also divides opinion because of her personal teaching style.

I thought it would make an interesting blog post to ask my Mum what it was like being an Opera Mum.

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Mum and Me On My Graduation Day In July 2016

How would compare yourself with the Dance Moms in the TV programme?

Unlike the Dance Mom’s in the series, I’ve always been a hands-off dance/singer Mum and other than dropping you off and picking you up from different classes I shied away from putting any pressure on you or getting involved with teachers unless I felt it was absolutely essential and then only once in 20 years.

One of the things I do not agree with in the programme though is when the Mums pass on their worries and concerns to their children even though at the outset the children don’t have a problem with what is happening in the dance lesson and are only interested in giving their best performance.

But I do like the Mums passion, support and belief in their children and the lengths that they have to go to in order to help them out.

What encourage you to get me involved with the Arts?

I always wanted to be a dancer but my family could not afford the lessons when I was at school. I wanted you to have good deportment, excellent balance, high energy levels, fitness and access to other like minded girls having two brothers yourself.

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 

What did you know about the world of the Performing Arts before you signed me up to lessons?

Absolutely nothing, that’s why I love the “Dance Moms” programme so much, it gives me a peek into the training room that I never saw with your training as your sessions were after school and parents weren’t allowed to watch, in fact when it came to ballet class it was your Dad that took you on exam day and learnt how to put up your hair buns, he has nerves of steel! It was always nice to watch your end of term performances in dance and later your drama productions.

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Playing Mrs Banks In Mary Poppins 


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Love 2 Dance

When do you remember, me putting the majority of my focus into classical singing?

Right up until the start of High School we thought you would train to be a dancer or an actress, then a letter home from school to offer piano lessons for 30 minutes and one shortly afterward to offer one-to-one singing lessons for 30 minutes changed everything. After being told for years you sing too loud for school choirs and your voice cuts like a blade through a group you found a niche that embodied everything you loved; singing, dance, drama, a challenge and the ability to sing as loud as you liked without a microphone and whoosh suddenly you wanted to be an opera singer!

This was frankly a bolt out of the blue and something completely outside of our knowledge, we didn’t listen to classical music, we’d never been to an opera or knew anybody that had, although your Grandpa loved classical music and that was the entire family’s awareness. We put our faith in your singing tutor Jayne Wilson to guide you and we just provided lots of encouragement.

How did you find out more about the world of opera and classical singing?

We were encouraged to enter you for singing competitions in local festivals, your first one in Blackpool was nerve-racking for me, in fact, it was always me that had the butterflies and nerves while you swanned in and really enjoyed it all. This was my perfect introduction to the world of classical music, we listened to lots of singers of all ages and levels of experience, varied repertoire, and critique for all entrants at the end of each set of performances. We also saw how the children coped with the pressure of the events and learned a lot from these annual institutions. The realisation of how long it would take for you to achieve your goals and find a career started to dawn on us, this was not a career path for the faint-hearted. But your natural perseverance and willingness to stick with activities that you undertook encouraged us to believe that you could do it, and that it was not just a passing fad. It had to be your dream Charlotte and not just what we wanted you to do.

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Success In The Festivals

After eleven years of training do you still feel the same way?

After working full time in an office from leaving school both your Dad and I just wanted all of you to do what you loved to do and I’m really happy we can still continue to help you to do this, and to thank you for introducing us to this beautiful art form. But I must admit I would try and discourage you if you were not so committed and willing to put so much of yourself into your singing. It is a long and arduous process with no promise of work or success at the end.

But Charlotte we believe in you 100% and will support you every step of the way.

Happy New Year For 2017

January 1, 2017 — 80 Comments

Happy New Year! I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas or winter festive period, and that the New Year brings you success, happiness and good health.

Over the past few days I have been so grateful for the fabulous time that I have shared with my family and friends, the delicious food and sublime cakes and I now feel like a happy hamster who has stuffed her cheeks full for the upcoming months (especially on a looming student budget). I feel revived and refreshed for the challenges ahead and I can’t wait to get stuck in and share my next experiences with you.

College starts up again on Tuesday 3rd of January with rehearsals for the upcoming Opera Scene Showcases. I am really excited to have been selected for two scenes! I will be performing the role of Flora in a scene from ‘The Turn of the Screw’ by Benjamin Britten on the 27th January 2017. Then on 3rd February 2017 I’ll be performing the role of Zerlina alongside my dear friend Christian Adolph, playing Don Giovanni in a scene from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”. Both performances will be included in an evening of opera scenes performed by students of the RCM International Opera School which start at 5:30pm in the Britten Theatre at the RCM. The events are ticketed but they are free to the public, so if you are in the area it would be lovely to perform to some friendly faces.

I would love to hear what you are looking forward to in the new year! Whether you are planning a trip away or contemplating trying something new. Thank you so much for all your support last year and for taking the time to enjoy this adventure with me.

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Visiting my Pepa 

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So Much Fun Relaxing With My Mum And Tom ( My Brother )

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I Just Loved Finding This Pub In Rochester, Kent

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I Know These Dolls From The V&A Look A Bit Creepy But I Quite Like Them

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And I Thought I Was Flamboyant, Great Decor From The V&A 

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Great Christmas Baubles In The Trees At Seven Dials

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Magnificent Evening At The Sadlers Wells Theatre Watching Matthew Bourne’s “The Red Shoes” Ballet, A Brilliant Performance

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I Just Love This Time Of Year, Especially When You Share It With Family And Friends

Ave Maria

December 18, 2016 — 94 Comments

It was such a treat to travel home yesterday with my brother Matt for the Christmas break, Tom my younger brother was also driving home at the same time from Glasgow. This year the timings were perfect as we were all able to make it home in time to celebrate my Dad’s birthday yesterday.

When we are all together it reminds me how lucky I am and gives me time to reflect on what has happened over the year and to plan and set my goals for the year to come. It is also a time to think about my friends, many of whom have started out on new paths of their journey through life. Some starting new careers, some studying towards their own personal goals and some starting families of their own. I wish each and every one of them a magical new year filled with happiness and contentment.

To all my friends here I want to thank you for your boundless enthusiasm, thoughtful advice, and sincere encouragement. You have helped make the last four years so enjoyable and personally rewarding and I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings.

Sadly 2016 also was the year that I lost my Mema (Grandma) who passed away in April. My Pepa (Grandpa) asked me to record a song to play at the funeral to help celebrate her life as the family gathered to say their farewells. It was a difficult song for me to perform and one of the last that I recorded quickly at the Royal College of Scotland. Because of the emotions that the song evoked, I found it difficult at first to listen back to the recording but now as I sit here with my family, having reflected on the blessings that we have all received throughout 2016 I felt it was a good time to share the recording with you.

Ave Maria – Schubert

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This last week has been a been a proper whirlwind for me and has absolutely flown by. The end of term is approaching at break neck speed and I cannot believe how quickly the last three months have disappeared.  I have so many things on my “to do list” and I am trying to get through them in an orderly manner.

Over the Christmas break I was hoping to put a little time aside to update the look of my website and blog.  It feels a little overwhelming to be honest as there are so many WordPress themes to consider.  I have a list of things that I would like to change and several more that I would like to keep the same.

When I started out I set up my blog using a WordPress hosted site, which as you all know can be a little limiting as you can’t use many of the wonderful plugins that are available. But my site has grown over the years and the thought of moving it now makes me nervous so I will probably stick with what I know. 

It would be really helpful to me if you have any tips that you have picked up over the years that you feel able to pass on, anything that may help me to improve the look and feel of my blog and bring it up to date.  I have checked out some of the themes available from WordPress and I like the look of “Arcane” but I need to check out some of the others before making my final choice which is why I would appreciate your help if you’ve experienced this site or know a better fit.

Seasons Greetings

December 4, 2016 — 53 Comments

This is my first Christmas living in London and the festive spirit is everywhere you go, lots of lovely carol singing everywhere from the shopping streets to the tube stations.  It is quite magical to walk around the city after dark and admire the beautiful Christmas lights and to soak up the atmosphere.  I am such a child at heart and have put up a Christmas garland in my room to get into the spirit, but I can’t wait to go home once we break up from College in a couple of weeks time as I know my Mum and Dad will have the tree’s dressed and the lights twinkling.

It was such fun last weekend, while Caitlin was staying with me I took her along to Portobello Road market to have a rummage around and explore some of the shops and stalls.  Then as the sun set we traveled back into the City center so that I could share with Caitlin some of my favourite places to view the lights and enjoy the buzz. I managed to grab a few pictures to share with you as we walked around.

I would love to know what your favourite part of the holidays are and what you are most looking forward to. Mine are meeting up with family and friends, with no cooking, cleaning and laundry for a couple of weeks!

Yesterday I went to watch the Royal College of Music’s production of Mozart’s opera “La Finta Giardiniera”.  The students from the opera school really embraced their characters and it was exciting to watch them perform their roles with such enthusiasm and skill, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were some very funny moments which were well adapted to the modern era in which it was set.  One of my favourites was during the first act which was set in a large gazebo for a wedding, similar to the marquee that they use in the Great British Bake Off.  The singers showed their diversity as they multi-tasked, rolling out tables and organising place settings whilst singing.  I think I need to start practicing whilst I am mopping the floor or using the vacuum 🙂

 

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Me and Caitlin Redding ( she performed the role of Carmen this summer with me )

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Reign

November 27, 2016 — 32 Comments

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the absolute pleasure to collaborate with a wonderful composer and friend Nino Russell. Nino is studying at the Royal College of Music on the Master in Composition course. We met each other during our first few weeks of joining RCM at a Cheese and Wine Night arranged for the Postgraduate students by our Student’s Union and decided that we must simply work together in the future.

 

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Nino Russell and Me

 

Last Friday evening marked our first collaboration together, at the RCM’s Student Spotlight Concert held in the Recital Room. We performed his composition entitled ‘Reign‘. I really enjoyed preparing the piece with Nino and I felt like it raised challenges for me to master in my technique and I would really like to thank my teacher, Rosa Mannion, for helping me to overcome and find new methods to achieve the beautiful colours Nino was imagining and expecting.

It was especially nice when Nino invited me to join his family and his partner’s family to a lovely meal before the performance. It was such a treat to be around a big family again and to have such a welcoming and supportive evening and concert. I wish them all a very merry month coming up to Christmas!  It was lovely to also have some friends supporting me in the audience, I’d like to say a special thank you to Ruth Hallows and Caitlin Redding. Caitlin was visiting London briefly from Berlin and I was very grateful that she made time to come to the RCM and support me.

I really hope that I will be able to work with Nino again in the future! Watch this space.