Seasons Greetings

December 4, 2016 — 48 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.

London Life

November 20, 2016 — 75 Comments

It’s been a massive change moving to London, far more even than when I moved to Glasgow City Centre from my rural town home in Cheshire.

I am thoroughly enjoying myself and I feel like I have just got used to travelling via the tube rather than just by car, bus or walking. I even quite like the contactless payment that is prevalent down here. Even though it’s a nightmare to keep track of every penny that I’ve spent here and there . There are hundreds and thousands of people of all nationalities in my new home. It’s a very enriching environment. I thought it was going to be daunting but it has taught me to be really aware of each other.

I enjoyed observing a grown man (security officer might I add) kick a bunch of leaves with great childish gusto the other day, only to miss them all except one. Our eyes met and we shared a giggle. I would have joined in but I was being the stereotypical busy local marching along the pavement as fast as my little legs could take me to class because the district line tube was held at a red light for ages. (I’m improving my patience too!).

I still can’t believe that when I leave school I can always see the glorious Albert Hall and beautiful Hyde Park is just behind and lovely to explore.

It is nice to do so much walking, and be a tourist sometimes. So whilst I’m busy with my studies and working hard I would love to hear about moments that have made you smile this week, or perhaps challenge you to be mindful, to make time to enjoy the little moments that cross your path in this coming week.

In my yoga class this morning my teacher asked us all to think of one moment this week that has made us smile. He said it didn’t need to be a huge achievement or lifestyle change. His was the feeling of holding a freshly brewed cup of tea and enjoying the heat flow into his hands and body. So as I drink my tea I wish you all a merry week and I hope exciting things are to come for you all, even if it’s only something that puts a smile on your face. After all, Christmas and the festive season is nearly here as the shops so kindly remind us and the super ice rink by the Natural History Museum allows people to have a bit of joy as the winter weather chills them, I loved listening to all of the laughter and people having fun. Glitz and glamour to come!!

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The Ice rink At The Natural History Museum

 

 

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The Albert Memorial

 

 

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Kensington Gardens – Behind The Sunken Garden

 

 

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On The Edge Of Hyde Park – Kensington Gardens

These pictures were from a recent visit to Kensington Gardens adjacent to Hyde Park after a busy morning’s practice.

 

 

A Vision of Haugtussa

November 6, 2016 — 73 Comments

Since I started blogging I have met so many supportive and helpful people, people who have inspired me to be myself and pursue my dreams.  One of them is Pascal Barnier, a French artist, and a good friend.  When he listens to my singing he uses his illustrations to share with me what he sees in his imagination.  I find the results absolutely fabulous and have loved sharing them with you all over the last three years.

When he found out that I was to release the “Haugtussa” as an album he decided to produce a video of his images set to my music. When I sing I have in my mind the images of the characters and the story that I am trying to tell, it helps me to find the right emotions to accompany the melodic music and expressive poetry.  So to be able to see what someone else imagines when listening to my singing to me is quite fascinating.

Here is the video and I would love to hear what you think of it.  If you have listened to the Haugtussa, is this how you imagined the story?

iTunes USA https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/haugtussa/id1151773586
iTunes UK https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/haugtussa/id1151773586
CD Baby https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/charlottehoather2

You can also listen to my album by using the streaming services like Deezer, Napster, Spotify, and Apple Music

Midterm Break

October 30, 2016 — 68 Comments

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As British Summer time draws to a close here in London and the prospect of darker evenings and shorter days looms closer I have some good news that I would like to share with you, I was selected as one of several students from the Royal College of Music to audition for the prestigious “Josephine Baker Trust”.  For the audition, I had to select three pieces of contrasting repertoire, an aria, an oratorio, and a Lied.  Each year they audition prospective candidates from both the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music in order to produce a list of singers which they can then promote to venues and organisations around the Capital.  These performance opportunities help the students on the list obtain much-needed funding towards their education in a very proactive way.   So I was thrilled to hear that I had been selected and will become one of the singers on the “Josephine Baker Trust List”.

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My “Haugtussa” CDs have finally arrived from the manufacturers. I have had several people ask me over the last few weeks when they would be available to purchase as they prefer to listen to a CD. So if anyone is interested in ordering one here is the link to my shop page🙂

https://charlottehoatherblog.com/store/

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I had a great start to the week  as there was a student evening on Monday at the Royal Opera House, so I went to watch a performance of Shostakovich’s opera “The Nose”  It was a piece that I was not familiar with so the opportunity to go along and watch was too good to pass up.
The Royal Opera House provided a little background about the opera which can be seen below:

“Shostakovich was only 20 when he began writing The Nose, his operatic debut. He turned to a tiny short story by Gogol: an absurdist satire, where a civil servant’s errant nose launches its owner on a ludicrous battle against both nose and the authorities, as bureaucratic processes break down in the face of so unusual a problem. Gogol’s surrealist fable fired Shostakovich’s imagination, and he responded with a work of exuberant energy, full of musical jokes and grotesque parody – from the famed Act I entr’acte for percussion ensemble to plaintive laments, careening counterpoint, folksong (accompanied by balalaika) and rambunctious polkas.

Shostakovich finished the work in about a year, and in the following months gave successful performances of extracts from the opera. But it was to be another two years, in 1930, before The Nose was staged in full, by which time Soviet cultural climate had turned sternly against works of such perceived frivolity. The opera was quickly dropped from the repertory; but since its rediscovery in the 1960s it has steadily gained recognition for Shostakovich’s baffling, brilliant wit. This new production is The Royal Opera’s first. Artistic Director of Berlin’s Komische Oper Barrie Kosky directs, fresh from his triumphant production of Saul for Glyndebourne Festival.”

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The story was very surreal and for once I was glad of the excellent translation provided by David Pountney, as this production was performed in English. The enthusiasm and energy brought to the production by the cast who were fully invested in their characters brought the bizarre story to life.

 

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Outside Wigmore Hall

I have had a really fantastic day today which included watching an afternoon performance at the Wigmore Hall, London. It all started yesterday when I saw a tweet bringing to my attention two concerts that were being hosted today at Wigmore Hall for the grand sum of £5.00 each. Now, I did not need to win a ticket, or queue up for ages, or hope that someone would return their own ticket on the day of the performance to get in for this discounted price. I just had to shy away from being a lady and tell them my age🙂  All because I was under 35, Wigmore Hall have this fantastic program that offers anyone under 35 access to these amazing concerts for only £5.00 so as a Northerner I just had to take advantage of the bargain. For those wonderful people who do not fit into this bracket, I would still urge you to go as the music making in such a beautiful venue was just divine! I am a very lucky lady indeed.

Now, enough about the “good deal,” the concert itself was mesmerising. Toby Spence, tenor (high male voice), and Christopher Glynn, piano, superbly performed the London premiere of ‘The Fair Maid of the Mill.’; a beautiful English translation by Jeremy Sams of the the German cycle ‘Die schöne Müllerin’ by Franz Schubert. This concert was part of the ‘Schubert in English’ Concerts being held at Wigmore Hall. This is an interesting concept for me personally after doing so much research in the last year of my undergraduate study on whether translation works as well in Song as it does in Opera.

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Toby Spence

The program included an interesting note from the translator in keeping with some of my own research: ‘Opera translation is permissible because Opera is what a story sounds like, whereas the Lied is what poetry sounds like.‘ (2016, Jeremy Sams). However, he continues to discuss ‘that perhaps it is more ubiquitous, because a scene in an opera is actually a story, and similarly so is a song, and it occurred to me that the ingredients of poetry – time , landscape, developing thoughts – are maybe a story also.’ (2016, JeremynSams).  So I sat at the beginning of the recital prepared to possibly be persuaded that it could take me to the magical world Schubert had intended for his audience.

And indeed it did! The flow between each piece was seamless, encouraging you to follow the life of the character and how the love that affected his life, grew, then blossomed and (spoiler alert) sadly wilted. The sung English translation helped me to realise some significant symbols, such as the colour green, the water of the mill stream and the obstacle of the hunter. I realised how important these ideas were to the crux of the story and how each affects the Miller, this was backed up by the sweetly interpreted piano playing of Christopher Glynn which highlighted the changes that Schubert created to always keep you on the edge of your seat.  Toby Spence, also added to the mood by deciding to wear a slightly informal characterised outfit, of what I imagined to be a slightly fleeced blue jacket with a shirt, and pale beige trousers. It set the mood and housed the character’s soul that he created so wonderfully. It was truly a performance to learn from whilst I am crafting my own interpretation of  Song.

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Christopher Glynn

I particularly enjoyed how he performed the Interlude, relaxed away from the piano leaning against the wall of the intimate stage area, with his glass of water in his hands to replenish himself between singing verses. It worked wonderfully as it allowed the audience to relax and briefly visit another world before returning back to the Miller’s story.

As I reflect on this performance, I think that the subject of translation will be one that I will be researching, agreeing and disagreeing with my whole life, which in itself excites me, as I realise it is so individual, and I hope that I will be able to try it out in my own performances. Maybe one day I will have the opportunity to perform in a concert series dedicated to the art of translating poetry.

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What A Concert !!

I have just come out of my second concert of the day at Wigmore Hall and I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton beautifully accompanied by James Baillieu. I wish I had more time to tell you about it but I have to get home🙂 Her performance transported me to a place of dreams especially as she concluded with “Never Never Land”

 

 

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Brindley Sherratt ( Bass – Opera Singer )

Last Wednesday, 12th October, at the Royal College of Music, London, the vocal department organised a Masterclass with Brindley Sherratt that took place at the Britten Theatre. It was fabulous to see the auditorium packed with an audience of students of all ages. I use the word student as I am often reminded during my studies that we never stop learning so perhaps even those members of the public who attended the event for entertainment, a little diversity or just plain curiosity will all have taken something away from the presentation that they probably had not thought about before.

 

For me, the main points of interest that stood out and that I can’t wait to explore further were:

  • To gain a beautiful legato line, one should carry the voice so that all the vowels are given enough time to sound.
  • Try not to push the voice and demand it to project. Simply let the voice out of the body.
  • To relax and sing into your whole voice whether at pianissimo (very quiet) and at forte (loud).

I particularly found these points interesting because they were not necessarily strict rules but ideas from which I could build my foundations, on which I can strive to improve my vocal technique. Learning how to sing in an operatic style can be very challenging as you often have to unpick someone else’s interpretation of how they achieve proper singing technique.  The process can often seem frustrating when all you want to do is to try to fix a mistake or bad habit. But patience in itself is a skill that you need to develop and which enables you to become a better problem solver, allowing you to try out different methods inspired by what you observe. By experimenting and applying these various techniques, it is possible to find a solution which allows you to progress and ultimately become a better singer and performer. Often it can feel like swings and roundabouts, but when you are successful it is very fulfilling, you get an immense sense of satisfaction and personal understanding that perhaps you can pass on to someone else for them to explore.

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It is always thought provoking to listen to other Artists and having moved to London I have found that there are many opportunities to learn from those professionals who live and perform in this vast and diverse City.  On Friday evening I went to a talk at the Royal Opera House called SILENCED! Art against Authority. It was the first ever Student Insight event held at the Royal Opera House which is an event open strictly for students (of any academic focus).  The evening took on the form of a debate chaired by John Hutnyk who along with a panel of six artists discussed their personal perspectives around the suppression and censorship of art around the world.

They began by using videos and a recitation from one of the artist’s works, then flowing seamlessly into discussions and then questions from the audience.  Each member of the panel relayed their experiences of how they had used their art to highlight what to them were problematic areas of modern society.   It was enlightening to see so much individualism and self-expression, I found the evening stimulating and it encouraged me to be true to myself and to present the stories and poetry that are important to me.