The Role Of Observer

This week I had the pleasure to attend two musical events both of which allowed me to watch some outstanding singers.

On Wednesday I attended the semi-final for the 62nd competition for the Kathleen Ferrier Awards. It was held at the Wigmore Hall in London and the atmosphere felt full of energy and bursting with life thanks to the wonderful supportive audience. I attended the event with my dear friend Harvey, in which we were serenaded by 11 performances from young professional singers. They each had to prepare a varied program lasting up to 20 minutes, which included works from different periods of music. These 11 singers had been selected by audition following the preliminary round. From the 11 singers, the judges had to shortlist 6 for the final that was to take place on Friday 28th April. It was interesting to be able to observe these fine singers as I could relax and enjoy as they created beautiful music. I was thankful for the opportunity to show my support for these amazing young professionals as I know first-hand how important it is for the performers to have an enthusiastic audience in a competition such as this.

The singers selected for the final were:
Eduard Mas Bacardit, tenor accompanied by Dylan Perez, piano
Julien Van Mellaerts, baritone accompanied by Gamal Khamis, piano
Patrick Terry, counter-tenor accompanied by Somi Kim, piano
Francesca Chiejina, soprano accompanied by Dylan Perez, piano
James Way, tenor accompanied by Natalie Burch, piano
Daniel Shelvey, baritone accompanied by Dylan Perez, piano

Following the final on Friday the winners were announced as:
First Prize – Julien Van Mellaerts, baritone
Second Prize – James Way, tenor
Song Prize – Patrick Terry, counter-tenor
Accompanist’s Prize – Gamal Khamis, piano

Congratulations to them on their achievements and special thank you to all of this year’s performers

Exterminating Angel ROH April 2017

Then on Thursday, I was able to get a student ticket for the performance of “The Exterminating Angel” at the Royal Opera House. This performance was part of the UK premiere of the opera written by Thomas Adès. It was especially electrifying, as Adès conducted the music himself. The piece was written and sung in English which allowed me to understand the chilling story more easily. The house was very full of excited observers and before a note was played I was bewildered and amazed to see *SPOILER ALERT* real live sheep on the stage! I have no idea why this excited me so, especially after my recent trip home to the English countryside. I was intrigued to see if they would be used whilst the live music was blaring full thrust but just before the conductor took to the podium they were guided off stage.

The opera took place in a mansion in which sophisticated guests are expected for dinner. The large star-studded cast performed the dramatic music and remained on stage for the majority of the performance. Which was wonderful for a student of opera as I could watch the singers acting and analyse their performance throughout. This helped me to see all aspects of the on-stage skills of the performers, from how to draw focus in a busy scene, prepare an audience for a solo, to providing support and ambiance to another character. It was skilfully played throughout and very enjoyable. As the run is still taking place I will not discuss the plot too thoroughly in detail just in case any of you get to see it, but I just want to say that the technical singing of the performers was outstanding. The composer had written huge dynamic and pitch variety which was demanding even for these experienced professional singers. For example, one soprano was singing all of her lines at the extreme of her range – very very high! It was such a feat and I can’t wait to work technically in the practice room so that I may one day be flexible enough to performance pieces like this in the future.
All in all, it has been a fabulous week 😊

22 thoughts on “The Role Of Observer

  1. What a fabulous evening you had and what a wonderful event for all the young singers involved. As a former teacher, I can understand how observing others ‘performing’ can be so helpful. Lovely post, Charlotte.

  2. Your experiences never end, but it must be nice to have a break from being under the spotlight.
    Go easy on that high training. My mother, a London-trained singing teacher, used to give dire warnings about that, with examples of really top-notch singers who had strained vocal chords beyond repair by trying to do too much too soon.

    1. Yes it is.
      I’m being looked after really well during my training both at the RCS and here in London with Rosa Mannion my singing teacher and the brilliant coaches we have. During my Masters the extra emphasis on technique and safe singing has been the foundation in the next stage of my training. I’m not trying to rush anything.
      Best wishes and thank you 😊

  3. Another fascinating post. Although I went to my first opera 70 years ago and listen to something operatic most days I know almost nothing about it, I just enjoy it, so these insights from a young singer are just great. Best wishes.

  4. Charlotte, sounds like you had a glorious time observing talented newcomers and attending a premiere where the writer was actually the conductor. The live sheep on stage were interesting. Have a great week.

  5. How exciting to to attend the Kathleen Ferrier semi-finals. As as child I used to play my grandfather’s old 78s (records) of her singing on his wind-up gramophone! Adès must be very hard work for singers. We saw the Tempest many years ago and enjoyed it very much, but I worried about the singers voices. Way back in 1967 I was with fellow students in Rome and we decided to see Aida in the Baths of Caracalla, because they had live elephants on stage… we booked tickets for the very back row of the outdoor auditorium and found ourselves watching La Bohême set in a tiny attic a mile away!

  6. What a fabulous week! The Kathleen Ferrier semi-finals must have been fascinating and the Wigmore Hall is such a wonderful venue. Thomas Ades is so hard-working! He seems to be everywhere! Conducting, playing the piano, accompanying others and performing his own compositions. What a man!

  7. Seems like a great week indeed, dear Charlotte.
    “The Exterminating Angel” sounds like, both, a great piece and performance.
    I like the way to describe it!. So good to read your updates, my friend! Wishing you a great week… Sending love <3

  8. That’s wonderful that you got to enjoy a show and observe other vocalists in action. It’s a fabulous learning experience. Hugs 😘

    1. I think what comes clear Eric is that there are so many fabulous singers. So many bad colds and flu going around I’m being ultra careful I flared up eczema on my hands using anti bac gel 😂, never had it before, I’d look a bit too precious wearing gloves on the tube, I could reintroduce elbow length gloves into fashion lol.
      Best wishes

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