Yesterday, Saturday the 2nd December 2017 I traveled North to Blackburn, Lancashire, where I was to sing the soprano solos in the Blackburn Music Societies performance of Handel’s Messiah. This was the first time that I had been back to Blackburn since winning the audience prize in the Kathleen Ferrier Bursary Competition in October 2013 and it was lovely to see Sylvia Alexander again, who was one of the organisers and Trustees of the competition, this time as a member of the choir.
As I arrived the choir, under the baton of Tom Newall, were in full voice rehearsing for the evening’s performance. I settled myself down and waiting to have my first run through with the Lancashire Chamber Orchestra. I knew Matthew Mannion, baritone soloist, having performed opposite him in Opera Britain’s Don Giovanni and it was great to catch up with him.
I met the other two soloists Helen Anne Gregory, mezzo-soprano, and Alexander Grainger, tenor, and together we sang through most of our solos and got used to the acoustics in the beautiful cathedral. It was a fabulous venue holding over four hundred people and the choir was expecting a full house.
With the rehearsals over, we had time for a quick bite to eat before changing and preparing for the evening performance. As the time arrived we could hear the bustle of the audience as we walked up the stairs from the crypt, I felt a sudden rush of excitement, this was to be my first Messiah as a soloist and then I couldn’t help smiling as we walked across the cathedral just in front of the main altar. The cathedral was full and I could see hundreds of smiling faces looking back at us as we took our seats and the orchestra tuned their instruments ready to begin.
You could not help but feel the emotion of the music as the choir sang in beautiful harmony accompanied so aptly by the instrumentalists of the Lancashire Chamber Orchestra. Suddenly I heard my cue and I stood to sing my first solo, all of my emotion channeled into that moment, I felt so alive. It was a wonderful experience and one that I shall not forget for some time. Like most things in life we like to remember and savour the first time we do anything of significance and this was such a moment for me.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening, the choir made us feel so welcome and singing alongside such wonderful performers is a such a privilege and one that I hope will continue for many years to come. I will take away from this some fantastic memories and was thrilled to share them with my amazing fellow soloists Matthew, Helen, and Alexander. Lastly a huge thank you to Tom Newall for his constant encouragement and support, and for making the evening so special for all of us.
Next week I move on to Kingston Upon Thames for the Winter concert of the Thames Philharmonic Choir. For anyone that is going to be in the area next Saturday, 9th December there are still a few tickets left which can be purchased on the door or through the choir’s website www.thamesphilchoir.org.uk This is a great way to kick-start your Christmas spirit.
To finish off tonight can I just let you all know about a fundraising initiative from the Royal College Of Music, which allows for matched funding of any contributions made through The Big Give: Christmas Challenge 2017
It only runs through to 12:00 pm 5th December and every pound raised to make a huge difference to so many talented music students supported by scholarships here at the Royal College of Music.