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Happy Saint George’s day to everyone 😊. It has been a lovely sunny weekend and my last week’s holiday at home for a while as I travel back to London today for the start of the Summer term at the Royal College of Music.

My Nana came to visit so we decided to make the most of the good weather and have a trip out into the countryside. Over the St George’s Day weekend there are usually several activities organised so we headed out to Beeston Castle to see if they were hosting their usual medieval celebrations.

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The Entrance To Beeston Castle

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Medieval Celebrations

There is always plenty to do at this English Heritage site and it brought back many memories from my childhood.

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Me And My Nana

 

We then had a walk around the area surrounding the castle as it provides some beautiful views of the Cheshire countryside.  Slowly making our way down to the Shropshire Union canal which passes close by the castle and has some great little Inns to stop and have a drink or enjoy afternoon tea.

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Beeston Castle

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Taking a Break At The Shady Oak

 

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It was a lovely afternoon and it reminded me of the many trips that we used to go on growing up in Cheshire, a beautiful part of the English countryside.

I will get to return to Cheshire on the 5th May though as I have a recital in Chester organised by my friend Anna Cooper.  We will be performing in an evening of song accompanied by Prajna Indrawati at St Werburgh’s RC Church at 7:30 pm.

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A Cracking Good Easter

April 16, 2017 — 46 Comments

This Easter Sunday we decided to get creative as the weather was too drizzly to go for a family walk.  We checked in the cupboard and the fridge to see what we had in and decided to make some Easter biscuits ( cookies ).  In the morning Matthew and I went down to one of the shops that were open, in order to treat ourselves to some fun cutters and extra food colouring.  We had a brilliant afternoon, the hardest part was waiting around:

Waiting for the dough to prove
Waiting for the biscuits to bake
Waiting for the icing to set to add layers

But in between, we managed to distract ourselves by playing board games with our parents.

Whatever you did today  I hope that you all had as much fun as we did.

 

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Should we play catch ?

 

 

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Matt disapproving of my juggling  

 

 

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My first bunny

 

 

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On to the tray and ready for the oven

 

 

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Out of the oven and too hot to handle !

 

 

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Art attack

 

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Time-To-Decorate

 

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Guilty as charged ( caught in the act )

 

 

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Our finished biscuits

 

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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.

A Busy Few Weeks

January 22, 2017 — 48 Comments

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This weekend I have been able to catch up with some sleep and spend a little time with friends ahead of what will be a busy three weeks for me.

Next Friday I will be performing alongside some amazing singers from the Royal College of Music in the first set of opera scenes for 2017.  The rehearsals for these scenes enter their final week, and I am so excited to see how they all come together.  I will be singing the part of Flora in a scene from Benjamin Britten’s ‘Turn Of The Screw’, directed by Lorenzo Mariani, with Josephine Goddard, Carly Owen and Ashlyn Tymms.

I will also be singing the part of one of the fairies in a scene from another of Britten’s operas, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, directed by John Copley.  The cast for this scene is a little bigger to accommodate all the characters needed and is made up of Rory Carver, Amy Manford, Steven Mills, Feargal Mostyn-Williams, Beth Moxon, Carly Owen, Ida Ranzlov, Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, Harry Thatcher, and myself.

Each scene was cast before Christmas, and we received the music in time for the Christmas break so that we could be off copy by the beginning of January.  At the beginning of January, I had a couple of one to one coaching sessions with the conductor, Christopher Middleton, to go over my musical part in isolation of the others but with piano accompaniment.  Following our independent study, we had a music call bringing all of the singers together to see how we performed as an ensemble.  Then we did a music call on stage for the director, enabling him to get used to sound in the performance space.  Once the director was comfortable with our sound, we started work on the staging of the scene. Each Director brought a little bit of their individual flair to each scene which the actress in me found fascinating.

The whole process of how the performance is brought together is quite amazing, the way the Director visualises the scene and goes about instructing and inspiring us all to bring their idea to life never ceases to amaze me.  To be part of their vision is something quite special for me and I hope that I do the parts justice for them.

It has been a wonderful experience for me to work with everyone who is involved in the production and I want to say a special thank you to the staff in the costume department here at the RCM who have the task of producing and altering all the costumes.  Putting on the costumes really helps you become the character that you are being asked to portray, which I hope adds that little bit extra to our performances on stage.

There are just a few tickets left for this performance, and if you are in London on the 27th January and want to come down and support us the show starts at 17:30 and is free, but you need to order a ticket from the RCM website.

I will try and get permission to take some pictures backstage next week and if I can I will share them with you.

Opera Mom

January 9, 2017 — 86 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.