Archives For My Performances 2016

Goodness gracious, I feel like I have just been flying today. I participated in my first solo concert today with a classical orchestra. The concert was part of the Weber in London concert series taking place at Royal College of Music, London.

As an ensemble, we performed “La Dolce Speranza” by Weber alongside the wonderful conductor Ben Palmer. It was great to work with the orchestra and Ben.

In order to prepare for the first rehearsal with the RCM classic orchestra, I received some coaching from repetitors to prepare the music. It was so helpful to work on the aria with the amazing staff at the RCM, as I could find very little information about this aria and no one had recorded it before so I needed to explore the aria from scratch. It taught me many new skills that I can’t wait to transfer to other concert arias that I want to add to my repertoire. Initially, I had to prepare the piece to different tempos as I wasn’t sure how fast it would be taken by the conductor.

 

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During The Rehearsal ( Picture Taken From RCM Twitter )

In the first rehearsal on Thursday 9th Feb, I was quite nervous but the overwhelming kindness from the orchestra enabled me to be both brave and excited. Ben Palmer recommended that I sang facing the orchestra for the first rehearsal so I could take in all their sound and sing into the depth of beautiful music they create. The rehearsal for my solo took place in the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall and lasted about an hour. It was during this rehearsal that I finally got a sense of the faster tempo and I felt the performance starting to come together.

 

The next day we then had a shorter rehearsal of 20 minutes and we ran through the piece twice at the tempo which we would take for the concert. I had to put in a little extra homework to get the coloratura runs to the desired tempo but it was rewarding when I was able to keep up with the speed Ben took.

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Today we had a run through in the morning and then I had to change outfit, do my hair and makeup and prepare myself for the performance. I had such fun, I wish I was doing it all over again this evening. Fingers crossed I’ll be able to work with the orchestra again in the future.

To finish I just want to say a big thank you to the RCM for the opportunity and for the generosity and awesome playing from the orchestra beautifully led by the wonderful Ben Palmer.

The area around the RCM had restricted access due to the BAFTAS which were being held this evening across the road at the Albert Hall so I want to also pass on my gratitude and thanks to everyone who took the trouble to come along this afternoon and watch our performances as it made the day extra special. It was also nice to meet new friends after the performance and catch up with my friends from College who had come along to support me.

 

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Tonight’s BAFTAs As Seen From The RCM ( Picture Taken By Carola Krebs )

 

Opera Scenes At The RCM

February 5, 2017 — 37 Comments

I have had another exciting Friday this week, with my second round of opera scenes. This week I had the challenge to play a flirty Zerlina in Don Giovanni, which was quite different to last week’s Flora.

It was a challenging scene for me as my wonderful director Elaine Kidd pushed my partner Christian Adolph and me to be truly in the moment and acting as if for the camera. We had to constantly have sub-textual thoughts, be accurate with the music and listen constantly to the other in order to keep the text alive and spontaneous. I also had to experiment with intimacy on stage which pushed my boundaries as an actress. Previously I had played Zerlina as a sweet and innocent country girl whereas on this occasion I was asked to think of her as a cheeky social climber.

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Me, Elaine Kidd our Director and Christian Adolph

It made me realise how flexible an artist needs to be with their interpretation of a character and how they can be molded around period/situation and insight. In the rehearsal process, we did a lot of improvisation, and I enjoyed the challenge of having to re-create the character and seeing how she might react in different mindsets.

I really enjoyed the process and will continue to approach my acting in this style and use the experience to enrich my future performances. I also learned some great tips for checking in with the conductor for tempo changes and entrances of melodies from the fabulous Natalie Murray – which will certainly make my life easier and enable me to be more flexible on stage.

However, having enjoyed this experience twice in a short space of time, it has made me once again so thankful for all the help of the wonderful backstage team! Without them I certainly would not have got my dress on, hair done, be visible on stage or met my queues to be prepared for the stage. They are all wonderful, and I’m so grateful for all their help.

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Chris, Me, Laura and Ellen

Performing alongside such a fabulous group of singers here at the RCM has been such a rewarding opportunity for me. We all had such a great time and I have to say a special thank you to both Ben Smith, as my “Masetto” and Christian Adolph, as “Don Giovanni” who made both the rehearsals and the final performance so much fun.

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The Whole Cast

Some pictures taken by Ben Durrant during the rehearsals.

Some pictures taken by Juliette Lozano

It was such a pleasure to see Hilary in the audience and meeting Cate and her sister Alexandra after the show. I kicked myself for not asking my parents to take a picture of us for my blog.  It was such a boost to see their friendly supportive faces in the audience after years of communicating here on my blog.  Thank you 🙂

Next week I will be singing again but this time as part of a celebration of the music of Carl Maria von Weber at the RCM on Sunday 12th February at 2:30 pm. You can buy tickets for the concert at the RCM website.

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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.

After a very busy first week of lessons at the Royal College of Music, London, I excitedly hopped on a plane on Friday to Barcelona for a weekend of music, great food, fantastic company, and joyfulness.

Upon my arrival at Barcelona, I was greeted at the airport by the Néstor Bayona, a conductor, and pianist that I met in Berlin, who kindly took me to his family home, which was about a two-hour drive away in Lleida where he introduced me to his parents and the rest of the ensemble. His wonderful parents Albert and Marina made me very welcome and soon made me feel like part of the family. It was a joy to stay with them. However before I could hit the hay, I had a rehearsal in the evening with Néstor on the Haugtussa cycle by Grieg, which he had invited me to Catalonia to perform. It was wonderful to keep the music alive and develop new ideas to continue the creative spontaneity of telling the stories of the pieces. We then concluded the evening in true Spanish style with snacks and nibbles outside in the beautiful Mediterranean evening.

 

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Nestor’s Family Home, Lleida

 

On Saturday we had another rehearsal at Néstor’s home around lunchtime, and I was able to hear Frans van Schoonhoven, violin and Malena Pflock, cello rehearse their Shostakovich Piano Trio number 2 in E minor, op. 67, which was very emotionally demanding and very challenging. Once we were all happy with our pieces, we had a fantastic three-course Spanish meal at a fabulous restaurant, with enough paella to make one’s stomach explode! It was very delicious, and I enjoyed every bite.

 

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Auditori Municipal Enric Grandos, Lleida

 

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Rehearsing For The Mozart Quartet

 

After lunch we continued our day by travelling to the venue, Auditori Municipal Enric Granados, it was a beautiful concert hall in the heart of Lleida, and it was every exciting to perform here, mainly due to the capacity of the venue and the fantastic resonance of the hall. The programme was very varied and included a surprise appearance by an actor, Marc Cartanyà presenting monologues to link the pieces and to set the mood. I began the cycle offstage and then walked on during my first piece to create an eerie atmosphere and to suggest the sound of the mystical voice from the mountains. It was thrilling to try the performance in a different staging which enabled me to use skills that I had learnt in Berlin to control and shape the atmosphere to tell the story. I enjoyed it immensely and would love to go back. My performance concluded the first half which meant I was able to enjoy the second half as a spectator and support my friends. The second half was brought to a close with a beautiful rendition of Mozart’s Piano Quartet in G minor, KV.478. In which Nestor, Frans and Malena were joined by Jordi Roure on Viola.

 

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Me With Nestor Boyana Before The Concert

 

 

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Frans van Schoonhoven , Marc Cartanyà, Me, Jordi Roure, Malena Pflock and Nestor Boyana

 

Once the show finished, the night was not yet over! That evening in Lleida, there was a celebration and the community gathered to watch a concert and to dance the night away. We stayed for a while, and I loved the happy atmosphere. Especially when they began to sing Disney songs in Spanish! Just how I like to party!  🙂

 

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Then after a very pleasant sleep, I woke up early this morning to travel to Barcelona to perform the same program there. We left quite early as it was a lunchtime performance and we passed the time on the road trip with great music and lots of jokes. We found the venue, Musitekton, and arrived an hour before the concert; this meant we had to be very efficient with or time management to ensure that all the players were able to warm up and to test the acoustics.

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The venue was very intimate, and the walls were lined with string instruments as the owner also builds and repairs string instruments, so it was a unique and individual place to perform. Music was most certainly in the air! The concert went very well, and we all enjoyed ourselves connecting with the very attentive audience.

 

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Jordi Roure, Me, Frans van Schoonhoven , Malena Pflock and Nestor Boyana

 

I concluded my trip with yet another huge Spanish meal with my colleagues and new friends where I tried black rice (black from squid ink) and many different styles of seafood.  While I was there, I also tried the local delicacy snails Catalan style and they were surprisingly delicious. However, I don’t think I would be brave enough to cook them at home.

I had the most fantastic time, and it was great to spend two days immersed in the Spanish culture and to experience my first professional international recital in Spain. I would love to go back and perhaps next time sing in Spanish!

The Start Of A New A Term

September 18, 2016 — 55 Comments

Last Sunday I travelled to Antwerp, Brussels to take part in a masterclass hosted by OASE projects in the beautiful AMUZ venue. The master class was given by W.Stephen Smith, the author of ‘The Naked Voice’, the vocal teacher of Joyce de Donato and Christine Brewer. We were told that this was his first visit to Europe to hold such a class, and I was thrilled to have been invited to participate.

 

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W.Stephen Smith and Me

There were singers of varying ages and voice types from all over Europe. The session started with such high energy and never let up, it was so exhilarating to just sit and listen to his advice as we each singer got up to perform.

When it was my turn it all seemed to happen so quickly. He gave me some insightful advice which I found particularly helpful and I made lots of notes.

Fortunately for me, Catrin, one of the organisers, took some pictures during the event which she said I could share with you all.

Before travelling back on Tuesday I took advantage of the beautiful weather and spent some time exploring the city and loved catching up with friends from the Italian summer school from last summer, Astrid Defauw and Alexandra Franck. Alexandra showed us all around Antwerp explaining the history of her beautiful home City.

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Tomorrow will be my first day at the Royal College of Music and the anticipation of starting a new stage in my training is raising my excitement levels to new heights. Though it was sad to say goodbye to my family this afternoon after we finished unpacking, it will be great to start putting into practice some the suggestions that I have received over the summer from the different projects I have been a part of.

Following three amazing weeks of rehearsals culminating in two exhilarating performances, my time in Berlin was coming to an end.  I had been so busy finding my way between language classes, coaching and the rehearsal spaces that I hadn’t really had much time to do any sightseeing.

My parents had come out to Berlin to watch my performance and to spend  a few days in the City. On my last day with my travel pass in hand I met up with my Mum, Dad and brother Tom and we did a whistle stop tour of Berlin.

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We started near to where I had stayed in Berlin in the area aptly called “Charlottenburg” which was an independent City until 1920 when it became part of “Groß-Berlin” Greater Berlin”.  We wandered around the gardens of the “Charlottenburg Palace” and then decided to take a look inside.  The palace was originally built in the 17th Century and expanded by Frederick the Great in the early 1700s. The palace had been wonderfully restored to its former beauty and each room gave you a little insight into the lives of the people who had lived there.

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After leaving Charlottenburg we made our way by train and tram to Kleistpark where I had my last class of my course, following which I met up with parents again at Alexanderplatz.  Tom wanted to go up to the top of the Berlin TV Tower so they went to get the tickets whilst I was in class.  The trip to the top of the tower was really quick by lift and the views from the top over the city were fabulous.

We grabbed something to drink and then it was off to the “East Side Gallery” which runs along the river Spree on Mühlenstraße.  It is the longest section of the original Berlin wall left standing and following the collapse of the Berlin wall the eastern facing side was converted into an open-air gallery by over 100 artists. It was quite surreal to walk along it and trying to understand what it must have been like to feel constrained by such an omnipresent construction.

 

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The Eastern Side Of The Wall

 

 

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The Western Side Of The Wall

 

 

We finished off the day at Potsdamer Platz where we stopped to eat.  The area has changed beyond all recognition since the fall of the wall as the area has been reconstructed with new shopping complexes, public areas and office developments.  However there is a permanent reminder of where the wall had been as a line of bricks makes its way across the square to where a small section of the wall still remains.

 

We ended the day walking towards the Brandenburg Gate and stopped at the Holocaust Memorial.  The memorial was quite thought provoking as it has been constructed using 2711 concrete slabs of differing heights with the ground falling away as you walk between them. As you walk between the slabs you seem to just disappear to anyone watching, a very eerie experience.

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Finally at the Brandenburg Gate we stopped to take few pictures but as the weather was starting to change we decided to run for the bus, as we passed the Reichstag we could see the bus we needed just pulling into the stop.  We only just made it with seconds to spare and as the bus pulled away the rains started. After a little bit of shelter, I finished my evening with a great get together with the rest of the cast and company.

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There is so much more to see and do, I do hope I can come back and explore a little more.

 

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Underneath The Iconic Berlin Landmark – The Brandenburg Gate

 

Goodness! my time in Berlin has flown by and what a whirlwind it has been! I have loved living in Germany for three weeks and I definitely would love to go back in the future.

 

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Singing During The Opera Gala Concert

 

 

I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet and work alongside so many wonderful and talented singers from all over the world. I wish them all the success for their futures and I’m sure I will see them again on the opera stage.

For myself, the most interesting piece of knowledge that I have gained is that your own artistic individuality is key to your performance, allowing you to enjoy being the person you are on and offstage. Like a wonderful piece of art some people will love you and others,  whose tastes differ may not. But I know that if I sing with all my heart, demonstrating who I am as a performer with my own bells and whistles, then I know that I can be honest with the story and let my body sing from my soul.

I would like to thank all the staff at the Berlin Opera Academy for a wonderful experience and I hope to catch up with them all again in the future.

Here are some pictures which were taken during one of our rehearsals of Carmen and I hope they give you a flavour of the production.

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Looking forward to my next projects and the big move to London!