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Blackburn Solo

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.

Blackburn Cathedral

Blackburn Cathedral

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.

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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.

View Of The Altar

View Of The Altar

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.

Soloists and Tom

Matthew Mannion, Alexander Grainger, Tom Newall, Helen Anne Gregory, and Me

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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.

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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.

The Big Give 2017

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On Friday afternoon I took time out to watch my talented colleagues perform in the dress rehearsal of the Royal College of Music’s production of The Cunning Little Vixen. This wonderful opera by Janácek’s was sung in English for this particular production and tells the exciting and episodic story which constantly raises the imagined similarities and differences between humans and animals.

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The costumes designed by Hannah Wolfe were flamboyant and wonderfully colourful. Every costume was personalised and each suggested a hint of different animalistic features, such as a spiked backpack worn by a hedgehog/man. It was fun as an audience member to notice these intricacies which added to the story and allowed your imagination to build on the images played out on stage.

The set was also exquisite and full of extra compartments that drew your attention as they that opened and closed the space to new scenes. My particular favourite scene that Alex Berry designed was the chicken coop which showcased a Charlie and Chocolate factory esque egg laying factory that really caught my childlike imagination.

Daniel Slater beautifully combines lustful dancing with animalistic gestures performed by the Singers in his direction of this opera. It worked brilliantly and told the story seamlessly. I particularly enjoyed the love duets performed by the dancers which continued to expand on the story during the passionate orchestral interludes, sophisticatedly lead by Michael Rosewell.

This is a great production and my friends were in top form. There are a still a few tickets left if you are in the area and it is definitely worth a visit:  http://www.rcm.ac.uk/events/listings/details/?id=1383768

7:00pm | 27 November 2017
7:00pm | 29 November 2017
7:00pm | 01 December 2017
7:00pm | 02 December 2017

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I’m really looking forward to the ‘Winter Concert’ with the Thames Philharmonic Choir and Beth Moxon (alto), Steve Mills (tenor), Dan D’Souza (bass) under the direction of conductor John Bate and Stephen Disley (organ) in Kingston upon Thames, with our thanks to The Josephine Baker Trust who match us to engagements and provide half the fees.  We’ve had our first rehearsal the program is called ‘A Feast of Baroque & 5 Modern Carols’ you can get tickets at www.thamesphilchoir.org.uk or at the door, should be a great start to the Season.

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I’ve also been working hard on my Handel ‘Messiah’ soloist preparations, the Messiah is an English-language oratorio from the Baroque era, composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, it premiered in Dublin in 1742 at Easter and has been performed by choirs across the United Kingdom every year since. Handel continued to work on the piece until 1754 when he arrived at the version we use today.  You can read more about it here http://www.classicfm.com/composers/handel/music/george-frideric-handel-messiah/

I’m excited to start the first of two performances at Blackburn in Lancashire with the Blackburn Music Society and the Lancashire Chamber Orchestra under the baton of conductor Tom Newall and with Chamber Organist Samuel Hudson.  My fellow soloists in Blackburn Cathedral are Helen Ann Gregory; Alexander Grainger and Matthew Mannion who I last performed with in Don Giovanni at Opera Britain last year.  Tickets: 01254 201978 or on the door.

Blackburn Concert

 

On Saturday it was lovely to see one of my old teachers from the RCS Helen McVey and her son Charlie who came to join in with one of the BambinO performances. I am glad that they both enjoyed the show. I would like to give a big shout out to the toddlers who came in their Halloween costumes to watch today as they were just SO CUTE. Lastly a big thank you to the family who came over from Switzerland to watch as part of a family birthday treat, happy 72nd birthday from me and all the team at Scottish Opera, it was lovely to meet you all.

Then after the last of my two performances of BambinO today David Sneddon the stage manager made sure that I had just enough time to meet some of the toddlers and their families before having to dash off to catch a train down to London. Tonight is the 21st-anniversary party of Improbable hosted by Nick Sweeting and Phelim McDermott. I was thrilled to be invited and jumped at the chance to join in the festivities as I have a couple of days off before the final week of performances starts again in Glasgow. I expect it will be a great way to have a little fun and relax for the evening.

Improabable Annivesary 2017

After the performances end in Glasgow next Sunday I will be finalising my rehearsals for the three concerts that I have coming up in December. The first of which is with Blackburn Music Society, conducted by Tom Newall with Samuel Hudson on chamber organ. The concert takes place on Saturday 2nd December at Blackburn Cathedral where we are performing Handel’s Messiah accompanied by the Lancashire Chamber Orchestra.  The performance starts at 7pm and details of how tickets can be purchased are available online at:

http://blackburnmusicsociety.org.uk/tickets-booking/

For those that won’t know until the last minute if they can come tickets will be available on door.

Blackburn Concert

An Exciting Year Ahead

September 3, 2017 — 89 Comments

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September is upon us and I’m about to return to London to start the second and final year of my Masters of Performance degree at the Royal College of Music.

Update Jul 2018: I’m excited to announce that in recognition of my efforts during my first year I have been given a RCM award towards my studies. This wonderful news has really boosted my enthusiasm and I can’t wait for the new term to start.   I have a busy year ahead as I have to explore what options are available to me when I complete my post-graduate degree.  With new repertoire to master and several engagements already booked for the months ahead, I will need to stay completely focused and immerse myself into my studies.

Update:  My award is gratefully received from The RCM the Worshipful Company of Cutlers called the Charles Jacob Scholarship and the Opperby Stokowski Scholarship.  This is a huge help towards part of my tutition fees for this year.  I hope to meet the society members at some point to thank them in person after writing to them.

It is an exciting period for me and I can’t wait to get started.  In October, I return for the final leg of the BambinO tour, teaming up again with Tim, Stuart, Laura, and the team from Scottish Opera for our performances in Glasgow.

Scottish Opera

Then on December 2nd I will be performing the Soprano solos in the Blackburn Music Society’s production of Handel’s Messiah at Blackburn Cathedral, Cathedral Close, Blackburn, BB1 5AA.  We will be conducted on the day by Tom Newall and it will be great to catch up with him again.  The performance starts at 7:00 pm and tickets for the event can be obtained through the BMS website.

Blackburn Music Society

The following Saturday, December 9th, 2017 I have been asked to perform with the Thames Philharmonic Choir for their Winter Concert conducted by John Bate.  I will be singing the Soprano solos in Purcell’s ‘O Sing Unto the Lord’, Pergolesi’s ‘Magnificat’ and Handel’s ‘Laudate Pueri’.  The choir will also be performing Richard Rodney Bennett’s Five Carols to complete the program.  The concert will be held at All Saints Church, 14-16 Market Pl, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1JP and it starts at 7:30 pm.

Thames Philharmonic Choir

As the Christmas term draws to a close I will be performing with the Salford Choral Societyaccompanied by the Northern Baroque Sinfonia. For this concert, I will again be singing the Soprano solos in Handel’s ‘Messiah’ conducted by Tom Newall.  The performance will be at the Royal Northern College of Music, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9RD at 7:30 PM on Saturday, December 16th, 2017. Tickets for the event can be obtained through the RNCM website.

Salford Choral Society

I have always loved to sing and perform and over the years that I have been studying, both in Glasgow and now here in London, I can honestly say that this love affair with singing has developed into a true passion.  The intensity of emotion that I experience each time I perform brings a joy to me that is hard to explain, I just know that I never want it to end. So, whatever the future has in store for me I hope that singing will be a huge part of it.