Archives For Classical Music

Short Back And Sides

July 19, 2020 — 60 Comments

Feeling well-rested and supercharged today thanks to blue skies, sunshine, and time with my parents. I decided to visit my family, and in true Hoather fashion, there was no rest for the wicked. We made the most of the good weather and decided to tackle the evergreen hedge at the front of the property. I had a great time, learning how to use electric hedge clippers – and I am glad to report no fingers or thumbs were hurt in the process of taking of these photos.

Before my journey home, I had a wonderful time collaborating again with my two friends Jenny Martins (Pianist) and Roger Paterson (Tenor). We met one another last year when we were working together for Northern Opera on their production of Much Ado About Nothing. In May, we decided to join forces and find a way to perform together whilst we were in Lockdown. We had so much fun, we decided to do another duet from the same opera.

I am delighted to share with you the duet from Act 4 of Much Ado About Nothing. Leading up to this point in the story, Claudio has dismissed Hero. He publicly shames her on their ‘proposed’ wedding day, as he believes that she has been unfaithful. After this brutal condemnation, Hero is advised by the Friar, to act as if she is dead. This may seem very dramatic in modern-day, but perhaps it is similar to lying low on social media and disappearing from the public eye. In the time that passes, Claudio learns the truth and realises that his accusations are false. Claudio now feels tremendous guilt by his actions, which he believes has ultimately led to her death. Luckily for Claudio, Shakespeare doesn’t leave the desperate lover in mental-torture purgatory for too long, he soon finds out that Hero lives and finds redemption through her forgiveness and love. This is the moment that you see in the duet that I am thrilled to share with you. There is a modern editing twist in our version, as Jenny has re-imagined the meeting under Lockdown circumstances. The power of a Video Call!

I had a great time contributing to this project and I even developed my home editing skills through the use of a green screen and Adobe editing software. Picking the backdrop was a really fun challenge. It was too tempting to be underwater – but alas professionalism kicked in. As the play is set in Messina, a port on the island of Sicily, I thought I better pick a Romantic Italian Balcony. I would love to hear what you think!

Sweet Sixteen

July 12, 2020 — 73 Comments

It has been a joy and such an engaging challenge to present 16 weeks of music alongside George from our balcony in London. We have explored a variety of repertoire, with the hope to engage with different tastes in music so that each week we hope that we brought a little fun to our neighbours, both virtual and from within our complex. Thank you so much for watching!

For me, it helped ground my weeks. Providing inspiration and a deadline for tasks, which would add up to a musical sharing. Sometimes it was our main priority and other times it was a joyful release of tension. I simply love performing and to be able to share and continue to make music has been a gift. I feel very lucky.

I would love to hear what you have enjoyed the most about our shared experience?

George and I decided to take a little break from the weekly concerts, so that we can attend some rehearsals and give us some time to relax, recharge and learn some new material. We hope to evolve the idea and see where it takes us. Would you be interested in the concerts continuing? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments or by email.

One of my New Years’ resolutions was to experiment with video, and this string of concerts, which emerged from a spontaneous event, has opened my eyes to the fun of sharing regular video content with you. I hope to continue to explore this over the coming months. So, stay tuned and as always, I would love to hear your feedback as I explore the possibilities further.

I hope you enjoy this week’s balcony concert and celebrate 16 weeks with us.

Program:
Do, Re, Mi – Sound of Music
Bibbiti Bobbiti Boo! – Cinderella
Be Kind and Courteous – Britten
Piangerò la Sorte Mia – Handel
Baby Shark – Pinkfong
Quando m’en Vo – Puccini
Don’t Cry For Me Argentina – Evita
Oh Luce di Quest’anima – Donizetti
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – Mary Poppins

A Disney Medley

June 28, 2020 — 81 Comments

Last week we asked our neighbours for their song suggestions for this week’s balcony concert and we enjoyed reading through those they put forward. Several of the songs were from Disney Movies and this inspired us to try our hand at creating a Disney medley.

It was a really fun task. We thought about which films we enjoyed the most when we were both younger, and let’s be honest you can never run out of excuses to watch a Disney film! We settled on a set of eight songs. We tried to pick songs dependent on their key signatures and tempo so that they would flow from one to the other. However, it was so important to pick songs that were special to us which is why I chose ‘Colours of Wind‘ as it’s a favourite of my Mum and my brother, Matt. I included two songs from Mary Poppins as they reminded me of the time that I played the role in a Stagecoach production when I was younger and always evokes special memories for me. George’s favourite Disney song is ‘A Whole New World’.

We opened the concert with ‘When Daisies Pied’ by Thomas Arne based on Shakespeare’s words in ‘Love’s Labours Lost’ as the children in our community love the cuckoo calls and it is so sweet to hear them join in.

To finish, we thought it would be apt to perform ‘Art is Calling for Me’!  A comic opera aria from ‘The Enchantress’ by Victor Herbert which opened in New York in 1911 – the song is about a pretend Princess called Vivian Savory (who is an opera singer), she sings of longing to be an opera singer in order to try to win over Prince Ivan of Zergovia, however, should the Prince fall in love with a commoner, he must abdicate, this story has Disney written all over it, I was introduced to the song by my first classical singing teacher Jayne Wilson GRNCM when I was about fifteen it was a tough song to sing then!  All that was missing was a tiara and full-length gown, maybe next time 😊.

What is your favourite Disney song? Have you any special memories that come flooding back when you listen to it?

Programme:
When Daisies Pied – Thomas Arne

Followed by a medley of :
Colours of The Wind – Pocahontas – Disney
Whole New World – Aladdin – Disney
Part of Your World – The Little Mermaid – Disney
Some Day My Prince Will Come – Snow White – Disney
Spoonful of Sugar – Mary Poppins – Disney
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – Mary Poppins – Disney
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo – Cinderella – Disney
Under The Sea – The Little Mermaid – Disney

Finishing with:
I Want To Be A Prima Donna – The Enchantress – Victor Herbert

Thankfully sufficient progress has been made in containing the virus in England (its slightly different rules in N Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) with shops allowed to reopen with physical distancing now, I’ve not been yet though other than to my local mini-market so I’m not sure how it’s going. The pubs, restaurants, cinemas, and hotels are allowed to re-open with restrictions from 4th July but the large London theatres have said they’re unlikely to re-open until 2021 possibly March? This week we can allow two people to meet from different households as long as you don’t stay overnight, so no visiting my parents yet. I think we can meet in a group of six outside but a lot of people had been going to the beach in the heatwave we had mid-week and going on demonstrations in larger groups. If we travel there is a two week quarantine when we come back for everyone in each household group. Are you venturing out yet?

We are happy to report that we have seen improvement in the WiFi quality in our home. Hooray!! This is fantastic news as our solution (a WiFi Booster) has enabled us to stream continuously whilst performing on our balcony. To mark this occasion, we decided to sing pieces that sadly suffered from our previous WiFi problems and that you may have missed. We combined these with songs from our first balcony concert on the 27th March 2020. Goodness, almost three months have passed – Time is whizzing by! 

We hope you enjoy the concert and we are so thankful that you have stayed with us on this crazy, wonderful journey over the past 13 weeks.

The program includes:

You’ll Never Walk Alone – Carousel – Rodgers
Somewhere – West Side Story – Bernstein
Me Voglio Fa’Na Casa – Donizetti
Over The Rainbow – The Wizard Of Oz – Arlen
Danza, Danza Fanciulla – Durante
Glitter And Be Gay – Candide – Bernstein

A special shout out to my Dad on Father’s Day, love you, and of course to George’s Dad and thank you to all Dads for everything that you do. We celebrate you all today 🙂

What have you been up to this week to lift up your spirits and cheer?

Have you made any homemade projects Glitter?

My good friend and authoress Noelle did an interview with me for her blog, Sailingaway and if you fancy taking a look here is the link :

Following our short performance last week George and I performed our second balcony concert on Friday 3rd April for our neighbours as we all continue to come to terms with staying at home here in the U.K.

Our song selection this week included a mix of styles to try and please a wide audience of tastes. The pieces that George and I performed were:

      I Feel Pretty, from West Side Story, by Bernstein

      I Could Have Danced All Night, from My Fair Lady, by Loewe

      A Piper, by Head

      O Waly, Waly (folk song) – for my blog friend Hilary, who suggested it.

      O Luce Di Quest’anima, from Linda Di Chamounix, by Donizetti – for a sprinkling of Opera

However, after feedback from last week, we decided to trial live streaming on YouTube. The idea was suggested as our neighbours in our development, who do not face into our courtyard, got in touch and asked if there was a chance, we could share it with them online. So we researched how we could do this and decided to experiment with YouTube Live as I already had an account with them which I use on my blog from time to time.

We set up my phone to capture our performance in the corner of our balcony using a stand with a phone adapter screwed into the top – a little bit of repurposing with pieces that we already had at home. For this our first attempt at live streaming we decided to film live using the unlisted feature, which means people can only watch with a link. We copied and pasted this into our Neighbourhood Facebook page and then let rip.

Moving forwards we hope to share our third balcony concert with you all publicly via my YouTube Chanel. It will take place between 18:00-18:30, weather permitting (UK time) on Friday 10th April. We would love for you to tune in and celebrate music and people coming together during this difficult time.

I want to thank my YouTube subscribers as I wouldn’t have been able to live stream without their support. If you have a YouTube account you can find my channel by clicking on the link : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjMXKEEZ0Iu32vdQ_GyQXcQ

This is George’s YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClNHb_M4FDh1gwl7h2oiuLw

Hope you can join us, stay at home and stay safe 🙂

It was such a delight to visit Alderley Edge in Cheshire to perform alongside George Todica on Wednesday this week. I used to visit this town annually to participate in the Alderley Edge Festival of Music, Speech, and Drama. This week-long platform hosted many different competitions where performers could showcase their skills as musicians, public speakers, singers, and actors. The festival has been running for over a hundred years and I was fortunate to celebrate their centennial year in 2016 by performing in their gala concert. If you are interested in building up experience and showcasing your skills within the UK. Then check out the Festival Directory by clicking on the link and see if there is a festival near you that you can apply to. I learnt so much from these experiences when I was younger and can’t recommend them enough!

George and I performed at Alderley Edge Methodist Church, which is one of the venues now associated with the festival. The team who organise the lunchtime recitals here were so warm and welcoming and created a relaxing atmosphere – just perfect for our performance. I was thrilled to see some new faces as well as some from my childhood friends.

On Tuesday 18th February I attended a talk held in the Caversham Room at Cadogan Hall. The event was organised by Opera Prelude, an organisation who is passionate about opera and the professional development of young singers. They specialise in lecture-recitals and masterclasses. The event that I attended was called: The Key to Audition Success. The guest speaker was Sarah Playfair, who is a renowned Casting Director who previously held artistic administrative positions at Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival for many years before becoming a freelance arts consultant. Playfair spoke precisely and honestly about her work. It was very helpful to hear a voice from the panel, which so often in auditions only says “Hello” and “Thank you”.

She offered advice across a range of topics but I found it a little disheartening when she discussed the volume of sopranos (my voice type) that apply for each audition. The amount is much greater than all the other voice types put together and often represents over two-thirds of all applications received. An example she gave: there were 220 sopranos who auditioned for five chorus spots, and that wasn’t including the number of applicants who didn’t pass to live audition! Playfair discussed that certain training programs would tip the odds in your favour, such as opera school. I haven’t completed an OS program, and as a freelance artist, the odds seem a little steep. But I shall keep swimming and hopefully, I will be one of the fishes that slips through the net.

For those of you who may have missed my most recent video release I have included it below:

Piangerò La Sorte Mia

February 9, 2020 — 45 Comments

Often Opera companies and competitions require a selection of unedited video evidence of your singing. A one-take wonder you might say!

Recording a video of this style can be quite challenging. Firstly, you need to become relaxed whilst in the presence of a camera. For example, you need to consider where to look and where your imaginary audience is. This will encourage you not to stare down the lens of the camera, as this can be off-putting to the viewer.

A performer in the recording studio needs to have a great mindset that can focus on aiming to sing with your best possible technique on that day, whilst still telling the story of the text. We are all human and mistakes will occur, therefore you have to learn to forgive yourself quickly. Concentrate on recording a full take of your aria/song. Then at the end of the recording session, you can be critical so that you choose videos that provided the best results.

However, this recording mindset is similar to a Competition mindset, where you have to try your best and not give up. If you make a mistake… you can’t just walk offstage or stop the performance and request to restart. You have to power on, and draw the audience and the panel into your performance and hope that they enjoy it.

This week I’d like to share with you a video of my interpretation of “Piangerò la sorte mia”, from Handel’s Opera “Guilio Cesare”. This video was recorded live during a competition, that I entered last year and I do hope that you enjoy it too 😊

I hope that you all had an enjoyable New Year and feel recharged as we start both a new year and a new decade.  This week I managed to find a lovely balance between work and relaxation to start my new year. I wanted to break back into my practice regime but also prolong a little bit of the holiday cheer whilst my family and I had had some free time.

Me with Esme

On Monday, I managed to catch up with my dear friend Esme, who I met during my Masters at the RCM. After graduation, Esme moved back to the USA so it was a joy to see her in London instead of through the phone or on WhatsApp. However, I am very grateful for this technology as it does help to bring us closer together when we are apart!

Esme and Me in the Albert Hall Foyer after our graduation in 2018

George and I welcomed in the New Year at my brother’s NYE party. It was so much fun and it was great to see some fireworks from the balcony!

Me with my Brother Matt

This week I went to a board game cafe with my brother and brother-in-law. It’s called Draughts and is basically a cross between a library (of board games/bar/cafe). You rent your table for 4 hours and play until your heart’s content. It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon with friends and I had a blast. We played Reef, Junk Art, and Bunny Kingdom. Even the titles bring a smile to my face.

And to start the new year with a healthy nudge, I went to a brilliant Pilates class with Alex and then enjoyed a lovely cup of tea post sweat-a-thon. 

Me with Alex, my Brother in Law

I’m currently working on preparing for auditions and competitions so my workload can at times appear a little fragmented but full of variety! I recently got some great advice from my friend and fellow artist Eric Christopher Jackson his photography captures the raw emotions of weather and the smaller details of life. He said that he wasn’t sure what the future holds but it will be great as long as he works hard and doesn’t give up. I like the power in this statement and self-belief. It’s thoughts like this that make you keep pushing forward and I can’t think of a better motivator at the start of a new year. Believe in yourself and give yourself the opportunity to be who you want to be.

With this in mind, I would love to hear what your New Years’ resolutions are. I try to make periodic goals throughout the year. But my main one for my blog this year is to experiment with Video. I’m a little nervous about this content as I’m not sure what to talk about and how regular I should try to be. I would love to hear your thoughts and also your reviews when I try it out during this year!

I am also excited for the year 2020 as I am thrilled to announce that George and I are getting married in June. I have taken my time before sharing this exciting news with you all, as we wanted to save up some money for the big day and also so we could make a home of our own together for the first time. Luckily everything has gone smoothly so far and we can’t wait to share our lives together.

George and I are so happy to announce our wedding this June

Happy New Year For 2020

December 31, 2019 — 75 Comments

I’m back in London now after A truly magical Christmas at home with my family and loved ones. I took some time off from technology and I enjoyed playing board games with my brothers whilst the fire was crackling. I’ve been reading a great book, “Eve of Man”, which my friend Elspeth lent to me. Of course, I ate far too much food and I’m ready to get back into the dance studio to shimmy off a few pounds. But mostly it reminded me of how much I have to be grateful for and how lucky I am.

Firstly I’d like to say thank you for supporting me on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram this year. My blog allows me to record my crazy life and remind myself weekly of the many joys of being an Opera Singer. Thank you for letting me share them with you. My blog friends, you’ve given me so much support which has allowed me to continue and has given me the energy for the new and exciting year which is just on the horizon.

Please let me know if there’s anything that you’d like me to expand on in the coming New Year. I’m keen to hear your thoughts and always love your questions.

I’m a very tough self-critic and moving from one project to the next I haven’t had the time to fully appreciate and savour all the exciting things that I’ve done this year. So I want to take this time as one year ends and a new one begins to look back and cherish all of my memories, give thanks for my good health which has enabled me to complete all these wonderful shows, and thank all my friends and family who helped me learn the countless words and melodies! 

Operas 2019
The Christmas Elf ( Pfitzner )
Romeo & Juliet ( Gounod )
The Fire Of Olympus ( Benjamin )
Mansfield Park ( Dove )
Much Ado About Nothing (Stanford)
Puffy McPuffer And The Crabbit Canals
A Little Bit Of The Magic Flute ( Arr. D Clarke )
A Little Bit Of Iolanthe ( Arr. D Clarke )

Competitions
Veronica Dunne Int Singing Competition.
Seoul International Music Competition.

Seoul Was A Wonderful Place To Visit

Things I am proud of in 2019
I sang alongside Rolando Villazón at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod Classical Gala.

I drove in London for the first time, which gave me the confidence to use my own car when I took on touring work in Manchester and Leeds.

I moved out of my room in a shared house and moved into my flat, and I am so happy to now have a permanent home in London.

Christmas cheer has certainly been in the air of our rehearsal room this week. With Singing Trees, Elves, and Angels. Northern Opera Group organised our rehearsals to take place at the Yorkshire College of Music and Drama. This venue is a great space for rehearsals as it has been converted into different sized practice rooms. We rehearse in a large studio that hosts a lovely grand piano and plenty of space for staging the drama.

Michael Vincent Jones who plays Frieder and Me

‘Christmas Elf’ involves both spoken dialogue and music and I have had a lot of fun working with my colleagues to tell the story. 

The Whole Company

To finish off our first week of rehearsals, today we are blocking the finale with the wonderful Community Chorus who completes our company.

During a little bit of downtime yesterday, I visited Harewood house’s Christmas attraction: ‘A Night at the Mansion’. It was extremely magical and full of Festive cheer, tinsel, and finely decorated Christmas trees.

I don’t want to give away too much about the experience, but I will explain that the concept was inspired by the Hit-Movie franchise ‘Night at the Museum’ starring Ben Stiller and Robin Williams. It is after hours, the doors are shut, and no humans in sight, so the statues, paintings, and household objects come alive! (using a little bit of Christmas magic).

There are even little characters similar in size to the ‘Borrowers’ which took me straight to my childhood, searching for them in cupboards. It also made me reminisce about the times I went looking for dragons and fairies in the forests and mountain valleys of North Wales with my Mum, Dad, and brothers.

Here is their trailer to give you a sneak peek!

I thoroughly recommend a visit to the attraction if you are in the Leeds area over the Christmas period. Next Saturday (21st December) If you fancy a real Christmas treat perhaps you can visit Harewood House during the day and then come along to our performance of The Christmas Elf in the evening. What a way to start your Christmas off, I am sure that you will go home with a huge smile on your face full of Christmas cheer and delight!