Archives For Royal College Of Music

Spring Term Exams

March 19, 2017 — 61 Comments

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I have had a fabulous day today, both productive and entertaining.  It is Spring term exams next week and everyone is busy preparing repertoire for assessment.  I was up early to get some rehearsal time in with my very talented friend, Prajna Indrawati. Prajna is from Indonesia and is currently studying for her Masters in Piano at the RCM and kindly agreed to accompany me in my exam.

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Prajna and Me

It was a lovely bright spring morning and the RCM looked very majestic in the sunshine.  I enjoyed the rehearsal and it helped me to get a feel for how the pieces are developing. My exam slot is 10:00 am on Wednesday but on Tuesday I will be singing an aria with Prajna as part of her assessment, and also singing two Lieder with another student Laura Ayoub as part of her accompaniment assessment. It is going to be a busy couple of days.

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The Royal College Of Music

This afternoon we were offered the opportunity to watch the dress rehearsal of ‘Faramondo’ which the RCM is staging in conjunction with the London Handel Festival. The Festival runs from March 18th through to April 24th and also hosts a number of amazing concerts and recitals.  You can watch  ‘Faramondo’ on Monday 20th March, Tuesday 21 March, Thursday 23 March and Saturday 25 March, in the Britten Theatre at the RCM.

It was wonderful to watch the dress rehearsal and see my fellow students from the RCM and the RCM International Opera School perform this fabulous opera.  They brought the story to life in a dynamic interpretation under the watchful eye of the conductor Laurence Cummings and accompanied by the London Handel Orchestra. What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon 🙂

 

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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.

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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Britten Opera Scenes

January 29, 2017 — 51 Comments

On Friday I had the pleasure to share the stage with my wonderful colleagues in a set of Opera Scenes produced by the Royal College of Music. The scenes were all from the works of Benjamin Britten to mark the 30th anniversary of the building of the Benjamin Britten Theatre at the College and included:

The Rape of Lucretia
Albert Herring
Turn Of The Screw
Owen Wingrave
Billy Budd
A Middummer Night’s Dream
Paul Bunyan

The week leading up to the performance was well organised and very slick. Each scene had its own separate rehearsal on Monday to iron out any wrinkles and make any final corrections. Then on Wednesday and Thursday we began running the scenes together to get a sense of timings and a feel for the overall production.

It was brilliant to be able to support and watch my colleagues as we began bringing the show together. We then added curtain calls, lighting and special effects. Then on Friday we came in early to do our make up and hair. After that we finally got to wear our costumes and worked out any last-minute niggles and the timings for the quick changes. Then after these two rehearsals we performed the show at 5:30.

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Carly Owen and Me

I performed as Flora from “Turn Of The Screw”, alongside Ashlyn Tymms as ‘Mrs Grouse’, Carly Owen as ‘The Governess’ and Josephine Goddard as ‘Miss Jessel’. I had a great time preparing for the scene alongside these fantastic singers and I hope we can work together again in the future.

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Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, Carly Owen, Harry Thatcher, Me and Amy Manford

I also took on the part of one of the fairies in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with Amy Manford as ‘Tytania’, Feargal Mostyn-Williams as ‘Oberon’, Stephen Mills as ‘Lysander’, Beth Moxon as ‘Hermia’, Eleanor Sanderson-Nash as ‘Helana’, Harry Thatcher as Demetrius, Rory Carver as ‘Puck’. Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, Carly Owen, and Ida Ranzlov were the other Fairies. It was so much fun to be part of such an enthusiastic group of performers and I had an amazing time.

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The Whole Cast

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Timothy Edlin, Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, Carly Owen, Me, and Amy Manford

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Me with Ida Ranzlov

 

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Rory Carver, Me and Amy Manford

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Me and Director, Lorenzo Mariani

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Timothy Edlin and Richard Pinkstone

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Beth Moxon and Me

To end my post tonight I would like to wish you all a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year as we enter the year of the Rooster.

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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.