JULY: Lockdown Catch Up
Hello! I hope that you are all keeping safe and well! It has been a long time since I last wrote a blog post; and since then, I think we can all agree that a great deal has happened in this crazy world! Life in lockdown - for me - has been surprisingly busy and this post is a little update as to what I have been up to!
NATIONAL STUDENT OPERA SOCIETY
I am absolutely thrilled to have been made Events Manager of the National Student Opera Society (NSOS). Since being appointed the role in April, I have had the opportunity to share my passion for opera with young artists throughout the country and overseas - working with industry professionals to deliver interactive ZOOM masterclasses and workshops. In recent months, artists have included; Matthew Rose (Bass), Benjamin Hulett (Tenor), John Ramster (Director), Richard Wiegold (Bass), Denni Sayers (Director and choreographer), Barbara Diana (Italian Language coach), Nicky Spence (Tenor) and Austin Gunn (Tenor).
I am very grateful to all of the artists for their dedication to the encouragement of young opera lovers during these unprecedented times and to all who have joined the lovely NSOS community!
RNCM VIRTUAL LEARNING
I am very proud of The Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) for how they have adapted to the Coronavirus crisis. Since March, I have completed my third year of studies entirely online from home. Online study ranged from singing lessons, performance classes, language tuition and one to one tutorials. A definite highlight of the term was recording a virtual opera scene ('First Lady' from Mozart's 'Die Zauberflöte'). Although it certainly felt bizarre recording a scene (composed for five people) alone at home, I could not be happier with my end result and feel I have learned many new skills in making the recording!
This year, I decided to re-kindle the love of composing I had found at Chetham’s School of Music, and chose to study the ‘Composition and Performance‘ elective at the RNCM with Professor David Horne. I absolutely loved this module and I am very happy with how my compositional skills have progressed throughout the academic year. When lockdown hit, I decided to turn the unfortunate situation into inspiration for my final composition portfolio. Hours of working at my beloved childhood piano resulted in me creating ‘Four Songs of Quarantine’ - a song cycle for soprano and piano. I am very proud of this work and hope to have it performed in the near future!
NYCGB ALUMNI RECORDING
Teaming up with National Youth Choir of Great Britain (NYCGB) alumni to create a virtual recording of 'Shenandoah' was an incredible (and rather emotional) experience. Over 400 NYCGB alumni members took part in the project and it was very rewarding to see the finished product!
You can watch the video by following the link below:
I have very much been keeping myself busy in terms of vocal practice. I have been focusing on a lot of exciting new soprano repertoire with my wonderful teacher Jane Irwin. I am very surprised at how well Zoom singing lessons have worked. During the last four months of Covid madness, I am overjoyed at how I have progressed vocally.
Alongside singing lessons, I am very lucky to have received coaching from wonderful, supportive professionals in the field. The kindness shown by these individuals has been extremely heart warming and it is so touching that, during challenging times such as these, artists are prepared to give up their time to help emerging artists.
Those of you who know me will understand my obsession with language learning. At the start of lockdown, I made improving my Italian and German a priority, and have since been completing online courses alongside weekly language sessions with my good friend (and duo partner) Max Bilbe. As a challenge, I have decided to tackle learning Russian and have loved learning Mussorgsky's rarely performed song cycle 'The Nursery'. I am extremely grateful to Martin Pickard for his wonderful coaching sessions on Russian repertoire.
During the Coronavirus crisis, I have learned the importance of winding down and allowing myself time to relax. Initially, it was quite difficult to adjust from a busy city lifestyle of constant performances and studies to a quieter countryside setting and lists of cancelled performances. However, spending time at home in my beloved Lancashire has been refreshing and just what I needed.
Initially, the biggest adjustment of lockdown was coming to terms with the cancellation of many exciting concerts and for performing life to come to a complete stand-still. Lockdown meant that my time with the Hallé as an artistic administrator for the Youth Ensembles came to an abrupt end without the opportunity to say a proper goodbye. I have no doubt that I will soon be back with the Hallé and will continue to work as part of the amazing Hallé family.
I was very much looking forward to various solo recitals, including a return performance with pianist Duncan Glenday at 'St. Mary in the Baum'. Two exciting concerts of Puccini's 'Madame Butterfly' with Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra were also cancelled. The cancellations were a a great shame, but completely understandable and necessary due to the gravity of the pandemic.
Unfortunately, I will not be heading to Florence this summer as planned for the 'Mediterranean Opera Studio' Opera Summer School 2020 (cancelled due to Covid 19). It has certainly been a very tough time for the arts industry and I hope that organisations can pull through these uncertain times. I very much hope to be involved with 'MOS' in the future and wish them all the best.
So - what does summer have in store?
- I will soon be moving back to Manchester after four long months away, in order to prepare for my fourth and final year of study at the RNCM. The Autumn term one will be a very busy one, with my end of year recital and opera scene both re-scheduled for the Autumn term. Alongside my studies, I hope to gradually return to performing recitals again. I also plan to film some new recordings to publish on my website! Stay tuned!
- I am very excited to have accepted a place on Angel Blue's 'Opera Training Studio'. This is a series of workshops, masterclasses and coaching sessions delivered online throughout summer.
- I will soon be releasing information regarding an upcoming project - in which I will be leading a series of interviews and podcasts. This project will run as part of my studies at the RNCM and I am extremely excited to share more information with you in the coming weeks!
I wish all of you reading this the best of health. We will get through this stronger and more determined than ever and - when we can eventually make music together again - we will certainly appreciate it that little bit more!
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