We have once again been hit with a set of difficult restrictions on our lives and livelihoods as we try to deal with this pandemic as a community. Those of us in education are very fortunate that at least this part of our lives can carry on in some way, with our ability to use the college buildings and have in-person teaching unaffected where necessary.
Because we don't know what may happen at the end of this period of lockdown, public performances can can only really be provisionally planned, but there are some things to look forward to if you, like me, can't wait for a return to live music and theatre, and the sense of community and empowerment that they bring.
Here's a selection of some of the things I've been up to over the past month, and also a quick look at some things that are 'in the pipeline':
It was brilliant to once again work with the direction of Jennifer Hamilton to produce a staged recording of an excerpt from G.F. Handel's Jeptha. I played the title role, and learned a lot about playing the role of someone who is in torment and emotional breakdown, while not compromising the quality and connectedness of my singing.
I also played the role of Caramello in Eine Nacht in Venedig by J. Strauss II. This set of scenes has been sound recorded, but we are continuing to work on producing something special to accompany this audio, so look out for that too!
Recording of these will be available once production is complete - most likely at the start of 2021.
In the period immediately after the lockdown is projected to end, there are some exciting performances, including:
...Alongside these, I plan to keep producing recorded content and taking part in online projects, while preparing for a few exciting live performances in the new year (more information to follow).
New works projects
Since performing in the premiere of Georgia Barnes' composition A Time of Empty Tales in September, I have continued to work with Trinity Laban composers.
In December, I am performing part of a quartet piece, also by Georgia Barnes, which will be premiered at the Puzzle Piece Opera gala concert on Monday 7th December.
This term I have also featured in Theo Karpinski's composition, Broken, which was premiered for Trinity Laban's Rude Health festival last week. You can see the first instalment below:
The past couple of months have been very energetic and full of surprises, and I have a few new projects to talk about. Keep reading for updates about music at St Mark's, rehearsals for opera scenes, some recital appearances, and other exciting things in the pipeline!
Music at St Mark's, Hamilton Terrace
I continue as tenor choral scholar for another year at St Mark's Hamilton Terrace, and this year we plan to host Scholars' Recitals at least once per term. On 9th November, we're hosting a 'coffee morning' recital with some treats from Italian, French and German song repertoire, alongside some sacred polyphony with four voices.
Also in the diary:
Find out more details on the 'performances' section of my website.
Since March 2020, things have gone quite differently to how many of us in the music industry expected. Despite challenging circumstances, there have still been some brilliant opportunities to make music and art, and I wanted to share some of those that I've been involved with here:
Rocket Opera 'Karaoke nights'
As well as providing some exciting masterclasses with Martin Constantine and Matteo Dalle Fratte, Rocket Opera have been busy hosting a weekly performance platform for artists on Thursday evenings.
With established singers and young artists from many backgrounds participating, it has been wonderful to have a safe space in which to perform to real live people even during the difficult lockdown period. To find out more, visit Rocket Opera's website and get in touch!
A fundraiser for Brighton Early Music Festival (BREMF)
Having participated as a cover artist and chorus singer in their January 2020 production of La Dafne, BREMF proved to be such a supportive and friendly organisation while also pursuing musical and theatrical excellence and providing great opportunities for young artists who want to start specialising in early repertoire.
Organisations like BREMF lost a lot of revenue from having to cancel their live season this autumn, and to support them in continuing their work, I joined a group of alumni in an online 'Playathon' which has been streamed online.
Alongside two other young artists, I produced a performance of the Air Gai from J.P. Rameau's Cantata L'impatience. You can view the end result at the link below, and please do give your support if you can:
British Youth Opera
This year was my first experience with British Youth Opera (BYO), who were forced to cancel their two summer opera productions because of the global lockdown. It was particularly sad as I was excited to have been offered a tenor chorus role in their production of Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias in Hackney Empire Theatre.
Despite all the challenges, BYO managed to produce a really impressive and fruitful summer season of training for its young artists, and I had an amazing two weeks of workshops and masterclasses, including:
...and some grassroots too!
It's also been a pleasure to create music at my home church of St Edward in Netley Abbey, and with St Mark's Church, Hamilton Terrace, where I am continuing as a choral scholar for the 2020-21 academic year.
I have also reconnected with colleagues and other young artists to make music during lockdown, and will continue to share these projects on my Facebook page and YouTube channel.
...and take a look below at some of the 'Lockdown Creations' from the Trinity Laban vocal department, in which I feature as a soloist and as part of a larger vocal ensemble:
During the midst of the most surprising - and stressful - summer I've experienced as a musician, some things seem to be moving again. This month, we've seen announcements from English National Opera that they will be going ahead with an autumn season (of sorts) in London's beautiful Coliseum Theatre. We've also witnessed successes in the forms of open-air concert performances at some of the UK's best-loved summer opera festivals.
Tête à Tête opera too are going ahead with their summer festival, and I'm very happy to announce that 'At Time of Empty Tales', with Nine Muses Opera, is currently going ahead on Monday 14th September in the Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone.
New approaches, re-appraisals
Everything has 'turned upside down' in recent months, and I'm slightly nervous that this might be a physical reality when we stage the show too - but interesting staging will certainly play a large part in this physically-distanced production.
"The Lost One is trapped in a nightmarish trance. She awakens in a decrepit basement to the greeting of the sinister Friend who begins to steer her into the chaos of addiction and religious fundamentalism. Surrounded by dreams and ghost stories she cannot control, her storytelling is her one defence."
This student-driven production is all about the power of the storyteller. In a time where people are increasingly hoping for a way forward and outward from their isolation, It is truly exciting to think about the possibility of being on stage again, even if the setup is not entirely familiar!
Follow Nine Muses Opera on Facebook here, or visit their website:
For more on Tête à Tête's Opera Festival 2020, visit the link below:
It has certainly been a challenging time for all of us in the arts, and I have witnessed almost all of my most exciting and prominent projects of the spring and summer being mothballed and cancelled.
Despite this challenge, many of us have found ourselves exploring new ways of engaging with our art, for me that has included: working on my acting and role preparation skills, and also some recording and editing. I have also been very lucky to receive masterclasses from Nicky Spence, Christopher Underwood (specifically looking at French repertoire), and Martin Constantine (in acting skills).
Here are some other exciting things that are starting to appear on the horizon in the midst of these disturbing times for the arts world:
A Time of Empty Tales' (tête-à-tête festival 2020)
with Nine Muses Opera
"A Time of Empty Tales is a student driven adaptation of the literary classic A Thousand and One Nights translated through opera and contemporary dance.
"Addressing themes of religious fundamentalism, feminism and the power of the storyteller, A Time of Empty Tales explores the strength of the female protagonist."
(More information at https://www.tete-a-tete.org.uk/event/a-time-of-empty-tales/)
British Youth Opera:
Summer festival 2020
Having previously successfully auditioned for a chorus role in their summer production of Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, I was very excited to perform in the beautiful Hackney Empire Theatre for the first time in September.
In place of their now-cancelled 2020 opera season, British Youth Opera are offering a two-week programme of online training and performances for participants, from 10th-22nd August.
I'll be posting updates about these two exciting projects as they come, but in the meantime, keep an eye out!
As you know, the performing arts industry is currently 'hibernating' due to the Covid-19 situation and the government's guidance. This is a very worrying time for performers and musicians.
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance has closed its buildings, and teaching is now only happening online: It is likely that this will continue for me until the end of the summer term, and that I won't return to college until September.
All of my performance engagements up to and including July have also been cancelled. Like many people, I'm using this time to think about repertoire, try and get some recordings made, and also to think about my teaching practice, engaging with the course materials from my Masters module in Contemporary Music Pedagogy.
I hope you stay safe and keep well, and keep looking forward to things returning to somewhere-near-normal!
It's been a very busy Christmas break, and there's plenty more going on in London and elsewhere in the UK this term! Below is a selection of some of my appearances:
I am so excited to have been cast in two roles in this term's opera scenes (Lysander in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the Conte di Libenskoff in Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims).
These will be my first staged scenes in a full theatre since I arrived at Trinity, and I am very excited to be working on much larger-scale scenes productions.
Side by Side with WNO Orchestra
Also in April, several trinity Laban vocalists and orchestral musicians will be performing alongside players from the Welsh National Opera's orchestra.
We will be performing the first act of La Traviata (in concert), in which I have been cast as Alfredo. I am very excited to explore this repertoire in detail and gain the experience of singing with full orchestral forces and expert guidance from industry professionals.
Keep an eye on my performances page and social media feeds for more information of upcoming performances!
I'm now approaching the end of first term at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and so much has happened! Here's a quick run-down:
I have been involved in two sets of opera scenes at Trinity Laban already this term, and am in an another scene on 13th December as Don Ramiro in Rossini's La Cenerentola. The opera scenes are an opportunity for us to work intensely on music and stagecraft, and showcase postgraduate singers throughout the year. We'll also be ending the academic year with a fully-staged opera.
2. Other performances
Choral concerts in Oxford and Maida Vale, a recital in North Norfolk, and an analytical performance of some Purcell in a performance-seminar for GCSE students. During this term I also appeared as a young artist with Berwick Festival Opera and in an opera gala with Trinity Laban's student-run opera company, PuzzlePiece Opera.
I'm very excited to be joining Trinity Laban's Chamber Choir (directed by Stephen Jackson) next term, and also organising some recitals around the UK alongside other young artists.
The Yorke Trust runs courses throughout the year and also has numerous other opportunities for young singers, instrumentalists, conductors, directors and costume designers to get involved in opera productions, choral courses and other projects.
Visit the Yorke Trust Website to book tickets and find out what else is going on!
And take a look at the video below (courtesy of Adam Johnson), showcasing the Erard 1840 grand piano which will be used on the day:
On Wednesday 16th October I will participate in a masterclass and evening concert with Jette Parker Young Artists at Trinity Laban, performing an aria from Mozart's Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail.
Bass-baritone Michael Mofidian and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Wake-Edwards will be accompanied by David Gowland at the piano for an evening recital at 7.30pm, which will be opened with performances from the masterclass participants.
There is free admission to the afternoon masterclass at 2pm, which will take place in the Peacock Room in King Charles' Court, Greenwich.
Follow the link below for tickets to the evening concert (£10):