This November I was delighted to win 2nd Prize in the London Welsh Competition with Carly Marie Owen in 1st place and Céline Forrest in 3rd, Dame Anne Evans chaired the adjudication panel. 2016 kicks off with a month in Glasgow, covering Dalinda in Scottish Opera's production of Ariodante, re-locating to the UK for my husband's new army posting and then joining the Glyndebourne Chorus for Le Nozze di Figaro, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Béatrice et Bénédict.
I was absolutely thrilled to perform in the final and win First Prize of the AESS Patricia Routledge National English Song Competition as well as my pianist Peter Foggitt winning the accompanist prize. We performed a programme including songs and poems by Dorothy Parker, Henry Lawes, Liza Lehmann, Margaret Atwood, Andrew Marvell, Haydn, Britten and Walton. Patricia Routledge is the patron of the competition and it was such an honour to perform to and meet her.
I've just finished a run of Gianni Schicchi at the Royal Academy of Music, directed by Will Kerley and conducted by Peter Robinson. I played the role of Nella, one of Buoso's dastardly relatives in Schicchi. As most of us in the cast have been studying and working together every day for the last four years it was a bit like play time and we had marvellous fun rehearsing it under Will and Peter; it's an incredibly energetic show with some of Puccini's most memorable musical moments (O mio babbino caro, anyone?) Jason Southgate's designs for both productions were very striking, an austere, clean convent for Suor Angelica and then an incredibly cluttered hermit's flat littered with priceless art and gaudily dressed relatives. Here I am with my stage husband and fellow Welshman, Gwilym Bowen in our Sunday best (just out of shot are some orange tights and bright green stilettos).
I'm now preparing for a run of concert up to the Christmas period and for the role of Anne Truelove in RAO's production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress which will be conducted by Jane Glover and directed by Jonny Ramster.
In other news, my fiancé and I have now moved to Gütersloh in Germany where I will be based for the next year. I'm looking forward to the challenge of learning a new language and getting used to army life. I'll still be back plenty often for concerts, rehearsals and auditions so it will be a very temporary relocation.
Today I was incredibly lucky to be awarded the First Prize in the John Kerr Award for Early English Song at Finchcocks Museum. Nathaniel Mander, with whom I regularly perform, won the accompanists prize so a celebratory gin absolutely had to be partaken in. Nat and I met at Dartington International Summer School in 2008 and have remained firm friends both on and off the musical platform ever since. We had great fun working on this project which demanded a great deal of research and digging away in archives to find a good balance of the well-known and obscure. Eight finalists performed a 25 minute programme. Nat and I performed songs by Haydn, Purcell, Liza Lehmann, Maude Valérie White and Charles Dibdin using just a few of the vast collection of keyboards available at Finchcocks. I was accompanied by lutenist Richard MacKenzie for two additional songs by Henry Lawes and John Dowland. Our programme, entitled 'Sirens', was an exploration of the power of women in society pre-1900 and how many had to resort to using their beauty and sexual allure in order determine their own destiny.
I had my first experience of performing classical music at the age of 11 when I sang at the Royal Albert Hall in a massed county choirs performance of Carmina Burana. I couldn't really read music at that stage so had the whole thing drummed into me by my fantastic school choir director, Ian Hooker. I remember the soprano soloist walking out on stage and totally falling in love with everything she did; I think her massive, sparkly, Cinderella-esque ballgown was also an excellent selling point. For me there was no definitive moment when I decided to pursue singing as a career, but this sticks out in my mind as a pretty monumental occasion for an 11 year old.
On Saturday night, I was incredibly fortunate to take up the soprano soloist/massive ballgown slot my self as part of the London Welsh Festival of Male Voice Choirs. As wonderful as singing my solos and duets with Trystan Llyr Griffiths was, the highlight, for me, has to have been when all 6,000 audience members rose to their feet and belted out Mae hen wlad fy nhadau.
The concert will be broadcast several times in the next few years on television and a CD and DVD will be released later this year. I'll be posting details of how to buy a copy in the next few months.
On Sunday the 14th of September, I competed in the final of the MOCSA Young Welsh Singer of the Year Competition. I'm absolutely delighted to have been named the winner of this year's First Prize, trophy and scholarship which will be invaluable in the final year of my studies at the Royal Academy of Music. More information about the competition and previous winners can be found here.
Summer 2015 is shaping up to be a busy one. I will be covering the rôle of Anna in Strauss' Intermezzo at Garsington Opera as well as singing the rôle of Lace Seller in their production Britten's Death in Venice which will be directed by Paul Curran and conducted by Steuart Bedford (who conducted the world première). Oh, and I'll also be getting married!!!
My final year at the Royal Academy of Music approaches. At this time I would like to acknowledge the incredible generosity of the following individual and organisations who are making this year possible. Entering my eighth year of full time study is incredibly exciting, but it would be impossible without financial help with towards my fees and maintenance.
(in alphabetical order)
The Countess of Munster Musical Trust
Elizabeth Evans Trust
Help Musicians UK
The Josephine Baker Trust
The Royal Academy of Music
The Ryan Davies Memorial Trust
The Sickle Foundation
The Simon Fletcher Charitable Trust
This summer was spent preparing, rehearsing and performing the impossibly fun and formidable rôle of Armida in Handel's Rinaldo. Please find photographs by Robert Workman and reviews from the production on my gallery and press pages.
I am very excited to be singing in the Festival of Male Voice Choirs' bi-annual concert at the Royal Albert Hall on the 18th of November. Choirs from 13 countries will be present and the concert is already sold out. As the guest soloists, Trystan Llyr Griffiths and I will be singing a mixture of operatic and Welsh repertoire. More information here: Royal Albert Hall