How did you get into music?
Well, it all started when I was very young – my grandfather was a baritone and I used to enjoy trying to sing along with him. I also sang in church choirs but I never really considered singing ‘classically’ until I was in high school, where my music teacher chose me to sing at the Leeds Lieder Festival. It was at that point that I decided I wanted to pursue a career in music.
I gather you then went on to study at RWCMD. Why Cardiff?
I just wanted to feel safer, I had family members there and I was still young. But after four years, I needed a change of scene and enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music. Though I often return to Cardiff, I’ve found that I get most of my work from London.
Now that you’re primarily a solo singer, do you still find the time to sing with choirs?
As often as I can! I’m very fond of choral music, but while I was at Cardiff this became an issue with my teacher – she was afraid it was going to affect my technique. Actually, I always thought it was a very useful place to practice vocal technique in a proper performance setting without being too exposed!
Guerilla practice, I like it… So how to you see your career moving forward?
Opera is ultimately my goal. I’m currently singing in as many productions as I possibly can to build up my repertoire. That’s when being a Londoner comes in handy; there’s always something on and even amateur productions are usually of a very high standard.
I noticed that your diary is booked up for the summer. Is that always the case?
Yes, it has been for the last couple of years. It’s the only time I can take on all the projects I’d like to. I’m still finishing my Masters, so I find it difficult to combine my own projects with college requirements. I tried to do it during the first term but I soon became a zombie (despite my high consumption of tea)!
Do you have any projects outside of RAM planned for the next academic year?
Well I’ve recently helped found a new company, BiteSize Opera, with which I plan to do two productions this year. We’re a group of nine students who met last summer and got on so well we decided to create our own company! Our aim is to reach out to people who wouldn’t have considered going to opera before. We try to find an attractive programme made up of scenes from different operas rather than performing entire operas. For example, our last show constisted of a selecton of scenes from a few of Mozart’s most famous operas (performed in English).
Sounds great. Have you ever engaged in music outreach projects?
Yes, I did a lot of them in Cardiff. I think music is the best therapy. I saw with my own eyes the effect that music can have on people with dementia or on severely disabled children. The serenity, the calm in their eyes is beautiful.
As a singer you must have to frequently switch between different languages. Is this a challenge?
At certain times, yes. Though French and German are not a problem for me, I don’t get on well with Italian. I love listening to it but I find it so difficult to pronounce – that’s probably down to my Northern diphthongs!
Have you ever had any stress issues or memory lapses?
I never really get nervous for operas or auditions, I just try to have as much fun as possible. With recitals though I’m the total opposite – I completely panic. They remind me of exams!
Do you think having a website is a good way to make contacts?
Absolutely – they’re pretty essential nowadays. If people can listen to you perform before an interview or audition you can often get a step ahead of the competition.
I see you’ve been selected for the Preparatory Opera Course at the Royal Academy for your final year of Masters. What are your plans after that?
After that, I don’t know. I might apply for the opera programmes at National Studios or the Royal Opera House. Then I’ll audition for everything I can and see where it takes me!