When did you first start singing?
I started singing when I was really young in my family’s church music group because my parents both played in it. My first organised singing experience was with the Locomotion boys’ choir in Darlington when I was about six.
How did you find out about Samling Academy and what inspired you to join?
I found out about Samling Academy when I was 13 through my first singing teacher who had a few other pupils doing it. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about it and just treated it as audition experience, having no expectation of getting in. I didn’t get into the Academy that year but auditioned again the next year (again not expecting anything to come from it) and this time I got in.
How has being in Samling Academy helped you as a singer?
Honestly, (at the risk of sounding like I’m being paid to say this) Samling Academy has been the single most transformative thing I’ve been involved with when it comes to my singing. In terms of exposing me to this style of singing and the standard Samling Academy produces, nothing comes close to it. Even having grown up in a musical household and being very lucky with the opportunities I had been given up until that point, my first Samling Academy weekend was unlike anything else I’d been part of. I’d never seen a group of people who loved and thought about singing in so much detail and it just ignited something in me that’s eventually led to me choosing classical singing as my career choice!
What’s been the highlight of your time in Samling Academy so far?
It would probably be the ending of the October 2019 concert when we did the Easter Hymn from Cavalleria rusticana. It was my first time properly being involved in a huge moment from an opera and I’ll never forget the goosebumps I got while being in the chorus.
What do you like to do when you’re not singing?
I’m a big football fan and spend a lot of time watching, listening and reading about it. Aside from loving the sport and finding it really entertaining as a game, I get a lot from the psychological and mental side of the game that I apply to my singing. They both require a person to perform a skill they’ve honed over years of practice under a lot of external and internal pressure, and I find those sorts of parallels really interesting. When I have some time
to myself, I’m also usually messing around on a guitar. I’m not very good at all but I like having a musical outlet where I can just play whatever I like and nobody has to listen to it except me!
What do you enjoy about performing in Sage Two?
Sage Two is a really unique place to sing. It manages to feel like a big venue to be performing in while still being very intimate and nice to sing in. I’ve been lucky enough to have sung there quite a few times and it’s always a venue I look forward to because I get something new from it each time in terms of how the room itself reacts to you as a performer.
Can you tell us a bit about ‘Conversation Pieces’ and the music you’ll be performing?
‘Conversation Pieces’ can have a lot of meanings. My two solo items show the breadth of ideas that ‘conversation’ can refer to. James MacMillan’s ‘Scots Song’ is an incredibly intimate and personal conversation where the protagonist is recounting a series of experiences they’ve had with a mysterious and otherworldly woman who leaves them completely haunted and overwhelmed. On the other hand, Peter Warlock’s arrangement of ‘Yarmouth Fair’ is more like a story you might overhear in a pub about the exploits of a bloke trying to get off with a pretty girl and taking her to the fair!
And finally, why should people come to see the show?
I’ve been a part of Samling Academy for a few years now and with every production, I’m always blown away by how much all the singers and the production team put into every detail. There is complete and utter buy-in from every single person involved and that shows itself in the performances because all of the cast and crew pull together to create a production that can stand alongside anything put on by a professional group of performers.
Classical singing (and especially art song) is a criminally under-recognised art-form in my opinion and I think these Samling Academy concerts will be a fantastic showcase of how in the 21st century, this music can be enjoyed, emotionally connected with and sung by young people.
*Photo credit Mark Pinder