Next Year's Dates: 13 - 22 June 2024

Aileen Baker (aged 26) – Mezzo-Soprano

Aileen Baker – Mezzo-Soprano

Music College/University: University of Chichester Conservatoire (BMus) followed by the Royal Academy of Music (MA).

Birthplace/Home Town: I was born in Melrose, Scotland and grew up in North West Germany, Belgium, Kenya and North Yorkshire.

Q.1 What or who inspired you to become a professional musician?
My maternal grandmother was Irish and a gifted singer. She was always humming or singing a tune and I have fond memories of her lullabies – or frequently solos from light operas – that would send me into a happy sleep.  I grew up in a military family, spending many years living overseas, and have always been surrounded by music: traditional Irish and Scottish melodies; French and German children’s songs; operatic arias; liturgical and sacred music and military marches to name but a few examples and have met many wonderful and passionate musicians.  What I love the most is the way music makes me feel, whether I am listening or singing. And I never want to let that feeling go!

Q.2 What are the biggest challenges you face in the early stages of your career?
Although I love being a singer, that is not to say it doesn’t have its challenges. The main one, of course, is funding.  As a young musician, in the cultural hub of London, there are new jobs being advertised every day. However, I have found that starting out, many of these jobs would look great on a CV but they offer little to no pay.  I am also very interested in going abroad and am actively applying for work; however, many places now require valid working visas as a prerequisite and this proves to be another barrier.

Q.3 What would winning the New Voices Competition mean to you?
To win the New Voices Competition would mean a tremendous amount to me. Not only would it provide me with some financial support for the upcoming months as I finish my masters and continue to apply for jobs, but I could even put on a recital with some of my peers.  I am incredibly grateful to be able to sing and receive feedback from a very impressive panel of judges, as well as the chance to meet other musicians in a similar position to myself. To have the opportunity to sing, accompanied by my very talented and good friend, Maxi, in front of a supportive audience in a part of the world that I love is a very special thing.

Q4. What would you say to audiences to encourage them to come along, and hear you sing in Aldborough?
I have curated a diverse programme and hope there is something in there for everyone! You don’t have to be an aficionado or speak the language to appreciate the music. Music is an expression of human emotion, from Mongolian throat singing to Gregorian chant, every culture has expressed itself through song.  This repertoire is designed to tell an emotional story, so come along with an open heart as much as an open mind and be moved by the music.

Q5. What would be your dream job in singing?
I would love to perform in venues all over the world. Whether it be as a soloist in concert halls, or main roles in opera houses. I think my dream operatic roles would be Dalila in Samson et Dalila and Carmen – two beautiful operas that just so happen to have powerful female roles.  Anything I can do to help people and bring a smile to their face or perhaps a tear to their eye (in a good way!). I also love the idea of singing the National Anthem before the six nations final weekend!

Q6. What sort of music do you listen to when you are not working?
I find my music taste to be very mood dependent but I absolutely love hip hop! I even subscribe to updates on the rap and hip hop scene. When an artist releases a new album – I’ll be listening to it! I am often pleasantly surprised to hear rap artists sampling classical music. I love the blending of the genres!

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