Music College/University: Oxford University (Exeter College) / Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Birthplace/Home Town: The Chilterns
Q.1 What or who inspired you to become a professional musician?
Growing up, I was a first study violin player and avid ballet dancer, who was low-key obsessed with violinist Maxim Vengerov and ballerina Svetlana Zakharova. At the age of sixteen, I discovered classical singing, which seemed then (and now) to be the perfect blend of music with visceral, physical performance. I feel lucky to have been at a sixth form with a strong music department, particularly the chamber choir. My school music teachers and first singing teacher Nelly Miricioiu were all great inspirations. If I had to pick just one famous singer who inspired me to become a professional, hands down it has to be Cecilia Bartoli. I literally listen to her all the time.
Q.2 What are the biggest challenges you face in the early stages of your career?
My biggest challenge so far has without question been building and learning to use my vocal technique. Some singers have natural operatic voices & don’t need a great deal of help figuring things out. It’s only very recently that I personally have started to feel like I can really rely on my technique. Although my longer-than-planned journey has often felt frustrating, I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve met lots of interesting teachers, coaches, pianists, and singers along the way. It’s possible that my voice simply needed a bit longer to “grow up”, or perhaps I really needed that Italian immersion (fresh pizza and pasta included, thanks to my wonderful teacher Antonio Lemmo) to get to grips with bel canto technique. I know there will be many more challenges ahead, but the reward of singing beautiful music on stage with talented and hardworking colleagues for appreciative audiences is certainly worth it. I feel lucky to have found a vocation that I am (no exaggeration) totally addicted to.
Q.3 What would winning the New Voices Competition mean to you?
I was elated when I found out about getting through to the semi-finals of the New Voices Competition. The chance to sing for such a distinguished panel, the challenge of preparing some meaty repertoire with my friend Vlad, the adrenaline of taking part in a competition… winning would be an amazing bonus but I’m honestly just excited to perform our programme(s) in June.
Q4. What would you say to audiences to encourage them to come along, and hear you sing in Aldborough?
Vlad and I took a lot of time and care to construct our two programmes. I’m sure that the other participants did too so I’d encourage audiences to come along to experience an eclectic and exciting selection of vocal repertoire. Chances are you’ll get to hear some pieces for the first time (like Saariaho’s Il pleut), as well as some established favourites (like Schubert’s Die Forelle).
I’m also sure that the atmosphere will be electric. As I’m writing this and imagining the semi-final, I already have (small and helpful) butterflies in my tummy. This potent mix of excitement and nerves will no doubt be contagious in the room.
Q5. What would be your dream job in singing?
The two operatic roles at the top of my bucket list are Gilda (Rigoletto by Verdi) and Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart). I’m not too fussy about which professional theatre, although Covent Garden would be a dream come true.
I’ve sung in some amazing halls already, including the Palau de La Música Catalana in Barcelona, but if I’m lucky enough to do a solo recital there in the future, that would be another major ‘pinch-me’ moment.
Q6. What sort of music do you listen to when you are not working?
My music taste is pretty eclectic. While I’m relaxing or doing computer work, I listen to a lot of opera, song, and other classical music, but also to deep house, jazz, and UK garage. Recently a friend of mine gave me a crash course in Fleetwood Mac so I’ve been listening to them a lot too.