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The 21st Century Singer

Participants: John Fisher, Julia Faulkner, Matthew Rose

Series: Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme

Ideas explored: professional development for musicians

The BPYAP 21st Century Singer course was a reflection on the present and an exploration of the future of singing. Three incredible tutors taught a week of masterclasses and lessons as part of Aldeburgh Festival 2018.

John Fisher, Head of Music at the Metropolitan Opera, and Julia Faulkner, whose student list reads like a “who’s who” of international opera houses, and acclaimed bass Matthew Rose worked with the 12 singers and 6 pianists to examine what it means to be a singer in the 21st Century and how we can lead the profession in the future.

A wide range of repertoire was brought to the course ranging from Mozart to Britten, and Tchaikovsky to Vaughan Williams. They had the opportunity to work on these pieces in private coaching with tutors and public masterclasses, which you can watch on the videos below. They explore ideas such as characterisation, connecting with the audience, developing language skills and technical elements including work on ornamentation and vowel placement.

In addition to coaching, the Young Artists were also offered morning yoga classes, tickets to other Aldeburgh Festival events, evening discussions on relevant topics and the opportunity to take a tour of the Red House in Aldeburgh.

Britten: Bottom's Dream (A Midsummer Night's Dream)

Antoin Herrera Lopez-Kessel (bass baritone) and Lydnsi Maus (piano) work with Matthew Rose on a full character examination and dramatic moments in this aria… from one Bottom to another.

Massenet: Va! laisse les couler mes larmes (Werther)

Agnieszka Grochala (Charlotte – soprano) and Lydnsi Maus (piano) work on the French language, connection to the audience and the meaning of the text.

Rossini: Cruda sorte (L'italiana in Algeri)

Elena Snow (Isabella – mezzo soprano) and Maya Irgalina (piano) in a masterclass with John Fisher on language, technique, phrasing of line and characterisation.

Britten: Bottom & Tytania (A Midsummer Night's Dream)

Olga Siemieńczuk (Tytania) and Antoin Herrera Lopez (Bottom) work with Matthew Rose on the drama and characterisation of this scene with particular attention paid to the English pronunciation.

Handel: Un zeffiro spiro (Rodelinda)

Jake Ingbar and Shiori Hosada work with John Fisher on breath control and shape of phrasing in melismatic phrases and some work on ornamentation in this piece of Handel.

Tchaikovsky: Tatiana’s letter scene (Eugene Onegin)

Julia Faulkner works with soprano Justyna Bluj and pianist Michael Leach on their characterisation, romanticism and drama in the Tatiana’s letter scene.

Mozart: Ah! chi mi dice mai (Don Giovanni)

Justyna Bluj (soprano – Donna Elvira) and Michael Leach (piano) work with Matthew Rose on the drama of the aria and in the piano, characterisation using the audience and physical technique to improve the vocal line.

Stravinsky: Here I stand (Rake's Progress)

Matthew Rose works with Josh Lovell (tenor) and Michael Leach (piano) on the English accent, drama and genius of the music in Tom Rakewell’s aria.

Mozart: Il Mio Tesoro (Don Giovanni) & Tosti: Non t'amo piu

Alex Aldren (tenor) and Maya Irgalina (piano) focus on vowels (particularly the ah vowel), storytelling and drama with Matthew Rose.

Mozart: Hai gia vinta la causa... (Le Nozze di Figaro)

Matthew Rose works with Ed Ballard (Count Almaviva – baritone) and Richard Fu (piano) on brightness of vowels and vocal line.

Mozart: Dalla sua pace (Don Giovanni)

Matthew Rose works with Josh Lovell (Don Ottavio – tenor) and Michael Leach (piano) on emphasising Italianate vowels and language, an exercise in singing facing the wall to practice structure and to practice introspection – ‘the only person you are telling is yourself.’

Cardillo: Core ‘ngrato (Catari, Catari)

Alex Aldren (tenor) and Maya Irgalina (piano) work with Julia on the approach of medical professionals in singing and spend time using a different stance to free up muscles while singing.

Mozart: Hai ga vinta la causa... (Le Nozze di Figaro)

Ed Ballard (baritone) and Richard Fu (piano) work with Julia Faulkner on exploring and conveying the count’s character and emotions particularly anger, sadness and vulnerability.

Richard Strauss: Allerseelen

Agnieska Grochala (soprano) and Lyndsi Maus (piano) work with Julia Faulkner on German pronunciation and shaping in Strauss’ music through dynamics and tempo. They also consider head position when singing and how this can help in projecting the voice.

Bernstein: Glitter and Be Gay (Candide)

Olga Siemieńczuk (soprano) and Shiori Hosada (piano) work with Julia Faulkner on characterisation dissection to achieve better technique with particular attention to the vowel sounds, use of the body and taking up space.

Rossini: Ecco ridente in cielo (Il Barbiere si Siviglia)

Josh Lovell (tenor) and Michael Leach (piano) work in detail with John Fisher on the score and musical direction to improve characterisation in performance.

Donizetti: Al dolci guidami (Anna Bolena)

Angela Kim (soprano) and Richard Fu (piano) work with John Fisher on italian vowels and the purity of the sound and the precision of the accompaniment to help this.

Wagner: O du mein holder Abendstern (Tannhäuser)

Sebastian Durán (baritone) and Chad Vindin (piano) work with John Fisher on the German language, text and meaning as well as focus on shape and phrasing.

Richard Strauss: Sein wir wieder gut (Ariadne auf Naxos)

Elena Snow (mezzo-soprano) and Maya Irgalina (piano) receive direction and advice from John Fisher on the drama, tempo, vowel placement and the musical temperament of Richard Strauss.

Mozart: Aprite un po'quegli occhi (Le Nozze di Figaro)

Antoine Herrera Lopez (Bass baritone) and Lyndsi Maus (piano) receive extensive and detailed work on the Italian language of the recitative from John Fisher.

Donizetti: Una furtiva lagrima (L'Elisir d'Amore)

Josh Lovell (Nemorino – tenor) and Michael Leach (piano) work with John Fisher on bel canto line and singing in Italian.

Mozart: Hai gia vinta la causa... (Le Nozze di Figaro)

Ed Ballard (baritone) and Richard Fu (piano) work with John Fisher on characterisation, musical detail and drama of the aria with particular attention on the recit: Hai gia vinta la causa…

Mozart: Il Mio Tesoro (Don Giovanni)

Alex Aldren (tenor) and Maya Irgalina (piano) work with John Fisher on accuracy and detail in melisma, getting rid of tension and some work on Mozart technique.

Mozart: O zittere nicht... (Die Zauberflöte)

Olga Siemieńczuk (soprano) and Shiori Hosada (piano) work with John Fisher on language, direction, challenge of connecting the breath through the passagio and characterisation in the Queen of the Night’s first aria.

Puccini: Tu che di gel sei cinta (Turandot)

Angela Kim (Liù – soprano) and Richard Fu (piano) explore emotional connection to the text and technique with Julia Faulkner starting with work on interpretation.

Britten: Oberon's aria (A Midsummer Night's Dream)

Jake Ingbar (countertenor) and Shiori Hosada (piano) work with Matthew work on the intricacies of Oberon in this aria alongside detailed work on the detail of the music, text and character.

Haydn: Rosina's aria (La vera costanza)

Justyna Bluj (soprano) and Michael Leach (piano) work with John Ficher on the relationship between the voice and orchestra as well as characterisation beginning with work on the recitative.

Leoncavallo: Silvio's Aria (Pagliacci)

Sebastian Duran (baritone) and Chad Vindin (piano) work with Julia Faulkner on accessing the upper range for the baritone voice.

Young Artists

Chad Vindin piano
Ellie Penfold soprano
Sebastian Duran baritone

Shiori Hosada piano
Jake Ingbar countertenor
Olga Siemieńczuk soprano

Maya Irgalina piano
Alex Aldren baritone
Elena Snow mezzo

Michael Leach piano
Josh Lovell tenor
Justnya Bluj soprano

Richard Fu piano
Angela Kim soprano
Ed Ballard baritone

Lyndsi Maus piano
Agnieska Grochala mezzo
Antoin Herrera Lopez baritone