I spent most of my first term of fourth year at the RNCM auditioning for opera festival chorus work only to receive nothing. However I had auditioned for the Chorus Manager of the Gabrieli Consort who offered me a professional choral project in Poland, recording Haydn's The Seasons. Though saying that I had auditioned for him the year before and got the response of, 'Come and sing to me again next year and try to not be so nervous'.
When I arrived at my first rehearsal with the Gabrieli's, I quickly learned that I had come in to the world of professional choral singing from the top and instantly felt out of my depth. It was so interesting to be apart of a world where people make a living just out of choral and small ensemble singing. I think when you are studying at a music college the emphasis is more on you as a soloist and you forget about the fact it's extremely hard to make a living purely out of solo work.
(Front row 5th from the left)
Though saying that I got the opportunity to spend a week listening to and watching Carolyn Sampson and other incredible British soloists who do make their living through solo work. I also had the aid of Renee Fleming's book The Inner Voice to occupy my mind during orchestral and soloists rehearsals. It was incredible to not only read about the journey that Renee Fleming went on to get where she is today but also to observe another amazing female singer work before your very eyes.
Both Renee and Carolyn didn't fly to the top at the age of 21 and it's reassuring to hear that Renee got more rejections than offers when she was starting out. It was also lovely to hear that Carolyn had started as a choral singer and had worked her way up to where she is now. It was obvious from her warmth towards the members of the choir that she could relate to our status in the project. I think I was also humbled and admittedly a little surprised to read about a very down to earth and non-diva-ish depiction of Renee Fleming who always felt most comfortable as second place rather than first!
Sometimes we see these accomplished performers and think... 'Well maybe they were just born that way.' Absolutely not. It is not the case that once you've done an undergraduate degree or even a postgraduate degree, you are ready for the professional world and that things will just fall into place. I'm not sure I ever thought that but I don't think I fully considered how hard it is to get professional work and how draining it is going to audition after audition and getting constant rejections. I think it takes a kind of person to deal with that much rejection and most days I feel equipped but I often get slips of confidence in myself.
During my time with the Gabrieli's I wondered if choral singing was more suited to me than solo or operatic work. I came to the conclusion that I had been successful in one choral audition and been unsuccessful in all of my seven opera festival auditions, therefore I may not be destined for a career as a soloist or in opera Then after a wonderful lesson with my teacher something changed and I felt more in control and more equipped to change my approach to presenting myself as a soloist in auditions and performing in general.
As is always the case everything overlaps and there is never enough time to do everything thoroughly. I was sent an excerpt to learn for an audition with Northern Opera Group and when I had got back from my travels with the Gabrieli's I only had 3 days before the audition to learn this excerpt. So this is where a reliable coach comes in handy. Long story short, I told myself on the morning of the audition that I was going to get this audition and I did. Maybe by pure luck or maybe I had changed my audition energy, either way I think I owe a big thanks to my inspirations of the month, Renee, Carolyn and of course Debbie (my singing teacher).
So my next professional project is playing the role of 'Hero' in Stanford's Much Ado About Nothing with the Northern Opera Group and travelling to Brazil to perform an opera.
Here is a link to the Gabrieli Consort singing http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07gnc3n