Tell us a bit about yourself, and your training and career to date?
I was first and foremost a French Horn player but when I started my English degree at Cambridge, the allure of the magnificent clustered and cloistered architecture led me to experiment with singing alto – I’d already failed an audition in first year and been told my chest voice was not my finest attribute! In my second year, I joined Jesus College before moving to St John’s and now three years after first dabbling with countertenor singing, I’m about to start my second year at New College as a lay clerk.
Which other musical ensembles are you involved with?
I feel fortunate to have been offered a scholarship with Birmingham-based Ex Cathedra and Jeffrey Skidmore for the coming year, a group whose variety of concert repertoire will prove a whole different kettle of fish to daily evensong and monthly cantatas. I fill the rest of my time as a Teacher-Singer with thePimlico Musical Foundation – it’s rather an up-and-down the country kind of a life!
What drew you to the Oxford Bach Soloists?
The clue to what drew me to the Oxford Bach Soloists is rather explicitly in the name! The first thing I ever performed of Bach’s was Lobet Den Herrn, a piece I’m delighted to be returning to this season, and I experienced the same rush I used to get from a heroic phrase in a Strauss tone poem. I met Tom on my very first day in Oxford and I loved the way he spoke about the project – I only wish I could have arrived that bit earlier and started the chronological process right from the beginning.
What are you most looking forward to as an OBS choral scholar?
One thing I’m really excited about is forming an ensemble with close friends and discovering what sound we can produce. In particular, Sam and Steph, my fellow choral scholar altos, are both great musicians and I hope we’ll form a pretty formidable section!
What’s more, I was put in contact with Gerhard Gall, a language coach, as part of the OBS scholarship and found our first session eye opening. Hopefully the lessons I’ve already learnt from him won’t be lost when nervous and standing before a full chapel at New College!
What do you see as a value of ensembles like OBS to young aspiring musicians?
I’ve only just turned 23 this year and still feel a real novice as a singer. OBS offers people like me, as well as a whole group of singers yet earlier in their careers, the platform to work intensively on solo singing in a supportive environment, and I believe it will have a fundamental impact on how a whole generation of young Oxford singers will develop. I’ve seen a number of people start with OBS and subsequently join some of biggest choral names in the country. That’s another key reason why I wanted to be involved as a choral scholar – if I can emulate that path, something must be going right!
What are your future plans as a singer?
This year brings a whole new set of opportunities and definitely marks a step up for me. It’s a very volatile career and it’s challenging to predict how it will all unfold. I’ve definitely got my eyes set on moving to London and pitching in with some of the international touring groups. But who knows how the wind will change? Maybe one day down the line I might have the pleasure to be asked back as a visiting artist – plenty of work to do before then!