Our choral scholars form a crucial part of the Oxford Bach Soloists’ commitment to developing the talents of young aspiring soloists. In our fourth Choral Scholar Focus of 2023, we chatted with Ignacio Cornejo about his experiences with OBS so far…
Tell us a bit about yourself, and your musical training to date
I started my musical training with the violin for seven years from the age of 12. I come from a family of non-musicians, so I was very lucky to receive support from my family as those years were crucial for my love and interest in classical music. However, after all those years of dedicating myself to the violin, I decided to study singing at the University of Chile.
Since then I have had the opportunity to study with private teachers in the United States, Italy and Spain. I have received training scholarships with early music groups such as Capella de Ministrers, Cantoría, and L’Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (ESMUC).
How do you prepare when stepping out to perform a solo during a concert?
I am always very excited when I have a solo, however, it is always accompanied by the fear and responsibility to do my best. During the past year with OBS, and thanks to our wonderful German coach Gerhard, I have learned to pay much more attention to the text of the singing, to the importance, relevance and connection between the words and the music, so that is the first thing I focus on when facing an aria.
I want to tell a story, to give a message with my singing, and the power of the word triples if it is accompanied by the music, and when I have the text well learned, the notes appear almost effortlessly, unless I have to sing a Bach aria which has very long phrases and full of melismas and coloraturas, that is tremendously difficult!
What has been your favourite moment as an OBS choral scholar so far?
Well, it’s a very difficult question because it brings back so many beautiful memories of musical and personal moments that have often brought tears to my eyes. But without a doubt the first one that comes to my mind and that always fills me with emotion is when I arrived in Oxford and went into the first rehearsal and I realised that everything was real.
I’ve been living in Madrid for 4 years now, but I’m from Chile, so it’s been an incredibly long road. Since I was a child I used to watch videos of the wonderful baroque music companies in the UK, and when I entered the church and sang for the first time with all my friends and saw myself in the midst of all those talented people, it was something I would never have imagined, and OBS has given me the chance to experience it first hand.
What do you see as the value of ensembles like OBS to young aspiring musicians?
Personally, OBS has been a beautifully intense year, it has made me work on myself both musically and personally.
The work that OBS does with us is to give us many tools to develop ourselves in the best possible way within the world of baroque music and Bach in particular. We have an incredible German singing coach who helps us with every phonetic detail. The level of demand has always been very high, and this has undoubtedly made me work hard in every challenge, and over the months it has become a habit.
I can’t fail to mention how incredibly inspiring and motivating it is to be able to perform our concerts with instrumentalists who are in the top league. And of course, the good fellowship that exists within my colleagues have been very important in this whole process, always encouraging, always inspiring.
What do you plan to do after the scholarship has ended?
This question makes me very melancholy! As I mentioned before, this year with OBS has given me a lot of energy to continue learning and to set myself new challenges.
So when the scholarship ends, I plan to take masterclasses focused on baroque repertoire, to continue training as a singer, and I also hope to audition for a couple of companies and prepare for early music competitions. And of course to continue working as a singer in Madrid either as a chorister or as a soloist.