Our choral scholars form a crucial part of the Oxford Bach Soloists’ commitment to developing the talents of young aspiring soloists. We chatted with Charlie Epps about his experiences with OBS so far…
Tell us a bit about yourself, and your musical training to date
I am twenty years old, went to Torquay Boys’ Grammar School and I’m now in my final year studying English at Lincoln College. I am in the college choir there and had solos in the CD recording of Duruflé’s Requiem last year.
At school I was involved in musicals, which I have continued with while at university as they’re such great fun! Since the start of this academic year I have had singing lessons with fellow bass and Bach enthusiast Ben Davies.
How do you prepare when stepping out to perform a solo during a concert?
I pay a lot of attention to where I breathe, as I find this is an area I need to work out first before I consider other aspects like diction and phrasing. It typically takes a number of attempts to get all the breaths in the right places.
I then try to commit the piece to memory, focusing with each sing through on a different facet of the performance. I increasingly subscribe to the idea that there are potentially endless ways in which you can curate and refine each piece of repertoire.
What has been your favourite moment as an OBS choral scholar so far?
My first recitative, “Gott meint es gut mit jedermann,” (from BWV 188) was definitely my favourite moment of all. It was a real thrill to be singing a recitative in front of so many people, and I found my experience with musicals was useful for the expressive and rhetorical mode which that demands. I also really enjoyed my and Lizi’s duet in the December concert, which was my first time performing a baroque duet.
What do you see as the value of ensembles like OBS to young aspiring musicians?
I think being part of this kind of ensemble is of immeasurable value, especially to those wishing to become professional musicians. I had not thought I would have the chance to learn to sing such beautiful music with a full Baroque ensemble, with such expert guidance – simply by plucking up the courage to audition and showing my enthusiasm for this kind of repertoire.
It has been an incredible way to gain musical experience, and the knowledge I have acquired will also enrich all of my future singing endeavours. It’s also lovely spending time with such lovely and like-minded people.
What do you plan to do after the scholarship has ended?
I plan to audition for several conservatoires in the autumn of this year. After that I am hoping to pursue a career in music, but I am not sure whether baroque music, opera, or something else will be my main area of expertise!
OBS Choral Scholarships 2023-24
As we say goodbye to our current Choral Scholar cohort in June, we are now opening our OBS Choral Scholarships 2023-24. You can find all the details on our website. We would be very grateful if you could help us spread the word about these scholarships by sharing this opportunity with anyone who you think may be interested. Our goal is to reach as many talented individuals as possible.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about the scholarship program, please do not hesitate to contact us.