Our choral scholars form a crucial part of the Oxford Bach Soloists’ commitment to developing the talents of young aspiring soloists. We chatted with Maurice Cole about his experiences with OBS so far…
Tell us a bit about yourself, and your musical training to date
I am currently a 2nd year undergraduate Music student at Magdalen College. I am also a choral scholar there, singing most days. I am still relatively inexperienced (compared to my superhero colleagues!), and so the OBS scholarship this year has been an incredible opportunity for me to raise my game and learn from some of the most exciting up-and-coming musicians around!
I was a chorister at the London Oratory for 8 years under the directorship of Charles Cole, with whom I have made a number of recordings and joined several international tours. Most recently, I was invited back to sing the Duo Seraphim tenor trio from the Monteverdi Vespers with renowned professionals Mark Dobell and Peter Davoren.
How do you prepare when stepping out to perform a solo during a concert?
Working with Gerhard Gall this year has been transformational in how I prepare for performances, in focusing closely on text translations. Understanding fully what the text means is essential for communicating the meaning of the music, and this requires plenty of time to prepare properly.
I will also listen to a number of recordings of the piece, and spend some time thinking which ones I like and why – and what I think I can do better!
What has been your favourite moment as an OBS choral scholar so far?
It has got to be the performance of the St John Passion on Good Friday. I have sung this piece a few times before with different choirs, but not to such a high level! It is a very special piece of music and was enriched even further by its deeply religious setting on such an important day in the Church calendar in New College Chapel. The evangelist’s utterance of ‘es ist vollbracht’ came at exactly 3pm, when Jesus himself died on the cross, and it was a particularly enchanting moment.
What do you see as the value of ensembles like OBS to young aspiring musicians?
They are fundamentally important for aspiring musicians like me! The performance profession is extremely difficult to break into, and there is not one specific path which people take to get to the top. This means you have to start making connections from very early on and build up a breadth of experience which ensembles like OBS bring to the table in spades.
Not only is the music making fantastic, and the audience extremely engaging, but the people you meet along the way comprise the next generation of singers, and this community building is essential for our treasured musical traditions to continue to thrive!
What do you plan to do after the scholarship has ended?
Firstly, I must continue to work hard and focus on finishing my degree! Beyond that I am not sure yet, but I would love to continue singing and performing, by jumping at every opportunity which comes my way.
I am so grateful for such a comprehensive education in the music of JS Bach, and for everyone who has contributed to making it possible. I can only hope that with hard work and a good attitude, I will be able to hold my own alongside my extremely talented peers. It has been a pleasure, thank you for having me!
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.