22 February 2018
On the final day prior to February half-term our GCSE and Sixth Form Music students had the amazing opportunity to engage in an operatic workshop with Eamonn Dougan (Conductor/Singer) and Alice Privett (Freelance Opera Singer).
Eamonn and Alice were at Pipers Corner due to their association with Ryedale Festival Opera who, as part of the Chiltern Arts Festival, were staging a performance of Mozart’s “The Garden of Disguises” in the School’s Arts Centre Theatre.
British born soprano Alice has performed with professional opera companies from a young age. After studying singing at Chetham’s School of Music for Sixth Form, she studied for her undergraduate degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and graduated in with a First Class Honours degree and the Concert Recital Diploma. Alice then went on to graduate from the Royal Academy of Music after completing the MA (as the Jennifer Vyvyan scholar) and Opera Course. Eammon is an inspirational director and renowned baritone. He read music at New College, Oxford, before continuing his vocal and conducting studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Informed by his singing, Eamonn is an engaging communicator with a particular passion for Bach, the French Baroque and Twentieth Century English repertoire including MacMillan.
Eamonn and Alice took time out of their hectic rehearsal schedule to talk to the girls about opera and the art of singing. They challenged the girls to think about why and how they sing, and taught them a variety of exercises to warm-up and focus their mind.
Eammon discussed the different types of operatic performance and how they infiltrate our daily lives. He highlighted the talents of many of the great composers, focusing particularly on Mozart, whose first composition was “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. Mozart is now regarded as a musical genius and a role model for gender equality with many of his finest parts being sung by women.
Alice then demonstrated to the girls how to inject emotion and meaning into operatic lyrics. The group participated in several vocal exercises and worked on developing the ideal stance and posture to deliver true recitative singing. The students were also encouraged to attend operas and festivals locally, to explore and develop their vocal abilities and, most of all, to enjoy the beauty and depth of operatic music.
Ryedale Festival’s performance of the opera the following evening was totally enthralling, delighting all who attended. We hope to welcome the Chiltern Arts Festival back to Pipers again in the future.