4 October 2017
Ahead of the inaugural Scholars’ Recital at the Wigmore Hall in October 2017, we sit down with this year’s scholarship recipients to talk about their journey so far and what they’re looking forward to as they embark on their professional careers.
...don’t take it all too seriously ... we end up jumping around on a stage in silly costumes, enjoy it!
Independent Opera: What led you into opera and singing in the first place? And how did you come to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland?
Charlie Drummond: I grew up surrounded by music – Dad playing Dire Straits in the car on the way to school, my big sister practicing piano in the front room, Mum taking me to see my Grandad singing in choir concerts – so it has always been a part of my life. I started having singing lessons from an early age (maybe 10 or 11) and started singing in choirs at school, something I continued through university. I always sang, but it wasn’t until quite late that I really started to want to sing Opera specifically and had my first experiences of performing roles whilst at university (I was lucky enough to go somewhere with a strong music department, and lucky that they often let me join them despite not studying music!). By the time I graduated from Kings College London, it felt like time to start deciding if opera was really something I wanted to do so I dipped a cautious toe in the water by taking some voice lessons and joining classes at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. It was this experience that made me realise opera is absolutely what I wanted to do. As for studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; having lived in London for 6 years I was keen to experience living in a different city and to “start fresh” as an opera singer in a new place. When I auditioned in Glasgow I was struck by how friendly and generous everyone was, how serious the teachers were about taking care of young voices whilst still encouraging them to grow and develop in their own time, and that Glasgow itself is an amazing city to live in – despite the rain!
IO: What are your performance highlights from the past year?
CD: One of the main highlights was travelling to China to sing as a soloist with the Peking Sinfonietta and City of Glasgow Chorus – it was amazing to experience the country and to work with such high-level musicians …that and winning the Bruce Millar Inter-Collegiate Opera Competition!
IO: What aspect of the Scholars’ Recital are you most looking forward to?
CD: So many things! Singing at such a prestigious venue, getting to work with James, but mostly getting to hear and sing with such talented artists is a real privilege – I can’t wait to see everyone in action!
IO: What advice would you give to your younger self or others who are just beginning their training?
CD: I would say don’t be afraid to take the time you need to let your voice develop properly and at your own pace; learning to sing isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ process and it’s important to understand that everyone learns in their own time. It’s worth taking the time to figure out if you really want to do it too – it’s a long process and if your heart isn’t really in it, it can be hard to keep going. Try to surround yourself with people who are supportive and whose opinions you can trust. Most importantly have fun and don’t take it all too seriously – ultimately, we end up jumping around on a stage in silly costumes, enjoy it!