The Samling Foundation provides a wonderful chance for young professional singers and pianists to escape to the beautiful north west for a week and work intensively with various top tutors. The setting of Farlham Hall (near Brampton, in Cumbria) is absolutely stunning, and we were spoilt rotten there, taking over the place entirely for the week. The six singers (sopranos Meeta Raval, Eva Ganizate, Jennifer France, mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudge, tenor Stephen Chambers, baritone Benjamin Appl) all have exciting burgeoning careers; between them this week they were preparing for roles at ENO, performances in Cardiff Singer of the World, recordings with RSNO, productions across Europe, recitals, auditions… Concurrent sessions with gurus Della Jones, Paul Farrington, Caroline Dowdle and John Mark Ainsley ensured that it was a packed week, not least for pianists Jocelyn Freeman and myself – but it was extremely productive. Wednesday saw a public masterclass at The Sage in Gateshead, whose smaller recital hall is ideal for sung repertoire. A fascinated audience received a real insight into the detailed process of preparation for performance, and it was great to see many of them back for the concluding concert, in the same space, on Saturday. This featured arias and songs from each of the singers, as well as operatic ensemble numbers and excerpts from Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzer involving everyone. Samling is proud to have ‘accumulated’ 200 Samling Scholars over its 15 years of existence, and it is a privilege to be a part of such a starry lineup.
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