Newsletter 57: Here’s what we’re doing

Our office may be empty, but we have been working harder than ever during the lock-down. We have not furloughed staff and our small team have switched seamlessly to working from home to ensure that Samling Institute’s work supporting brilliant young artists continues unabated.

Young artists at all stages of their training are missing out on vital coaching and many are suffering devastating losses to their livelihoods, as concert halls, opera houses and summer festivals are closed or cancelled. This gives our work a new level of urgency as we plan and raise funds to enable us to offer life-changing experiences through our Samling Artist Programme and Academy.

Samling Academy
Our Academy production of Jonathan Dove’s opera Mansfield Park, scheduled for July, has been postponed to next summer. We are grateful to all the tour venues who have worked with us to secure the dates so that the work of our creative team and cast, which started in January, can still be shared with audiences across the North East. Meanwhile, members of the cast have been picking up insights into their characters from Samling Artists who have sung the roles professionally. We have been dropping in on these video conversations on Zoom and will be sharing highlights in the run-up to the production.

We are making contingency plans for a digital Academy in October to ensure that the six days of intensive coaching at the start of the academic year can still go ahead regardless of the challenges posed by social distancing. Together with our leadership team, we are developing online programmes to deliver individual and group masterclasses and workshops in vocal health, acting and movement.

Our Samling Artist pianists have started recording the piano accompaniments for our Academy Singers’ songs and arias – 120 pieces of music in total. With these recordings the singers will be able to prepare for the sessions and – crucially – we can ensure that the online lessons are possible with no time delay, as they will perform to a pre-recorded accompaniment. This archive of recorded repertoire will also have lasting benefit by providing us with a digital library to support young singers in the future who do not have access to a piano at home.

Samling Artist Programme
Following a first round of online submissions, we have shortlisted 105 applicants to audition for 16 places on the two Artist Programme weeks in December 2020 and January 2021. These auditions – originally scheduled to take place in April – will now be held later in the year. All of the shortlisted candidates have been contacted and informed of the situation and are aware of the dates of the two residential weeks they are being considered for.

We are also preparing a beautiful programme of song cycles on a maritime theme for ‘Sea Pictures’, our Samling Artist Showcase at Wigmore Hall on 5 November (details here). We do not yet know what life will look like for performing arts in the coming months, but you can be assured that as we approach our 25th anniversary next year – and with your support – Samling Institute will continue to play its unique role at the heart of the classical singing world.

Image: Samling Academy Singer Ben Ryan (left) took part in an online masterclass with Samling Artists Benjamin Appl (centre) and James Baillieu (right).
Watch excerpts from the masterclass and an exclusive performance for Samling Friends’ and supporters here.

View or download a PDF of the newsletter here