Samling Academy 2015 Participant Blog: Claire Ward

In the third of a series of guest blog posts from participants in this year’s Samling Academy, soprano Claire Ward, 22, tells us about her experience of Samling Academy last weekend in Durham. Claire is a final-year student at St. Aidan’s College, Durham University, reading French and Music.

(Image: Claire rehearsing at Sage Gateshead before a previous Samling Academy performance).

“Having finished the first of two Samling Academy weekends, I can say I’m very pleased I flew back from France (where I was on my year abroad) to audition for this year’s programme!

I first heard about Samling through my singing teacher in Durham Miranda Wright, who is a Leader on the Samling Academy programme, and this is my second time participating. The weekend really did whizz by and has been, as expected, invaluable.

Throughout the weekend at Durham University Music Department we divided up into small groups of four or five, circulating around in order to work with each Leader.  With opera and theatre director Martin Lloyd-Evans we focused on the importance of the imagination. For a lively French aria I have been working on for a few months, this was particularly insightful. Martin encouraged me to shut my eyes and create the scene around me. He emphasised the importance of continuing the imaginary action even when you aren’t singing. He made me question every word – why does the singer choose that word? What tone would the word have in spoken language? This type of analysis enabled me to see a specific purpose for this aria and as a result I feel my singing now has a clearer intention and more engagement.

The insights from the pianists were equally as interesting. Creating an entire context for a song, a personal context and imagining those human feelings, makes performing a much more intense and real experience. On top of all this, the Leaders have taught us some crucial techniques and invaluable tips, as well as offering constant guidance with the languages.

The format of Samling Academy, as a series of small, rotating masterclasses, gives us a unique opportunity to perform, share and learn from one another in a friendly, but serious environment. I’m really looking forward to the second Academy weekend in Newcastle!”

Samling Academy 2015 continues at Newcastle University from Friday 23 – Sunday 25 October, and culminates in a public concert at Sage Gateshead‘s Northern Rock Foundation Hall on Sunday 25 October at 7.30pm. More information about Samling Academy can be found here