19 April 2024

Newsletter 69 – Building for the Future

Our Samling Artists have been inspiring hundreds of young people in schools across the North East with our Samling Futures workshops and the launch of our first Samling Singing School.

Soprano Anush Hovhannisyan, mezzo-soprano Katherine Aitken, tenor Nick Pritchard, pianist Ella O’Neill and a team of eight Academy Singers worked with over five hundred students in state schools in Peterlee, Durham, Stockton-on-Tees, Newcastle, Morpeth, North Shields and Whitley Bay. Together they coached both soloists and choirs, giving them tips for their own singing through masterclasses and introducing students to a lively mixture of song and opera repertoire. The students were encouraged to think about the differences and similarities between opera and other types of singing and Anush, Katherine, Nick and Ella shared their stories of how they became professional musicians.

Our Futures visits ended at Wellfield Middle School in Whitley Bay, where we met their year six students who have been learning about opera through the Royal Opera House resources on Hansel and Gretel. The children were thrilled to meet and hear ‘real live’ opera singers in their school and demonstrated – with enormous enthusiasm – how well they could sing two songs from Humperdinck’s opera.

In parallel with Samling Futures, we have launched our Singing Schools initiative, which gives in-depth coaching to choirs, soloists and – crucially – the staff, in schools (read more here). All of this work is provided at no cost to the schools and we are grateful for the support of the Three Monkies Trust and the Finn Family Fund for making this possible.

In March, the Samling Artist Programme for early career singers and pianists achieved another milestone as the number of Samling Artists passed four hundred. Our global reach increased to 46 countries with our first Samling Artist from Greece and we welcomed two new leaders – soprano Marie McLaughlin and writer and director Susannah Waters to the team. Continuing our association with Berwickshire High School, a group of students attended an informal concert part way through the week and chatted to the artists and leaders over tea and cake afterwards.

We are now selecting the singers and pianists who will benefit from our Samling Artist Programme and Samling Academy over the next year. We have held Artist Programme auditions over three days in London and Glasgow and applications for Samling Academy are open now with auditions in mid-May. Find out more about how to apply for Samling Academy.

Our current Academy are preparing for our summer production ‘Lost and Found’, directed by Samling Artists Miranda Wright and  Leo Nicholson. Rehearsals for this semi-staged production begin in June, with a performance at The Glasshouse International Centre for Music on 12 July. Please see our event page for more details.

Main image: Samling Artist Anush Hovhannisyan with students at Egglescliffe School, Stockton-on-Tees. Photo: Mark Pinder

Samling Artist Nick Pritchard coaching Academy Singer Fergal Deane at Samling Futures. Photo: Mark Pinder

“I am so pleased to be a Samling Artist and to have a chance to make an impact on so many young minds by spreading the love for opera and the power of the human voice. Samling is an Institute to treasure.”

Samling Artist Anush Hovhannisyan