The new year bursts into song this week with the North East’s very special Samling charity, as DAVID WHETSTONE explains
SOME of the world’s most promising young singers are in the region this week to learn from the best in the business, including celebrated baritone Sir Thomas Allen.
Six young singers and three pianists will spend the week as guests of Samling, the Hexham-based music education charity set up in 1996 with the support of entrepreneur Roger McKechnie.
The Samling spring newsletter reports that the organisation enters its 17th year facing an uncertain future but with a more robust programme than ever.
Samling Scholars spend the week at a country house hotel near Brampton, attending an intensive programme of intimate masterclasses.
On this occasion these are being led by Sir Thomas, the Seaham-born opera star and Samling patron, Australian soprano Yvonne Kenny and pianist Caroline Dowdle.
The young professional singers and pianists were chosen after six days of auditions in London and Glasgow.
They are sopranos Aoife Miskelly and Annabel Mountford, mezzo- soprano Samantha Price, tenors Joshua Mills and Jorge Navarro- Colorado, baritone Johnny Herford and pianists Timothy End, Olga Jegunova and Marek Ruszczynski.
All are hugely talented and with CVs that belie their relative youth.
Northern Irish soprano Aoife Miskelly graduated with distinction from the Royal Academy of Music last year, winning the Regency Award, while Polish pianist Marek Ruszczynski has also won awards and has already performed across Europe.
Encouraged by the lengthening list of previous Samling Scholars, they all head to the North East for one-to-one attention from musical greats.
Not everything that happens this week will be behind closed doors.
On Wednesday at 2pm the new Samling Scholars will take part in a public Samling Masterclass in Hall Two of The Sage Gateshead.
It is billed as a fun and insightful afternoon for newcomers to classical music as well as practising musicians and established music lovers.
The audience will get to see how brilliantly talented young musicians are encouraged to work on their vocal technique, interpretation and artistry. Then on Saturday at 7pm in the same venue, there will be a Samling Concert presented by Sir Thomas and Yvonne Kenny in which the scholars will perform classical songs and operatic arias, demonstrating what they have learned during the week.
Tickets for both events are available at The Sage Gateshead on 0191 443 4661 or via www.thesagegateshead. org
Further Samling Masterclass weeks are scheduled for April and November this year. In addition, on April 20 and also at the Sage, Samling will renew its partnership with the Newcastle Bach Choir and young singers and instrumentalists from Newcastle University for a performance of Verdi’s Requiem.
Four Samling Scholars – Meeta Raval (seen last year at the Theatre Royal with Opera North), Madeleine Shaw, Luis Gomes and Michel de Souza – will return to the region as soloists.