I got back yesterday from a Samling week in Cumbria, in the north of England, presumably several kilograms heavier. Suffice it to say that the country-house cuisine of Farlam Hall, where we lived and worked, was amazing.
I had a really great time working with five other excellent young singers, and a couple of wonderful pianists, all under the inspiring tuition of ROH Head of Music, David Syrus, and lieder singer-extraordinaire, baritone Olaf Bär.
During the week, a local journalist visited and ran a piece about Samling, inlcuding some very lovely things about me:
I found myself tracking Andrew Finden, a young Australian with a wonderful baritone voice. In fact, every note he uttered sounded just fine to me but Herr Bär, who proved to be an amusing and effective teacher, managed to improve his performance in minutes, urging: “You have to focus your voice all the time, even when singing softly.”
Later I encountered Andrew again in a lesson with Paul Farrington. As an expert in the physiology of singing, Paul gets physical.
He had Andrew singing while being gripped around his abdomen and pretending a metal spike had been inserted above his diaphragm.
Perhaps more painfully, Paul urged him to “do a Shirley” (as in Bassey).
“You’ve got a fabulous instrument there,” he said. “But I’m sensing we’re not getting its full range.”
We had a public masterclass and a final concert, both in the beautiful acoustic of the smaller hall of The Sage, Gateshead: