In the Spotlight

29th June, 2015

Who or what first lured you into music?
The house was always filled with music: Queen, ABBA, Simon and Garfunkel, but I started singing rather late. I was a member of the local amateur group and one year we did a musical. I decided to have some singing lessons to help improve my performance and simply fell in love with it. I owe a lot to my first singing teacher, Jayne Whittaker.

Does anyone else in your family sing?
No one in my family sings classical music or has ever considered a career in music. However, my dad sings with a barbershop choir and my mum sang in a band when she was younger.

The first song you ever sung was..?
‘Mamma Mia’ by ABBA. I’m sure there were nursery rhymes but this is the first song I remember singing properly.

Which composers, living or dead, do you admire the most and why?
I love the music of Puccini and Verdi, Their writing is beautiful, passionate and colourful. I also find Britten and Stravinsky fascinating because of the clever detail used to tell the stories within their music.

If you could tell the story of your life in music, which pieces would you choose and why? 
Saint-Saëns's 'Carnival of the Animals' would represent my early years. It's fun and carefree. I then became more thoughtful, so I'd say Debussy or even Dvoƙák's 'New World Symphony'. Nowadays I think Stravinsky's 'The Rite of Spring' would be very appropriate. Although, when things go well, I think something by Aaron Copeland would be a good choice!

What embarrassing songs might we find on your MP3 player/iPod/Phone?
Some S Club 7 songs.

What delights and frustrates you most about the industry?
It’s a delight to work in such a varied industry. I’m very lucky to be doing what I enjoy and to be able to do it with fabulous people. Unfortunately the world of Opera is a tough place to be in at the moment - work is scarcer than it was and the competition is frustrating at times. The time away from home is also very challenging. 

What constitutes the perfect performance, in your view?
A gripping story and a performance where I stop analysing singers and the production.

How do you handle mistakes during a performance?
I very rarely get flustered. I remember a particular moment during an opera tour where all had been going well for 20 performances or so and then mid show the orchestra suddenly began before their cue and like a true pro I stepped up and started singing whilst the rest of the cast stood dumbfounded! 

If you could be any opera character, who would it be and why?
Marcello from La Bohème. He’s a normal guy that enjoys the company of his friends and wants the best for everyone.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
The only way to survive this profession is to enjoy it and remember there is more to life than stressing over things.

What’s scheduled for 2015/16?
I’ll be performing the role of Frédéric in the Christine Collins Young Artists performance of Lakmé with Opera Holland Park on the 27th of July. It’s a great opportunity to explore the role with a professional company. In August, I’ll be performing Escamillio with Opra Cymru and in the Autumn I’ll be working with Scottish Opera.

How do you balance your music with other obligations?
I’m a list man. Music and singing is such a big part of me I always find time for it - it’s never a chore to fit in. My wife and I run a Performing Arts School in West Wales (Dynamix Performing Arts School) and it’s a real joy to work with the next generation.

When you’re not singing, what do you enjoy doing? 
I enjoy cooking. I was given a pasta maker a few years ago and I’ve been experimenting with making different pasta dishes, from lasagne to carbonara. Laura (the wife) is the baker so between us we serve up a mean 3 course meal!

What was the last concert you attended that you weren’t involved in?
My wife performed in a Christmas concert at Rhosygilwen, Cilgerran.

If you weren’t singing, what do you think you’d be doing now?
I’d be a writer. I wrote some poems and plays a few years back.

Finally, tell us a secret. Something people would be surprised to discover about you.
I used to play cricket at a high level before I chose to concentrate on performing.