Charlotte Jackson, soprano

Sabbatical travels part 1

Since last summer (2009), I have been on sabbatical from my post as Artistic Director of Amabile Choirs and Musical Director of Amabile Girls’ Choir for professional development. Here is a flavour so far of what I’ve been able to do!

Last July I went to Buxton Festival. This elegant northern spa town is undergoing something of a renaissance The festival draws international artists and visitors from far and wide. I managed to see Susan Gritton in recital with Ian Burnside, Messager’s operetta Veronique and a wonderful late night concert of tango music by Mariposa Tango.

My next venture was a few days at Oxenfoord International Summer School in Musselburgh, near Edinburgh to observe participants in masterclasses with vocal experts from all fields of song and opera. I ended up singing and had a masterclass with Lorna Anderson (Oratorio) and Joan Busby (English Song). I sang in a concert where I was accompanied by Malcolm Martineau.

On Wednesday 7th October I visited a special school in Manchester, Elms Bank Specialist Arts College, to work with its choir and director Catherine Dent. The children’s singing was full of enthusiasm and joy. We worked on the gestural relationship between the choir and director and creating a beautiful sound. The choir ended the afternoon with a very moving performance of We are Marching in the Light of God. 

On Friday 9th October my sister Louise and I travelled to the Royal Scottish Academy in Glasgow to hear a recital by Felicity Palmer, Mezzo Soprano. Miss Palmer was indisposed so instead we were treated to a recital of French and Russian Song by the beautiful English soprano, Joan Rogers. Her masterclass with students of the college was a real education in the detail of French and Russian Song.

Jane Irwin, Mezzo Soprano was the soloist in a moving performance of Mahler Ruckert Lieder in the concert I attended in Kendal with Northern Sinfonia on Saturday 10th October. I also went to an inspiring jazz and swing workshop with Alexander L’Estrange, Joanna Forbes and Anastasia Micklethwaite in Dalton in Furness in the afternoon.

In late October I travelled up to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama where I spent time observing classes in French Song, German Lied and Italian Opera and audition technique. I also observed Helen Lawson teaching and Chris Underwood coaching. The whole experience was wonderfully refreshing and invigorating.

Another treat was in store in November when I went to Birmingham with my husband, Sam to hear Renée Fleming and the London Philharmonic orchestra. Miss Fleming’s contribution was a bit nouvelle cuisine as she sang four or five very short operatic arias beautifully. The orchestra was stunning in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet suite. The following week we travelled to London to see The Turn of the Screw at ENO with Rebecca Evans in the lead as the Governess with Ann Murray as Mrs Grose, the Housekeeper. It was stunning and disturbing at the same time.

Later in November I observed Opera Scenes in rehearsal at Royal Scottish Academy with Mark Hathaway. It was fascinating to see the way in which Mark help the students to find and express the emotional content of the works they were studying. On this visit to Glasgow I went to the open day of the vibrant Royal Scottish Academy Junior Academy Open Day and met the Head, Havilland Willshire.

More tomorrow…

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