News from around the world - Jonathan Abernethy
Posted on 15 April 2016
With the help of various scholarships and the support of the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, I’ve recently returned from six months abroad working with various teachers and coaches while also participating in three summer programs spanning the UK, France, Italy and the USA.
First up, the Mozart residency was an intense 2-week course in June as part of Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. During the two weeks I was involved in several concerts performing works by Mozart, Handel, and Gluck. The festival were incredibly well organised and were devoted to ensuring everyone involved had everything they needed to make the most of the time there.
My next stop was Castiglione della Pesciaia, on the Tuscan coast of Italy to attend The Solti Accademia which is focused on the Bel Canto repertoire. The teaching took the form of group masterclasses, these were fantastic as the focus greatly varied depending on who was in charge; Sir Richard Bonynge was looking for the detail in the music, whereas Leo Nucci was looking for a dramatic element to pull the audience in. Barbara Frittoli was focused on text and the intention that comes across when you truly understand what you’re singing about.
Then I was off to Chicago for the Ravinia Steans Music Institute summer school. At Ravinia I was exposed to various teachers from around the USA as well as some incredible language and stylistic coaches on the repertoire. Kevin Murphy was the Music Director of the programme and was a great mentor and offered excellent guidance through the repertoire and helped suggest new works to look at for now and into the future. I stayed on in Chicago for another month to work with teacher Julia Faulkner who is the vocal head at the Ryan Opera Centre, Lyric Opera Chicago. My trip also enabled me to spend considerable time working in Cardiff with renowned Tenor and teacher Dennis O’Neill and I’m very grateful to him and his team for looking after me there.
These were concentrated periods to focus on the voice and work on my vocal production as opposed to the repertoire itself. For me the two teachers have given me some solid technical guidance and I was fortunate that they have a very similar teaching style, which means I have no conflicting ideas about what I’m trying to achieve.
Throughout the trip I was exposed to so much music and made it to venues that I’d heard so much about. I saw some fantastic shows which varied from Opera to artsong to orchestral to vocal and instrumental ensemble works. It has been a truly inspiring time for me and I can’t thank those enough who helped make this trip possible.