by Adrienne Hale, South West Area Representative
So having arranged my last two zoom sessions for the summer with my south-west members for Thursday 15th and Sunday 18th July respectively, I was perusing last Tuesday evening (two days before, with a glass of wine) about possible topics to discuss with them – a possible agenda if you will – and I suddenly thought, wouldn’t it be great to get Claire Barnett-Jones to come and talk to us about her recent experience in The Cardiff Singer of the World competition? So, I contacted her through the website and lo and behold, Claire replied and several emails later, she kindly agreed to come and talk to us, not just in one session, but both. I was thrilled.
Claire was wonderful: friendly, gracious and so knowledgeable about performing and her craft. She told us of the slight panic about suddenly being called to sing at the last minute, she packed one dress, not thinking for a second she would get any further in the competition and headed off for a 20 minute rehearsal with the orchestra. Of course, as we all know, Claire won her group but then – after going online to buy another dress! – was immediately told that she would need to adapt her programme for the final, due to the orchestra not being able to use certain instrumentation, because of COVID restrictions.
I am sure those of you who watched the competition will all agree that Claire was a worthy winner of the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize. A remarkable performance under so much pressure.
Claire talked about her early career, her training and the different teachers she had worked with along the way and her experience with Barbershop. She talked about the variance in technical training between Barbershop groups and traditional choral singing and how much the latter can be slightly lacking by comparison.
Claire clearly enjoys her performing but she also loves teaching and has taught varying ages and abilities, and now concentrates more on young professionals from 18years+ as well as running workshops and masterclasses when she can find time for it.
We covered so many topics in the two sessions, Claire offered her thoughts on song choices for competitions, and she told us about her future concerts and roles she has lined up. Another subject that is also close to her heart is to always include music composed by female composers and she tries to work with female accompanists.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable discussion, I was extremely grateful to Claire to give up her time so graciously. A huge thank you from AOTOS.