I have just adjudicated the finest class of 8 14 - 17year old singers I think I have ever had outside youngsters from the JRAM. I am at the Mid Argyll Festival in a small village near Lochgilphead and clearly they have some of the finest classical singing teachers in this relatively small and remote part of Scotland.
There was so much talent on the stage I was seriously impressed and my marks ranged from 86 - 91 ! The choices of songs were just perfect, we had a superb Sento Nel Core sung by a young man with a beautiful and very settled high baritone, who gave such tasteful and elegant decorations as well has having a solid and secure open tone quality which made the hairs on my arm stand on end ! There were two versions of Panis Angelicus both of which were quite small but perfectly formed with just the most excellent phrasing, and a lovely performance, from a young lady with a huge voice, a very very fine try at the Faure song, Prison. There was a wonderfully Mozartian Voi che Sapete from a young mezzo with the most lovely control over her technique. It really was almost a showcase of just how good teens can be with the right teaching. I told them that they must never take their teachers for granted, and that they did not realise just how lucky they were in this small and beautiful corner of Scotland. Even the least experienced singer in the group sang a delightful The Path to the Moon with such warmth and affection for the poem, even though it was clear that she was terrified and her nerves just got the better of her today.
It is such a joy to work with these talented young folk, and be able to talk to each in some depth about their individual performances. In Hong Kong of course the classes are so large there is no time to speak to each singer, and I feel they, quite naturally, lose a little of what one feels about their efforts : the time constraints are just too great, but it is to the detriment of the youngsters, so I am back in my comfort zone of being able to speak directly to the singer and offer encouragement and help where I can in a human way and not just on paper.
I am back In the big hall tonight after dinner, for a large open class of own choice songs which from what I can see range from Gaelic folksong to Amarylli via some Showtunes...........what a task it is to try and compare their performances and come up with a winner and runners up when the styles are so divergent.
Onwards and upwards !
The view from the lounge window of the hotel as I write ! Quite different from my HK hotel !