Name: Eleanor

 

Voice: First soprano

 

Subject: Just completed a PGCE in Secondary Music Education, graduated with BA in Music (first class) July 2019

 

I joined the cathedral choir in my very first week of university (23rd September 2016), after a friend recommended it to me on the basis of 'you're Catholic and musical, give it a go!'. I wouldn't have classed myself as a singer at all, having studied bassoon, piano and organ whilst at school, although I did sing in school choir (as an alto)! I did not expect to be offered a scholarship, and was very surprised! John was so supportive and said that part of the scholarship would be building my confidence and technique. Having now reached my fourth year singing with the choir, I can say that that has definitely happened! I now firmly call myself a singer, and have sung with multiple ensembles, including the Bristol University Singers, the Bristol University Chamber Choir, Early Music Wells, the Melgas Ensemble, The Fitzhardinge Consort, Bath Camerata and many other choirs! I have sung as a soloist with Bristol Phoenix Choir on two occasions and as the soprano soloist for Vaughan-Williams Pastoral Symphony, with the Bristol University Symphony Orchestra. I have also been in several operas, including The Cock in Bristol University Operatic Society's production of The Cunning Little Vixen, and as a Witch in Opera in a Box's production of Verdi's Macbeth. Without the opportunities and confidence that this choral scholarship has given me, I definitely would not be the musician I am now!

 

Although the choir can appear to take up quite a bit of time, compared to other choral scholarships it is a much lower level of commitment, which I really like. Friday night rehearsals are often a lot of fun (especially combined with the pub afterwards!). The scholars definitely all get on well as a group and are some of the closest friends I have made at university.

 

The music we sing in the choir covers a huge range, but includes a lot of polyphony, which I adore! Although it can seem like a lot of sight-reading, pieces come up multiple times, which is handy. If I'm struggling with a particular piece, the time between the Friday rehearsal and the Sunday service means that you get a chance to practise it, so that you can get it right on Sunday! I did this quite a lot when I first joined the choir but now, since my sight-reading skills have massively improved from all the practise and because I've sung a lot of the repertoire before, I don't tend to practise quite so much!

 

I do a fair bit of other music making outside of choir-as a bassoonist I have played for multiple orchestras, including the Bristol University Symphony Orchestra, the Bristol University Chamber Orchestra, New Bristol Sinfonia and the Brandon Hill Chamber Orchestra. I majored in performance for my undergraduate degree, and was awarded the Sir Thomas Beecham Scholarship for Outstanding Orchestral Playing. I have played for lots of operas with the Bristol University Operatic Society and Love Opera. I also was Musical Director for Love Opera's production of Hansel and Gretel in November 2018. I held two committee roles with university societies in my final year of my undergraduate degree-Chamber Music Co-ordinator for Bristol University Music Society and Social Secretary for Bristol University Operatic Society.

 

I was also Organ Scholar at Clifton Cathedral 2018-2019, which involved accompanying the weekly Junior Choir rehearsals and services. This was a really fantastic opportunity, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with the children.

I have gained so much for the choral scholarship-I can honestly say that it has hugely shaped my musical experience whilst at university for the better. It has opened so many doors for me and I have made so many friendships as a result. It's genuinely one of the best decisions I ever made, and I will always be grateful to John and the team!

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