32 minutes | Apr 5, 2022
Ed Gardner OBE – Conductor, Principal Conductor - London Philharmonic Orchestra & the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
From jumping in as a rehearsal pianist at the Salzburg Festival, through taking on ENO at the age of thirty-one, and onto the legacy of the LPO , Ed Gardner gives a refreshingly honest insight into his journey from a young chorister to the multi award-winning conductor that he is today. Nina chats to Ed about nurturing and sustaining his musical - and managerial - relationships, his approach to collaboration, and why cross words in a rehearsal room isn’t always a bad thing Find out more about the London Philharmonic Orchestra and their upcoming season here and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra here.
34 minutes | Mar 31, 2022
Lou Platt – Psychotherapist & Artist Wellbeing Practitioner
How can we find balance when our schedules can be so punishing? How can we find meaning in our work in a world that celebrates immediate success? And how can we tackle that unrelenting desire for perfectionism? Returning guest Lou Platt explores these questions and more, and gives ideas and insight into what we can do to better take care of our mental health and wellbeing. You can find Lou on her website or at Artist Wellbeing, on Twitter here, & on Instagram here.
34 minutes | Mar 24, 2022
Nadine Benjamin MBE – Lyric Soprano, Mentor, Mind Coach, Certified High Performance & Founder of Everybody Can!
What happens when the career you have is not the one that you really want? Do you stay and climb the ladder, or do you take a risk and step into your story? Nadine Benjamin found herself thriving in the world of Finance, but always remembered her teacher Mrs. Lake who introduced her to the Queen of the Night’s music at school, telling her that she too could sing like that one day. Taking three months out to try to make singing into her career, Nadine’s talent alongside her bravery and tenacity took her from constantly asking for auditions, to writing up her business plan and asking people to support her, on to finding her own unique path to training her voice. Needless to say, she didn’t look back. Now, alongside her thriving career - from ENO to the Royal Opera House & Glyndebourne and beyond - she works as a mentor, Mind Coach, certified High Performance Coach, & founder of her own mentorship programme Everybody Can! where she coaches and champions others to step into their own stories. If you need to reach out for help – The Samaritans can be found here https://www.samaritans.org/ and called on 116 123 for free (UK). You can find Nadine on Twitter & on Instagram, via her website and through Everybody Can!.
30 minutes | Mar 17, 2022
Kathleen Alder, Founding Director - WildKat PR
Hailing from the German equivalent of the Von Trapp family with plans to be a solo violinist, Kathleen’s career took an unexpected pivot when she was unceremoniously sacked from her first job and bumped into Richard Branson in the veg aisle in Marks and Spencers. Gathering her thoughts alongside her graphic designer boyfriend Alan Long, she launched WildKat PR, a creative PR agency for classical music, something that Kat felt needed a serious change of image. From being less awkward on social media, to finding out whether we really have to be ‘across all platforms’, onto resilience and recovery in the face of failure, we explore the highs and lows of Kat’s journey, and discover tips on how to survive and thrive in the performing arts world. Find out more about Kat here and more about WildKat PR here Follow Kat on Twitter here and Instagram here, and read more about her latest venture PostKultur here.
35 minutes | Mar 10, 2022
Tracy Cox – Singer, Artist, Activist
Have you ever been judged on your appearance? Or been on the receiving end of well-intentioned advice that - in fact - turned out to be not that helpful? Nina chats to the Soprano and Fat Politics Activist Tracy Cox on judgement, setting boundaries and living freely as an artist. From early expectations, through learning to filter criticism, to her approach to high-pressure moments such as competitions, Tracy’s extraordinary journey is a lesson for us all in how to survive and thrive in the opera world. Find Tracy online on her website here on Instagram here and Twitter here, or through her agent here
31 minutes | Mar 3, 2022
Kate Valentine – Soprano, Voice Care Specialist & Founder of Valentine Voice Care
For over a decade, Kate was a busy lead Soprano singing across UK opera houses and around the world. However, some worrying panic attacks and serious vocal health issues came to the surface and required swift surgery. During her own long rehabilitation process, she discovered a newfound fascination with vocal health, and wanted to ensure that other people didn’t have to go through a similar experience alone. She has dedicated herself to removing the mystery and stigma surrounding vocal health, wellbeing and injury, and actively encourages singers to be open and reach out for help when they’re suffering. Kate chats about listening to your body, knowing and setting your boundaries and the desperate need for kindness in the opera world. You can find Kate at the Valentine Voice Care Clinics in Lewes & Glasgow, through the Voice Care Centre in London and Clyde Consulting Rooms in Glasgow, and on Instagram.
27 minutes | Jan 6, 2022
Allyson Devenish – Artistic Director, Music Director, Coach, Recitalist & Teacher
Allyson was surrounded by music in Ottawa as she grew up - from jazz to classical and calypso - and playing the piano was an intrinsic part of her childhood, where she gathered happily with friends at festivals and competitions. She initially planned to become a paediatrician after her music degree, but music persuaded her to continue her studies - from the Conservatoire de Musique in Quebec to Oberlin Ohio and onto the Royal Academy of Music in London. As doors opened for Allyson and one opportunity led to another, she developed a career carefully balancing her work as a Music Director with accompanying, coaching, teaching, composing, as a recitalist performing around the world and as Artistic Director of Nitrovox, an a cappella group that tells stories about the African diaspora through spoken word and song. Allyson shares her unique experience of becoming a fully-rounded artist, and reveals her thoughts on the relentless quest for perfection in the opera industry.
33 minutes | Dec 16, 2021
Anna-Marie Sullivan – Actor
Leaving home at just sixteen to get a place at a London drama school, Anna-Marie needed to support herself, so walking around the Royal Opera House she found her way to a stage door, and was brave enough to ask for a job. Beginning as an usher, and working her way onto the stage as a performer, Anna-Marie has become a regular actor at UK opera houses including Glyndebourne and the Royal Opera House, alongside juggling a diverse acting career. More recently she has branched out into revival choreography and movement direction, and she’s acted as opera advisor on film. Directors such as Mariame Clément now create roles in operas especially for her, integrating her completely into the drama. Anna-Marie chats with Nina about the highs and lows of negotiating her way through a career where 90% of actors are out of work at any given time. Find out more about Anna-Marie Sullivan on her website here and on the Royal Opera House website here Follow Anna-Marie on Twitter here and Instagram here
31 minutes | Dec 9, 2021
Mark S Doss – Bass Baritone
One of Mark’s earliest performing experiences was actually on stage for the Metropolitan Opera in Aida as a supernumerary, or as others might say, an actor, little knowing that he would go on to become a Metropolitan Opera Finalist Winner just a few years later. His first ambition however, was to become a Catholic Priest and despite having begun his training, he pivoted to studying voice at Indiana University. From an apprenticeship at Santa Fe Opera to becoming an ensemble member at Chicago Lyric Opera, singing at The Met and on to performing internationally, Mark’s career took off at an exceptional speed. Now, having performed one hundred roles in over sixty houses worldwide, and won a whole host of awards, Mark shares the twists and turns of his extraordinary career. Find out more about Mark on his website here or through his agent here You can follow Mark on Twitter @marksdoss and Instagram @marksdoss Watch Fachtually Correct and Heart & Soul on his Facebook page here
28 minutes | Dec 2, 2021
Kate Freston-Davy - Head of Stage Management, Opera North
Kate remembers both music and theatre from her Methodist church and her local amateur dramatic society, where many of her family took roles on the stage – and they had to find a suitable place for Kate. So backstage was where she began, and when their performance of Oliver! went on tour to the Minack Theatre, Kate was surprised to discover that Stage Management was a real profession, and dug out a dusty drama school prospectus on her return, and applied to the Central School of Speech and Drama. From her early roles as a dresser and an ASM, to attempting to get a job as a follow-spot operator under the name of Kate Moss, Kate chats through her journey which saw her join Opera North over 20 years ago having never seen an opera production. Read the short interview with Kate on the Opera North website here Learn more about Opera North on their website here
31 minutes | Nov 25, 2021
Roderick Cox – Conductor
Brought up by his single mom to a musical, church-going family, Roderick’s first instrument – a snare drum – arrived in its JC Penney cardboard box, which he carried the drum around in until they found a second-hand case in a pawn shop. While training to become a music teacher, a professor suggested he become a conductor, something he had never dreamed of as being possible. This pivotal moment was the push he needed to shift the focus of his ambition, and Roderick is now an acclaimed, award-winning conductor working all over the world. Alongside his conducting work, his initiative, the Roderick Cox Music Initiative, provides scholarships for young musicians of colour from underrepresented communities, allowing them to pay for instruments, music lessons, and summer camps – minus the cardboard box. You can learn more about Roderick on his website here You can find out more about Roderick from his agent here You can follow him on Instagram here and on Facebook here
30 minutes | Nov 18, 2021
Andrea Baker - Mezzo Soprano
Classical, Jazz, Funk and R&B were all embraced in Andrea’s Massachusetts household growing up, and with music already very much in the family, choosing it as a career was an easy decision. From Aspen Music Festival and Eastman School of Music, to studying in San Francisco with Blanche Thebom, Andrea has gone on to work literally all over the world. Known for her distinctive voice, intense artistry, and passion, she is the first African American to sing Fricka, Waltraute, Erda and Second Norn in the Ring Cycle in its Chinese premiere at the Beijing Arts Festival, the first African American Carmen in Australia at the Sydney Opera House and to sing the role of Ortrud in the South Korean premiere of Lohengrin. Andrea reveals the extraordinary moments of her career, from her sudden move to Europe, to the most challenging staging she has battled with, and on to her experience of often being the only black person in a white-dominated space. You can find out more about Andrea on her website here or through her agent here You can learn more about Sing Sistah Sing here, the show she conceived and wrote that celebrates the sound and breadth of the African American female voice. You can listen to Andrea’s incredible podcast and radio work here including her interview with her teacher, Blanche Thebom
30 minutes | Nov 11, 2021
Breanna Sinclairé – Lyric Soprano
Transgender opera singer Breanna Sinclairé felt trapped in the Tenor repertoire where she had never felt at ease, and finally told her teachers that she would be physically transitioning, to their complete astonishment. She became the first trans woman of the opera programme at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, first tackling Mezzo repertoire, and later developing into the voice she feels most comfortable with, the Lyric Soprano that she is today. Her physical transition was a journey that lasted for over eleven years. Since then, she has been the first trans woman to perform the National Anthem at a professional sporting event, the first trans singer to perform with the San Francisco Symphony and at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and her operatic career is just getting started. Having survived abuse and homelessness on her journey, Breanna is now determined to use her voice.to bring peace. Find out more about Breanna on her agent’s website here Follow Breanna on Instagram here and on Twitter here
34 minutes | Nov 4, 2021
Anna Patalong – Soprano, ISM Ambassador, Founder of Swap’ra & Development Consultant at BYO
As a young girl, Anna ensured her playdates were only at houses with pianos, until her parents finally gave in and bought one just for her. Unaware that she could make a career from singing opera, her early path took her via Leeds University and au pairing in Italy, before she found an unexpected route to training at Guildhall in London. Now a multi award-winning soprano who performs all over the world, Anna is praised for her captivating stage presence and extraordinary vocal fluidity. She has gone on to use her voice in other ways, as an Ambassador for the Incorporated Society of Musicians, as Co-founder of Swap’ra supporting women & parents in Opera & in her role as a Development Consultant at British Youth Opera, who were instrumental in her earliest stage opportunities. Find out more about Anna on her website here and follow her on Twitter here and Instagram here Find out more about Swap’ra here BYO here and ISM here
30 minutes | Oct 28, 2021
Kit Withnail - Associate Production Manager in Opera Broadcast at the Royal Opera House
After a car journey listening to Carmen tapes on repeat, on to failing his Grade 8 flute three times (despite the efforts of Mr House, his peripatetic teacher) Kit decided to put music on hold for a while. From dipping into careers as a chef and a mental health worker, to studying Politics and Society part-time, Kit went on to join the Royal Opera House towards the end of his studies, and is now the Associate Production Manager in Opera Broadcast. He works with world class technical and artistic teams to sensitively integrate filming seamlessly into the production process. While supporting the original ‘director’s vision’ they capture the unique atmosphere of a performance – crucially - without disturbing the experience of the live audience, the results of which we can enjoy in different ways: whether online, or live in over a thousand cinemas and streaming venues across the world.
32 minutes | Oct 21, 2021
Toria Banks - director, writer, dramaturg, teacher, & co-founder of HERA
Toria recalls dancing around her living room to Simon and Garfunkel, and insisting on learning to play the piano - with no urging from her parents. Critiquing her dad’s acting skills at the age of three, Toria went on to explore the world of improvisation at university and trying her hand at directing with her very understanding group of friends. As she continued to explore her craft, working freelance in different capacities, she hid her illness with ME until she realised she had to adapt her ways of working. Toria went on to co-found HERA with Linda Hirst and Simone Ibbettt-Brown, an intersectional feminist company making and touring inclusive opera and music theatre by women and gender-minoritised artists. Toria speaks openly about the highs and lows of navigating her path through the industry. Find out more about HERA here Follow Toria on Twitter here
27 minutes | Oct 14, 2021
Damien Geter – Bass-Baritone, Conductor, Composer & MD
Damien grew up with his mom singing around the house, and Diana Ross and The Pointer Sisters on the record player, with a bit of Bach and Tchaikovsky thrown in for good measure. Although he went on to study music education and conducting, he didn’t really think of performance as a viable career, and became a high school teacher – and stayed teaching for over 15 years. However, he was always composing and performing on the side, and when he was cast as the Undertaker in The Met’s production of Porgy and Bess, Damien realised it was time he gave the opera world his full attention. His composition work includes deeply moving chamber, vocal, and orchestral works, and his work often infuses classical music with styles from the black diaspora to create music that furthers the cause for social justice He was recently commissioned by Washington National Opera alongside the Librettist Lila Palmer for their opera American Apollo, a story forged at the crossroads of celebrity, class, race, and power in America. Alongside his thriving career as a singer and composer, Damien has recently been announced as the interim Music Director at Portland Opera, where he’s currently in rehearsals for the role of Angelotti in Tosca. Find out more about Damien on his website here Find out more about Portland Opera here and his new role here
33 minutes | Oct 7, 2021
Robyn Allegra Parton – Soprano
As a young girl, Robyn constantly played both Mariah Carey and Maria Callas on tape and CD, so her mum signed her up for a local children's choir where she first discovered a love for singing opera, starting with the Queen of the Night aged just fifteen. Going on to study music both academically at Oxford and training vocally at the Royal College of Music, on graduating she faced a devastating series of rejections, and had to completely relearn her approach to singing. Struggling emotionally while she made extremely high-profile debuts, she had to find a way to survive, and navigate her path through the opera world. Robyn talks candidly about her journey - from changing voice type and moving to Germany, and through her philosophy for staying sane and surviving the industry. Find out more about Robyn and her work on her website here Book to see her in Medea at the Theater für Niedersachsen here and keep an eye out in 2022 for her debut solo album, featuring songs from the Viennese Secession with pianist Simon Lepper.
34 minutes | Sep 28, 2021
Nicky Spence - Tenor
Nicky began his musical journey in Dumfries in Scotland, staying late after school singing Elaine Paige at pitch and tinkling on the piano until the cleaners threw him out. With ideas of becoming the Michael Ball of Dumfries, a singing teacher recognised his talent and pointed him towards Guildhall in London, so he jumped on the Megabus and auditioned at the tender age of sixteen. A self-confessed ‘rough diamond’ when he first arrived, Nicky began his training at Guildhall, and soon won a record deal with Decca Records, and found himself marketed as ‘The Scottish Tenor’, touring the country with Katherine Jenkins, singing with Shirley Bassey and chatting on TV with Lorraine Kelly among other extraordinary and surreal experiences. However, he recognised that it wasn’t quite the path he wanted for himself, and he returned to his training, going on to the National Opera Studio and to become an inaugural Harwood Young Artist at English National Opera. Nicky is now at the heart and soul of the international opera scene, singing all over the world on the most prestigious stages, even right now he is simultaneously working at the Royal Opera House & English National Opera in London. Alongside his thriving international career, he’s also an ambassador for Help Musicians UK, who helped support him on his operatic journey when he didn’t have a bean. Find out more about Nicky on his website here and through his agent here Find out about Help Musicians UK here
32 minutes | Aug 5, 2021
Dane Lam - Conductor
Dane Lam grew up in sunny Brisbane, and recalls his grandmother playing piano at family gatherings, and started learning himself from a young age. With the support of his state high school, he was able to step onto the podium and try out conducting, and it suited him down to the ground. Going on to become part of a programme creating a new generation of Australian conductors, and from the age of just 17 he was gaining experience and mentorship that would stand him in good stead in the future. From the University of Queensland, to Juilliard School and the RNCM in the UK, Dane chats openly about different training approaches, imposter syndrome, the significance of the ego and how the role of the conductor shifts in different continents. Join us for a refreshingly honest insight into the journey of the internationally acclaimed conductor Dane Lam. Read more about Dane Lam on his website here Follow him on Instagram here & on Twitter