Features

Their Master’s Voice

1102457_10152349631672565_1617590813_oAlison as Mary Anning in Fossils and Monsters

Residents are invited to join the audience as eight professional singers take part in a masterclass with Royal College of Music vocal studies professor Alison Wells at St Mary’s Church this month

This month, I will be giving a masterclass to eight professional and advanced student singers at St Mary’s Church in Wanstead. The event last year was a great success. Over 170 people came along to watch what is a fascinating process. I worked with each singer for 30 minutes to help them find more technical ease in their singing, and also to help them develop an imaginative approach to the interpretation of the pieces they were singing.

Several people remarked they had thought the singers were brilliant anyway, and how wonderful it was to see that there was always a little bit more magic they could find.

For me, this is such a rewarding process. These singers are already out there in the profession, or at an advanced stage of study, but even in 30 minutes, they can gain a lot of confidence from working with an experienced teacher, and, crucially, from singing to a lovely audience in a beautiful environment. So, do please come along! Entry is free for audience members, though, of course, we welcome donations. Refreshments will be available.

It’s very special to me to be doing this event in St Mary’s, where I am a regular worshipper.  There is a spirit of positivity there, with the congregation growing in numbers. On the third Sunday of the month, we join the whole parish at Christ Church, but on the second and fourth Sundays, we now have Services of the Word led by lay worship leaders (of whom I am proud to be one).

We’ve worked hard on these services and I have been involved with others, including our director of music at Wanstead Parish Joe Waggott, to add music into them. We now sing Responsorial Psalms, with several members of our congregation acting as Cantors, and we recently did the world premiere of a new Te Deum setting for congregation and organ by Graham Titus, a dear friend of long standing.

As many members of the congregation said, the piece is not easy, but they did a wonderful job on the first performance and I’m sure it filled them with confidence so the next time we use it will be even better! The service at St Mary’s starts at 11.15am each Sunday, except the third Sunday of the month. Everyone is welcome, and if you get there a little earlier, then we have social time and tea and coffee before the service.

I’ve only lived in Wanstead for less than three years, but the community here is so friendly and supportive that I feel I’ve been here much longer, thanks to the people at St Mary’s and the wider Wanstead Parish, and, of course, the wonderful Wanstead Village Directory.

Alison’s masterclass will take place at St Mary’s Church, Overton Drive, Wanstead on 21 March from 11am to 3.30pm (free; donations welcome). For more information, call 020 8530 8743