We look forward to a spectacular opening to London Firebird Orchestra’s 2018/19 season on 9 October featuring the full orchestra, conductor George Jackson and two talented soloists. In this article we meet soprano Verity Wingate…
Tell us something about your musical training to date…
My early career has been largely based around song repertoire, Russian and German in particular and I have been very fortunate to have performed at some of London’s most prestigious venues such as the Barbican and Wigmore Hall.
I began my training at Wells Cathedral School as a specialist singer. I then went on to do an undergraduate course at the Royal Academy of Music and a Masters at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Since then I am just breaking into the opera scene as a lyric soprano having recently performed at Garsington Opera, where I was fortunate enough to be awarded the Leonard Ingram Award.
This will be your first collaboration with Firebird. How did that come about?
I was very fortunate to meet and work with the conductor George Jackson on a recording project earlier this year and he very kindly suggested me for this particular concert. I have a history of performing in Russian quite a bit in my song work, so to perform such a famous aria in Czech is very exciting but also a language not too dissimilar to one I am used to singing in.
Which other ensembles do you perform with?
I am a part of an ensemble called The Prince Consort, a group of singers, pianists and artists, founded by pianist Alisdair Hogarth. We perform a wide range of song and collaborate with film artists, poets, jazz and folk musicians to create something really quite new, including a series of really beautiful classical music videos, of which I have performed in several. It is a really exciting thing to be a part of and is a fantastic platform for performing a lot of my favourite music.
Tell us some of the highlights of your career to date…
Performing the Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes with The Prince Consort at The Wigmore Hall (which is how I came to work with the group) was certainly one. My recent performance as Pamina at Garsington Opera was thrilling, I was understudying the soprano Louise Alder who was unfortunately unable to perform one evening and I went on to play the role. Finally Alisdair Hogarth, Aisa Ijiri and I recorded a group of love songs for Classic FM at The Wigmore Hall on Valentines Day. That was just really special and I loved every minute of it.
And what about your future ambitions in music?
To perform the music I love, with musicians I like and respect. Working with wonderful people is so important. There are certain roles of course, which are a dream; in particular for me would be Eva in Wagner’s Die Meistersinger, but we shall see. Pamina was also a dream and I really didn’t expect to have achieved that one so early in my career. I will happily perform that role for the rest of my life!
Finally, what do you see as the value of Firebird to musicians like yourself?
We all need platforms when leaving our training and working in this business. I have been out of music college for a little over a year now, I absolutely love it. However it is challenging finding work and this orchestra provides young orchestral players and soloists alike the opportunity to perform and it bridges that gap between study and the profession. Also as a vocal soloist, its rare to have the opportunity to perform arias with an orchestra and it is such a vital part of our job and is a completely different skill to performing with a piano. I am also grateful for the opportunity to meet new colleagues who I hope to stay in touch with.