Oliver Sewell – the tenor who knows all the dance steps
Posted on 18 December 2014
Young NZ tenor Oliver Sewell was awarded a Foundation grant earlier this year to support his studies towards a Masters in Classical Voice at the Manhattan School of Music.
After settling in he sent us this letter...
It has been a month since I left New Zealand and I am now fully settled into New York life: I have an apartment, a routine and I even have a proper bed (I slept on an air mattress for three weeks!).
I have just finished my third week of school. My average day starts with a coaching around 9am and it is followed by classes up until around 7pm. Each week I have three hours of Italian, three hours of English diction, three hours of theory, three hours of aural training, two hours of dance lessons, three to four coachings, four hours in Dona Vaughn’s opera workshop and four hours with Warren Jones. My lessons with my voice teacher, Ashley Putnam, are going well and we are making good progress already. The course is exceptionally well organised and very thorough; I can now do a convincing Viennese Waltz thanks to my dance teacher.
Before classes start at the Manhattan School of Music all the singing students are required to audition for special ensemble classes. Out of these classes Warren Jones’ vocal accompanying ensemble and the Opera Studio are the two most coveted. The hugely celebrated collaborative pianist Warren Jones (who I believe Dame Kiri has worked with) has only four students a year and he accepts a further seven singers (of which I am pleased to say I am now one) into his studio to collaborate with his piano students. Warren is a truly inspiring musician and person. I am beyond pleased to have the opportunity to work with him and I am the butt of a lot of tenor envy in the school, as I am the only tenor to be accepted into Warren’s class.
I have been accepted into the Opera Studio and I have been cast as Francis Flute from Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in addition to that I have also been cast to sing the tenor solo part in Mozart’s Mass in C minor.”
Just prior to going to print Oliver sent another update which included the following news:
“Thanksgiving break has come to an end and a break was much appreciated: the last month was extremely busy with a number of concerts including the end of term concert with Warren Jones class. Warren had me working straight away and asked me to learn, and sing for his concert, two of the hardest arias I have ever attempted (‘Povero Ernesto’ from Don Pasquale and ‘Languir per una bella’ from Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri). I am happy to say that I survived and sang well in the concert and now I have two impressive arias in my repertoire. The following week I sang the tenor solo parts in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. It was a real pleasure to sing with one of the school’s orchestras under the baton of Kent Tritle (Director of St John the Divine Cathedral). In between these two performances I also had the pleasure of taking part in a Masterclass with the soprano Diana Soviero.”