On 4th June, the acclaimed baritone Christopher Purves visited St Mary’s to give a much anticipated masterclass and solo performance in the Chapel. Currently performing at Glyndebourne in the powerful La Damnation de Faust by Berlioz to rave reviews, Christopher made a huge impact working with senior singers on their chosen repertoire.  As uncle to Olivia in UIV, he was also delighted to see the school and was an inspiration to the girls and the audience alike.

The evening opened with two performances from talented MIV (Year 8) singers. Amy radiantly expressed Mozart’s lied, Das Veilchen, and Izzy created Cherubino from Le Nozze di Figaro, both Fourth Form soloists confidently showing that singing is in safe hands in the younger years.

The masterclass began with Jolie performing Vedrai Carino from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and working with Chris enabled her to confidently soar through her higher range with style. Ella then sang the beautiful song by Michael Head, Oh to be in England and gained such poise and phrasing. Our Gap Year assistant from Switzerland, Dea, closed the session with Batti batti from Don Giovanni, and developed characterisation and techniques with entertaining pedagogy from Chris which captivated the audience.

The evening ended with a sensational performance from Chris himself. He chose two Handel Arias sung by the character Polyphemus, but from two versions of Acis and Galatea: one in English and the other extraordinary Italian setting with vast vocal demands. He enthralled us all with supreme technicality and such sensitive characterisation and nuance. It truly was a special moment in music at St Mary’s.

Thank you to the Purves family for encouraging and supporting the event, allowing girls of all ages and the wider school community to share an inspiring evening.

Mrs Bethan Fryar, Director of Vocal Studies