Jennifer in patriotic mood for York Proms
By Charles Hutchinson
SOPRANO Jennifer Coleman will make her York debut in Sunday's York Proms in the Museum Gardens.
Here she answers Charles Hutchinson's questions on the Proms, her X Factor past and opera present.
Do you have any York connections, Jennifer?
“No, though my sister lived there for one year, and I visited her when she was there. I have more connections with Yorkshire. My Mum is from Yorkshire and grew up in Rotherham. I still have family in the county.”
Have you sung previously in the city? If so, where, when and what?
“This will be my first performance in York. In Yorkshire, I’ve previously given a recital in Sheffield St Marie Cathedral. And I have sung at lots of weddings all over the county."
Have you sung at Proms concerts previously? If so, when and where?
"I have. At one memorable occasion, I sang at one in London a few years ago for St George’s Day with the Royal British Legion Band. It was lots of fun.
"But this Proms in York will be different because of performing with the orchestra [the specially formed Yorkshire Festival Orchestra]. I’m really excited to hear the beautiful sound they will make."
What will be your Proms highlights this weekend?
"For me, the highlight of any Prom is always singing the patriotic section at the end, when the audience join in with Land Of Hope And Glory and Jerusalem."
Why are Proms concerts so popular?
"I think the Proms concerts have become part of British culture: a time to celebrate our nationality and feel patriotic. The only other time we get to feel this is once every four years during the football World Cup.
"What’s more British than a glass of Pimm's and a picnic in the British sunshine, with some fresh strawberries, and being serenaded by beautiful music? Heaven!"
What did you learn from your X Factor boot camp at the age of 17?
"I learned through my experience as a teenager on The X Factor that I wanted to be a professional singer when I grew up.
"At that time, I didn’t even listen to classical music or opera, so I had no idea that is what I would later become. It made me practise more every day and made me work really hard to end up where I am now. It made me realise that it was possible to achieve a career in singing."
Describe your experience of singing at the Royal Albert Hall….
"Every stage has its own personality. Some are historic and old and full of charm; some are super-ornate and fancy and maybe even a little pretentious. Some are modern and designed for modern-day audiences.
"But, at the end of the day, I go on and do what I do. It doesn’t matter where I am or what stage I am singing on. When the lights are on, you can’t see anything anyway."
What’s coming up next for you in your singing diary?
"I'm working as a full-time singer with Opera Vlaanderen, Best Opera Company 2019 in the International Opera Awards.
"For the 2019/20 season, we're performing in Verdi's Don Carlos, Verdi's Requiem, Verdi's Macbeth, Dvorak's Rusalka, Schreker's Der Schmied von Gent, Wagner/Verdi's C(h)oeurs 2020, Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti and Schumann's Faust.
"Next season we'll be performing Macbeth in Gent, and then we'll take the show to Luxembourg for a couple of performances.
"I'm really enjoying performing as one of the witches. It means I get to explore some unusual colours in my voice and I can embody a whole different physicality on stage.
"I also really enjoy travelling as part of my job. I'm so lucky that I've been able to explore so much of the world through my performing career."
Tickets for Sunday's York Proms are on sale at yorkproms.com, on 01904 555670 or in person at the Visit York Visitor Information Centre, Museum Street. Gates open at 5pm; entertainment starts at 5.15pm; main concert, 7.30pm.
Jennifer Coleman - is a classical / opera singer, and vocal coach, performing across the UK and internationally.