The vocal performance section of the Helen Wareham competition was held on Wednesday 21st January in the Merriman Music School and the twenty singers all showed the audience the strength in depth and height of Cranleigh’s vocal talent. Other schools can be envious of having even one of our outstanding vocal coaches on their roster, such as the legendary Kathryn Harries, and she and others were present to hear their pupils with Adrian Goss making a long journey to accompany five young singers. The other outstanding accompanists were Marie Ward, Philip Scriven and Richard Saxel.
The senior class included two counter-tenors with Tim Ayling rising magnificently to the challenge of Oberon’s music by Britten. The other, Theo Golden (now Cranleigh’s own Philippe Jaroussky), was sensational in Vivaldi and he went through to the March final along with baritone Ben Mills (as a characterful Figaro) and Fayruz Megdiche who wowed us with Jerome Kern.
The junior section included a remarkable rendition of Purcell’s challenging ‘Sweeter than Roses’ by Fourth Former Ben Wili, which followed the lyrical Puccini of second prize-winner Ellen Talbot. The third prize went to Freddie Coates for his warmly engaging performance of ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, which tempted the adjudicator’s spokesman Marcus Pashley to give us one of the lamest ‘knock, knock’ jokes ever uttered. The top prize went to Bethany Porter in Gluck’s aria from ‘Paride ed Elena’: singing of commanding sincerity and a fine example of the vocal coaches choosing suitable repertoire to train and showcase young voices. Alice Simmonds also sang this beautifully to begin the senior section. Readers unable to attend this evening are urged to attend the final on March 13th to hear the three senior finalists and their instrumental colleagues.