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Testimonials from Course Participants

 

Dear Theresa,

Here some words about my experience after Vox courses:

After the Vox Integra Staged Opera Scenes course in 2022 I had the opportunity to take part in some public performances in Mexico City such as the Soloist part of Mozart’s Requiem at an important Church in Polanco, Mexico.

I was invited to sing as a soloist in a premier of the song “Salmo 23” of one Mexican composer and conductor (Samuel Pascoe) and Coro Amen.

As well as some Christmas concerts as soloist in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

In every performance that I did the las year after the Vox course I have received very good feedback from the attenders as well as the profesional musicians.

Personally, I have felt much more confidence in my singing as well as in my scenic performance due to the paradigm change that the course and the high level teachers offered to me.

All the best

CC



I will be performing next month in a concert at 92NY, one of the premiere concert venues in New York City.  The program celebrates the 150th birthday of Rachmaninov and I will be performing four of his songs.

 

I was able to work on these songs in detail with Vox Integra faculty members at their Benslow Residential Weekend in 2022.  In addition to working on aspects of technique and interpretation on each of the four songs, I had opportunities to perform several of them and gain real-life experience of singing them in front of a live audience.  The experience was invaluable for me in preparing for my upcoming concert and also helped strengthen my singing technique and performance skills.

SY

 

 

A small yet compelling vocal coaching organization, positioning itself to take the teaching of vocal arts to a new level ... VOX fosters a unique entrepreneurial spirit helping singers navigate the crucial transition from student to professional.    

Amati Guildhall Creative

Entrepreneurs Award

JF

 

I am not sure that this will fall directly within the aims of VOX INTEGRA and public performance, but if you include the performance of the ABRSM recital and associated viva that takes place at the end of the study for an ABRSM  Diploma then attendance at VOX courses, the instruction from the tutors and my performances at the concerts that are given at the end of your have been very useful in helping me - as a mature student learner, -  to prepare for the performance of my Diploma Recital, which I will submit this December.

 

I have used your courses as part of my vocal  learning though the professional tutor team, who have all had experience of working within the professional musical theatre and opera world to gain experience at performing in public as a preparation for the ABRSM Diploma performance - and this has been very valuable for me - and, I suggest, forms an important, if indirect part, of your stand aims 1 & 2.  Indeed this aspect may not even have been part of the intention of setting up VOX INTEGRA, but courses such as yours, and Jackdaws, and Cratoule form important building blocks for mature solo learners  who wish to perform classical music in the future.   Where else can we find the tuition and experience of performing in later life???

FC

 

 

Dear Vox Team,

 

“Prior to my time studying as a postgraduate student, I joined Vox Integra’s audition preparation courses and opera scenes in Feltre. The audition preparation courses have been instrumental building my confidence in panel audition settings, helping me get into the RNCM with a substantial scholarship and getting work both in church and theatre settings. Recently I was invited to be part of Clonter’s Spring Opera Showcase, a showcase of arias, duets, and ensembles from a range of opera and classical musical theatre. The rehearsal time for this project was incredibly limited, concentrated within an intensive week of work and I feel my time doing opera scenes with Vox Integra enabled me to manage this challenge successfully. In fact we had to replace one of the duets, due to a last minute drop out, and I was lucky that I could replace it with a scene I’d already done in Feltre.”

Thank you,

DM

 

I took part in one of the Audition Prep classes in the National Opera Studio in November 2016. I enjoyed it so much and promised to keep in touch going forward. 

Since then my voice and performance skills have gone from strength to strength and I am now enrolled in Trinity Laban on their Intensive Vocal performance Masters course beginning in September.

I would just like to say a huge thank you to you and Morag and the entire Vox Integra team. With your coaching and repertoire advice I regained my confidence and was successful in audition. 

I can’t wait to get back to doing what I love every day and improving further.

 

I hope you are all keeping well, and thanks again. 

All the best,

 

SF

 

Italy 2022

Travelling to Feltre in the Summer of 2022 was the most wonderful adventure. As a vocal performer I learnt a huge deal and was encouraged by the whole team at Vox Integra to flourish in a unique and personal way. My skills in language rocketed as did my awareness of the voice. On top of this was the support to increase my physicality in order to maximise my potential when singing and performing, finding ways to best engage an audience, let the sound ring freely and with total freedom. 

 

France 2023

I was delighted to be invited on the French Song Weekend course to sing with Robin Bowman and Theresa Goble. Once again their careful and focussed tuition really encouraged myself and everyone on the course to thrive in a safe and supportive environment.

 

Thanks to my time with Vox Integra I am able to engage in professional work with significantly more confidence and technical knowledge, enabling me to perform to my full potential and positively impact audenuces all over the UK. Thank you Vox Integra!!

SR

 

Vox Integra runs some wonderful courses in Alsace and Italy which I am unable to get to, but their recent courses held at the premises of Benslow Music have been very welcome to me, as back problems have restricted my activities recently.  Apart from its depressing effects, the Covid lockdown in 2020 was unhelpful to my condition which benefits from exercise, and when Vox enterprisingly set up a weekend course in 2021 to celebrate the possibility of meeting again at a safe venue with the protection of vaccination, I was delighted to take part and subsequently attended another in 2022.  

 

We brought songs and arias to study interpretation and the development of technique, and took part in informal concerts.  The tutors are experienced professionals who are highly inspiring and encouraging.

 

I am certain that singing is a discipline which is beneficial to many aspects of good health, particularly as it requires good deep breathing.  It contributes to people’s mental health and mood as well, and my vocal studies sustained me during the lockdown.  

   

 

Some relevant background and experience

I began singing rather late in life, having studied piano and cello, playing in amateur orchestras and for opera performances.  When John Lubbock, conductor of the prestigious Orchestra of St John’s Smith Square, wanted to extend the orchestra’s repertoire by adding a non-professional choir, drawn from musical friends, I was invited to join and enjoyed it.  So I started taking singing lessons, and joined Further Education evening classes and Morley College.  

 

In the 1970s, I attended a few Summer Music courses run by the Glyndebourne Head of Music, Jonathan Hinden, first in Hurstpierpoint, Sussex (which included instrumentalists), then again from 2005 at Ardingly College when they were called AIMS (Ardingly International Music School) attended by around 200 singers.   Eventually Jonathan Hinden retired and the tenor Neil Jenkins took over with his wife Penny Jenkins.  The courses continued at Eastbourne College from 2010 up to 2016 after which they closed.  They are much missed.

 

 

Opera:  In the 1980s, the Royal Opera began a new educational venture, devised by the Stage Director Richard Gregson, which he called ‘Practical Opera Weekends’.  They were intended for amateur singers and even non-singers, anyone interested in finding out more about opera and how to perform it.  He and the ROH music coach Nina Walker set up some weekend courses, beginning on a Friday evening when the singers started to learn a shortened version of an opera sung in English (Carmen, Traviata, Onegin, or Peter Grimes).  No preparation was needed, and after a brief audition some solos were allotted to members of the course, joined by two or three professional singers for key arias and duets.  Extra coaching was provided by a staff pianist.  By Sunday afternoon, the singers were ready to do a performance, mostly from memory, in the Ninette de Valois studio at the Royal Opera House.  They also took these weekends out to venues such as Eastleigh and Chichester, among others, at the invitation of local councils, who financed the weekend.  Later on, the Royal Opera House franchised Floral Opera to manage these external weekends.

 

I enrolled for Onegin in 1991, followed by a weekend on ensembles from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, but we were told it would be unlikely that we could take part in further Weekends in London, as they were so popular.

 

Floral Opera

Eventually, in 1993, a group of us persuaded Richard and Nina, and the retired Chorus Director and Conductor Dennis Knight, to consider setting up a group, affiliated to the Royal Opera but independent, to rehearse an opera over six weekends, with two performances at the de Valois Studio on the final Sunday afternoon.  The company was called ‘Floral Opera’.  The emphasis was to provide serious study for more advanced singers, as well as experience in singing and stagecraft for everyone; people with little or no experience of singing could join the chorus.  The tuition would however be to a professional standard and a good attitude was expected.  The tutors wanted to provide a supportive and encouraging atmosphere, where singers could experiment without undue criticism.  

 

Almost all the operas were sung in their original languages, which is not always the case for productions by amateur singers.  There were auditions for soloists, but the aim was not to allocate roles always to the most advanced singers, rather to choose those who might benefit from the tuition.  We also developed some shorter courses to sing opera ensembles – ‘Studies in Opera Performance’ – to give more people an opportunity to sing solo in ensembles taken from major operas.  

 

The courses were popular, and in Nina Walker’s view, provided useful training in stagecraft for post-graduate students as they prepared to enter the profession.  She maintained that there were no other equivalent courses at that time, particularly anything that also offered quality training to amateurs.  They continued until 2002, when the tutors decided to retire.  We tried to continue with younger ad-hoc Directors, but this was difficult, owing to their professional commitments.

 

So my colleague Gil Elgar and I began running coaching for singers (masterclasses) consisting of an eminent voice coach, conductor, or stage director, together with a pianist, each singer receiving individual half-hour coaching sessions.  Occasionally we organised weekends to rehearse and perform ensembles. The masterclasses continued until the Covid lockdown in 2020.  We haven’t started them up again so far, for various reasons.  

 

These days there are a few more educational courses available than in the 1990s, but not that many.  Courses that provide for less-advanced singers and amateurs to develop their skills are very valuable.  Richard Gregson told us of his surprise and delight while staging an opera at Covent Garden, when a member of the chorus told him that participating in a Practical Opera Weekend had led to her training to become a professional singer.  Floral Opera too provided training for a mezzo-soprano, and a dramatic tenor who eventually became successful international soloists in Germany.  

 

Vox Integra has very similar aims, and offers excellent opportunities to singers of varying abilities, providing the experience that Nina Walker spoke of – advanced training for singers wishing to become professional, learning the disciplines of stagecraft and presentation, as well as providing high-quality tuition to those who have not had the benefit of attending college.

 

My experience of performing as a soloist has been limited – mostly to a small group when being coached at AIMS and other such classes.  Apart from my debut in 1993, singing in the duet for Susanna and Marcellina at the Figaro Ensembles Weekend in the de Valois room at ROH, I sang in opera ensembles at Floral Opera and an occasional small solo role in the main operas, all of which gave me confidence to sing before a larger audience.  I have not had much experience in singing solo in a formal concert recital.  The concerts at the Vox courses have been most helpful, and have given me encouragement and confidence.

 

I most certainly support Vox Integra’s application for charitable status.  I believe that with more financial support they could develop further opportunities for singers of various abilities to progress with their vocal and performing skills by working with experienced tutors from a professional background.

GW



I have taken part in various Vox intregra courses and the courses offer encouragement, sound knowledge of developing the voice, performance , communicating with the text and music , which in turn comes across to an audience. The courses that I have taken have encouraged me to seek out performing opportunities. My last Vox integra course was at Benslow Music in Hitchin and on the course I got to work on the repertoire I hadn't performed before and get it up to performance standard in a few days. I really enjoyed the opportunity of singing a piece that I had worked on, to an audience and the encouragement that I got back from the course tutors and audience really has pushed me into wanting to work towards accomplishing being a professional singer. In addition I found that the masterclass situations was incredible, two things were primarily being looked at with me, which was how to approach the performing of the character without compromising technique, In the masterclass, looked at how the character the Contessa from Marriage of Figaro, would stand and sit, would also use the introduction of the music to think about what was saying in the text. Then the second thing was applying technique to create the mood of the piece I was singing. We looked at shapes that the voice creates, the line of sound and how and when to create a softer sound to draw the audience in and then also when to use bigger sounds for moments in a piece and when to put those in. 

 

 After the course I was given the opportunity to be a chorus member in Birmingham Opera Company's production of the Decision - March 2023. I have also competed in singing festivals around the UK, which includes Wirral, Bromley, Blackheath, Northfield, Dudley, Leamington Spa and Taunton. I have also been offered a scholarship at Dartington Summer school 2023 to study for 3 weeks on their vocal programme. 

 

LG

 

Attending the Vox Audition Preparation Weekend allowed me to work with professional coaches, directors, and voice tutors. It was was invaluable in preparing me for auditions for conservatoire and setting up professional contacts for life.”

 

Very best of luck with the process of setting up the charity!

 

AK

Many thanks for your tutoring on the Vox Intergra audition course. It was a really invaluable experience. I have since accepted a scholarship offer from the Royal Conservator of Scotland for their vocal studies BMUs course. Thank you so much for you advice and guidance. I am over the moon with the outcome and enjoyed every minute.

JS

 

What a wonderful weekend! I found it exactly the right course at the right time and it was so

lovely to be live with tutors and singers. Thank you so much Theresa, Brian and Robin for your

expert teaching and the care and support I experienced as you helped me with my songs. Lovely

to hear everyone’s singing, Benslow was great and I look forward to the next one! 
HD

 

A truly wonderful course . Great tutors who actually finally got me singing again. Can’t wait for the

next one.
HD

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