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On Thursday 9 October, St John's had the rare privilege of welcoming Sir Willard White to the School. Sir Willard White has been a dominant force in the opera world for almost 40 years, accruing a wealth of performing and teaching experience along the way. Pupils and teachers, therefore, were able to witness his mastery first hand in both a lunchtime master class and an evening recital.
The result of Sir Willard’s visit left pupils enthused and inspired. Three of our most promising young musicians, William Hey (Upper Sixth, East House), Alice Bloomfield (Lower Sixth, Gloucester House) and Andrew Terrafranca (Upper Sixth, West House), were involved in the master class, each benefitting and improving in front of our very eyes from this experience. It is hard not to be inspired by such a performer and the pupil audience also gained a great deal from this event, judging by the comments our own singing teachers made the next day.
His evening recital with his accompanist, Eugene Asti, was a smorgasbord of repertoire which demonstrated his immense vocal range and style. Leaving the lighter repertoire until the second half, the audience was spellbound by his wonderful communication and characterisation. The three Britten folksongs and the five American Folksongs by Aaron Copland were particularly memorable in a programme that just got better.
This was indeed a treat for the pupils at St John's and a memory that will stay with most for the rest of their lives. Sir Willard White at St John's, who would have thought?
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