Continuing the series profiling this year’s Music Scholars. This week, mezzo-sopano Olivia Potter.
I have always loved singing; apparently, when I was very little, I would make up songs on long car journeys that lasted for hours (sorry mum!). Yet, when the time came for me to chose an instrument to learn at the age of ten, I chose the drum kit, having been inspired by my dad, who was a keen drummer himself.
It was only when I moved to secondary school that my passion for singing really took off. St Aidan’s Church of England High School in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, has a rich musical life and the number of music ensembles was extensive. At the school, I was involved in three choirs and three wind bands, performing in local venues such as the Royal Hall and Leeds Town Hall. I was also lucky enough to sing a solo in Ripon Cathedral. I started singing lessons in year 8, achieving grade 7 singing by the end of sixth-form (and somehow managing to pass grade 5 theory along the way, albeit with much help from my sister’s flute teacher who, with a great deal of patience, taught transposition, intervals and cadences to a girl who couldn’t really read music).
It was the school’s sixth-form Chamber Choir that allowed me to reach new heights in my singing abilities. It was an auditioned choir, made up of around 60 year 12 and 13 students. It had won the Songs of Praise School Choir of the Year award in 2006 and had been in the final of that competition another three times. It was a privilege being in a choir that produced such a high standard of singing. Perhaps the highlights of my time there was singing Eric Whitacre’s Sleep at the Music For Youth School’s Prom in the Royal Albert Hall and performing in Westminster Abbey, singing an arrangement of King of Kings, Majesty. Our repertoire was challenging, but it allowed me to grow in confidence, so when the time came for me to decide where I would like to go to university, I was drawn to the music opportunities here at Kent.
Getting into the Chamber Choir was an honor. I really enjoy being a part of Chorus and the Cecilian Choir as well. I love singing with such lovely and talented people. The Music Department is so supportive and passionate, and the new music building is fantastic. It’s wonderful that so much music making is encouraged at a university with no music degree course, making it accessible to anyone who just loves music. For this reason, I feel incredibly privileged to be a part of it.
See all the other features in this series here.