Who and/or what have been the most important influences on your musical career or interest in music?
I started with dance and theatre rather than music, attending Horndean Ballet school, The Royal Ballet associates and then Elmhurst Ballet School from an early age. Watching The Boyfriend at the age of 10 at the Manor Pavilion Theatre in Sidmouth had quite an influence on me. I expanded my interests into music when I attended Southdowns College – Liz Lewis was a particular inspiration, introducing me to a wide range of composers and works, and I studied double music specialising in voice there.
After leaving school I went into the entertainment industry, enjoying a variety of roles as a dancer and singer in family entertainment style shows, such as Thorpe Park’s diving show.
Subsequently I studied for 6 years at the Birmingham Conservatoire. I went on many tours round the world during my breaks from college: I especially enjoyed spending time in sunny Dubai, before returning to my digs in grey Birmingham! The Conservatoire gave me so many opportunities to perform: I took major parts in productions such as The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute and Guilio Cesare and performed song cycles such as Winterreise and Die Schöne Müllerin among other works. I benefited from input from some wonderful teachers, including Julian Pike, Julius Drake and Meriel Dickinson. I was also really fortunate to be awarded scholarships to study in Weimar and Budapest. There I had the opportunity of training with world-class singers such as Sándor Sólyom-Nagy and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
I was given time off from the Conservatoire to go on tour with Colombia Artists to the USA for several months, performing The Merry Widow, Die Fledermaus and Madame Butterfly.
I now compose shows, perform in various productions and I am often invited to perform lieder and art song. I feel I am very lucky to have an interesting variety of work. Performing in a recital is particularly important to me. I like the intimate experience it presents. One can be director, m.d. and performer all at once. The music is truly wonderful and a real privilege to perform.
What have been the greatest challenges and pleasures of your musical career so far?
I put on my own Jazz musical called Freek Street on Hayling Island a couple of years ago. This piece was written in association with the mental health charity M.I.N.D. I worked on this with my Dad. It was a huge amount of work but a really rewarding experience.
I recently performed the Marquis in Poulenc’s The Carmelites with a 70-piece orchestra in London. It is an extraordinary and challenging piece of music/theatre.
I perform my dramatised version of Schubert’s Winterreise quite regularly. This is a monumental piece both mentally and physically. Unless you feel completely drained afterwards, somehow you haven’t done the work justice.
Are there any composers with whom you feel a particular affinity?
Schubert, Menotti, Vaughan-Williams, Finzi, Mozart and Wagner all wrote works which best suit the baritone voice. They are all masters at setting words and creating a dramatic scene.
What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?
Create your own opportunities: do what you really want to do without distractions, though prepare yourself for the need to change!
What are you busy with at the moment?
I am preparing to perform a somewhat “reduced” Ring Cycle for a socially distanced tour of the South West and a recital of Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, a work that I have always been keen to sing. I recently recorded a new song with Valentina Seferinova by Rosalind Rogerson. I am currently writing a Bel Canto opera, and a stage production for baritone and mezzo-soprano.
Go to http://alexbaritone.co.uk to find out more about Alex.