8 September 2019.
The 2019 Course was yet again a fantastic success, culminating in 5 outstanding sell-out performances of ‘The Tales of Hoffman’ by Jacques Offenbach at The Place Theatre in Bedford.
Huge thanks to the all the 27 cast members, 16 orchestral players, the small team of professional staff and the large team of volunteers.
Artistic Director Fred Broom directed the cast who showed off their amazing talents in a production worthy of the West End. In addition to receiving vocal tuition from Voice Coach Lottie Bagnall, they were fortunate to be able to spend time individually with some of our internationally acclaimed alumni. This year Rachel Nicholls, Kitty Whately, Donna Lennard and Andrea Tweedale returned to coach, generously giving their time for free. Students learned about advanced singing techniques and all-important characterisation. The orchestra of young players, under the experienced baton of Ben Bottone, conquered the difficult score. During the Course all the students worked incredibly hard, developing and maturing as individuals, and explored the many complex issues presented by this inspired Production. The whole experience for students (and also staff and volunteers) was truly life changing.
It was great to welcome 4 new young cast members and 9 new young orchestral players to join cast and players who had attended in previous years. Seven or more students had already started their undergraduate or post-graduate musical training prior to this production. A further 4 students took up places to study Voice shortly after the course (at The Academy of Music and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music in London, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow and The Welsh International Academy of Voice in Cardiff). Six more students are now intent on pursuing careers in singing.
A retiring collection as the audience left the Theatre each night raised an amazing £500.49 for the mental health Charity MIND.
All our students tell us that BYO has had a huge impact on their lives. Here are just a few of their comments below (extracted from anonymous feedback forms received at the end of the Course):
‘The course gives me loads of confidence in my performance skills and a real insight into how a professional production works and shows me that I do want to pursue a career in music!’
‘Literally the best experience of my life’
‘Has dramatically improved my confidence in playing in a small ensemble and learning quickly’
‘Experience of playing in a pit orchestra is not as common as a normal orchestra so it’s really exciting and helpful to be part of it’
‘Voice coaching took me out of my comfort zone completely (in a good way). I learned the important lesson of not acting but ‘becoming’. This intense lesson was filled with questions behind every action I make’
‘This is my fourth year at BYO and it never ceases to amaze me! The quality of the cast, band, coaching (and the direction/production team especially) is absolutely stunning. Every year I think ‘it can’t get any better than this’ and every year I am oh so pleasantly proven wrong. BYO is like my second family’
‘BYO has been the highlight of my year for several years running. No other group is as professional while being so fun and genuine. It’s a privilege to be a part of it’