Get to know our adjudicators
Julia Dewhurst will be adjudicating classical vocal classes at WCAF this year. Read on to learn a little bit more about her and find out about her love of Schubert and her struggles with the saxophone!
FTCL ARCM PGCA CERT.Ed FISM FRSA
A lyric-coloratura soprano, Julia Dewhurst’s performing career has encompassed opera, concert and recital repertoire from Early Music to first performances of contemporary works. She has broadcast for BBC TV and Radio and has appeared in many of the country’s leading concert venues. Abroad, she has undertaken engagements in Germany, France, Spain, Holland, the Middle East and the Seychelles where she gave concerts and masterclasses in the Seychelles Festival of Classical Music.
On the opera stage she has appeared with the Royal Opera, ENO, Kent Opera, English Touring Opera, Pavilion Opera, European Chamber Opera, Opera East, London Opera Players and The Garden Opera Company. Her roles have included Susanna and the Countess (The Marriage of Figaro), Queen of the Night, Pamina and First Lady (The Magic Flute), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Madame Herz (Der Schauspieldirektor), Despina (Cosi fan Tutte), Constanza (Die Entführung), Gilda (Rigoletto), Norina (Don Pasquale), Micaela (Carmen), Miss Wordsworth (Albert Herring), Loelia in the premiere of Donald Swann’s comic opera The Man with the Thousand Faces, and many of the Gilbert & Sullivan soprano roles.
Julia has been a much sought-after adjudicator for the British and International Federation of Festivals for more than 20 years. She is a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, the Association of Teachers of Singing, the British Voice Association, the Association of English Singers and Speakers, for whom she has judged both the Patricia Routledge Competition and the Courtney Kenny Award and she is a Friend of the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique.
We caught up with Julia to find out a little more about her:
What are your top tips for preparing for a performance at a festival?
Prepare your pieces well. Be curious and find out about the composers and poets and what inspired them. You can never prepare too much!
Who is your favourite composer/performer and why?
I have many favourite composers but if I had to choose one, it would be a toss up between Mozart and Schubert. Both wrote exquisitely for the voice. There is such a wide spread of emotions in both composers' work. Mozart explores every aspect of the human condition in the characters depicted both in his songs and operatic arias and if you really listen to his piano accompaniments and orchestrations, he leaves you in no doubt whatsoever about exactly how he wants his music to be sung! Schubert's songs are so profound, beautifully constructed and emotionally charged whatever the mood. His piano writing is simply breathtaking and he modulates like no other composer. What a joy and privilege to sing his Lieder.
What is your favourite/funniest/first memory of performing at a festival yourself
Sitting in a draughty Town Hall somewhere, aged about 6, listening to my older sister singing in a Festival and thinking 'I want to do that'. Look where it got me!
What is your advice for dealing with nerves?
Nerves? We need to feel them but keep them as much under control as possible. Prepare, prepare, prepare your music. Avoid chattering to other people before singing. Find a quiet space, focus on what you are about to do and bring your breathing under 'conscious control'.... oh....and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
What is your favourite food?
As close to wholefood and vegetarian as possible.
Where is the most exciting place you have adjudicated?
I did a recital tour to Saudi Arabia for the British Council. Whilst there, my accompanist and I visited the American International School where we performed, gave some Masterclasses and judged musical performances from the students. It was a fascinating trip and one of my abiding memories is of singing Schubert's 'Sei mir gegrusst' against the amplified 'Evening Call to Prayer' from the Mosque next door!
Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and what is/are their name(s)?
Yes, I have a British Blue cat called Flora. She always knows when a pupil's lesson time is up and stalks into my music room and rolls around on the floor. End of lesson!
Tell us a little-known fact about yourself...
I'm a defeated saxaphone player. We just didn't get on.
Thanks so much for letting us get to know you a little better, Julia!