Q&A with Morgan Balfour - Classical Singer
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Posted by: Melanie Chiew
Dame Joan Sutherland Fund recipient, Classical Singer
Morgan Balfour is an emerging Australian Classical Singer. In 2015, Gisella was awarded a grant from the Dame Joan Sutherland Fund to undertake a professional fellowship at the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival.
Who are you as an artist?
I am a young, Australian Classical Singer, hoping to build a professional career as an Opera Singer with companies and opera houses throughout the world.
What prompted you to come to the US?
I was awarded a place as a Professional Fellow in the 2015 Hawaii Performing Arts Festival (HPAF) and the oppotunity to perform the lead role of Pamina in Mozart's opera, Die Zauberflöte.
What did your course/project involve?
The HPAF was run over three and a half weeks on the Big Island in Hawaii. It brought conductors, directors, repetiteurs, vocal coaches, singing teachers, instrumentalists and students from all over the world together to perform concerts, recitals and operas. Everyday for me would involve a mixture of workshops on stage movement, acting or performance style, voice lessons, coachings, productions rehearsals and performances.
What were the highlights of your experience?
The highlight of my experince would definitely be performing the role of Pamina in the beautiful Kahilu Theatre to an audience of roughly 375 people with an incredible cast made up of Australians, Americans, Canadians and Europeans. I loved meeting and learning from a broad variety of teachers and students and expanding my knowledge of classical repertoire. I also enjoyed performing in Art Song Concerts as well as 'Opera Classics' shows.
Where did you find inspiration?
Inspiration was everywhere in Hawaii. My beautiful homestay family were incredibly kind and supportive, the other students were phenomenally talented and generous, the coaches, directors and teachers opened my mind to new ideas about the music I brought to them and also made wonderful repertoire suggestions to me for the future. The sheer beauty of my surroundings overwhelmed and inspired me every morning when I woke up and every night before I went to sleep.
What will you take away from this experience?
I will take away a great deal of knowledge about performing Mozart, as well as the areas I still need to grown and develop in as a singer. I will also take away a sense of accomplishment and achievement in the work that I was able to produce, as well as many invaluable professional contacts from countries such as the US, Canada and England.
What is your favorite piece of work that resulted from this experience?
Currently I am preparing for several concerts and competitions including the finals of the Dame Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award, the Opera Foundation for Young Australians Lady Fairfax New York Scholarship, and the 'Dame Nellie in her own Write' recital at the Port Fairy Music Festival to name a few. I am also preparing the role of Zerlina from Mozart's Don Giovanni, as I will be performing scenes from the opera at the 2015 Lisa Gasteen National Opera School at the end of this year.
What are you currently working on?
Learning and performing the role of Pamina is an incredible achievement for me. I also worked on Rachmaninoff Op. 35 No. 5. 'Dreams' with a native Russian speaker, and this gave me a greater appreciation for the piece than I could have discovered were I just to approach it myself.
What is your vision for the future?
I will be applying to several US Universities for 2016 and hope to base myself there next year to continue my growth as a Classical Singer. The ultimate goal is to eventually be employed as a Principal Artist at one or multiple A list opera houses throughout the world.
What advice would you give other artists aspiring to come to the US?
My only advice would be to go. The idea of travelling to the US can be quite daunting, and finding the funds to support you is difficult without the help of organisations like the American Australian Association. But if you are well prepared and you are willing to learn, only good things can come of international travel. The lessons I learnt and the people I met proved to be invaluable.
[Interview: September 2015]