Genesis Sixteen Alumni: Hannah Ely, soprano, reflects on how her experience paved the way to her future in classical music.

5 September 2016

“I often wonder where I would be today were it not for the wonderful experience and inspiration that I was privileged enough to receive as part of the Genesis Sixteen scheme.”

Five years on from taking part in the inaugural Genesis Sixteen training scheme, soprano Hannah Ely reflects on how the experience helped her to develop as a musician, leading her to become a professional singer, and the manager of the Fieri Consort, a vocal ensemble founded by graduates of Genesis Sixteen.

I was twenty-one years old when I embarked on the first ever Genesis Sixteen programme, having just completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Manchester. Over the course of my degree, I had begun to realise how important singing was to me. Although opportunities were fairly limited, there was a fantastic student-led chamber choir, which inspired many young musicians to pursue singing further. This is what led me to apply for Genesis Sixteen, though at the time I had no idea of how it would change the course of my life.

Coming directly from University into an environment where I performed with, and was mentored by, professional musicians; was inspiring and a little overwhelming! This exposed me to a higher level of music-making than I had ever encountered before. The opportunities to sing alongside members of The Sixteen and to develop close-working relationships with Harry Christophers and Eamonn Dougan gave me the confidence to pursue my own singing career.

Our mentors at Genesis Sixteen encouraged us to start our own ensembles, not only to provide a vehicle for our own artistic learning and expression, but also to build new audiences in a world where, partly because of government funding cuts, work for young musicians is increasingly hard to come by. This led to the foundation of the Fieri Consort.

Fieri is an ensemble of seven young professional singers, and we specialise in the performance of contemporary music and the early Italian madrigal. We have been running workshops alongside our concerts since its foundation and we work hard to advertise our performances widely, informing our audiences as well as entertaining them. Fieri travels widely, making it a priority to reach audiences outside of London and to increase our outreach work. We have stand-alone workshops planned this summer in collaboration with Hackney Arts and a joint project for lung patients with music therapist Mary Barclay scheduled for next year.

As a registered charity, Fieri has recently secured funding for our first recording, which will take place in September. The disc will feature Marenzio’s Se Quel Dolor, a lover’s lament as well as music by Monteverdi and previously unrecorded works by Ingegneri.

Fieri would not have come to exist without the support we were given by the Genesis Foundation when we first embarked on our journey to become professional performers. Taking part in the Genesis Sixteen programme motivated us not only to continue our own pursuit of music as individuals, but also to work together to educate and inspire as many other young people as possible.

Find out more information about Genesis Sixteen.

The Fieri Consort next London concert is on Saturday 8th October 2016, 7.30pm at All Saints Church, Blackheath. For information and tickets, click here.

Applications for the 2017-18 Genesis Sixteen group open in November 2016 – click here for full details.

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