Samling 2021

July 2021

Arts / Drama / Performing Arts / Singing / Theatre

“Samling is unique. There is nothing quite like this in the world!” – Sir Thomas Allen


With support from the Gillian Dickinson Trust, Samling Institute for Young Artists transforms the lives of young classical singers and pianists by nurturing their talent and inspiring excellence. We do this through two core programmes, both led by renowned singers, vocal coaches, pianists, conductors and actors. Nationally and internationally, our residential Samling Artist Programme is recognised for its contribution to the training of early-career singers and piano accompanists. In North East England, Samling Academy offers younger singers at the region’s schools and universities outstanding coaching and performance opportunities, setting many on the pathway to further studies, including scholarships at the country’s leading conservatoires.
During the pandemic, we chose not to furlough staff. We have dedicated our resources to reconfiguring activities for online delivery and to planning a post-pandemic recovery programme supporting brilliant young musicians as they return to live performance. We also took time during the pandemic to redesign our website, creating an improved platform for sharing our digital content and giving greater visibility to the achievements of our Samling Artists.
In October 2020, we moved Samling Academy online, delivering 336 small group masterclasses and 8 group workshops to 25 young singers over six days. Participants received individual tuition in all aspects of performance from the team of leaders, which included Music Director Caroline Dowdle and soprano Joan Rodgers CBE. Shakespearean actor James Garnon led workshops on text and movement coach Mandy Demetriou worked with participants on how to project performance energy to camera.
A short film showing how the Digital Academy was put together and illustrating the range and standard of the work which takes place every year can be seen at https://www.samling.org.uk/news/digital-academy
In February 2021, we held online Samling Futures outreach workshops in partnership with North Tyneside Music Education Hub, Tees Valley Music Service and Music Partnership North (Northumberland). Samling Artists Louise Alder, Nicky Spence and Milan Siljanov, all of whom are enjoying successful international opera careers, joined us remotely from their homes around Europe to lead Samling Academy Singers and students from the Music Education Hubs in online masterclasses. They introduced participants to the wide range of skills that go into classical singing and shared their own experiences.
We held online auditions for both programmes, with candidates performing live via Zoom to the panel, in a process that followed the conditions of a live audition as closely as possible. We have selected 16 early-career singers and pianists for our Samling Artist Programme masterclass weeks planned for July and November 2021 and 30 young singers for Samling Academy 2021/22.
This year, Samling Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary and we have been making plans to mark this milestone with a special Samling Artist Showcase concert at Wigmore Hall on 7 November. The centrepiece of this programme will be the world premiere performance of Man, Woman, Child a duet song-cycle by Jonathan Dove – one of the world’s leading composers of vocal music – which we have commissioned for the occasion.
As live music begins its recovery, the life-changing coaching, networking and professional advice that our two training programmes provide will become even more important as we work to sustain the next generation of young singers and pianists. Although we have successfully transferred work online during the pandemic, this is no substitute for the alchemy that happens when brilliant young people come together in a room with great artists. We therefore look forward to resuming our full programme of live activities, which we have been able to plan and implement with the support of the Gillian Dickinson Trust through our creative development programme.

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