INTERVIEW WITH DORSET'S MEZZO SOPRANO
Ahead of her live concert at Lighthouse Poole on 21 February, Mezzo Soprano, Charlotte Hewett speaks to Press Party.
1. When did you first know that you were good at singing?
It came as quite a surprise when I was about 13 and I auditioned for the school musical. I had not done any singing at all, but I decided to audition with my friends for fun. After waiting most of our lunch break the teachers announced they only had time for soloists, so I just gave it a shot and ended up getting the lead role. I discovered I loved being on the stage and entertaining people. With the help of an amazing singing teacher, Veronica Cross, I realised I could reach all these high notes and I absolutely loved it. My passion for singing really took off from about the age of 15 and I knew it's what I wanted to do for a career.
2. Who is your biggest musical inspiration?
I would say I still listen to the classics likes Maria callas and Luciano Pavarotti. They just knew how to sing with such exceptional vocal technique to make everything seem effortless, whilst still giving an incredibly engaging performance. As a student at a music conservatoire you learn the importance of a solid vocal technique to allow your voice to do great things and still be protected. But once you get on the stage you have to remember to perform and be the character/sing the text without worrying too much about your technique.
3. You’re a Mezzo Soprano, what attracted you to classical music rather than pop?
I love all music. However, I'll never forget a moment I had in a school practice room aged 15 when I was singing 'wishing you were somehow here again' from Phantom of the Opera, and I hit the high note and it just came out with such ease and energy. It felt really powerful to sing that and gave me such an adrenaline rush. When I was a child I loved horse riding, and I was most attracted to dressage, because it looked so beautiful and effortless, whilst the rider and horse are working incredibly hard. I see the same resemblance in Opera. It really evokes some emotions deep inside us, and if you can really connect to an audience and express that I feel such a huge sense of achievement.
4. Do you ever listen to mainstream music – what did you last download on iTunes?
I'm a keen runner so when I'm out running I often listen to really up beat music to keep me motivated. I also really love jazz and funk, (particularly listening to my brothers Jazz Band 'The Chameleons') I do quite a few gig with my brother George Hewett, where I may start with some opera classics but then we go on into some jazz and pop music. I love singing everything. I think my last download was possibly some Justin Bieber. I'm aware people are going to love or hate that, but I think his latest album is cool!
5. What are you doing at the moment?
At the moment I'm studying my masters degree at the Guildhall school of music in London under the fantastic tutelage of John Evans. I'm so happy here and on a fantastic course working with exceptionally talented singers. I believe with the current changes to the postgraduate course it's the best in London, and we have some incredible opportunities. I also work at the Royal Albert Hall, sing with the London Philharmonia Chorus and teach. It's a busy schedule but London is incredible expensive!
6. What is the most memorable live performance that you’ve ever done?
I've been lucky enough to sing at some great venues, I think too many to mention in one answer. Some would be at the Royal Albert hall, at the Palau de la Music in Valencia, at Serenata Music Festival main stage, at the Barbican concert hall.. But my ultimate favourite experience was backing Andrea Bocelli on Children in Need. We sang at the MEN arena in Manchester and the applause afterwards was so overwhelming. You could feel the screams and claps go through your body and I couldn't keep the smile off my face.
7. Tell us about the fundraising concert in Dorset?
This Sunday 21st February I will be performing at Poole Lighthouse at 2.30pm. The concert is called Be My Love as a post Valentines treat. I love that piece so much, and it has a strong connection to Mario Lanza who was a world class singer.
There will be a programme of classical romantics from Puccini, Bizet, Schumann, Quilter as well as some lighter operetta from Bernstein, Gershwin and Lehar.
8. Why did you feel compelled to raise money for Julia’s House?
I think it's a very special charity, and I'm also raising money for Julia's House on the 9th of April for a charity banquet dinner and I'll be the musical entertainment so that's where it came up on my radar. It's a local charity to me, and I'm not sure they've had the recognition they deserve. I could have given to a more mainstream charity, but I wanted to give to a smaller one that works equally hard!
9. Can we expect to see a Charlotte Hewett album in the future?
I do currently have an album out called 'Shores of Patagonia' as well as my recent Christmas album 'white Christmas' however, I think it could be time to get recording with another. Requests are greatly appreciated!
10. What plans to you have once your studies are over?
My studies will probably be continuing for another few years. After postgraduate there is the chance of opera school and young artist programmes. Serious opera singers aren't working at a high level until about the age of 30, so until then everything is a learning curve. Having said that your voice never stops growing so you are always learning. I'm quite keen to experience America, but for now I am happy and enjoying all that London has to offer.
11. What’s next for Charlotte Hewett?
My next projects include singing with Dorset Opera, the Philharmonia chorus and I also have a recital planned in Sherborne at the Sherborne Abbey Festival on the 29th April. There are lots of dates on my website www.charlottehewett.com and all my big plans are still top secret, but watch this space!