Young Artist Interview: John Savournin

John Savournin, baritone

I became a Yeoman of the Musicians’ Company in 2013 when I was awarded the Concordia Foundation Artists Award, winning the opportunity to perform at Wigmore Hall in July 2014. This was to be my second recital there, having previously given a recital as a Park Lane Young Artist in 2012, for whom I sang a recital as part of their New Year concert series in the Purcell Room. At the time of my second recital, I was in the middle of the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company’s first UK tour. If there’s one thing about being a freelance musician, it’s that it’s always varied, always interesting.

Becoming a Yeoman has meant a great deal to me because the Company is committed to helping you build a portfolio career, something that’s not so easy to do on your own, and supporting you during the years ahead. This year, the Company booked me for a recital at the Rye Arts Festival, which is a wonderful annual arts event dedicated to world-class performances in music, literature and theatre in a beautiful town.

My parents have been non-professional singers for as long as I can remember, so I grew up surrounded by music and drama. At school, my enthusiasm for acting grew, and I considered applying to drama school, but when I started having singing lessons, I decided that I’d like to combine my love of music with the theatre.

I trained at Trinity College of Music under the tutelage of Sophie Grimmer and the guidance and mentorship of Head of Vocal Studies, Linda Hirst. Whilst at Trinity College, I won the Paul Simms Opera Prize, an award given to the most promising student in opera, and Founders Prize for Excellence, and was lucky enough to gain a lot of experience both on stage and on the concert platform, performing as a soloist in works from Britten’s War Requiem to Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo. From there, I went out into the world as a freelance singer, but also as a stage director – something I have always been interested in. As a singer, last season, I sang two roles for Opera North, travelled to Calgary to perform Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King with the Land’s End Chamber Ensemble, and sang roles in three operas for the Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company’s first UK tour. I also directed two of the operas, and directed a production of another Gilbert & Sullivan – Patience – for Charles Court Opera, of which I am artistic director. While still as college, I founded the company and it has remained a part of working life for 10 years, presenting a wide range of repertoire from opera and contemporary music events, to musicals and our own brand of ’boutique’ pantomime, described as “an annual madhouse” by The Telegraph. The company is committed to giving singers, designers and musicians regular opportunities in London, on tour and abroad, and is developing an educational department.

Right now, I’ve been singing the role of Alidoro, La Cenerentola for Scottish Opera and I’m preparing for Charles Court Opera’s eight pantomime which this year is alternatively titled Billy the Kid – A Panto Western. Next year, I’ll be staging Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore in London before it tours the UK, an open-air production of Tosca in France, and two new productions for the G&S Opera Company. I’m also looking forward to working with the Concordia Foundation on January 6th 2015, when you can catch me singing a lunchtime recital at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in memory of Alice Bundy, one of the foundation’s greatest supporters.