North East Connected

Singer wins place at prestigious academy

Nicholas MackayA student noted for his performance in maths and science has hit a high note after gaining a place at a prestigious music academy.

Nicholas Mackay, 16, will join the Samling Academy, which is developing the next generation of classical singers in the North East.

The Barnard Castle School pupil, who has just taken 12 GCSEs and plans to stay on in the school sixth form to study A levels in maths, further maths, chemistry, physics and German, will take part in  two intensive training workshops followed by a public concert at The Sage Gateshead.

“I have to prepare four pieces, one in Italian, one in French, one in German and one in English, and the Samling coaches will work with me to develop my performance,” explained Nicholas, who was selected to audition for the academy.

“I also have to prepare two ensemble pieces and the baritone part of a comic duet by Jacques Offenbach, which in English is widely known as the ‘Gendarmes’ duet’ or ‘bold gendarmes’.

“I’m really looking forward to the experience. After sixth form I want to go to Cambridge University to read chemical engineering and join a choir in one of the colleges there.”

Nicholas has sung in the Barnard Castle School choir since joining the school in Year 7 and began having singing lessons in Year 8.

He recently made his operatic debut singing the role of the sergeant in Pirates of Penzance with the Barnard Castle Choral Society, whose members include his German mother Wiebke, at The Witham, in Barnard Castle.

“I’d never done anything like that before so it was a completely new experience for me. Singing in a Cockney accent was definitely a challenge,” said Nicholas, who lives in Barnard Castle.

A charity founded in 1996, through its academy Samling fills a geographical gap between Manchester and Glasgow where there is no conservatoire offering high level, performance-based opportunities for young singers.


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