Rob Brooks, BMus Baritone
When did you decide you wanted to peruse music as a career?
During my years at school, I always expected to try to make my career in the arts, particularly in acting and/or singing, my two greatest passions and interests. While I did enjoy academic subjects at school, I was always adamant that I would train and work as a performer instead of studying something at a university. In sixth form, I auditioned for a number of drama schools and music colleges, and throughout the audition period, getting into the RNCM became my favoured outcome, and luckily the result came back positive and I was able to come here to study.
Why did you choose the RNCM?
I have lived very close to London for my entire life, and although it is a brilliant, vibrant city, I was really happy to come to Manchester and get away from it for a change of scenery. I am so glad that I made that decision to come to RNCM as I wouldn’t change a single thing about my experience here so far. I am sure that everyone I know here would agree that the RNCM possesses an extraordinarily friendly atmosphere, and it’s such an amazing privilege to work with and learn from such talented professionals. And regarding Manchester on the whole, it’s an amazing city capable of giving you anything you want from a city. It’s fun, musical, lively and interesting. My time here has already offered up a host of exciting opportunities and experiences and I can’t believe it’s all fit into only a little over a year.
What is your favourite style of vocal music and why?
Tricky question! Before coming to the RNCM I mainly sang musical theatre and pop music, while I studied classical pieces with my teacher. During my first year here, I discovered a lot of repertoire that I liked just by listening to other singers in classes and going to concerts, and I have become so much more interested and involved with classical and operatic repertoire and its many composers. Now I try to keep up all three, and it’s very exciting to be building a wide and mixed repertoire of my own, and I love to sing all three! It’s fantastic to be able to collaborate with students on the Popular Music course to practice with, as well as people on my own course to sing duets and chamber music with.
You are in a chamber group called The Phoenix Consort. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
The Phoenix Consort is a vocal chamber group which I am a member of along with a few of my singing friends Helen, Simon, Lucy and Phil. We were put together at the beginning of 1st year for the Chamber Music module of the course. We gelled really well socially and musically and thoroughly enjoyed our year as a group, so we have stuck together and are getting involved in some gigs around Manchester, and perhaps even further afield soon. Keep an eye out for the name; our first album release shouldn’t be too far away!
What makes the School of Vocal Studies and Opera at RNCM so good?
My favourite thing about the School of Vocal Studies and Opera at the RNCM is how committed they are to making sure everyone has the chance to experience as wide a variety of vocal studies as possible. Apart from exam requirements for our degree, we are left to our own devices in terms of what we learn, sing and perform, so there is a lot of freedom. There are also countless classes in place for us to improve all aspects of our performances. I have had classes in English, Italian, German and French repertoire wherein students prepare pieces to sing to the class and a tutor will guide them towards how to improve their language and the delivery of the song. We have weekly classes in performance, stagecraft and vocal pedagogy among a plethora of others, including physical classes where we study the techniques of practitioners such as Feldenkrais to enhance aspects of performance like breathing and posture. This year, as part of the course, we 2nd years also form the chorus for the RNCM opera. I have never been in an opera at all before, and after a handful of rehearsals I’m already thinking about when I might be able to be in another one. This year’s opera is Franz Lehar’s Merry Widow and it’s been so enjoyable to take on something completely new to me in such a professional environment.
Read more about the School of Vocal Studies and Opera here.
Read more about the Bachelor of Music programme here.