Amy Manford

While crossover is our main focus it is always a privilege to feature more classically inclined artists. One young soprano who we believe is destined for great things is the lovely Amy Manford from Australia.

While music may be her main passion today her parents “encouraged me to pursue a range of passions.” Amy spent her younger years competing in Rhythmic Gymnastics and pole vaulting. Despite the elite level she maintained, “All the while I managed to sing and play violin in every possible ensemble at school. My Dad is a self-taught guitarist and my younger sister Chloe is an extremely talented singer so music runs in the family. Most of our weekends were spent messing around with harmonies and convincing Dad to learn the chords to our favorite Disney songs, looking back I guess he had a lot of patience!” Her friends also played a big part in her development. “We spent countless holidays contriving new productions and throwing concerts for our parents and

friends. Looking back I had a very stimulating and creative childhood. I was lucky to have free reign to pursue anything and everything I loved doing.”

Her violin repertoire exposed her to classical music at the tender age of 6. Singing was something she was naturally gifted at but “I never really considered it my thing.” At age thirteen however, she began attending her sister’s singing lessons. “The classical training that I was introduced to really inspired me and I knew it was something that I wanted to pursue. So I guess I have my sister Chloe to thank!”

In addition to music Amy was also temporarily interested in film making. “I studied media in school and had a knack for editing however this was more of a hobby than a life calling. When push comes to shove I simply couldn’t imagine a life where I did not wake up every day and sing. It has always been this unrelenting passion that has motivated me to pursue singing as my career path.”

Following her decision to pursue a career in classical music Amy prepared her audition for university. She advises that “simplicity is key, pick arias or songs that are within your technical ability at the time you are choosing them. You want to show potential; that you have a knack for languages and a sense of drama. I would suggest choosing a varied list of simple German lieder, French melody and English song but above all make sure you love what you are singing! Your passion will be infectious and that is the most important aspect of an audition by far.”

Amy received her Bachelor’s degree from The Western Australian Academy as well a post-graduate certificate. Her audition strategy did not change but her repertoire has certainly increased in difficulty and range. “I did a lot of research in an attempt to find songs that were interesting and different, arias that I knew the panel wouldn’t have heard 10 times that day. You want to give the impression that you are an exciting innovative artist, and position yourself as one of a kind! After you have chosen your rep, it is imperative that you perform, perform, perform! It is no good just singing behind your singing teacher a couple of times in your lesson. You need to get a group of friends and family together to test out your program, taking note of what went wrong and what went right in each rendition. After that, the audition should be a piece of cake!”

Her careful research and attention to detail have paid off. Throughout her studies Amy has been awarded the Barbara MacLeod Scholarship for Most
Outstanding Female Classical Student, the Michelle Robinson Award for most outstanding first year recital and the Open Aria and Open Musical Theatre sections of the Fremantle Eisteddfod and Radzyminski Family Prize in the International Australian Singing Competition.

Amy shares a little about her studies. “The curriculum at the RCM is challenging and diverse and requires a lot of hard work outside my singing lessons. Languages play a huge role in Opera. I study French, German and Italian and am hoping to learn a bit of Russian in the future. I spend a lot of time working with language coaches and recording friends who are from different speaking countries. Movement and acting classes have been extremely important in both my undergrad and postgrad training. In addition to this, I also have studied Alexander Technique, which is a movement method that works to change bad habits in our everyday activities. Growing up I also studied a lot of music theory as it was a compulsory aspect of my AMEB violin exams. Although I found it very boring at the time, I developed a very good ear and with the benefit of hindsight it has helped me to pick up music very quickly. Basically the training never stops!”

Fans will discover that Amy has crossed over on occasion. She finds the largest difference between her classical singer and crossover to be amplification. “Classical crossover singers usually use a microphone so they can afford to go off the voice a bit (my singing teacher would kill me to hear me say this, but sometimes I like the effect it gives!) In contrast true classical singing is produced from your body alone with no microphone. You need to think of yourself as a violin, never letting the bow leave the strings.”

“If I had to pick an all-time aria I would have to say Olympia’s Doll Song. It is so virtuosic and I love hearing what different Sopranos can do with it. I also will never get over Diana Damrau singing Queen of the Night; I feel like she will conquer the world with that aria. When it comes to a Musical Theatre piece I would be hard pressed to pick. Some days I am obsessed with Disney musicals and on other occasions it’s the classics like The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady. If I had to pick one Musical Theatre performance song it would be Light in the Piazza.”

It’s equally difficult for Amy to narrow down a favorite composer or music period. “I couldn’t say – it changes every day! Today it is Vivaldi because it is Spring in London and I listened to The Four Seasons this morning walking to college – and on the way home I listened to Cecilia Bartoli singing Agitata Da Due Venti which always reminds me why I sing!”

Audiences have already seen Amy onstage in a few opera roles. “My first performance role in Opera was Dido in Dido and Aeneas. It was a great first role because Dido is a strong powerful woman and it encouraged me to quickly develop into a mature, confident performer.” Her favorite so far has been Clotilde in Handel’s Faramondo. ‘The Opera is very rarely performed so I really had to create the role from scratch without turning to past performances for inspiration. Alongside the challenge of creating such a multifaceted character it was an absolute dream to perform with the London Handel Orchestra under the baton of Laurence Cummings. My dream role is Queen of the Night.”

Amy’s unique history and achievements in sports have seen her become a national champion in gymnastics and also a more rounded performer. “I’m a happier person when I have a million things on my plate and I think I perform well under pressure. If I had any tips I would say surround yourself with like-minded people.” She again points to the importance of friends as well as time management and making lists. “I think seeing a checked off list by the end of your day is really rewarding and reminds you of what you have achieved.”

As she looks to the future Amy is careful to remember those who have helped her get where she is today. “I have been very fortunate to have had a lot of positive and influential figures in my life. My family has always provided me with a sense of stability and my Mum, being a very creative person herself, has encouraged me to follow my dreams and supported me whilst achieving my goals. I have also been lucky to have knowledgeable singing teachers who have had incredible careers themselves and have guided me in the right direction. This is fundamental to successful development as a vocal artist. As for the future, like any artist I have my wish-list and work hard every day towards those dreams. I love both Opera and Musical Theatre and will continue on this incredible journey to grow as an artist and explore these genres. Performing is my passion in life and I feel very fortunate to be a working vocal artist, sharing this with audiences all over the world!”

Continue to follow Amy’s blossoming career at: facebook.com/amymanfordsoprano