JOANNE MCGAHON

How it All Began

As a girl, I started singing in my school choir and we were lucky enough to sing on the BBC and at St. Albans Cathedral. I loved being in a choir during my school days and after leaving school I initially performed in musical theatre shows such as ‘Guys and Dolls’ and ‘Oliver’. It was then that I started some vocal training and my singing teacher encouraged me to try opera which he assured me would help with all aspects and styles of singing. I began by learning some arias from Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ and I immediately fell in love with the music.
Within a year I had auditioned and successfully gained a place training with English National Opera, which resulted in performances of some modern operas – one in particular at the Hackney Empire. I was then fortunate to win ‘The Voice of North London’ and was asked to sing at Trent Park Open Air Prom. I sang ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ and all the Last Night of the Prom favorites with full orchestra which was one of the most exciting nights of my life – all my family and friends were there, a very special moment!
This ignited my passion further and I then performed a huge amount of oratorio with choirs and choral societies – the hardest being Bach’s Mass in B Minor which was one of the most challenging but definitely very rewarding! I have been very fortunate to have been asked to sing at many events in Britain and abroad and some of these experiences have been the most fulfilling and happy times. It’s exciting working with new people and sharing music with audiences. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunities that have come my way.
I love the diversity of my work – Corporate and Sporting Events, Concerts and Oratorio, Opera roles, session recording and last year I sang live on Absolute Radio as well as joining the panel on BBC 3 Counties Radio. A highlight of my career was recently touring with ‘All Souls Orchestra’ in Vienna, they are an amazing group of musicians, working together to perform moving programs which were truly uplifting.

New Album

My first classical album ‘Laudate Dominum’ was recorded back in 2010 with piano, trumpet and violin and I thought it was time for a follow up album! I am so excited about my new recording with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and the amazing conductor Paul Bateman. Travelling to Prague to sing live at Smecky Studios was a dream come true and I was well looked after by the Tadlow Music production team. I had to pinch myself when I was in the studio as it was such an amazing experience – of course, there was pressure singing live but it was worth it as the orchestra responded organically to my singing and we created some magic moments. The new album consists of popular operatic arias and classical favorites as well as some Gershwin and musical theatre pieces, hopefully, there is something for everyone. I can’t wait to share the album and I hope to release the recording early 2018.

The Voice

My voice type is a dramatic soprano – last year I made my debut in the title role of Tosca by Puccini. It was my dream role – I loved every minute of it and I hope to play the part again someday. I love Puccini’s music, it’s very emotional and it never fails to move me. I will normally sing at least one Puccini aria at a solo concert as it has the ability to connect with the audience like nothing else. After my concerts, audience members regularly say they are inspired to go and watch a whole opera for the first time and I like to think I am a stepping stone to mainstream opera. When I put a program together I always try and chose songs that the audience will find familiar, the best bits from operas, shows, and musicals that will take them on a journey of emotions but I will always end with something joyful, preferably with a big ending!
I admire the voice of Maria Callas, her early recordings in particular where her voice was at its best. I am also a massive fan of Julie Andrews, her voice is like a bell and her diction is so clear and endearing. Performing the role of Maria and singing Do Re Mi with children’s choir at the Alban Arena a few years back was a moment I will always treasure!

Charity

In my spare time, I work for a charity called Lost Chord providing therapeutic concerts for Alzheimer and Dementia patients. I perform lots of familiar songs and arias, often holding the patient’s hands and using eye contact and musical expression to encourage participation. The concerts are very moving as the music reignites memories and brings so much happiness to patients, families, and careers. It’s such a privilege to see the power of music and use my singing in this way.

Busking the nerves away

A few years ago, I began opera singing in the lower piazza in Covent Garden. Even though I was a seasoned performer, I was struggling with nerves at that time so I decided it would be good to have a regular showing platform to help normalize performance and take some of the pressure off that I would often pile on myself to be perfect! (of course, no one is perfect!) I had never done anything like busking before and it was quite daunting to start with as the audience is transient but I worked hard to connect with the crowds and the rewards were joyous! I now get so much lovely feedback when I sing there and lots of people buy my CD! The atmosphere is very exciting and although I still get nervous on occasion, singing there has really released me to perform freely and built my confidence as a performer.

Keeping Active

Being an active performer can be hard work, especially when juggling family life and managing gigs and bookings so I think it’s important to try and keep fairly fit as a singer. You need stamina to get through some of the schedules and the rollercoaster of performing life. Running helps with breathing technique and aids sleeping which all combines to aid well-being. I have two Labradors (Bernard and Stanley) so I jog with them wherever possible. I have been known to run for charity but it’s more of a jog!
Continuing Education

I recently did a course at the National Opera Studio working with some amazing tutors and I still regularly meet with my original singing teacher (who sang at Covent Garden) for coaching and he is wonderfully encouraging and honest. Over the years I’ve learned to trust in my technique and for me, one of the most important things is to prepare and practice properly so that I’m completely ready and confident – this particularly helps with nerves.

Travel

I have been very blessed to sing in some wonderful places: Turkey, New York, Italy, France, Scotland, Sweden, and Prague. A highlight for me was recently touring with ‘All Souls Orchestra’ in Vienna, an amazing group of musicians, working together to perform moving programs which were truly uplifting.

Most of my performances are in London where I live and recently I have been nicknamed ‘The London Soprano’ which I love as I’m proud to be associated with our capital city. My main ambition is to use my music to bring pleasure to audiences and I hope to get involved in more charity work in the future using music to impact on people’s lives. I’m looking forward to working on new projects and fingers crossed collaborating with some exciting artists and composers. Please watch out for my new album and I hope you enjoy! God Bless, Joanne xxx

To learn more about Joanne visit her Official Website