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Warwick

Warwick Fyfe

Year of Award: 2015 Award State: New South Wales Arts - Performing > Theatre And Stage
Arts - Performing > Vocal
The Stuart and Norma Leslie Churchill Fellowship to obtain tuition in Wagnerian vocal technique from Wagner specialists of international status - Germany, USA, UK

My Churchill Fellowship Project was focussed on Wagnerian opera. The impetus was my fear that this particular branch of High Art was under threat as a result of cultural decline and deteriorating standards in the area of singing pedagogy and education more generally. Determined to make the best possible direct contribution to the cause of Wagnerian opera via my own work as a singer, I arranged to work with the most eminent people in the field.

My project was an extraordinary adventure taking in the UK, Germany and New York. The highlights were my lessons in Germany with the great Deborah Polaski, the finest living Brünnhilde; and my lessons with Joshua Hecht, an inspirational, singing pedagogy genius and world renowned singer from the Golden Era of the 50s and 60s. The revelatory quality of these lessons was increased as a result of the contribution of his wife Donna Balson at the piano with her incisive mind and extraordinary ears. I had some amazing coachings with Wolf Michael Storz and Mark Lawson at the Bavarian State Opera; and attended a performance of Götterdämmerung in Munich, with back stage access thanks to Martin Cooke. I cannot list here all the remarkable people I spoke to and worked with but I can say that each and every one of them contributed something unique to my understanding of the matter in question. Clear patterns began to emerge, allowing me to arrive at general conclusions as to the the best ways forward. I am a much better singer for this experience, but I am also far better armed to go into battle on behalf of this art form I love so much.

Fundamental amongst the matters I wished to explore through my project was the importance of education and general culture to the highest possible level of achievement in Wagnerian opera. My instinct that any given branch of High Art, such as a Wagner opera, cannot exist in a vacuum was borne out. As well as places of direct and obvious relevance such as The Bavarian State Opera, the Metropolitan Opera New York and the Elgar and Holst museums, I visited all manner of galleries and other museums and these proved as relevant and enlightening as my forays into the heart of operatic practice. My favourites were often smaller or less well known; the Scharf-Gerstenberg Sammlung in Berlin, the Neue Galerie and the Pierpoint Morgan Library Museum in New York, (where I saw some original manuscripts by the greatest composers).

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