Rachel Newberry, soprano – a profile

Rachel will be singing the role of Angel in Handel’s oratorio Jephtha at this year’s Festival alongside soloists from London’s top conservatoires and backed by local choral societies. The concert, conducted by Paul Spicer and accompanied by Southern Pro Musica, takes place on 18th March at 7.30pm.

Who and/or what have been the most important influences on your musical career or interest in music?

My mother is very musical, despite losing her hearing at the age of 19, and there were lots of instruments lying around – I picked up the flute by myself, and was later taught by Simon Diggens. I attended Churcher’s College, which has a fantastic music department. It enabled many wonderful and varied musical experiences, including choral and orchestral performances in London and abroad. I’ve also enjoyed singing with the esteemed Luminosa Choir (based in Alton) under Rebekah Abbott, who was also my vocal teacher for many years.

What have been the greatest challenges of your musical career so far?

Maintaining self-belief. I am a confident performer but it can be difficult when you don’t quite fully believe you have done your best.

What for you are the particular pleasures and challenges of collaborating with other musicians?

Collaborating is how you learn. As a young musician you can gain so much from observing and working with other musicians.

Are there any composers for whom you feel a particular affinity?

I enjoy singing Gurney, who wrote songs around the time of WW1, but maintained an air of purity within the writing. I also love the works of Sondheim. He had a real knack of writing complex yet memorable music.

Which works do you think you perform best? Why?

I love 20th-century and contemporary English song, including works by Britten and Barber. It also suits the stage that my voice is currently at.

Which performances are you most proud of?

Last November I took part in a concert for all year 1 undergraduates which was an amazing collaboration to be part of and just very fun to put on. We performed a whole range of different genres including lots of folk from different cultures. I think we all felt proud after the performance.

What are your most memorable concert experiences, either as a performer, composer or listener?

Visiting Geneva with Churcher’s College on an Orchestra tour. It was mid-heatwave, and we were playing in the sun in a 37C heat. We were sat in the only non-shaded spot in the square. I think the orchestra slowly got more and more out of tune, not to mention the sunburn that we received!

What advice would you give to those who are considering a career in music?

Throw yourself into everything; don’t pass up any opportunities, the worst thing that will happen is they say “no”, just roll with it, take the feedback and move on to the next thing! Don’t let impostor syndrome hold you back.

What would you like to be doing in 5 years’ time?

Joining an opera company as a choral member and eventually a principal.

What are you looking most forward to when performing at the Petersfield Musical Festival this year?

Coming back as a professional compared to previously taking part in the Youth Concerts. I have fond memories of the festival. The first performance I was in took place in 2012, the year of the London Olympics, we learnt the different national anthems and I think a bit of James Bond as well!

About Rachel

Rachel is currently a First Year Undergraduate at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, studying for her Bachelor of Music in Classical Performance. She is training with renowned soprano Teresa Cahill, and Alistair Young. She previously attended Churcher’s College where she had the opportunity to perform in various venues across the UK and Europe, including Cadogan Hall, St John’s Smith Square, Disneyland Paris, Notre Dame and Menin Gate. Rachel has sung previously with the Alton-based choir Luminosa (directed by Rebekah Abbot) getting the opportunity to sing works by Cecilia McDowall and a world premiere of Salve Deus by Ali Willis. Rachel is thrilled to have been awarded the Lily Niblock Memorial Scholarship to study this summer with Saluzzo Opera Academy 2023 in their production of Puccini’s Suor Angelica.

Rachel has been involved with the Petersfield Musical Festival for several years performing in many past youth concerts. She is excited to be making her professional debut singing at the Festival once again.