Soloist in good voice for steady rise to top

Rosie Williamson as Johanna in Croft House Operatic Society's Sweeney Todd lin 2011
Rosie Williamson as Johanna in Croft House Operatic Society's Sweeney Todd lin 2011

ROSIE Williamson and singing go together. They seem to be made for each other!

The young soprano is one of the soloists in Escafeld Chorale’s concert of Vivaldi, Haydn, Britten and Balfour Gardiner at Holy Trinity Church, Millhouses this Saturday.

Principal soloist in fact, as the Sheffield University graduate with a first-class BMus honours degree in 2009 is the choir’s associate soloist this season, which she describes as a “wonderful opportunity.”

“Oratorio and concert experience is quite difficult to get as a young singer. I have had some input into the programming for the concerts and am very excited to have the chance to perform some music that I have been wanting to sing for ages,” enthuses Rosie.

Since graduating, she has been working as a singing teacher at such places as King Edward VII School and Sheffield Cathedral while trying to gain as much performing experience as possible.

Growing up in Harrow, north-west London, she was involved in music and theatre in the area from an early age mainly in a schools environment – she specifically mentions playing Laurey in Oklahoma! as a 16-year-old sixth-former.

She also joined the Harrow School Chamber Choir and Choral Society – “they audition girls from the local area to sing in the treble/ soprano section as the boys start at Harrow in Year 9, so their voices are often close to changing,” explains Rosie.

Upon arriving at Sheffield University, she joined the University Chamber Choir with whom she would go on to appear regularly as a soloist and, in the first term of her first year, was in a University Theatre Company production of Sweet Charity and a Department of Music staging of Handel’s Xerxes.

Other roles later ranged from Pocris in the British premiere of the 17th century Spanish opera Celos aun del aire Matan and Marta in Sondheim’s Company.

She also attended University Dance Society contemporary and ballet classes as often as possible.

Since graduating, she has appeared with Sheffield City Opera, including as the First Boy (scout!) in last year’s Magic Flute, with Sheffield Teachers as Babette (“the flirty feather duster!”) in Beauty and the Beast and with Croft House as Johanna in Sweeney Todd.

She has also sung as a soloist with choral societies, including the Sheffield Oratorio Chorus and their ladies’ choir Cantaremos, and it has been interesting to hear how Rosie’s voice has developed since coming to Sheffield.

Relatively small-sounding at first but well formed, it now projects more strongly with an impressive beauty.

“I think voice development varies a lot from person to person,” contends the singer.

“My father, who sadly passed away nearly two years ago, was a singing teacher and taught me as a teenager.

“He was always telling me and his students that ‘slow and steady wins the race’ in opera and classical singing. I think that’s very important.

“You have to take on the right roles and repertoire at the right time. There’s a lot of amazing music out there and there is bound to be something that is right for your voice at its current stage.” 

Aiming to do further conservatoire training, Rosie has recently started studying with noted soprano Yvonne Kenny alongside lessons with Vivien Pike, which began in the final term of her first year at the university.

In the meantime, she says singing and teaching singing takes up most of her time: “I enjoy teaching, all on a one-to-one basis, but I am keen to shift the balance towards doing more performing over the next few years.” 

Her music tastes are wide: “I listen to a lot of classical music, opera, lieder and art song, but also musical theatre, acoustic singer-songwriter stuff, jazz, folk, cheesy pop – whatever the mood suggests.” 

“What do I do apart from singing?

“Now that’s a funny question. My fiancé would say that I live, sleep and breathe singing – which is true – but, when time allows, I have been known to bake a cake or two!”