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Waimay Yau - Soprano


1. Is your family musical


2. Who was your first music teacher?

My piano teacher Pamela since I was aged 4, but sadly we lost contact now. But I must say the teacher I felt most connected with and understood by is my current singing teacher at Royal Academy - Philip Doghan.

3. You moved from Hong Kong to England aged 16 and was there a break in your musical studies with this relocation?

No, there wasn’t a break because I came here for the music education. It was actually a breakthrough for me if anything. I came to England to study A Level Music - as a proper subject - which was a dream came true! I received some high standard musical training and was blessed with many opportunities to meet and perform with some talented musicians while studying at East Sussex Academy of Music in Lewes.

4. When and where was your performance debut?

My first experience on stage was when I was 9, I actually won First Prize in an annual competition at school by singing “My Heart will go on”. I sang in front of the whole school, about 700 students and teachers. That was a sweet little memory (I wasn’t fully aware that it was a competition... That must have helped!)

5. You performed Handel's Messiah as Solo Soprano at Lewes Town Hall in 2012. How did this feel like and what was the audience response

It was a full house. I was very nervous since that performace was my first solo performance in England, my first time singing with an orchestra and my first time singing in an Oratorio.

6. In 2013 March, you performed in the chorus of the world premier Imago The Opera by Orlando Gough at Glyndebourne Opera House. How did this go like and what memories do you carry?

I remember everyone was very supportive and friendly. I met many people whom we saw each other again in Conservatoires and various auditions. It was educational, fun, inspiring and new. Very new. The staging was vibrant and was all about colours! The opera talks of an old woman started a video game, fascinated by the plot of the game, got addicted to it, and by using a young fair figure, she met a young man in the game. I was one of the characters in the game. I had a blood red wig!


7. Another premiere you were selected for was Derek Rodgers’s work ‘Masada’at Milton Court Concert Hall with Junior Guildhall Symphony Orchestra & Chorus. What do you recall of that event?

The music was challenging but I love the composition, I wish I could do it again.

8. You performed in Britten's War Requiem on Remembrance Sunday in 2014, with Royal Academy of Music Orchestra and NYCGB, conducted by Marin Alsop at the Royal Festival Hall. How was this received?

Great audience. Great Hall. The solo Soprano was fantastic. Again, a new experience for me as I never got to experience anything quite like this at home – very excited to see some Royal audience sitting and waving their hands at the Royal Box!

9. You are currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music. Who are your main tutors there and how is it all progressing?

Philip Doghan and Audrey Hyland are my vocal teachers. They are friends with each other as well. I feel connected with them and I feel safe, which are the most important thing in my opinion. As far as my progress is concerned, I believe that I have made the most noticeable improvement in the last 4 months.

10. How often do you voice practice?

I don’t have a regular routine for vocal practice… I sing in a church choir so I do have to sing very Thursday evening and Sunday morning. When I have a performance or recital coming up, I will sing for about 2 hours a day, and the rest of the time I would study the music by speaking the words, translating, and trying out the piano part to get to know the music better.

11. Which artist of today or the past do you admire the most and why?

Joyce Didonato. Her voice is beautiful obviously, her singing is best of the best, and above all, she is kind, modest, inspirational, charitable, and aim to educate. I follow her Masterclasses and interviews online. She was trained as a high school teacher initially and never thought of herself to be a star opera singer. She always has encouraging and positive messages for young people – not just musicians – but everyone.

12. How do you balance your musical studies with other obligations? What are the biggest sacrifices?

It’s balancing out quite well at the moment actually… the fact that I can still afford to spare time on German and French evening classes every week. Well yes it gets a bit tiring when weekend is always busy and ‘here comes Monday again’. But I think the biggest sacrifice is I don’t get to go home and see my parents and grandma very often, it’s far away, flight is expensive and with my commitments, it’s quite hard to find a 14 - 20 day free period to be at home.

13. Do you have future projects you would like to divulge to us please?

A new project and possibly a premiere coming up in the next 2 months working with a student composer at Academy; a lunchtime recital at St James Paddington in January (featuring some new songs composed by yet another Academy composer as part of the programme)!

submitted October 2016

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