As a young opera singer, my dreams for the future are not much different to others my age; the hope of one day being able to do what I love for a living. While for some that might be anything from engineering to fashion, or medicine to baking, for me I cannot imagine pursuing anything but the world of classical music. Although I found my passion for this at quite a late stage, I honestly cannot imagine doing anything else with my life. It was through this quest that I found myself flying over to England at the end of last year to audition for international masters programs.

My first audition took place at the Royal Northern College of Music. After making a very jet-lagged trip from London to Manchester, I found myself in an institution filled with some of the best young singers I had ever heard. Being lucky enough to sit in on a rehearsal in my break, I was absolutely blown away by the caliber of singers housed within their walls. As for the audition, the first round went well and I was lucky enough to receive a callback for the afternoon. The second round was much the same as the first and I left feeling quite elated (although the sight singing element is never something that I can say I enjoy!). The people here were all so friendly and RNCM very much reminded me of the institution I had spent the last four years studying. I remember the resounding feeling of being at home there and I only hoped to be lucky enough to be offered a place.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 11.08.02 AM.pngUpon returning to London, my next audition was at the beautiful Royal Academy of Music. Walking into their foyer took my breath away because the building itself was astounding. I was shown upstairs to my first audition that thankfully went really well and I was offered a second audition and an academic interview. The interview happened first and was basically just a way for both of us to express any concerns we had about the course. My second audition took place not long after this and upon speaking with the panel at the end, I was lucky enough to be offered a place. As someone who had come over with absolutely no expectations at all, I was really honoured. I had fallen in love with the Academy over the course of my day there, so I could not have been happier.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 11.13.38 AM.pngThe very next day was my audition at the Royal College of Music. Walking into the College made you feel as if you were immersing yourself in tradition and history and it was just as beautiful as the Academy. My audition here went much the same as my two previous ones, being lucky enough to get a callback for the afternoon. The students here were very welcoming and excited at the prospect of new people. My audition in the afternoon took place in one of their auditoriums which was quite fun. They called me down for an interview afterwards and I really enjoyed speaking with the three heads of department on my panel. At the end of my interview, they surprised me by offering me a place in their program, which I really was not expecting. My hope out of the auditions was to at least be offered one place and I was somehow lucky enough to receive two.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 11.16.42 AM.pngAfter this, it was quite a few days until my next audition at Guildhall and I managed to get very sick. No matter though, I still went to my Guildhall audition all guns blazing. The students were again very welcoming as were my fellow auditionees. Although it was very much my weakest audition, I still thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Guildhall. The first audition went okay and the second one was marginally better. What made it worthwhile were the lovely people who I got to speak to and the passion you could clearly see that they had for this profession.

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Chelsea as Oberon in WAAPA’s production of Britten’s Midsummer Nights Dream Photo Courtesy of Jon Green

So, what did I gain out of this whole experience, you might ask? Well, one of the most important things was the amazing people I got to meet along the way. Everyone, from the students, to the faculty, to my fellow auditionees, were so warm and passionate that I couldn’t help but feel welcomed as a part of them. I have also learned that even though our community of classical music may be small and somewhat secluded in Australia, its relevance and popularity is definitely still there in other countries. Probably the most important thing I gained out of this whole experience though, was a place at a world renowned institution, the Royal Northern College of Music. While any three of the colleges I gained acceptance to would have provided me with world class training and opportunities, what sold me on RNCM was the feeling of belonging I had within their walls. I am extremely proud to say that I begin studying my Master of Music in Performance there in September of this year.

If there was any advice I could give people potentially going to the U.K. to audition, it would be as follows.

1. Choose repertoire that you know well and sing even better.
No one cares if you’ve sung it over and over again, they just want to hear you do it well.

2. Be prepared and be organised.
One of the things I had commented on the most was that I had bound my music and had four bound copies. It may not seem like much, but presentation is everything.

3. If you have the opportunity to, visit the colleges you’re auditioning for.
How you feel at a college is just as important as every other factor. If you don’t feel comfortable there, you may not find the same drive and passion that you would elsewhere.

And lastly, have no expectations. I went over there not expecting anything and came out of it more elated that I could have ever expected. No one owes you a place and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t receive one. Life will present you with other opportunities if you work hard enough to find them and think outside the box when looking for them.

Written by Chelsea Burns