Participant Case Studies

William Rennie

Past Projects

2015 – Glyndebourne Academy

How did you get involved in singing?

‘I left school at 16 and went into full-time employment at the bingo hall. Most of that time I was singing – I had a PA system and used to sing swing, blues, soul. I was in a couple of rock and roll bands as well – singing quite a few different things and ruining my voice! I loved it but I never really thought I’d be able to do it for a living.

Two years ago on New Year’s Eve I was sat at my Dad’s pub in Maidstone with some guys who played a bit of music and one of my mates who’s a session musician in London, a pianist. We were listening to Les Mis – I’ve always loved musical theatre but never really sung it – and I was taking the mick, singing along and letting it go. And they were like, “What are you doing? You should have a go at this.”’

How did you hear about Glyndebourne Academy?

‘A friend of mine, who was studying conducting at Goldsmiths, put me in touch with an old singing teacher of his, who subsequently put me in touch with Elizabeth Donovan. Elizabeth became my teacher and I’ve not looked back. I went to her thinking I’d be singing musical theatre and she said, ‘Have you tried any opera?’ We started off with Caro mio ben and I fell in love. I was having one-to-one lesson once a fortnight or once a month and it’s come on leaps and bounds – she put me in for Glyndebourne Academy.’

What was so special about Glyndebourne Academy?

‘Everyone I spoke to about Glyndebourne said, ‘It’s such a magical place.’ I thought it was going to be like Disneyland! Then I got here and it has got an aura about it. And they really wanted you to perform well. I don’t really look like an opera singer but here they just accepted it. I came to Glyndebourne and I was singing with other singers, acting things out and singing for these people who really wanted you to be awesome.’

Joint winner with Darwin Prakash of the Gus Christie Award, 2016. Photo: James Bellorini

What was the single biggest thing you gained from being part of Glyndebourne Academy?

‘I found that when you really got into the character’s state of mind and thought about what you were supposed to be thinking about, you get the right sounds coming out. I wish we could do the Academy for a year because the progression in a week was ridiculous.’

What do you plan to do in the future?

‘Since I left Glyndebourne Academy I joined North Wales Opera Studio. I also performed in Kommilitonen! with the Welsh National Youth Opera. Although I initially was a chorus member, I was lucky enough to also be given a role, Pokayne. It was a small role, but it opened the opera. It was pretty nerve wracking, but amazing to open up with such an amazing orchestra.

I attended a masterclass with Kim Begley, and learnt some great lessons. We have stayed in contact; his expertise and knowledge is very much appreciated.

Recently I have gained a principle role with S4C to play a character in a film commissioned by WNO about Hedd Wynn. Myself and members of the North Wales Opera Studio are also performing with the New Symphonia Orchestra on 2 January 2017.

My immediate plan is to go to a conservatoire, and I have been offered a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, to start in September 2017. I believe I am ready now to be immersed completely in music and absorb everything the singing world of London has to offer. My long term goal is to sing Romantic Italian opera around the world and hopefully one day on the main stage at Glyndebourne.’

Information last updated 11/01/17

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