Rhinegold Photo credit: Ash Mills

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Teenage tenor saves the day at Three Choirs Festival opening night

2:09, 25th July 2016

18-year-old tenor Magnus Walker made his debut as a Three Choirs soloist in a performance of Elgar’s The Kingdom on the festival’s opening night.

Currently a tenor choral scholar at Gloucester Cathedral, Walker stepped in at just a few hours’ notice when James Oxley lost his voice on the morning of the concert.

Magnus Walker Photo: Ash Mills
Magnus Walker
Photo: Ash Mills

After a run-through with piano and a rehearsal with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Three Choirs Festival Chorus, he performed alongside Claire Rutter, Sarah Connolly and Ashley Riches on the evening of 23 July in Gloucester Cathedral.

Adrian Partington, director of music at Gloucester Cathedral and artistic director of this year’s festival, selected Walker, who is to take up a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music this September, to sing the role.

‘When a singer falls ill on the day of a major concert you have a choice between trying to get a big name replacement, or at least someone who has sung it before,’ Partington said. ‘Our administrators did put out a call to artists’ agents, but even if an established tenor had been free they could not have got to Gloucester in time for our rehearsal.’

Oxley, who attended the concert said that the part of John ‘has significant, and in places, taxing passages to sing’.

‘That Magnus picked up the score so quickly and was able to hold the part securely was, for one of his age and experience, quite remarkable. I only hope that when he sings the work for the second time, he will have a lot more time to prepare!’

Writing for Seen and Heard InternationalJohn Quinn praised Walker’s clarity and accuracy.

The Three Choirs Festival 2016 runs until 30 July.


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