David aims to hit a high note with opera singing ambition

Opera singer David Fearn
Opera singer David Fearn

THE voice soars and swoops and fills every corner of the room, making the hairs on the back of my neck bristle.

And this is just a recording, so I could only imagine what it would be like to hear it in the flesh.

I am not the first to be impressed by the musical ability of 17-year-old aspiring opera singer David Fearn. And I definitely will not be the last.

For David has just been awarded a scholarship at the prestigious Royal College of Music in London, training ground for such esteemed singers as internationally renowned operatic baritone Sir Thomas Allen, and more recently tenor Alfie Boe who has been taking the musical world by storm.

Almost 400 prospective students from all corners of the world auditioned for just 10 places at the historic Royal College, founded in 1882 and one of the world’s leading conservatoires.

But not only was David offered a place in London, he was also offered the opportunity of studying at the Royal College of Music, Manchester, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and the Brighton Conservatoire, and one of the offers even included a second scholarship.

“It was great getting offers from everyone but in the end I decided that London was where I wanted to be and will give me the opportunity of studying at a renowned college. I’m a bit nervous I don’t mind admitting but I’m really excited too,” he says.

David, who lives in Ripponden, is currently studying for A-levels in biology, chemistry and music at Crossley Heath Grammar School, Halifax.

“It is a bit of a mixture subject wise because I have always been interested in science and thought about going down that route with a career but music is really my first passion and I know it sounds aspirational to say I want to be an opera singer, but that’s what I really want to do.”

As a young boy, David began to learn the piano - mum Adele jokes that she is not musical but perhaps David has inherited a love of music from dad, Sean, who used to play in a rock band. David’s grandfather, Jack is also a talented singer.

“I started playing the piano and then when I couldn’t play the scales, I found myself singing them and decided I enjoyed that more. Then I got involved with musical theatre and realised that the songs I loved singing the best were the classical ones.

“It all really grew from there,” says David, who also works as a part-time waiter at the Turnpike at Rishworth.

David began to take singing lessons with local teacher Llyndall Trotman of Sowerby Bridge who says she has been impressed by his professionalism, commitment and diligence.

“David has an exciting mature quality to his voice for a young man of his years,” she wrote in a reference for him.

He has performed with a number of societies and groups including Halifax Amateur Theatre Youth, Calder Valley Youth Theatre, Hudderfield Youth Opera and Leeds Youth Opera, as well as singing and performing in school productions.

“I’ve been in various productions such as Orpheus in the Underworld, where I was Mercury, Appomattox, which is a fairly new production about the civil rights movement and was holding its European premier, and Faust.

“All kinds of roles excite and inspire me,” says David who is now rehearsing the role of Fred Graham in his school’s production of Kiss me Kate, which will be staged in March.

He describes his voice as “high baritone on the verge of tenor.”

“It is changing all the time because apparently it won’t settle until I am about 26. People are often surprised when they hear me sing because I am quite slight so they don’t expect my voice to be so strong but I’m working out at the gym quite a bit and I’ve discovered that’s improving my breathing too. I need to keep working to develop my lung capacity,” he explains.

Once at the Royal College, David will undertake formal studies in music but also have the chance to take part in performances and masterclasses from visiting musicians from around the world.

He will also continue with his study of languages.

“With opera you can sing in French, German or Italian but you are expected to understand the vocabulary and what you are singing about, not learn the words parrot fashion. I prefer Italian the most. It’s the most perfect language for opera.

“What I’m really looking forward to though are the opportunities to perform. People sometimes ask me if I get nervous before I go on stage but I don’t really. I just seem to lose myself in the character and then the nerves go, I can’t wait to sing.”

David reveals there are a number of favourite, inspirational performers he admires, including Welsh bass-baritone opera and concert singer, Bryn Terfel and the legendary New Zealand soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

He will now continue with his singing lessons before taking up the London place, as well as taking part in local competitions. Last year he won the rose bowl at the Mrs Sunderland Festival, was named as the best overall vocalist at Holmfirth Music Festival and named as a future hero by the Calderdale music organisation. NOEL (Northern Orchestral Enterprises Ltd) and its renowned artistic director John Pryce-Jones.

David also selflessly gives his time to helping local charities.

“I’ve sung at Overgate Hospice for their tree of light event, which I really enjoyed. As soon as I stopped singing everyone wanted me to go on. It was really moving thinking of all those people who had lost loved ones,” he says.

Understandably David’s family are thrilled with his achievements.

“I am so proud of him because singing opera is probably not seen as a cool thing to do by your mates but to his credit he has stuck at it,” says dad, Sean.

“I’m proud of his charity work too. He really deserves success.”