Sophie Pullen, Soprano – Rising Star Sponsorship
Art and Science in Harmony
Coulter Partners was very proud to sponsor rising star, British soprano, Sophie Pullen through her studies on the English National Opera’s esteemed Opera Works programme over the past 6 months.
Sophie became an integral member of the Coulter Partners team in 2011 when she worked as the personal assistant to CEO, Bianca Coulter before departing to commence her studies at the Birmingham Conservatoire. Having graduated with a Distinction in Vocal Studies and the Postgraduate Diploma Prize for Excellence, Sophie has since established herself as an outstanding singer and performer. Now with a successful musical career as a soprano, Sophie won one of twelve places on the ENO’S Opera Works course.
“We were very proud and privileged to support Sophie on her way to becoming an even bigger star!” – Bianca Coulter, CEO.
Now the course has finished, here are some highlights from Sophie’s time with the ENO and news of all her latest plans and current projects in her own words…
SIX MONTHS WITH ENO OPERA WORKS
“My course with English National Opera has been a hugely beneficial exercise in my development as a singer, and as a person! It has been a rollercoaster ride of discovery and learning and I’m extremely grateful for having been given the chance to take part and for Coulter Partners’ support of my training.
The range and scope of professionals from within the performing industry that we have worked with has been exceptional – these have included star conductor Christian Curnyn, founder of The Early Opera Company, Jayke Branson Thom, professional hypnotherapist, life coach and creative performance consultant, Director Caroline Byrne and voice and acting coach, Barbara Houseman. We have had ‘Charisma Training’ from The Spontaneity Shop where we learnt how better to interact in audition situations to raise the status of ourselves and our interviewer. We were then able to test these skills out on a distinguished panel at ENO, auditioning to the new Head of Casting, Michelle Williams.
Other highlights of the course included performing an aria on the Coliseum stage, seeing the stunning performances of the ENO chorus and soloists in their 2016-2017 season dress rehearsals and forming lasting friendships with the incredible group of singers on the Opera Works programme this year. The final fortnight working towards our showcase at the Lilian Baylis House in West Hampstead was intense and brilliant; the camaraderie of working with a small company and building a show together is always an exciting and fertile time and it was wonderful to start putting all the training we have received to good use.
“The Opera Works showcase was a revelation and we loved every minute! Sophie shone among some truly outstanding talent and we are so proud to be involved” adds Harriet Adamson, who watched the performance with Bianca and Ally.
Art:Science in Harmony
The structure of the course has meant that we have received information on various ways of accessing a character, from studying the text, libretto, music and source materials for the composers, to inhabiting physicality via animals, states of tension, observation and play, among many other things. From the intellectual to the physical the course has equipped me with the tools to approach developing a character for the operatic stage with precision and confidence. It has also been a welcome return to study with reading lists and more cerebral observations of how and why we have performance anxiety, how we communicate and how we learn. This marriage of science and art has truly helped me to engage both sides of my brain, applying past experience studying maths and sciences to my current studies of singing and opera. Looking at how academic studying differs from that of performance arts training has highlighted to me how one can use those abilities and talents to support one’s performance.
The other integral part of ENO Opera Works is to prepare singers for auditioning, which we have to do incessantly and with so many discouraging rejections! Again, we have been given so many options for preparing ourselves physically and mentally for this that I am looking forward to preparing for future auditions with a totally new mindset and structure.
The community branch of English National Opera is the Baylis Outreach Programme, and their support has been instrumental in firstly running the course and secondly developing opportunities for us to use the very specific tools we have acquired to apply to more than just our singing. We were offered many opportunities to become involved in their projects and for sponsored training with affiliated groups.
I am currently volunteering with their project Siren Song, an outreach programme connected and inspired by ENO’s recent performance of Partenope. Myself and two others from the Opera Works 2016-17 cohort are assisting the director Hazel Gould and MD Jessie Maryon Davies in an all-female adult community performance bringing together women from across London to explore the opera Partenope and to create new work in response to the themes and ideas behind the production. These have covered issues around female power, gender roles and the obstacles that women must overcome in order to achieve. We have been creating new text and music in response to these ideas, which we will be performing alongside adapted extracts of the opera Partenope later this month and it has been a very valuable learning experience. One I hope to develop further with workshops in June led by Streetwise Opera, a community opera connecting with the homeless community and affiliated with ENO.
So what is next?! Well I am looking forward to a season with Longborough Festival Opera Chorus starting later this month and have a number of projects with Opera Prelude coming up, including performances with novelist Anna Beer discovering female composers over the ages, a lecture recital on John Singer Sargent and various other projects in train.”
By Sophie Pullen, Soprano.
For more information please visit Sophie’s website: