This Summer we hosted our Free Summer Food and Activities Programme with support from Glasgow City Council
Rachel Hynes is a classically trained Opera Singer and singing-for-health professional who leads our Platform Singers group.
We caught up with Rachel ahead of her performance in the chorus of Scottish Opera’s Carmen at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal to find out more about the show and her involvement with Platform.
Is this your first-time doing Carmen?
No – last summer I was in the chorus of Bernstein’s Candide – which was my first time back singing in the chorus with Scottish Opera since 2000! I started there as a full-time chorister in 1997 and I was in Carmen back then. After, I went on to be a Company Principal singing lead roles, and went on to have a successful, freelanced solo career. I’ve joined again as a chorister but this time we’re doing Carmen in English - I’ve never sung Carmen in English before.
Have you brought any of the show’s music into your sessions here?
Yes, we’ve looked at ‘The Toreador Song’ but the sad thing about me being a soprano is that I don’t get to sing the whole scene! It’s been interesting for me and hopefully the Platform group too to share in the Carmen journey over the last few months. But we also love singing ABBA songs – we often do ‘Dancing Queen’!
So, the Platform Singers are somewhere between Opera and ABBA?
Yes! Sometimes people can be put off joining a group because of the words choir and singing, often because they were told they couldn’t hold a tune when at school, but I guarantee most people will sing around the house for their own pleasure. There are certain generations that, before TV and cinema, used to get together with family and sing in the living room. Singing together as a group is a really fun activity and it’s good for making us feel happy; singing releases endorphins, the happy hormones!
Do you enjoy being part of the chorus?
I started my career in the chorus and following that I wanted to try being a soloist – I did that for a few years but always in the knowledge that I loved being a part of a group. So just before lockdown I went back and did a few short-term contracts with Scottish Opera as a chorister again and absolutely loved it.
Have you struck a good balance between your careers?
I hope so! When I did Candide last summer, lots of the groups I lead were off for the holidays. But Carmen will be touring all around Scotland and there are dates when I won’t be available for my groups. The organisations I work for, like The Common Wheel and Platform, have been really accommodating and it’s a chance for me to bring in other song-leaders, providing an opportunity for the groups to experience someone else.
Opera isn’t just singing, there’s movement and expression involved. Has this influenced your sessions?
Absolutely. A lot of my singing-for-health work is to do with lung-health, so certainly I feel breath, body, and voice are all related. There are so many health benefits to singing.
Have your sessions influenced your own singing-approach?
Some of our brain-training has helped me with memorization. Carmen was originally written in French and the music lies better in French for me – I find singing in English more challenging. So I’ve had to use some of the techniques from our warmups and exercises.
There’s a storytelling element to Opera, any chance of a Platform Singer’s musical?
Well, we have actually written a song. Pre-pandemic we discovered that some members of the group are really good lyricists, so we decided to write a song about the group. It’s called "The Platform Singers’ Song" and during lockdown we managed to learn it in three-parts and record it online via Zoom. Watch this space!
Why should people go and see Carmen?
It’s got everything you want: love, murder, mystery and more! If you sat down and listened to it, you would know so many of the tunes. I think our Director’s take on it shows a really interesting side to the story. And there’ll be some good 70’s costumes in there as well!
Platform Singers meet every Friday from 2.30pm-4pm and the group is run on a Pay-What-You-Like basis.
There is a social catch-up and chat before the singing starts at 3pm. All ages 16yrs+ and abilities are welcome to join. Click HERE for more info