Welcome to the ninth instalment of the second series of ‘Passing the Baton’. Each week, a member of the RBC community will interview a colleague to gain some insight into how the coronavirus crisis has affected their life, both professionally and personally. The interviewer will then pass the baton to the interviewee who will go on to present their questions to another person until finally closing the loop with an interview with our first candidate.
This week MMus pianist Connor Wilcox talks to RBC Head of Vocal Studies Paul Wingfield.
Connor Wilcox (CW)
The national lockdown was a very strange experience for everyone. What did you miss most from life before lockdown, and did you find that there were any benefits to lockdown life?
Paul Wingfield (PW)
I’ve certainly missed the chance to work with singers in person. I’ve recently completed a week-long workshop with British Youth Opera and had a lot of fun coaching online, but nothing beats the rewards that come from working and responding in a face-to-face context.
One massive benefit of lockdown was the opportunity to spend time with my young family, particularly since my daughter begins school in September. The chance to enjoy time together has been invaluable even if there were challenges at times!
Were there any items or activities that helped you during lockdown?
I really got the gardening bug! I dug some new beds back in the spring when we first went into lockdown and have really enjoyed watching them develop. Very much a case of learning through my mistakes, and we now have some massive Mongolian Giant sunflowers, which practically need scaffolding to keep them upright. Cooking is also something that I really enjoy, so I hope the results haven’t been too bad there either!
As a conductor, your work involves collaborating with a large number of people. How has the national lockdown and social distancing rules affected your work?
I was meant to be conducting a ‘Barber of Seville’ this summer but, like so much else, that was cancelled and replaced with a series of online concerts. So, yes, my external work has been hugely affected. It’s been great to see opera companies getting back on their feet slowly, and there’s been some really innovative work online. Next year I’m hoping to get to Garsington Opera to conduct ‘Eugene Onegin’, so let’s hope things have improved by then! Naturally, I have lots of friends working within the profession and it’s been terrible to see the effects of this pandemic on their livelihoods.