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Talented youngsters at Samling Academy learn from the experts

Members of the Samling Academy attended a masterclass from stage and screen star Alex Hassell

Eleanor Moore, Alex Hassell & Rebecca Megwa at the Samling Academy masterclass
Eleanor Moore, Alex Hassell & Rebecca Megwa at the Samling Academy masterclass

Some of the region’s most talented young performers attended a weekend masterclass with stage and screen star Alex Hassell.

Members of the Samling Academy, which nurtures promising young musicians aged 14 to 23, learned stagecraft and performance skills from the actor.

Alex Hassell is one of the country’s brightest young theatre professionals.

He is the co-founding artistic director of The Factory Theatre Company and is to to play Prince Hal for the Royal Shakespeare Company next year in Henry IV Parts I and II.

From Friday to Sunday at Newcastle University he led a masterclass for the 24 young singers and pianists selected for Samling Academy 2013.

Samling, the Hexham-based charity, has built a reputation on its masterclass programme designed to benefit promising young singers at the start of their careers.

In extending the masterclass format into schools and colleges, it has created the Samling Academy for those yet to put a foot on the profession’s bottom rung.

In the summer, members of the Samling Academy displayed their considerable talents in an acclaimed production of Benjamin Britten’s opera Albert Herring in Saltburn and at Sage Gateshead.

The youngsters will reconvene on Friday for a second long weekend of tuition from past Samling Scholars, including singing teacher Miranda Wright, who directed Albert Herring, baritone Jonathan Gunthorpe and pianists Elizabeth Rossiter, Jean-Paul Pruna and Jo Ramadan.

Also passing on their expertise will be Samling Academy music director Caroline Dowdle, singing teacher Patricia MacMahon and Many Demetriou, dance and movement coach at the Royal Opera House.

Karon Wright, director of Samling, said: “The first year of Samling Academy showed how much talent there was to be encouraged in the region.

“We feel that this was only the beginning and the students who will be taking part this year will continue to justify our faith in them now and in the future.”

On Sunday there’s a chance for the public to see how the students have benefited from the weekend masterclasses.

A Samling Academy Concert will take place in the Northern Rock Foundation Hall, Sage Gateshead, at 7.30pm. Box office: 0191 443 4661 or sagegateshead.com

David Whetstone

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