Sabden Samantha's stunning voice hits right note with National Opera

An exceptional young mezzo soprano has hit all the right notes and secured a coveted place with the National Opera Studio.
Samantha Oxborough. Pic: Andy FordSamantha Oxborough. Pic: Andy Ford
Samantha Oxborough. Pic: Andy Ford

Samantha Oxborough (24) from Sabden, performed as part of the Pendle Young Musicians Bursary group alongside the Manchester Camerata at Colne Municipal Hall.

It was a special event where the PYMB performers took to the stage with what is described as "probably Britain’s most adventurous orchestra."

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Mezzo Samantha sang two arias with the Camerata, including the melancholy Handel aria Lascia ch’io pianga.

Civic guests. Pic: Andy FordCivic guests. Pic: Andy Ford
Civic guests. Pic: Andy Ford

“I have never performed these pieces with an orchestra before and they were fabulous with me, it was a really fantastic experience.”

Samantha, who went to Sabden Primary School and Ribblesdale High School, has been selected to take up one of just 12 places at the National Opera Studio in London, a nine month placement which starts in September.

There were around 300 performers from all over the world who auditioned for the 12 places.

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“The auditions were terrifying and, if I am honest, I was just proud ‘a little girl from Lancashire’, which is how I saw myself, had got that far. I didn’t expect to get a place.

The young musicians. Pic: Andy FordThe young musicians. Pic: Andy Ford
The young musicians. Pic: Andy Ford

“I owe it all, 100 per cent, to the PYMB. I wouldn’t be where I am now without them and I owe them a lot. The same for Pendle Youth Choir where I started.

“Attending the National Opera Studio will help me get auditions and will hopefully be a huge stepping stone for me.”

The Colne Municipal event with The Camerata began with their charismatic conductor conducting a fizzing overture from La Finta Giardinieri written by Mozart, when he was the same age as some of the PYMB teenage performers.

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PYMB’s cellist Ben Findlay, from Skipton, then stepped forward and let the music do the talking.

Supported by Henry Cash on his Yamaha piano, Ben played Romanze by Wagner.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to play alongside such great musicians,” said Ben (20) who is just going into his second year at the Royal Academy in London.

Ben received his bursary for Pendle Young Musicians in the summer and says it will be vital to his progress.

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“I want to be a professional cellist and I have events lined up in the summer thanks to PYMB which will really help me.”

International pianist Jean Efflam-Bavouzet then stepped forward for Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 6 with The Camerata under conductor Gabor Takacs-Nagy.

“Takacs-Nagy is a man of immediate humanity, infectious enthusiasm and charm. These musicians swapped and interchanged musical shapes and phrases on what for me was a musical rollercoaster ride of great happiness,” said PYMB’s David Wilkinson.

Stainforth’s George Collins is a guitarist/composer who has been working with The Camerata's composer/arranger in residence Simon Parkin and he played his piece Expectations.

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Simon spoke of his co-operative work with George which was part of George's PYMB award.

PYMB’s trumpeter Ben Jarvis, accompanied by Brian Low, then fizzed through Hindemith, Piazolla and finally a quirky piece by French composer Tomasi which brought cheers from the audience.

The finale was 'Fantasia on Titanic' performed by everyone, which was a work commissioned by Manchester Camerata and PYMB for this night with its obvious Pendle connection through that ship's bandmaster Wallace Hartley of Colne.