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Shirley Brice studied at Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Trinity College of Music.  She has sung with Kent Opera, New Sadler’s Wells/Covent Garden, Opera Factory Zurich and London.  After a career break Shirley attended the 2015 Crear Song Recital Course and is delighted to return for the French Opera Course.

The love of music and singing has been at the centre of my life. Music college followed by touring in opera companies alongside concerts and recitals and building a career formed the early part of my professional life. Working with a young family became increasingly difficult and slowly the demands and rewards of bringing up the next generation became central to the choices which I willingly made. Music became further away and I found that I needed to step aside so that my children and young adults could find their own voices. As they moved beautifully towards adulthood I realised that I needed to step back more into my own life.

Singing has been more than a career. It is a fundamental form of communication and expression of joy and even though I wasn’t singing I was still a singer. Rediscovering my voice and all the re learning opportunities that that presented has been an exciting and rewarding challenge. Building a bridge back to sharing my passion and joy has been more difficult. You leave a career with a certain level of attainment but after an extended break the performing opportunities are not there but the need to make music at the highest level still is. It is like waking up and finding that you have been functioning really well but without using a hidden limb. The hidden limb is your voice and the gift it brings is that of returning you to your whole self.

I returned to the memories of the tutors that I trusted. I went on a summer school and then by sheer chance one day came across a masterclass run by Malcolm Martineau. Malcolm worked with all the singers that I loved and so I thought that even if I only got the opportunity to sing once to this amazing man then I would take all my courage and do it. It was one of those just jump moments! There was no age limit and so I went and auditioned in London and was overwhelmed to be offered a place to go and work with him at Crear in Scotland. It was a life changing experience. Firstly Crear is stunningly beautiful and an atmosphere of trust and safely allows you to take risks and over the course of a week open the door to exploring a new way of being. Malcolm has such a profound vocal and musical knowledge and is so generous in sharing his passion that you go way beyond what you thought was possible and slowly a new way forward starts to open up.

‘I had a glimpse of the possibility of life that I had all but given up on, and hope began to slide in through the cracks.’ Chad Mureta

It is challenging and scary to come into an intensive performing environment once again. I still check for the fire exits! But all that life experience comes with you and slowly begins to permeate your ability to perform and communicate. Watching everyone progress over the week and to be a part of that transformational process is a gift and brings you back to what music making is all about, the power to transform and touch other peoples lives and even your own.

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