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From Comps to commercial music

From early performances in the “Comps” to roles in shows such as Musical Theatre Gisborne’s Aladdin, a pop-up chorus in Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro, Gisborne Choral Society’s Choral Capers, to MTG’s The Addams Family, soprano Rosie West is about to embark on the next step in her musical vocation.

Rosie leaves home and Gisborne tomorrow to start her three years of study towards a Bachelor of Commercial Music degree with a major in music practice, performance and composition at Massey University in Wellington.

While her vocational pathway lays ahead, Rosie got off to a fine start as a five-year-old when she began to sing.

“It’s always something I’ve been good at,” she says. “As I got older, my mum got me lessons with (Gisborne Choral Society musical director) Gavin Maclean and I started doing more classical singing.”

“Thanks must go to Gavin Maclean who for the past six years has pushed Rosie out of her comfort zone and made her sing like she never thought she could,” said Rosie’s mum Shelagh in a letter to The Gisborne Herald.

“I would also like to acknowledge Jane Egan and Anna Marie Fenn from the music department at Gisborne Girls’ High. They have both encouraged Rosie’s love of contemporary music and her ability to write music and lyrics and then perform them.”

Despite her love for singing classical music, Rosie stretched her musical wings at Girls’ High where she developed her love for songwriting and performance and took part in the Smokefreerockquest competition several times. Her Basement Song even made Play It Strange’s 2019 album.

Rosie’s first involvement with musical theatre was in MTG’s 2015 production of Aladdin the Pantomime. In 2018 she joined the pop-up chorus — a group of colourful rustics — in the Wanderlust Opera Company’s fun translation of Mozart’s comedy The Marriage of Figaro.

In the following year Rosie was part of the chorus in MTG’s production of The Vicar of Dibley, and last year transformed herself into the comically dark juvenile, Pugsley, in MTG’s The Addams Family.

Her performance as torture-loving Pugsley was apparently effortless — a contrast with her nervousness during her solo performance of Mozart’s aria Porgi Amor from The Marriage of Figaro in the Gisborne Choral Society’s earlier production, Choral Capers.

“I had been working on Pugsley for longer and was comfortable dressed up for that role. I became Pugsley. I get a little more nervous when I have to sing classically because it takes more focus.”

In a letter to The Gisborne Herald, Heather van Wyk noted Rosie’s growth as a singer from when she first entered the Gisborne Competitions.

“You were so nervous your voice was really quiet and wavered, especially on the high notes. Well, Rosie, your hard work has paid off. Never doubt that you have a beautiful voice which can enthral an audience. I hope you continue to enjoy singing every single note.”

Definitely continuing to enjoy singing, Rosie now looks forward to her study in commercial music.

“I always wanted to do contemporary music. I prefer to write and compose and perform my own music — but I want to continue classical music outside of my studies. It has helped me vocally and in singing high notes healthily.

“Singing classical — it’s really beautiful. There is something calming about being able to sing classically.”

SING OUT: Young Gisborne singer/songwriter Rosie West is about to build on skills she has developed from natural talent in singing classical music, performing in rockquests and musical theatre when, from next week, she takes up study towards a degree in commercial music. Picture supplied