Soprano Morgan Balfour, a finalist in the 2016 Sydney Eisteddfod Opera Scholarship, took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to Sydney Eisteddfod about why she began singing and who inspires her to be the best performer she can be. She also discussed who her favourite performers to watch and listen to are and what she hopes she will achieve in the future.
what inspired you to start singing?
I started singing because I enjoyed it, and that is something I remind myself of whenever I'm feeling stressed or tired. I sing because it makes me feel exceedingly happy and fulfilled, and there is nothing else in this world that I would rather dedicate my life to.
Who inspires you?
I've been inspired by other artists in performances I've seen, interviews I've listened to and biographies I've read. One of my greatest sources of inspiration is my nan - Phyllis Balfour. She was also a soprano and was accepted into the Queensland Conservatorium after High School. However, as the eldest child in her family she had to turn her offer down, get a job and help support her younger siblings. The knowledge that I have this incredible wealth of opportunity that she never had inspires me to work harder and try everything that comes my way, because I'm lucky just to have that chance.
Which other performers do you most like to listen to?
I tend to listen to other sopranos, because I have a better understanding of the repertoire and I like to learn from them. Some of my favourites are Lucia Popp, Dame Joan Sutherland, Diana Damrau, Sondra Radvanovsky, Dorothea Roschmann, Renee Fleming, Beverley Sills and Emma Matthews - just to name a few. I also learn a lot from watching my peers. We all face similar technical issues and difficulties and watching how they handle theirs and overcome certain obstacles is a really useful tool to apply to my own practise.
What is the best piece of performance advice you've ever heard?
As students we receive overwhelming amounts of advice from teachers, mentors and colleagues. There are many things that run through my mind before a performance but the one I always come back to is, "Don't get nervous, get focused." My teacher at the Queensland Conservatorium, Joseph Ward, told me that before one of my recitals. He said, "There is no point being nervous, that won't help you at all; but if you use that energy to focus on exactly what you need to do throughout the performance then everything will be great."
What are you hoping to achieve next?
I'm doing my Master's Degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. It's a two year programme so I'm really hoping to continue to grow as a singer and performer, make industry connections, perform as often as possible and observe everyone and everything. I think we only start to achieve our best when we extend ourselves and this will be a big step for me.