Magic Flute 300
WHEN Mozart’s colourful composition, The Magic Flute, comes to the Liverpool Empire for two dates in November, it will the first time James Southall has ever conducted Welsh National Opera.
That this milestone in his career should occur in Merseyside is fitting as he spent seven years of his childhood living in Crosby.
It was while attending Merchant Taylors’ School for Boys that he began learning to play the piano and cello, which he continues to enjoy today.
“I have very fond memories,” says the 28-year-old, who moved to Merseyside from London at the age of seven due to his pathologist father’s job.
“David Holroyd was head of music there and was instrumental in encouraging me.”
The Liverpool FC fan works full time for WNO as a repetiteur – a pianist that accompanies the singers in rehearsals.
“You’re the orchestra basically, while they’re not there,” he explains.
“In many ways, it’s a necessary money saving scheme. It would be too expensive to have the orchestra there all the time.
“It takes quite a long time to learn an opera, so we start several months ahead of the production rehearsals.”
Southall moved to Jersey at the age of 12, later attending Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music in London.