International opera star Karen Cargill celebrates first singing teacher at Scotlandâ€™s conservatoire
Internationally renowned Scottish mezzo-sopranoKaren Cargill hasdedicateda new competition foremergingclassical singersat Scotland’s national conservatoirein memory ofthechildhood singing teacherwho first sparked her passion for music.
Karen,wholast month received critical acclaim for her lead performance in Scottish Opera and Vanishing Point’s dramatic new production ofBluebeard’s Castle and The 8thDoor, and has upcoming performances insome of the world’s most prestigious cultural locations, includingNew York’s Carnegie Hall and the Edinburgh International Festival, is supporting theMolly Robb Prize for Young Singersto honour the inspirationalArbroathteacherwho first helped her to find her voice.
“Molly wasmy first singing teacher, shegave me the confidence to sing the way I felt the music. She had an incredible influence on my early musical development, she was a realinspiration to me,” said Karen.
“Molly taught me everything – from how to read music to expressing emotion through my singing.”
Born and raised in Arbroath, Karen started singing lessons with Molly Robb at the age of nine and was a regular member of Molly’swell-knownconcert party and her choir at the Old and Abbey Church. The Arbroath Music Festival was another regular event for Molly’s pupils where Karen won various prizes, including the prestigious Blue Riband.
“I was always singing at home from a very young age. My auntie suggested that I might enjoy singing lessons, so when I was nine years old I began to have lessons with Molly,” said Karen.
“I owe so much to those early days learning about communicating through music both in my lessons and as part of Molly’s concert party.”
Karen Cargill is recognised as one of the great mezzos of her generation. She has graced the stages of some of the finest opera houses in the world including New York’s Metropolitan Opera and The Royal Opera in London, working with some of the world’s top conductorsincluding Sir Simon Rattle, Donald Runnicles, James Levine and YannickNézét-Séguin. No matter the success and accolades,Karen remembers her childhood in Arbroath and the path that led her to train at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the beginning of her career. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s prestigious Alexander Gibson Opera School has an international reputation for producing outstanding vocalists who perform in opera houses throughout the world.
“I was 17 when I started at the thenRoyal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD)and I have never stopped singing,” said Karen.
“Thoseimportantearly lessons with Molly and my training at theRSAMDhave servedme well, that’s whyI wanted to create a new prize forthe next generation ofyoung singers. It’s so important to have prizes for young male and female voices, it’s an opportunity to sing with your peers, to learn and grow in confidence as a performer. I owe so much to Molly Robb and my years with her,that’swhy I have created this prize in her memory.”
The inaugural Molly Robb Prize for Young Singers takesplaceon Tuesday, May 2at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Picture: Molly Robb and her concert party in St. Vigeans Church 1986/87. Back row: Yolanda Gordon, Natalie Street, Shona Kemp, Jill Findleton, Susan Smith. Front row: Molly Robb, Karen Cargill, Sheila Lyons, Allison Cargill.