Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Relatively speaking: Sarah Richmond

Name: Sarah Richmond Age: 25 Occupation: Mezzo soprano Relationship to Garry: Daughter

In tune: Sarah with dad and her son, Jamie. Pic Darren Kidd

The mezzo soprano from Carrickfergus, who'll perform at the Out to Lunch festival next week, had all four judges on hit BBC show The Voice turn in their famous big red seats, only to be axed as its quota of contestants had been reached. She has a 17-month son, Jamie, with her partner, a technician at Schraeder Electronics. Her father Garry is an engineer with Shorts, and her mother Anne (54), a bank official

I used to belt it out in our local church in my youth, where mum and dad were choir members, and mum still sings at Holy Trinity in Carrick. At no age I knew every single part of Phantom Of The Opera and my primary school teacher, Miss Cross, told them I was quite talented and gave me lessons at breaktime.

Mum had all these CDs of classical singers and never dreamt she'd have one of her own daughter in the house! They have always been completely supportive – I wouldn't be where I am without them.

I travel a lot and they take care of my son Jamie when I have recitals and concerts and festivals and lessons. They were behind me from the start, even when I tried my hand at dancing with the Fortwilliam Music Society, just to have another string to my bow.

Jamie was only three weeks old when I began a year with the English National Opera. Mum and dad flew over with us and paid for the flights – they give so much of their time as well as financial support. Jamie's dad works 12-hour shifts and his stepfather helps out too, but my dad does an awful lot of the childcare.

Dad and I have the same sense of humour and we both put our foot in it a lot. We get the same jokes. He's very into badminton and teaches it at Holy Trinity. I don't have the same knack, though. I think he likes to be quite eloquent and not waffly. He's concise and to-the-point, a man of few words.

He'll always get the CD of whatever concert or recital I'm doing and listens to it over and over. He's so dedicated and gives me so much of his time, and he's still working in a full-time job.

I could have a better career if I lived in England, and opportunities like The Voice, which I was approached for.

Going on the show was quite an experience. I had a stylist and consults with the press officer. I was doing proper classical arias but they got me to sing Time To Say Goodbye for the live rehearsal. It clashed with other work I had on anyway and I don't think I'd do it again, but it was a good opportunity at the time.

NAME: GARRY RICHMOND

AGE: 60

OCCUPATION: ENGINEER

RELATIONSHIP TO SARAH: FATHER

I first realised how talented Sarah was when she was in the choir at grammar school. She was encouraged at primary school but kids can dip in and out of things. She always did very well at music festivals, right through to Queen's University.

Sarah works hard and sings at every opportunity she can, from festivals in Londonderry to Manchester.

She wasn't a show-off particularly as a child – she was just an ordinary girl who tried things and music was the one that stuck. I remember her singing a lullaby with 20 or 30 other kids at a music festival that was supposed to be hushed, but I could hear her from the back of the hall, above everyone else.

She has always been an incredibly strong singer for someone who's only a size eight, and she gets all these surprised looks when she sings at weddings. She's definitely not a size eight in her voice!

I'm very proud of her, hence the support. That comes naturally. She's still on the fringes of recognition in the classical field and has to travel a lot.

She's at home at the moment but should opportunities arise in the summer she'll have to go.

She's annoying only in that she'll never say no to a musical opportunity. She pushes herself so hard and can be very demanding, and that requires a lot of support, not just from us but also from Jamie's father and his parents.

She's extremely driven and that can be time-consuming, but we don't mind – she has the talent and has to be given every opportunity available.

She has a very good work ethic and ambition.

She drives herself very hard and that can have an emotional effect, psychologically, but to get the chance to do what she does professionally requires it. When Anne and I were with her at an outdoor opera festival in Verona, a beautiful Italian setting, we fell in love with the whole scene and ethos.

I'd love to see Sarah perform in La Scala in Milan and at the Paris Opera House. She has been on this journey since primary school and she has to go all the way.

e Still only 25, Sarah has over 100 national and local awards, including the Brigitte Fassbaender Award.

e She has performed as a soloist for acclaimed conductors Sir Mark Elder CBE, Vasily Petrenko, and Paul Daniel.

e She has starred in 13 principle operatic roles, 19 operatic excerpts, 11 choruses and 19 oratorios and symphonies.

e She has performed in masterclasses with big names such as Dame Kiri te Kanawa (left), Roger Vignoles and Barbara Bonney.

e For further details on her work and booking info, visit www.sarah-richmond.comy Club

'Dad taught me that family is important'

'Sarah has good work ethic and ambition'

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