Hope Marna

"Your schedule will be filled with classes, rehearsals, private practice and study, and external opportunities but it is all so exciting and is leading to you becoming the best performer you can be!"

What made you choose Leeds Conservatoire?

I loved the atmosphere when I came over for my audition! Everyone was so friendly and really cared that we had a good and calm audition experience so that we could perform our best. The conservatoire partnership with Opera North was also a huge factor (and we have had incredibly insightful talks and masterclasses with them throughout the year which have been great!) I also liked how easy it was to travel between Belfast and Leeds.

Has anything been totally different to what you expected when you started at Leeds Conservatoire?

Who could have predicted COVID?! I accepted my offer just before the UK went into lockdown but I wouldn’t change my decision for anything. I could never have expected the incredible community that the conservatoire has, it exceeded all of my expectations. It may sound cheesy but we are a big family and there is always someone willing to help you out if you need anything or if you need some advice. It’s great how common it is to collaborate and socialise with people from all years and courses!

What is the most mind blowing thing you've learned so far at Leeds Conservatoire?

Where do I start!? There are the technical skills that I have learnt from my 1:1s and the theory knowledge from analysis and musicology classes but, for me, I have noticed a huge increase in my language skills. We have a weekly language class where we work on singing in Italian, French and German and it has massively changed how I approach my pieces. I was also introduced to the idea of ‘Rhythm 0’ in a reflective practice class which really intrigued me and made me question the role of autonomy on stage as a ‘singing actor’ which I wrote a reflective practice essay on during our second semester.

Is there anything that has really made you push yourself as a musician or performer?

Everything! Being at a conservatoire means a lot of hard work and pressure but it’s all worth it! Your schedule will be filled with classes, rehearsals, private practice and study, and external commitments but it is all so exciting and is leading to you becoming the best performer you can be. I have collaborated with students from all sorts of pathways and experiencing recording vocals in a recording studio, singing duets with other classical students and being featured on a film student’s re-scoring project has really pushed me out of my comfort zone but has given me skills and experiences I’m so grateful for. The biggest project for me now will be taking part in my first ever opera, Purcell’s ‘Dido & Aeneas’, with the LCSU Opera Society in June.

What was the best piece of advice you've had since starting at Leeds Conservatoire?

To take every opportunity but also know when you need to say no. It can be a fine line and really difficult to say no to experiences when they come knocking but sometimes you need to be realistic about your workload and priorities. Commitment is really important and so when I take on a project I always see it through but you need to set a limit to the amount of extra projects you take on and know that it’s non-negotiable or everything else will suffer.

What is your best memory from Leeds Conservatoire?

That’s hard because there have been quite a few! I had a masterclass with David Cowan from Opera North which was an amazing experience… Also going to the Leeds Lieder Festival to see Louise Alder and Joseph Middleton. However, some of my fondest memories have been going for long walks with friends and exploring Leeds! We’ve been everywhere; Kirkstall Abbey, Headingley and Hyde Park/Woodhouse Moor.

What sort of accommodation are you living in? What advice would you give to new students about accommodation?

I was in Joseph Stones House this year. I think location is everything… There are accommodations that most foundation/first years use: Joseph Stones House (which is only for conservatoire students) and One Mill Street. Joseph Stones House and One Mill Street are incredibly close. I reached out to some recent alumni when I was choosing where to live this year and they were incredibly helpful! Social media can be a great tool to connect with people and ask for advice.

What do you get up to outside of studying?

This year I was in the Chamber Choir which is run by the conservatoire staff. I am also in the student union’s A Cappella Society and the Opera Society. I love writing articles for the conservatoire magazine, ‘On the Record’ as part of the journalism society. I am currently working on a piece covering the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest. There isn’t much free time outside of this but I meet friends for walks whenever I can and I’ve also recently been to Manchester.

What is the best thing about living and studying in Leeds?

Leeds is a great city! It’s large enough that it has everything you need but not too large that it takes forever to get to each part. Exploring it on foot has been really do-able. It’s amazing how each area can feel so different! At the conservatoire, we are bang in the middle of the city centre but Headingley is really relaxed with a more ‘residential’ vibe. It has been interesting experiencing the differences between living in Northern Ireland and England but everyone in Leeds has been really friendly and welcoming and I feel at home here.

What advice would you give to a prospective student thinking of applying to your course?

Do! Leeds Conservatoire is the perfect place for an undergraduate degree in classical singing! It’s a welcoming, nurturing and safe space to explore your voice and what you want to say through music. You’ll be given a wealth of opportunities and experiences which prepare you for your future career and you’ll also make friends and connections from across the music industry.

How would you describe your experience at Leeds Conservatoire so far in three words?

Exciting, hard-work, brilliant.


Follow Hope on Instagram, or listen to her performances on YouTube.

Read more about our BA (Hons) Classical programme.

We're looking forward to Wednesday's career workshop by @RockChoir, The UK's Largest Contemporary Choir! Leeds Cons… https://t.co/U7eyo3t8H7
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