A Hartlepool singer has spoken of his pride in being able to perform alongside a host of industry greats.
Tom Smith, a recent graduate from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, returned to his native region to take part in a public masterclass and show run by music charity Samling.
Tom, 28, was chosen from hundreds of people as one of eight international singers and pianists to take part in the week-long programme which culminated in the performance at The Sage Gateshead.
The Samling Young Artist was put forward by his university last June to be on the programme, which gave him the chance to be coached the likes of industry professionals mezzo-soprano Ann Murray, The Crown actor Alex Jennings and Royal Opera House coach Caroline Dowdle.
The public masterclass and show aimed to offer a insight into the artistic process of world-class musicians, which usually takes place behind closed doors.
Tom said: “It was fantastic, we had a good turnout and everyone really enjoyed it.
“I had three singing lessons a day for seven days, and the masterclass and a show was the culmination of the week.
“One of the best bits was doing the public masterclass with actor Alex Jennings, who has been in The Crown.”
Tom, who started singing while at university in Cardiff, made his professional debut in 2016 at Glyndebourne Festival Opera as a Lehrbuben in Sir David McVicar’s award-winning production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
Now he is auditioning for opera houses in Europe and will be in the Scottish Opera in spring 2019.
Tom added: “The charity also runs a Smaling Academy for classical singers aged 14 to 21 from all over the North East.
“Anyone can audition, and it sees the charity get some amazing people in to coach the young singers.
“It is something that I would have auditioned for if I was a singer in the North East.
“The masterclass experience has been fantastic, just to sit and have a chat with the likes of Alex and Ann has been incredible, and it has been a really unique experience.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed it.”
An international centre of expertise in the development of classical artists, Samling brings together young professional singers and pianists with some of the world’s greatest artists, teachers and experts to nurture and develop their vocal and performance skills.
More than 300 singers and pianists have taken part since Samling was founded in 1996, with many going on to have international careers and perform on some of the world’s greatest stages, including the Royal Opera House and Metropolitan Opera.