Talented Hartlepool opera singer performs at Scottish mansion with Royal ties

A talented opera singer from Hartlepool brought some Christmas cheer to an audience by performing at and directing a festive event at a mansion with royal links.

Wednesday, 20th December 2017, 8:36 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th December 2017, 8:40 am
James Slimings (left) and fellow performer Matthew McKinney at the concert.  Copyright Mike Scott
James Slimings (left) and fellow performer Matthew McKinney at the concert. Copyright Mike Scott

James Slimings, 27, was among a select group of talented students chosen to perform at Dumfries House, in East Ayrshire, Scotland, as part of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s (RCS) annual Christmas Musical Soiree and Festive Dinner.

Formerly the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, it is one of the oldest and most prestigious performing arts schools in the UK.

James, a former Manor College of Technology pupil, is currently training for a PhD at the RCS.

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He said: “We loved performing at Dumfries House last year as it was the last thing we did before Christmas and it was as good for us as it was for the audience.

“I was performing as part of RCS Voices, which is an operatic group that sings together at various events throughout the year.

“The nice thing about RCS Voices is that is based entirely on musical merit and features a complete cross-section of the Conservatoire.

“Although people go to have dinner and a nice time, we still wanted to challenge them musically and include some new composition. If you sing a good repertoire then audiences will appreciate that.”

Home to the largest known collection of Chippendale furniture in the world, Dumfries House estate was saved in 2007 by a consortium led by Prince Charles, also the Duke of Rothesay.

It now operates as an events venue, tourist attraction and education hub, offering young people the chance to learn through experience, promoting confidence, personal development and training in real life skills.

Kenneth Dunsmuir, executive director at Dumfries House, said: “We were delighted that James and his fellow talented students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland provided such thrilling and dramatic entertainment for our guests.

“The purpose of our link with RCS is to bring high-quality performing arts to the community surrounding Dumfries House, in terms of both performance and education.

“We are delighted to provide specialist tuition to school pupils and, as at our annual musical soirée and festive dinner, lay on excellent entertainment for the people of Ayrshire.”