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February 25, 2021

Snapshot of a singer's life

Spencer Britten

My experience with Neue Stimmen has turned my life upside-down in the best way possible. Since my first encounter with Neue Stimmen at the 2019 competition, I have moved all the way from Canada to Germany and am now based out of Berlin. It has been quite the adventure given the craziness of 2020. Special shout out to Miss Rona (CoronaVirus) for making it especially interesting. 
    I am now feeling settled in Berlin and am enjoying the wonderful city. Even in its pandemic state, I am loving the vibe of the city. I really feel the bustle of a busy city, but I describe it to my friends as “no one is in a rush, but everyone has somewhere to be.” I really feel the duality between the importance of “business” and the importance of “living your life.” It really encourages me to continue exploring and maintaining a healthy work/life balance. I am finding that I am taking my downtime way more seriously than I have before.

    While performers all over the world are facing cancellations, I am so grateful to still be able to work/train, even if it is in a new online experience. While the online platform has its challenges, especially for an artform that is built to be a live experience, I still find I am learning and connecting in such a powerful way. The 2020 Neue Stimmen Masterclass gave me the chance to reconnect with some wonderful friends I met at the competition and to meet an amazing faculty. We had many amazing conversations about the industry and the art form. It gave me so much hope seeing the goodness emanate from both the faculty and the participants during this difficult time. 

    Some highlights for me would include the wonderful conversations we had with established singers, both in the height of their career and having gone through much of their career already. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with agents and engaging in conversation about how the industry works specifically in Europe and what it is looking for in young singers. Prior to Neue Stimmen I had worked with John Norris through l’Opera de Montreal. Working with John is always a blast and the breakthroughs we have are astounding. I often find my jaw on the floor after the tweaks John does with me. It is just incredible that the Neue Stimmen can bring people like this on faculty and have us work with them despite a global pandemic. I am so grateful that Dorothea, Vera, and the team were so diligent in making sure we had the best opportunity possible, despite all obstacles.

What inspired me lately...

Something that I have found inspires me in my adult life is reading. I wasn’t much of a reader as a kid, but now I find escaping into someone else’s reality a magical experience. My favourite book is one that was a real pivot point in my reading. Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life was the first book that made me feel emotions deeper than I thought myself capable of feeling from reading. The things these characters go through warm and break the heart so intensely. I think reading, especially content with emotions like these, help me as a person and an actor. It makes me aware of the things I have in my life, my own emotions, and how I deal with them. I read primarily fiction, but I also enjoy exploring my inner-self by reading “self-help” books. Favourites include Brené Brown’s books and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Big magic talks about one’s creativity and how to take care of it. Something so important for artists! I find reading both fuels my mind and relaxes me into an almost meditative state. Much of that duality I crave in exploring the work/life balance as I journey through my career.

Coaching with John Norris - Markus Zugehör at the piano

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