My Journey to The Opera Story (by Hamish Mackay)

From a very young age I have always enjoyed the excitement of creating something or making things happen.

I was fascinated by creating something myself. It only took me until the age of 2, when instead of listening and watching my mother and sister play the piano, I wanted to be playing it myself and to create those sounds. By the age of 5 I had also started playing the violin and whistling (which my family were particularly fond of!), then very soon after, singing: the ultimate way to create something, from within yourself. Music wasn’t the only creative part of my life. I spent endless hours of my childhood in the beautiful Norfolk countryside building underground dens, rafts and tree houses with my partner in crime Dickon.

At the age of 14 I started studying at the Purcell School, which was an incredible education and world to live in (kind of like the musical version of Harry Potter). It was a very normal school on the one hand; boys playing football for hours, but then in the common-room in the evening, people would be improvising on classical pieces, in the style of other composers or different styles of music. Being surrounded by so much talent was a truly inspirational environment, and I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the school and carry those memories with me every day.

After finishing school, I went out to Italy to be a part of the Anghiari Music Festival for a couple of weeks, which is run by Simon Over and his Southbank Sinfonia, and the town of Anghiari. I initially went out to learn Italian for my singing and to help out wherever I could in the festival. However, I fell in love with the town and ended up staying for two years. I became more and more involved in the festival and the town, and it became my home. Some people traveled across the world just for this week of music in Anghiari, and some people happened to be living there and experienced it for the first time, literally on their doorstep! Through many long talks with my dear friend and mentor Simon, I began to see and understand how he had built his orchestra and a wonderful festival from nothing! I saw how these performances could spread so much joy and love to everyone and anyone! Thank you Simon, it was truly a life changing time!

One of the things that I came to realise after many years of being involved in music, is that performing is a huge part of my life, but that I wanted to create a platform where I could give opportunities and enable others as so many people have for me. Thus came the idea of The Opera Story. Thank you for reading!

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