Emyr Wyn Jones is now a professional opera singer and was a member of OBA Aberdare from the first meeting in 2010 until 2012.
We caught up with Emyr to hear about his experiences with The Aloud Charity.
What was the best thing about being in OBA?
Being able to work with Only Men Aloud was a really exciting experience. Being able to socialise, learn, and work with some of the most talented men I’ve ever met from all around South Wales was an amazing opportunity.
The connections, friendships, and jokes between us still live on today, and were all part of what was already an astonishing project. We learnt all sorts of repertoire and performed them in incredible, iconic settings. To this day I am still supported, advised, and mentored by Tim and the Aloud Team, which gives me such pride. It’s something which makes it such a special organisation.
As a teenager what were your ambitions?
Initially desperate to play rugby professionally, I was then introduced to performing and theatre while at comprehensive school. As a Welsh speaking student, the Eisteddfod was an essential way to experience being in front of an audience. As soon as I could remember getting up and delivering a scene in a drama class and hearing a reaction from my classmates, I instantly knew I wanted to experience it again, and again. I then dedicated as much as I could to watching, listening, and reading as much about performance. I undoubtedly wanted a career in the arts, and more specifically, to be a professional performer.
Did being a member of OBA help you achieve your goals or ambitions?
OBA came at the perfect time. I was 17 when I joined the choir, at the pivotal moment when it comes to making choices for universities. I was struggling to understand how to pursue the arts in higher education. The Valleys has long suffered financially and there is a lack of opportunities for young people to receive professional coaching or guidance for how to break into the arts.
The opportunity to receive coaching, guidance, and friendship from one of the most successful vocal groups was an incredible experience, and one that changed me. I was no longer mildly interested in being an actor who sang, but wanted to be a singing actor. At an OBA concert I was approached and asked to enquire about the Royal Welsh College who – at the time, had very few men studying there. I was on another university course at the time; without the generosity and support of Tim and the Aloud team, I would never have had the confidence to try my hand at vocal studies. By now, not a performance or a day that goes by, where I don’t think about the journey and how grateful I am for the trust, generosity, and support that I received.
Where are you now?
I am now a professional opera singer. I am still based in Wales, but my work has taken me from performing in local churches around the Valleys, to performing at Birmingham Symphony Hall, the televised Birthday programme for Sir Bryn Terfel, a series of concerts in Moscow, and a show for the HRH Prince of Wales. Along with many incredible roles I performed while at RWMCD, I have experienced amazing opportunities to work with Welsh National Opera, Longborough Festival Opera and performing my dream role – Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, for 8 weeks in Sicily! In 2021 I will be performing the role of Colline in La Boheme in my first performance with Grange Park Opera. Previously I had sung the role in my Main House debut at Opera North alongside Tim Nelson, a former Bass with OMA and my first Mentor at OBA, which felt both surreal and special!
What advice would you give to a boy who is thinking about joining OBA?
I know first-hand what it can feel like to be worried that you might come across as ‘’uncool’’ or that people might think singing is a silly interest. But nothing has to be serious straight away. It’s about going along, meeting people who have similar interests or similar backgrounds, and just enjoying a couple of hours a week away from school!
Can you sum up your OBA experience in 3 words?
Fun. Inclusive. Unforgettable.
So are you thinking about joining Only Boys Aloud? Why not try out your nearest choir! Click here to find out more.