Growing up on the Isle of Man, I was surrounded by music-making, and if you wanted something fun to do during the long, grey seasons (all four of them), orchestras, choirs and amateur dramatics societies were the ideal solution to not having access to Primark and a multi-screen cinema. I began singing lessons with Eleanor Shimmin at the age of thirteen, accompanying the piano and double bass tuition I was already undertaking through the Island’s music service. I moved progressively through the ABRSM exams, gaining a distinction for my Grade 8  singing exam in 2008.

I took up a place reading Music at Royal Holloway, University of London. I studied voice with Elaine Pearce and performed in examined recitals, as well as with a number of student ensembles. Highlights included an ‘Early Music’ concert with celebrated lutenist Michael Fields, a solo in the college chapel to commemorate Remembrance Sunday, and a concert celebration of the works of Stephen Sondheim, in which I both sang and played lead double bass in the orchestra (though not at the same time). In my second and third year, I led the double bass section for the RHUL Symphony and RHUL Philharmonic orchestras, performing at St. John’s Smith Square.

Listening really hard to that tuning © FWF 2015

After returning to the Isle of Man following my graduation, I worked at 3FM Radio as a studio programming assistant and music co-ordinator. In 2013, I entered the Manx Music Festival in several adult voice classes, hoping to demonstrate that I was serious about pursuing singing at a professional level. I won the Lieder Mezzo-Soprano class, and was also the youngest finalist in the prestigious Cleveland Medal Test by some twenty years. It was therefore a wonderful surprise when I became the second youngest winner of the Cleveland Gold Medal in the competition’s 120-year history. I was subsequently invited to perform a solo at the Manx bank holiday ceremony in July 2013, live-streamed on the BBC website, and was given a coveted invitation to sing at the annual World Manx Association dinner.

I qualified as a secondary music teacher in summer 2014, and worked on the Isle of Man for a year, teaching classes KS3 through KS5. In the summer of 2015 I taught double bass and worked as a music counsellor at performing arts camp French Woods. During this time I performed alongside the New York Pops orchestra and fellow professional musicians from all over the world, and was a backup Pink Lady in the staff production of ‘Grease’.

John Williams Pops from Eliza Townsend on Vimeo.

In the summer of 2016 I played the dual role of ‘Rose Seller/Annie’ in the Taylorian 10th anniversary production of  ‘Oliver!’ at the historic Gaiety Theatre. I was also a member of the ensemble, with a total of six costume changes during the show’s two-week run.

© Steve Woodley
Rose Seller in Oliver! © Steve Woodley 2016

I now live in London, UK, and work in PR and communications. In my spare time I train with the Free Association in improv comedy, and spend much of my free time working on my next novel. I love to travel and if I won the lottery, the first thing I’d do is spend a whole calendar year visiting my friends all over the world.

© Elizabeth Townsend 2018