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Our Master Class participants | Where are they now?

Our Master Class participants | Where are they now?

We caught up with soprano Madeleine Crombie, Master Class participant with renowned Swedish soprano Camilla Tilling.

Camilla Tilling and Madeleine Crombie

We admire Great Performers artists as they nurture talented young musicians with gentle humour and encouragement in the Centre’s Master Class series.  But what happens to these young musicians in the years following?

After graduating from my undergraduate music degree in December 2014, I quickly realised that finding singing opportunities was really important to keep the momentum going with my music.

I found myself a reputable teacher - Roger Howell, who studied in Italy in his early career, and teaches the Bel canto method – and was selected for Melbourne Recital Centre’s Master Class with Camilla Tilling in April 2015.

My education taught me discipline and to be prepared for the different situations and performance opportunities that would come my way. It gave me the skills to interpret and perform music with the composers’ intentions in the forefront of my mind, and a hunger to re-create the beauty of their works while adding my own artistry to the composition.

Participating in the Master Class was an incredible experience. It provided an opportunity to learn and grow, and hear a different perspective to your regular teacher. For me, hearing from another soprano provided a really interesting perspective.

Camilla Tilling Master Class

What were the most valuable insights you gained?

I was blown away by how minor adjustments in using my jaw can significantly change the sound, resonance and power of my voice. As simple as it sounds, I had a breakthrough that day in learning how just opening my mouth a bit more and relaxing my jaw to create a larger space for resonance completely changed my voice. I went on to win the Opera Scholars Australia Scholar of The Year competition and its Betty Amsden AO Scholarship, with the piece we worked on in Camilla’s master class. I think the strong foundations of learning the piece, plus Camilla’s advice and refining aspects of it with her definitely helped toward a strong performance.

In the Master Class setting, we all appreciate the young artists who prepare, perform and courageously work on feedback from these visiting Masters in front of a live public audience.

Camilla Tilling and Madeleine Crombie

If I could give any advice to emerging musicians considering taking part in a Master Class, it would be to BE PREPARED! If you think you are prepared, prepare some more. Know your music inside out and back to front. Be 100% confident, because it will be picked apart as part of the Master Class process. It is nerve-wracking in front of an audience, but ultimately, it’s important to have fun! What we have the ability do is such an incredible gift, and experiences like these master classes do not happen every day, so enjoy yourself. 

Camilla Tilling was a wonderful teacher in the master class, knowing the balance of how much advice and correction you can give during those short classes is an art in itself. She was kind and complimentary and made me feel very comfortable. Outside of University I was fairly new to the Master Class setting – the only other person I had had the good fortune of learning from in this way was Australian soprano Yvonne Kenny AM (Patron of Opera Scholars Australia), so working with Camilla was such a privilege.

Madeleine Crombie

You may recognise Maddie as a Box Office Supervisor at Melbourne Recital Centre. 

Not just a talented singer, she holds a Master of Arts and Cultural Management, and has a well-rounded appreciation through diverse performing and working experiences in the Australian arts industry.

I really enjoy the arts industry. I love how everyone comes together from all walks of life for the common love of art. It’s almost magical, the feeling you get either in the audience, or on stage, where everyone is united in their focus on the art. My favourite moments on stage are when I can feel that the audience is with me and I know what I’m communicating is cutting through. Baring my soul like that; being vulnerable and sharing art with people is such a beautiful part of my life, one for which I am grateful every day.

Madeleine Crombie
So, where to from here?

I have my sights set on singing competitions at the national level now. I am hoping to have a month of study in Vienna with Sherman Lowe in mid-2020, with a view to moving to Germany or Austria to pursue further study and work opportunities.

Melbourne Recital Centre’s Master Classes are generously supported by the Ensemble Giovane giving circle and donors to the Elisabeth Murdoch Creative Development Fund. 
To find out more about how you can support young artist development at Melbourne Recital Centre, please contact Alistaire Bowler, Philanthropy Manager, on (03) 9207 2653 or

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