Just 4 years ago, opera due Belle Voci (Sophie Rohan and Emily Burnett) were formed when the two friends met whilst working in a pub . The classical Chester duo went on to national fame finishing in third place in the ITV’s “The Voice” competition in 2018. They are returning to Chester with a Christmas concert at the Town Hall on Saturday. We chatted to Sophie, one half of the group about their career so far.
“We’re both originally from Chester. We started singing together 4 years ago and since then we’ve done all sorts of things. We were both working at the Yewtree Inn, near Tarporley, Emily was a chef, I was a waitress. At that point we weren’t friends. Emily was always singing when I was coming in and out of the kitchen. We teamed up and started singing together. The locals at the pub came up with the name, it means “beautiful voice” in Italian. We went to a local restaurant and asked to put on an opera dinner. It went really well and sold out within 24 hours. ..”
From there the duo picked up work singing at weddings and in restaurants. “Emily applied for The Voice, actually by accident. As a singer you’re always looking for your next job, they don’t come to you. There was an auditions board saying ITV were looking for singers and Emily assumed it was for a Christmas party or something! They wrote back to us and we said no at first, we thought it wasn’t going to be for us, its a pop show, we sing opera and it will probably be embarrassing!
“We did way better than we expected to. We got picked by Jennifer Hudson, who was our mentor. We went it with a lot of scepticism , but honestly it was an unbelievable experience. Jennifer really helped us out, giving us a platform, we sang with Jennifer in the final which is something I’ll remember for my whole life. We finished third and from there, we got an agent and haven’t stopped working.
“We performed at Wembley, we did the National Anthem for the FA Cup final this year, that was pretty special ! We got to perform with Alfie Boe, and he invited us to tour with him. ”
Sophie is still based in Chester but Emily is based in the South. “We travel and work all over, here and abroad. Theres not a huge amount of work in Chester but I’m working on it! We started our Christmas concert 2 years ago in Malpas and the Church was too small for all the people that wanted to come. Last year we did one at St Werburghs, and again it was too small, so the idea is to do an annual event in Chester every Christmas. We are aiming for the Cathedral but couldn’t get in this year. ”
At Saturdays concert ,the duo will be joined by choirs from their former schools, Queens and Abbey Gate. Sophie says that by involving school children they hope to encourage and nurture young musical talent. ” We think that we were really lucky, we had teachers that really supported us. I know a lot of our friends who wanted to be performers were encouraged against it. With music cuts in education, I think theres less opportunities. I think the Chester cultural scene could be stronger and local talent needs more encouragement. There is an audience for different kinds of music, not just the mainstream. I don’t think theres a great deal for people to go and see, and if there is, its not advertised, with people relying mainly on twitter!”
At the concert Belle Voci will perform their new single a cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” alongside a mix of traditional classics and some contemporary songs. “Its really helpful if people can keep downloading it to help it qualify for the official listings. We have released it independently, Chester people have always been really supportive!”
Tickets are available from http://www.bellevoci.co.uk