We are thrilled to welcome Toby Hession to the Scottish Opera family as our 2021 Emerging Artist Repetiteur. Toby joins us from June for his first assignment, to work on our Summer programme. 

Toby is currently studying as a repetiteur at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, principally with Elizabeth Rowe, but also receives tuition from Susanna Stranders and Clive Timms and is supported by Help Musicians UK and The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. He is a graduate of Clare College, Cambridge with a Double First BA and an MPhil in Composition.

Scottish Opera’s Head of Music, Derek Clark, is delighted to welcome Toby to the music department and explains why Toby was selected to join the Emerging Artist programme:

‘We were unable to hold live auditions, so instead interested candidates submitted recordings of themselves playing. Toby Hession's stood out, not only for the standard of his playing but also for his general awareness and musicianship. Music Director Stuart Stratford and I are both very much looking forward to welcoming Toby into Scottish Opera's Music Team, and helping him develop his already considerable experience even further.’

We caught up with Toby to find out why he felt Scottish Opera was the perfect next step in his career, as well as the challenges he has faced this past year.

How are you feeling about joining the Scottish Opera team?

I’m absolutely thrilled to be on board, and can’t wait to get started. It’s amazing to have any work at all at the moment when so many of my friends and colleagues have nothing, let alone with such a prestigious company!

Why did you apply to the Scottish Opera Emerging Artist programme?

I suppose the main reason I put myself forward, was on the recommendation of many former holders of the position, including Michael Papadopoulos (Emerging Artist 2019) and Jonathon Swinard (Emerging Artist 2013 and Scottish Opera Chorus Master). But on a more personal level, it just seemed the perfect fit for me in terms of where I am in my career and what I want to do next.

What do you hope to gain from the experience?

I think the position at Scottish Opera is unique in terms of the balance between training and professional expectations, and experience. There are not many schemes around that give their young repetiteurs so much direct, hands-on experience in the theatre – but it is exactly that kind of high-pressure environment that I really wanted to find, where I can really be pushed to the limit of what I can do.

How has the last year been for you?

It has been really tough for me, just as it has for all musicians. Right at the point when I was starting to settle in London, and be self-sufficient, balancing my studies at Guildhall with freelance work, it was all taken out from under me. I think for many musicians my age, that was a huge confidence knock. It upset the whole balance of the freelance market. So much of the work that young musicians pick up is ‘dep’ work, which, even as things start to re-open, is virtually non-existent, because more experienced musicians will now cling on to the work they have. There was a point at the end of last summer where I, like many others, really did consider walking away from music for a few years. I think if somebody had told me in August that by March I would have this amazing opportunity to work with Scottish Opera, I would have laughed. But here we are! I owe a lot to the Guildhall School, and Dominic Wheeler, who really kept me and all of my friends and colleagues inspired and motivated through all of this. I have really loved every second of my two years there. I will miss it enormously but I am looking forward to this new challenge.