Alexandra Lowe - the budding opera star who started out busking in Blackpool
PUBLISHED: 00:00 23 September 2015
Budding opera star Alexandra Lowe talks to Jessica Ward
‘You have to find that something, the hunger inside you to succeed.’ These are the words of a determined young woman called Alexandra Lowe, who busked on the streets of Blackpool to help finance her dream of becoming an opera singer.
Alexandra, now 23, was born in Mallorca - her father, John, is a builder and her mother, Pauline, is an artist. The family returned to Lancashire and Alexandra spent her teens in Thornton Cleveleys before securing a scholarship at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, studying for a Bachelor of Music degree.
The foundation for her future career was laid during her time in Spain. She started off singing karaoke and when she was 13 she became a member of Centre Stage Productions in Palma where she is remembered for roles such as Sandy in Grease, Cassie in A Chorus Line and Nancy in Oliver!
She decided to follow classical music and opera in 2008 and training began at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music and three years later she was awarded the Singer of the Year title - one of many awards and she also earned some rave reviews for the clarity of her voice. At the same time she managed to pass A-levels in Music, Performing Arts, Spanish and English.
Alexandra spoke passionately about her time at the RNCM. ‘Suddenly you are surrounded by the best people, not just in this country but internationally,’ she said. She admitted the competitive environment could be nerve-wracking. ‘But it is the best thing I have ever done. I left home as a youngster and returned as an adult. That is what university has done for me.’
Alexandra, who has just released her first album of favourite songs, said students needed a clear vision of what they wanted to do. ‘If you were to ever go to a music conservatoire you must be 100 per cent sure you want to do that as a career because it is so competitive.
‘When you arrive are another 20 students doing exactly the same as you and that is just in your year. There are always going to be people better than you, so you have to find that something, the hunger inside you to succeed.’
The combination of academic studies and creative performances require real commitment. ‘The one-to-one singing lessons are the highlight of my week. Even the group classes and performance classes, they are all fun. Learning is never wasted.’
Studying at RNCM has taught her a lot about herself and she has grown in confidence. ‘It’s important to just be yourself - don’t live up to all the stereotypes by trying to be somebody you are not. When it comes an interview or an audition panel they want to see the real you and what you can give to a company, if you are going to get on with people and mix well. The last thing they want is someone who causes disruption.’
Although working extremely hard for her studies, she has found time to help raise over £20,000 for charities through several concerts across the UK. These have included performances for Help for Heroes, Music in Hospitals and Aiming High for Disabled Children.
Alexandra’s inspiration comes from her singing teacher, Sandra Dugdale, who has guided her from day one. ‘She is absolutely incredible.’ Operatic role models include Renée Fleming, Angela Gheorghiu, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Anna Netrebko but it is the help from Sandra that has spurred her to perform several different roles at the RNCM including Helena in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Sylvaine in The Merry Widow.
‘I love the feeling when the audience applauds, it’s a sense of relief. Preparation is important to calm any nerves and to believe in yourself. You tell yourself you have done it in rehearsals so you can do it now.’
A healthy lifestyle contributes to the preparation, too. ‘The key to it is getting lots of sleep - it is crucial.’ Keeping calm and collected is another strategy and Alexandra enjoys light exercise, in particular pilates, which helps strengthen the core and allows her to have power while keeping her muscles relaxed.
Without the continuous commitment and drive she puts towards her future career goals, Alexandra would not have been able to achieve all these outstanding awards - Elsie Thurston Song Prize (2012), The Joyce Budd Prize – Kathleen Ferrier Young Singers Bursary (2012), Oncken Song Prize (2013), Alexandra Young Song Prize (2014), Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for Singing Strauss (2015) and now receiving the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Funding.
Funding university fees is extremely challenging for any student and to help Alexandra has busked in Blackpool and Thornton Cleveleys to gather funds. Sponsorship and performing at concerts have also made a significant contribution as have professional appearances at Ripley Castle, Bolton Abbey Priory, Fountains Abbey and The Mansion House.
Her manager Carol Dawson met Alexandra when she was searching for a student to sing light opera at a hunt ball. ‘I instantly knew Alexandra had something rather special and I had no hesitation in booking her,’ said Carol.
‘She performed beautiful arias and songs from the musicals in the most gorgeous pink ball gown.’ Guests were stunned when Carol revealed that Alexandra was just 17.
Alexandra has now released her first album and sales will go towards funding for her Masters degree - one more step on the road to becoming a top flight opera singer.
For more information or to buy her CD go to