Q&A with Tim Wayne-Wright
2 February 2022
Tim Wayne-Wright was a member of the Grammy-winning a cappella vocal ensemble The King’s Singers for 10 years. He was fortunate enough to tour the world, singing over 1500 concerts in some of the world’s greatest venues. Tim has taught over 500 masterclasses and workshops, imparting ensemble skills and techniques to choirs and instrumentalists across the globe.
Since leaving The King’s Singers in 2018, he continues to have a busy career as part of the international choral scene. Tim is the Artistic Director of CHORALSPACE’s Berlin Winter and Summer Festivals, 2021 – 2023. He also manages an exciting roster of artists and holds consultancy roles with vocal ensembles in both UK and Canada.
Tim loves the opportunity to coach vocal groups of all sizes, taking great pleasure from working with musicians of all ages and ability. Last year he was the adjudicator for The Big Sing Cadenza festivals in Rotorua and Whanganui.
Tim has just launched his own A Cappella Academy, a training course for singers and vocal ensembles. The Academy is set to tour to different regions of New Zealand throughout 2022 and beyond, beginning this April at the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts. With registrations now open, we took the opportunity to ask him some questions about his love of teaching, the key ingredients of being an ensemble singer, and his impressions of New Zealand choral music so far:
You’ve recently immigrated to Aotearoa from the UK after being a member of The King’s Singers for ten years – what brought you here?
My ever-patient wife, Gemma, is a Kiwi. We’ve also got two small kids, Harry (5) and Ella (2), and I can’t think of a more perfect place to raise a family than Aotearoa.
You were an adjudicator for The Big Sing Cadenza last year – what were your impressions of that experience?
WOW – that was my first impression! My overriding reaction to the Cadenza sessions that I was able to adjudicate (Whanganui and Rotorua) was one of utter positivity. I have never been a part of a more collegial choral event – the sense of camaraderie amongst all the competing choirs was something truly unique, and the level of ensemble singing was incredibly impressive.
What draws you to teaching and imparting your knowledge to other singers?
Music is such a precious gift and singing, especially, has the ability to really move people in a very unique way. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the vocal experiences that I’ve had in the past, and am massively grateful to now be able to pass this knowledge on to other singers across the world. I love the look on singers’ faces when they’ve been able to achieve a positive change to their ensemble singing, and the sheer delight that this new-found knowledge can bring to an audience is very special indeed. Teaching is so satisfying for both teacher and student, and it’s this mutual feeling of pleasure (for both performer and listener) that drives me to coach individual singers and vocal ensembles on a daily basis.
You’ve set up a new A Cappella Academy – who is this academy designed for, and what kinds of skills will participants develop by taking part?
The academy is really for anyone who loves to sing! Participants can be part of adult community choirs, high school choirs, Big Sing choirs, barbershop groups, and everything in between. I’d love to hear from vocal ensembles and also individual singers that are keen to be part of these unique courses. Each singer that comes along can expect to leave with a firm grasp of ensemble techniques such as exploring vocal colours, chord balancing, blending, vowel matching and how to truly engage with an audience.
The first Academy will be held in Nelson, but you’re also planning on expanding to other regions in NZ – tell us a little about this…
NZ is brimming with choral activity, so I’m super keen to take the A Cappella Academy across both islands each year. My wish is to coach as many singers as possible – all ages and abilities are most welcome to join in the fun! Touring the academy will also be a great way for me to see more of your beautiful country. There are plans in the pipeline for further 2022 academy courses in Hawke’s Bay and Wellington, so watch this space…
What are the integral elements of being a good ensemble singer?
Listening to your fellow singers and having a flexible instrument. For example, it’s impossible to make a blended sound, as an ensemble, if members aren’t listening to each other and aiming to create a complementary timbre. And it’s impossible to change your vocal timbre unless your voice has flexibility. It’s not easy! I love the process of exploring these techniques during my sessions and hearing the results in the public performance at the end of the course is so satisfying for all involved…
What advice or encouragement would you give to someone who’s always wanted to give group singing a go, but has never quite taken the leap?
DO IT! You won’t regret it. The physical and social benefits to singing in a choir are well-documented, and the great thing about singing is that you don’t have to cart around a heavy instrument! Singing is about telling a story and I’m sure that we’ve all got a story that we’d like to tell…