Name: Daniel Thompson
Voice: First Bass
Q. Did you have any formal music training, or learn an instrument as a child?
A. I started flute lessons when I was 10 years old, and then took up guitar, bass guitar, and singing throughout my teens, which was mainly self-taught. I also did a music GCSE and A-level.
Q. Have you always been interested in singing classical music, or did you sing other sorts of music too?
A. I actually first started singing in a rock band at school and only joined the school choir as a way to improve my rock singing! But very quickly I found I really enjoyed choral singing, and I went on to do quite a bit of it at university, both large choral works with an orchestra and unaccompanied chamber choir repertoire, and also a lot of choral evensong services. I also did some jazz singing at university, with a jazz a cappella group and fronting a big band.
Q. What did you enjoy most about singing evensong daily?
A. I really enjoyed the challenge of singing new music for every service with relatively little rehearsal time and with quite a small number of singers, I found my sight-reading massively improved. I also found singing in the services very relaxing and almost meditative, despite my not being religious.
Q. How does singing with the LSC compare to that?
A. Honestly, I didn’t think I would enjoy singing with the LSC as much as I have. The musical forces involved in some of the repertoire we perform is just mind-blowing, and the emotional impact of listening to and singing it can be huge. I particularly loved discovering Berlioz’s choral works, and Mahler’s symphonies, like Mahler’s 8th, which we sang in a Prom and also on tour in Amsterdam. I’ve also enjoyed some of the more modern and complex repertoire, including getting to use my jazz background to help me understand some of the trickier syncopated rhythms.
Q. Any big LSC highlights for you so far?
A. Definitely the tours, which are a fantastic opportunity and also great fun. I’ve been to the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and I’ve done a couple of quick jaunts to Paris and back for one night only. Also singing in the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.
Q. You’ve got a demanding job working on machine learning projects at Facebook Reality Labs. And you recently became a father. How do you juggle it all?
A. What with the new baby and also Covid, I haven’t been that involved recently, but that’s okay since the commitments are project-based. I generally find it easy to make the time in my schedule to fit in the rehearsals and concerts, since being part of the LSC is a great “hobby” that I really look forward to and value being a part of.
Q. Any top tips for would-be basses out there?
A. Practice singing as much you can, even if that’s just in the shower when no one else is around. Try not to tense up, especially around your neck and shoulders, and don’t worry about being too loud—good singing technique is all about being relaxed and letting the sound resonate through your whole body. When it comes to doing an LSC audition, don’t worry about it too much, you’re not expected to be perfect. In fact, someone who is enthusiastic and has potential and room to grow as a singer is just as valuable to the choir as a seasoned choral singer. If you can sing “Happy Birthday” in tune, with its octave leap, you’re in with a good chance—I was actually asked to do this in my first ever choir audition!