STUDENT Aidan Edwards always loved music but had no idea he could sing until his teacher spotted his potential.
Now the 21-year-old Hipperholme singer who once preferred rock music is making a name for himself in the world of opera.
Aidan, of Wakefield Road, played piano, clarinet, guitar and saxophone at school and enjoyed being in a rock band as a teenager but it was Alison Pryce-Jones, who taught him at Rastrick High School, who encouraged him to find his voice.
“I was always heavily involved in music but one day when I was about 15 Alison Pryce-Jones grabbed me and asked me to sing for her. I think she must have suspected I had a bit of a voice. She has undoubtedly been the biggest influence on my singing so far.”
With Mrs Pryce-Jones’s encouragement Aiden decided to audition for a place at music college but it wasn’t until he was invited to try for a place at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester that he began to take his singing seriously.
“Coming from a family with very little classical music knowledge, I had no idea if I was good enough or even what a prestigious establishment the RNCN is.
“I knew little about opera so I really had to prepare thoroughly. My dad and I went to see opera at the Grand Theatre in Leeds and I put everything into my audition - I was delighted to be made an unconditional offer.”
Aidan is now in his third year of vocal and opera studies and has been picked to sing one of the lead roles in the new opera ‘Paradise Moscow’ in Manchester in March.
“I have found a great love for opera and feel I have found my place in the classical and operatic world. I would love to have a career in opera music.”
Aidan, a former pupil at Lightcliffe C of E Primary School, was guitar and keyboard-player with the four-piece rock band Strayhorts which enjoyed some success in pubs and clubs in West Yorkshire. His younger brother Evan was also in the band.
“We had a great time and even recorded some of our songs. We were going to be rock stars!” said Aidan.
But now he has been advised that rock singing - together with too many late nights and too much alcohol - are not good for his rich baritone voice.
Aidan has teamed up with his girlfriend, soprano Juliet Montgomery, who also studies at the RNCN, to put together a musical programme that can be performed at venues around the region.
They presented ‘An Evening of Song’ at St John’s Church, Rastrick, as part of Brighouse Arts Festival in August, and at St Andrew’s Church, Rochdale, in October. Aidan also plays piano and sings to entertain customers at The Tannery pub in Hipperholme.
They sing a variety of musical items, from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Ivor Novello, Mozart to Schumann.
“I met Juliet at college. She’s from Scotland and we’ve been to see operas in Glasgow and Edinburgh whenever we get the chance. I particularly like ‘Madame Butterfly’ and ‘Tosca’.”
“Studying opera has been an amazing experience.
“It’s not something I would have thought I would be doing a few years ago but I really love it.”
Aidan’s mum Julie said: “We were told when Aidan was quite young that he was musical because he could tap out a tune when he was two. But we never thought he would end up singing opera!”