Are you another undiscovered Susan Boyle? Have you been dreaming a dream, quietly nurturing a talent, a gift, or some possibility of creative self-expression for 5, 10, 20, maybe 25 years or more? Maybe the dream has not yet come to fruition? Maybe you’re thinking you were a fool to still be entertaining other possibilities for yourself. Maybe you think its too late, you’re too old, you’ve missed the boat, or you still haven’t ‘made it’ far enough up the ladder of your ‘real’ job to be considering such ‘ridiculousness’ ? This week’s Healing Through Creativity brings together host Dr. Desiree Cox and ‘Operatunity’ finalist, Bahamian born Franz Hepburn. Hepburn, a former civil servant and college business major is now a full-time bass-baritone opera singer and composer in the UK and internationally. Hepburn shares how the English National Opera’s 2003 UK nation-wide ‘Operatunity’ talent search, and the personal life-events that followed changed his life for good. The ENO’s ‘Operatunity’ call generated 2500 contestants. The contestants, all of them non-professional opera-singers submitted videotapes of their performances. One-hundred of these singers were invited for auditions; a final six singers were selected for intensive training. The entire journey – the hundred auditions and the intensive workshop training given to the finalists – was filmed for television and aired in 2003 in the show named ‘Operatunity’ on BBC Channel 4 television, PBS (USA), as well as Australian and Italian TV in 2003. Hepburn was one six finalist. He tells host Dr. Cox about the creative moment, the birth of the dream of being an opera-singer some 20 years before. Hepburn shares how this sense of music and singing was an important part of his full self-expression and fulfilment.
Franz was born in Nassau, The Bahamas and started his formal music training at age seven with the piano. He received an AABA degree in Banking & Finance for the College of The Bahamas; a BBA degree in Marketing & Finance from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada; and an MBA degree from the University of Warwick in Coventry, England.
He was transferred from The Bahamas to the UK by the Bahamas Government in October 1990 to work at the Bahamas Tourist Office London. He worked at the tourist office from 1990-2004.
Franz made his operatic debut in the world premiere of Our Boys, first Bahamian opera by Cleophas Adderley with the Juilliard School of Music Orchestra in 1987. Some of his operatic roles include Sarastro (Magic Flute), Publius (La Clemenza di Tito), Trulove (Rakes Progress), The King (Aida) and Sparafucile (Rigoletto). As one of the six finalists (selected from 2,500 entrants) on Channel 4’s award winning Operatunity programme, he was interviewed and performed live on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune programme in February 2003. Operatunity was aired on PBS in America and also on Australian and Italian television.
Franz is also a composer and many of his works have been performed by choirs and soloists in The Bahamas, Caribbean, North America and Europe. In 2003, on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of Independence in The Bahamas, a special concert of music by Franz Hepburn was performed by JoAnn Deveaux-Callender, soprano at All Souls Church, Langham Place, London. The concert featured the world premiere of two song cycles – Introspection and Four Words. On 8th June 2004, as part of the 275th anniversary of Parliamentary Democracy in The Bahamas, JoAnn Deveaux-Callender performed the world premiere of Five Pertinent Questions, another of his song cycles in a concert at St George’s Hanover Square, London. The following day to continue the Bahamas’ anniversary celebrations, Franz gave his first recital with pianist Lee Callender at St James’s Piccadilly, London where he sang Bahamian songs and spirituals.
Franz had the great honour of singing the role of Bridgetower Senior at LSO St Luke’s, London in July 2007 for the world premiere of Bridgetower – A Fable of 1807, an opera by jazz supremo Julian Joseph and writer Mike Phillips. The work was commissioned as part of the City of London Festival to commemorate the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. He went on a UK tour with the opera in October and November 2007 with English Touring Opera. He was the Minister of War in the world premiere of a new musical interpretation of The Burial at Thebes by Seamus Heaney at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London in October 2008. The composer was Dominique Le Gendre from Trinidad (first female composer to be commissioned by the Royal Opera) and directed by Derek Walcott (Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992).
Find out more about how you too can open new worlds for yourself, how to shift your perspective and more fulfilling life for yourself. This week’s show is sponsored in part by the International Futures Forum. Find out more about the International Futures Forum on (www.internationalfuturesforum.com). You can also find out more about Dr. Desiree Cox on her website www.desireecox.com