The Journey is the second album from classical crossover artist Thomas Spencer and has been a long time in the making and reflects his desire to find his own voice in the crossover world. I spoke to Thomas last week about the album and about his own personal journey through the world of music.
Thomas hails from a Derbyshire village and after music A level, decided to study acting in London. A change of heart though saw him enrol for voice training at Trinity College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music before going onto a post graduate musical theatre course. The logical outcome of all this was to work in musical theatre but when Thomas found that he was losing out to singers and actors with a bigger profile, his response was to try a different approach and began recording an album in his London flat with his musician / composer brother, Oliver. Credere was the end product and the brothers quickly decided that they wanted to record another, using mostly their own material. It’s unusual for classical crossover artists to record known material and although The Journey does contain this, the majority is (mainly Oliver’s) original compositions. Of this choice, Thomas says “we wanted to find our own voice, our own material, our own style of music”.
The result is a unique sounding album that lulls you into thinking you know where this musical journey is going to take you; it’s only when you’re a few songs into the album that you realise this is not taking you in the expected direction at all which for me, is great. There is something for everyone on this album, whether new to classical crossover or not although, as we know from Alfie Boe, there’s only two kinds of music, good and bad; part of what makes good music good is the unexpected (and goodness knows Alfie Boe in particular is nothing if not unpredictable) and it’s the original songs on this album that stand out.
The Journey is released on 23 June and this is a super busy time for Thomas as he is also coming to the end of a multi date project with choirs around the country. Beginning in the middle of May, Thomas has been travelling the length and breadth of the country working and performing with community choirs. Whether singing solos or as part of the tenor section, singing his own music or teaching and participating in workshops, Thomas says that “no two choirs sessions have been the same, each night is unique with differing abilities, ages, sizes…it’s nice to be kept on my toes”. Most of the choirs have their own repertoire and Thomas gave a wry chuckle when he said that Bring Him Home and other Les Mis songs seemed to be perennial favourites with choirs – I expect he’s sung that a fair few times over the last few weeks. Having said that, Thomas has also sung Gilbert and Sullivan and other musical theatre songs in the course of this tour and even learnt some Welsh folk songs courtesy of a week with Welsh male voice choirs.
When asked why a community choir tour, Thomas answered that “having sung in choirs all my life I felt it was a good way to get involved in community and to spend time talking about and performing music. I’ve been lucky enough to train at some good places and it’s great to be able to share some vocal technique, biology of the voice and what I do before performing”. Nearly all the songs on The Journey lend themselves to choral adaptations so it would be interesting to see if any of the choirs Thomas has worked with add any to their repertoire.
The Journey is available here:
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