Hilary first became actively engaged with music at secondary school: 'Dartington Hall' in Devon, England, starting to sing and play the piano and flute at thirteen. She made her debut as a soprano soloist at eighteen, singing Händel's Messiah, and went on to study singing and piano at the Royal Academy of Music in London. During her study, she worked together with Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Anthony Lewis and Steuart Bedford and was directed by a number of internationally-renowned directors from Covent Garden and The English National Opera.
After graduating, she moved to The Netherlands and was accepted into the famous Dutch Chamber Choir, where she sang for three years. After a while, she was regularly appearing as a soloist with all the leading orchestras and choirs of the country in the major concert halls, such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. She made a number of recordings with the Dutch Radio Orchestras and also performed regularly in Belgium, France, Germany, Austria and Finland.
In 1993, she was the soprano soloist in one of the best sold C.D.’s of Händel’s 'Messiah' in The Netherlands and, in 1994, she was invited to sing in Britten’s 'War Requiem' during the commemoration of the Battle of Arnhem. From 1999 onwards, she made a number of recital tours in Scotland and Ireland, together with the pianist, Jacco Lamfers, with whom she also made a C.D. of songs by Schumann, Tchaikovsky and Lamfers in the year 2000.
While in The Netherlands, Hilary worked intensively with the famous Belgian vocal coach, Lucie Frateur, and dedicated herself to continuing her innovative singing method in her own large teaching practice.
Lucie Frateur, together with Dr. J.B. van Deinse, a leading Ear, Nose and Throat specialist in The Netherlands, founded the Theodora Versteegh Foundation in The Hague to research scientifically into the workings of the human voice. She invited Hilary onto the staff, first as her assistant and then as her successor. Thus, through extensive testing of thousands of voices, Hilary gained vast experience in groundbreaking work identifying voice types, vocal problems, etc.
She also expanded her expertise in this field by working with movement experts, with whom she has conducted many workshops and courses throughout the years.
Furthermore, not only coaching young professional singers, but also aspirant singing teachers and helping them prepare their professional theses, her knowledge and experience lead The Schumann Academy to ask her to adjudicate many final exams, both practical and theoretical, for the Dutch State Diploma in Singing Teaching.
In 2002, Hilary was invited by Prof. David Harold Cox, the then Head of the Music Department of University College Cork in Ireland to take up a post there, teaching Vocal Studies, Art-Song and Opera. He also asked her to perform his song cycle: 'Willow Leaves', together with the pianist, Conor Linehan, and they later recorded it for the C.D. 'New Music from U.C.C.'
She also gave lectures, seminars and courses on voice care and maintenance to drama students, singers, teachers and lecturers at University College Cork as well as at the Cork Education Support Centre.
Since moving to Ireland, Hilary has given a number of concerts and recitals and also appeared in theatre shows that she produced and directed herself and in 2005 she founded a mixed-voiced choir in Fermoy: The Orpheus Choir, Co. Cork. In 2008, she made a C.D. of German, French, English and Spanish songs called: 'Love's Philosophy', together with Jeroen Liedorp, with whom she also made a tour of Lieder recitals in The Netherlands in October 2010.
In 2014, after a career spanning forty-two years, Hilary retired as a professional singer to be able to concentrate on her work as a vocal coach, piano teacher and choir conductor.
Hilary works with a large number of singers and speakers, often on the recommendation of Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists, to help them recover from serious vocal problems, such as chronic lanryngitis or vocal cord nodules. As well as coaching singers, she also gives speech training to Toastmasters, Presenters, Actors and Teachers to improve the tone and power, colour and intonation of their voices and works with them to achieve better all-round results in presentations, speeches, acting exams and competitions.
In 2020 she added yet another 'string to her bow' by initiating an interactive online coaching practice, prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hilary singing Verdi's 'La Traviata' at the Trompenburg Gardens & Arboratum in Rotterdam.The pianist is Jacco Lamfers.
(photo private collection)I
Hilary receiving flowers after a concert.
(photo private collection)
Hilary performing songs by Montsalvatge during 'Poetry International 1998' in the Doelen in Rotterdam, together with the accompanist, Kelvin Grout. (photo private collection)
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Steuart Bedford (1939) Sir Simon Rattle (1955) Kenneth Montgomery (1943)
Hans Vonk (1942-2004) Segiú Commissiona (1928-2005) James Conlon (1950)
Jean Fournet (1913-2008) Coen van der Heide (1948-2011) Jos Vranken Jr. (1939) Sir Anthony Lewis (1915-1983)
Roger Vignoles - coach Lucie Frateur - mezzo-soprano Majorie Thomas - contralto
(photo private collection)
John Carol-Case - baritone Corry Bijster - soprano Flora Nielsen - soprano Rex Stephens - coach
(photo private collection)
Robert Holl - bass-baritone Clara Taylor - accompanist - coach Guus Hoekman - bass