4 minute read


By Nick Boston

Nick Boston finds out what the tenor has been up to since his last interview


Back in 2020, just before the world was turned upside down, I spoke to tenor Ian Farrell about his then new album, Ten for Ten, celebrating 10 years of being sober. Shortly after, we all went into lockdown, and my interview was in Scene’s first online only edition. So it seems fitting that as Scene emerges back into print, I got to catch up with Ian and find out what he’s been up to in the meantime.

And of course, never one to sit back and wait, Ian has been working hard throughout the past 18 months, and has now come back with a new album, il Significato di te. Building on the first album’s predominantly musical theatre repertoire, Ian has now moved into more classical territory, returning to the roots of his musical training. Ian says: “For so many years, I knew that I wanted to get back to singing the opera/classical stuff of my uni days, but in order to do that, I really needed to do some serious training with the voice.” So that’s what he’s been doing.

As we explored in my previous interview with Ian, after his early classical training, things went somewhat off the rails before he could embark fully on that classical singing career. To recap, Ian sang in choirs throughout his childhood before success at music college, winning the Worshipful Company of Musicians scholarship in his final year at the London College of Music.

A glittering career beckoned, but as Ian says, the pressure told and he began to “self-destruct”, and alcohol dependency took hold. Fast forward to 2009, and Ian stopped drinking and began to turn his life around – the first album, Ten for Ten, marked 10 years since that transition, and a step on the way to “putting things right”.

As Ian said when I last spoke to him: “I’ve learned that just because you make mistakes in life, however monumental, which sometimes lead you down a different path than the one you thought you were going to take, it doesn’t mean that with determination, self-belief and a dream you can’t navigate your way back to your dream or chosen path.”

Now he says: “I was stood on one side of a river, and my dreams were on the other side, but I couldn’t work out how to get across. Now, I’m not going to wait for anyone else. I set myself projects, and then set out to make them happen. It’s about saying things out loud and navigating the way there. So I’ll say it, one day I want to sing at Proms in the Park – putting it out there makes it real.”

The new album definitely shows the results of all his hard work over the past 18 months. As Ian says: “I spent every day doing vocal somersaults and training hard to get to this point. This also included navigating some of the mental health stuff that goes with challenging yourself with something that (last time) ended in a bit of a mess.”

There are some big pieces here – O Sole Mio, and Che gelida manina from Puccini’s La Bohème, for example. And Ian brings his powerful voice to these to great effect. There’s even some Wagner, in Siegmund’s aria, Winterstürme, from Die Walküre. Yet there is tenderness too – in the Puccini, but also in two beautiful French songs, Fauré’s Aprés un Rêve, and Duparc’s stunning Phidylé.

The Duparc is in fact one of Ian’s favourites here: “I sang this song in my live lunchtime concert at London College of Music in 1999, and I used to listen to it in my darker days and used to get so frustrated that I’d ‘messed it all up’.” Well he’s certainly laid that ghost here with a tender and heartfelt performance of this tranquil gem. In the bigger numbers, it would be great to hear Ian performing with a full orchestra at some point, as his powerful voice deserves a fuller backing than was always possible here.

But there can be no doubting his commitment here, particularly in the full-on power of Nelle Tue Mani (form Gladiator). Overall, that’s the most impressive thing here – that Ian can go from that tenderness expressed in Phidylé to the extremes of dynamics and range required by Nelle Tue Mani, or O Sole Mio. It is so clear that he is enjoying exploring the extensive capabilities of his voice here, and his commitment and hard work over the last 18 months is clearly paying dividends.

You can download the album from Ian’s website: www.iandavidfarrell.com, and you can find him on iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Spotify too. Let’s hope it’s not long before we can get to hear him performing live – watch this space.