In the news - Julian Jensen

2nd July 2010 at 01:00

Mr Jensen, 45, will become the director of music at Millfield School in Somerset this September. He has taught for the past eight years and is currently head of music at Woldingham School in Surrey. Before teaching, Mr Jensen was an opera singer for 14 years, touring Europe with leading opera companies and singing alongside Luciano Pavarotti.

OK, let's have the dirt on Pavarotti ...

"I was working for Florence Opera and I performed in the chorus choir alongside him. He was the big role. He didn't rehearse - he would come to the dress rehearsal and do what he wanted and everyone fitted around him. He was quite starry and controlled everything."

Not your inspiration then?

"My main inspiration was Roberto Alagna, a French operatic tenor. I worked at the Opera House in Lyon for two years and he often worked there. He was humble and had a genuine character - not a diva. I liked him and aspired to have a voice like his."

Did you sing before you could walk?

"No, it was when I started sixth-form college that had a strong music department. There was something on every lunch time and I got involved. I did a PGCE after university but was offered a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, the promise of an exciting, glittering career. It tempted me away from teaching for 14 years, but it's tough being a self-employed musician."

Stage to classroom, quite a change?

"Teaching is performing - the two roles are identical. The job of teaching is to grab pupils' attention in a fascinating way. I understand the skills of performing and can impart my knowledge to the students. I have great credibility and experience, which make my authority convincing."

So you've got R-E-S-P-E-C-T?

"The children like my experience. I was the opera singer in One More Kiss with Gerard Butler and the girls go weak at the knees when they realise that. They ask me to sing and I think they get quite excited because they see another side to their teacher. I don't sing too much - it's a novelty now and again. But I sang at the recent farewell upper-sixth concert."

And your farewell?

"It's sad, but I think my new role is thrilling. There's a big pool of talent at Millfield. It's a mixed school, which will offer a different creative setting for me. It has fantastic facilities. They have everything in place to be the best music department in the country - which is daunting, but very exciting."

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