Eights years since Ben Escorcio stole the hearts of the nation on the All Ireland Talent Show, the Miltown Malbay man returns to Clare for a very special concert with The Lismorahaun Singers. With three years at the Royal Irish Academy of Music already under his belt, he returns a different singer, with a new and more developed approach to his craft. He spoke with Andrew Hamilton.
At just 14 years of age, Ben Escorcio became one of Clare’s most recognisable singers. Reaching the grand final of the All Ireland Talent Show, a programme broadcast to some 650,000 viewers, was a high that most people would find hard to get over.
But for Ben, the fame and recognition, was something he could take in his stride.
“It was a bit strange afterwards. In the months and years that followed, I’d walk down the street in Clare or in Dublin and people would say – it’s the guy from the talent show. It was a high profile thing for awhile and that has cooled down. It lasted longer than I thought it would to be honest,” says Ben.
“Getting back into the swing of normality took a little bit of time. It was no problem to me, I don’t like to make much of a fuss. But the show gave me a platform to get gigs and to promote myself as well. In the industry that I’m in, it’s all about self promotion. If I was going into a more mainstream type of singing, or becoming a pop singer, maybe it would have had a bigger impact. But, to be honest, it’s not that much of a leg up in the classical music industry.
“It gave me invaluable experience and I got to meet great people who were working on the show, but I wouldn’t say that it boosted my careers in a big way. But it was invaluable experience.
“After the show, I was back to school and flogging out the hard yards to get through the Leaving Cert. I didn’t mind it, I had great friends and I did enjoy it.
“The Leaving Cert was a little different for me as well. Most people are waiting to see can they get the points that they need, where as I auditioned for the Royal Irish Academy of Music before the Leaving Cert. I got an acceptance letter just before the Leaving Cert. So I already knew that I had a place waiting for me regardless.”
The last few years have been formative for Ben. His voice has developed massively but so too has his approach to performance.
“It [his voice] undergoes a very gradual but immense change. If I look back at where I was just four years ago, my approach to performance is so different,” he says.
“My preparation and the depths that I go to in preparation for a performance is completely different. In the Academy you are taught a structure and a way of going about things. You have to prepare with an exactitude that I had never experienced prior to going there. My voice has definitely changed as well.”
Next year Ben will look to further establish himself on the Irish music scene before traveling to Europe to make a name for himself on the continent.
“There are a few routes that people can take. Many people would choose to go straight into a Masters, but what I’d like to do is take the next year and really establish myself on the scene in Ireland. I’ve done productions with Lyric Opera, I’m doing a production with the INO and I’m doing productions in the Academy as well but next year, I’m going to study part time in the Academy and see how many gigs I can get involved in,” he says.
“After that year I think I will go off and hopefully do a Masters somewhere in Europe, Germany hopefully. It is really hard to get in there but that is where the real opportunities are.”
This Friday will very much be a homecoming for Ben, as he joins the Lismorahaun Singers and many Clare soloists for a special concert in Ennis.
“It is going to be lovely, I’m really looking forward to it. It is just a chance for me to get back to where it all started. It all started in Archie’s [Simpson] little living room, standing around the piano, as it did for so many others,” he says.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t seen the members of the choir for years. It is difficult for me to get back from Dublin because I’m so busy, but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great concert. A night surrounded by friends and music, I’m so excited about it.”
This Friday, June 15, Ben Escorcio and fellow soloists Kate Daly, Katie O’Donohue and Peter O’Donohue will will join The Lismorahuan Singers for a very special concert at St Columba’s Church on Bindon Street in Ennis from 8pm. Tickets are available from The Russell Gallery in New Quay, Jordon’s in Lisdoonvarna and from Mulqueen’s in Ennis.