Berklee and Boston Conservatory Vocalist Competing on Britain's Got Talent
It takes adept versatility, keen instinct, and conviction to survive week after week on a television talent competition. Especially when Simon Cowell is a judge. One group that is proving its staying power and immense talent is Vox Fortura, a classical vocal quartet with member Julius Williams III '01, '07G (Boston Conservatory). The group began the competition as Vox Fortis, and changed the name after an exit by one of the members.
After surviving seven weeks of televised auditions, Vox Fortura is competing in the semi-final phase of Britain’s Got Talent, a reality talent show seen weekly by millions of people that was created by Cowell in 2007. A classical music vocal group may seem an outside choice among the dancers, acrobats, and pop music cover artists on the program, but videos reveal its dynamic, operatic, and climactic performances. The Daily Telegraph broadsheet describes the group as “other-worldly.” Comparisons are made to Il Divo. For Williams, studying at Berklee and at the Boston Conservatory made him believe that anything is possible.
“Both institutions introduced me to the concept of excellence, what could be achieved, and what the bar of achievement should be,” he said. “The beauty is working with likeminded and extremely talented artists like my brothers in Vox Fortura. This turns into an asset that can only make the whole greater.”
Williams earned a Master of Music in Classical Voice Performance from the Boston Conservatory. He learned what it was like to collaborate with consummate dancers, musical theater performers, and classical musicians. He cites Robert Honeysucker, a member of the voice faculty at the Boston Conservatory, and an internationally recognized opera and oratorio performer, as influential on his training as an opera singer. Williams played Nemorino, the lead character in the comic opera L'elisir d'amore, by Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti, while at the Conservatory.
“Berklee gave me the confidence to walk into a room not just as a singer, but as a musician to be taken seriously at all levels,” Williams said. “I was surrounded by so many talented musicians working in various styles, that I had to learn to adapt to whatever genre I was asked to perform or produce. Berklee gave me practical music fundamentals in theory, arranging for instruments and voices, as well as the use of technology to do all these things in an efficient manner.”
Williams added, “It keeps me grounded, knowing I came from institutions that have housed so much greatness. My experiences, talent, and hard work got me to where I am right now. And I know there is also that bit of luck.”
See Vox Fortura perform for the judges on Britain's Got Talent. Julius Williams III is second from the right.