Helensburgh Oratorio Choir Winter Warmer Programme 2021 Jamie Macdougall

Helensburgh Oratorio Choir

Winter Warmer Programme 2021

On Tuesday 19th January, our series of 6 ‘Winter Warmers’ kicked off with our Patron, Jamie Macdougall enthralling us with a walk down memory lane. Jamie was happy to share his influences and memories from his career to date. From a very young age he would listen to his grandfather’s records of the great singers of the day, notably Corelli. He told the story of his grandfather, a very talented singer himself, on a business trip to London, going to record a record as a present for his wife. This record was played in the shop and proved to be very popular, so much so that it was heard by Ivor Novello! Jamie’s grandfather received an invite from Novello to join him for dinner but because he had to return to Glasgow, it didn’t happen. We wonder what might have been!

From his days in Douglas Academy, where he had secured a scholarship, his voice was encouraged and trained by Walter Blair and Pat McMahon and this led to him doing a post grad at the Guild Hall after the RSAMD. Following an appearance at the Wigmore Hall, he secured an agent and his professional career began.

However, Jamie suffered a terrible set back early in his professional career which saw him leave the stage for some 15 years when it was discovered that his neck and spine were out of alignment due to a car crash in his twenties. He just could not sing any more! As they say, when one door closes another one opens and he got the chance to present on radio and didn’t look back. However, his heart was always about the singing and with help from osteopaths and exercise was able to get back to his performing some 8 years ago.

There are many tenors Jamie has admired over the years and who influenced him during his career He played excerpts from pieces to illustrate their wonderful voices for us, in particular Fischer Dischau, Caruso, Mario Lanza, Kenneth McKellar, Pavarotti, Nicolai Gedda, Jussi Björling, Carreras and Fritz Wunderlich who sang everything from Lieder to Opera. In fact, the piece he played for us from The Magic Flute ‘Dies Bildnis ist bezaubernd schön’ sung by Wunderlich was the piece Jamie used to auditioned for Scottish Opera recently.

Jamie is firmly back in performing mode and he reminded us of his close links to Helensburgh when telling us that he did his first Messiah with us! He also told us of his love of Harry Lauder and his memories of seeing Jimmy Logan (another Helensburgh link) performing his one-man show ‘Lauder’ when he was a wee boy of 10. His parents bought him a record of that show and he was delighted to get this signed by Jimmy Logan on a visit to Pitlochry many years later.

Jamie has now taken up that mantle and was due to perform ‘Lauder!’ at the Edinburgh Festival in 2020. Sadly, COVID put paid to that but he has promised us that it’s the first thing to be staged at the King’s Theatre after lockdown! If you would like to hear more about this, follow this link:


We could have carried on listening to his delightful stories about meeting the Queen, Carreras and even Gary Lineker but the time just flew by. There were a couple of questions from the audience about his favourite accompanist – Alan Branch and tenor stars of the future – he named two, Liam Wanthrope and Nicky Spence. We loved listening to Jamie who told me the experience was ‘painless’ (thankfully!). Our sincere thanks go to Jamie for spending an enjoyable evening with us!

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