Hamish McLaren was born in London in November 1993 and grew up there and in North Wales. He graduated from St. John’s College, Cambridge, with a BA and an MPhil in History and Early Modern History in the summer of 2016. In November 2018 Hamish was awarded a Distinction MMus Performance by the Royal Academy of Music.
During his time as an undergraduate and graduate student at St. John’s, Hamish sang both as a choral scholar and as a lay clerk in the Choir of St. John’s College under Andrew Nethsingha, and was taught by David Lowe and Ashley Stafford. Away from the choir stalls, Hamish took on numerous and varied roles in operas around Cambridge. Between 2013 and 2016 he appeared as Oberon (Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream), an incongruously hefty Marcellina, (Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro), Damon (Rameau’s Les Sauvages), and even as Vava, a lurid and petulant mistress in Shostakovich’s satirical operetta Cheryomushki Moscva.
At Cambridge Hamish was a finalist in the Clare College Song Competition (2015) and in the Lady Frances Song Competition (2015). He also performed in masterclasses with Michael Chance, Lawrence Zazzo and Iestyn Davies. Having moved to London to study at the Royal Academy of Music, Hamish has performed as a finalist in the Maureen Lehane competition at the Wigmore Hall (2017) and in the Anthony Lewis Memorial competition (2018) at the Royal Academy of Music.
Hamish has performed in the Royal Academy of Music postgraduate opera scenes, including in George Benjamin’s Written on Skin. Beyond the RAM, in November 2017, he appeared grotesquely masked on stage at the Victoria and Albert Museum to sing a solo interlude in Tim Watts’ innovative opera Kepler’s Trial. In September 2018 Hamish performed, in the cover show, the role of Ferdinand in British Youth Opera’s production of the The Enchanted Island, a pasticcio of music by Handel, Rameau and Vivaldi and others devised by Jeremy Sams.
In September 2018 Hamish gave a lecture recital in the Piano Gallery of the Royal Academy of Music on the dynastic politics of the Stuart and Hanoverian courts in the early 18th Century as illustrated by their respective patronage of the little known Neapolitan composer Leonardo Vinci, and the rather better known baroque doyen Handel. In the following month Hamish performed a joint recital with Rachel Maxey (viola) and Katie Wong (piano) as part of the Bloomsbury Festival 2018 featuring works by Fanny Hensel, Rebecca Clarke, Lili Boulanger, Vítězslava Kaprálová, and Clara Schumann.
Recent solo oratorio work has included: Bach St John Passion and Christmas Oratorio, Bernstein Chichester Psalms, Handel’s Jephtha and Israel in Eygpt, Haydn Nelson Mass, Monteverdi Christmas Vespers, Purcell Come Ye Sons of Art, Vivaldi Gloria, Schutz A Christmas Story. On November, 22nd 2018 an Arts Society commission and première of a new work, Quiet London, for countertenor and string quartet by the composer Alex Woolf, and in the same concert the countertenor première of Honegger’s Pâques à New York.
Recent opera work, in April and May 2019, includes Handel Semele (chorus) as part of The Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists’ European Tour conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner.
Also in May 2019, Hamish sang the role of Arsace in Hampstead Garden Opera’s production of Handel’s Partenope.
Hamish continues his studies during 2019 at the Royal Academy of Music towards a Professional Diploma specialising in Russian Art Song, where he is taught by Alexander Ashworth and Richard Shaw. He is generously supported by the Josephine Baker Trust and is a Kohn Foundation Bach scholar in the Royal Academy of Music’s Bach Cantata series. In June 2018 Hamish was awarded the Andrew S. Sykes prize by the Royal Academy of Music.