From A Child Singer In Chiswick To The World Famous Wigmore Hall

Singing sensation Milly Forrest recalls how her career started in Bedford Park

two images of opera singer Milly ForrestThen and Now: Milly as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz


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Chiswick's Milly Forrest, who became an overnight sensation when she stepped onto the Wigmore Hall stage to replace a singer taken ill, has told of how she started her career as a child with appearances at the Bedford Park Festival.

Milly Forrest (23) who grew up on the Glebe estate and attended Chiswick & Bedford Park prep school, has featured on major TV and national newspapers this week following rave reviews for her performance. And, she told she could not have done it without the support of family and friends in Chiswick who encouraged her from a very early age.

Milly regularly performs in Chiswick, either singing at St Michael & All Angels, or on Sundays at St Peter's Church in Hammersmith. She retains strong links with W4 where mum Charlotte and dad Neville still live - her brother Joe is currently at university studying politics. While music was a big feature of family life, Milly is the first in the extended family to make it her career.

Her singing and acting talents were recognised at an early age when she was a member of the Bedford Park Children's Choir. She recalls taking part in competitions at the Bedford Park Festival as a child and despite being in constant demand to perform, her links to her childhood home remain strong- she intends to continue her involvement with local opera and the Bedford Park Festival.

A report on one of her early public appearances wrote about "8-year-old Milly Forrest, who sang The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music. Both (Milly and her friend Alice) showed remarkable talent and confidence for ones so young."

She also recalls starring in a local production of The Wizard of Oz and says it is fun, though a little embarrassing to see herself as an eight-year old.

Milly started studying music at the age of ten at the Royal College of Music. She plans to continue her studies with an her MA at the RCM in September, partly funded by the generosity of a Chiswick resident.

Her ambition is to become a professional opera singer, and she is certainly closer to realising her dream following her stand-out performance at the Wigmore Hall. She found herself in the limelight, catapulted from part-time work in the concert hall cloakroom to the main stage when soprano Ruby Hughes fell ill with tonsillitis and was forced to pull out of performing in the end of season concert. Milly was asked to step in and her solo performance was hailed as a triumph.

The Guardian reviewer Tim Astley, wrote :"Forrest, with her silvery tone, sounded exquisite in Purcell’s If Music Be the Food of Love."

Artistic Director of the Wigmore Hall, John Gilhooly had no hesitation in offering the part fo Milly when the opportunity came up. Milly had showcased her singing talents at the Wigmore previously and her vocal talents had impressed management.

But the once in a lifetime opportunity might have been lost. Milly revealed that on the day the concert hall was trying to contact her, she had left her phone at home. On returning home to several missed calls, she realised she had only minutes to make contact before the deadline passed and the role would be offered to somebody else.

Since the concert, she has become a media sensation and her phone has been constantly riinging with more offers of work and public appearances. But she intends to keep her feet firmly on the ground, continuing her part time work at the Wigmore hall to earn money for pay for further studies- she starts a Master's Degree at the RCM later this year.

John Gilhooly described Milly as having "a voice of great beauty" and said that she showed "real promise."

“The thing is you must always be ready and she was ready. I always say to young artists you never know when the phone is going to ring and you must be ready.

“We were about 10 minutes away from giving the opportunity to someone else when she called back.”

Milly commented: "I'd have to say that without the support of several people in Chiswick this would never have happened. Torin Douglas, Dinah Garrett and Father Kevin, and many others, were very helpful to me over the years. It's been an amazing week and I'm honoured and pleased to have been offered the role. But I'll be keeping my feet on the ground as I've got to get on with my studies soon."

You can read more about Milly on her Twitter page.


August 17, 2017

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