Ben chatting with Antonia
Ben Thapa - Live on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
Former G4 tenor, Ben Thapa, visits the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire studio for a thorough grilling on all things before, during and after the phenomenally successful pop-opera foursome...
Ben Thapa live in the BBC Radio Cambridgeshire studio with Drive presenter, Antonia Brickell: Thursday 9th October, 2008
A product of television's X Factor, few people realised how successful G4 would be in bringing their unique brand of pop-opera to the masses. And, once the band decided to go their separate ways, few people thought that success could continue. But tenor, Ben Thapa, has proved the sceptics wrong and the Cambridge born-and-bred vocal powerhouse has been into our studio for a bit of a sing-song and chat.
I'm right where I want to be...
"Opera and classical music have always been my loves and to be able to progress with those is amazing. Before the X Factor kicked off, I could never have imagined I could have gone into that sort of music. I never really thought that was the sort of thing I'd get in to. Now I'm going back to my roots and classical music and opera is where I want to go."
He says his goal has always been to encourage a wider audience to appreciate classical music, so the fact that his fans are of all ages and backgrounds is a real thrill. And, he credits the "phenomenal support" of those fans for making the transition from G4 to a solo career so smooth and easy for him.
We ask Ben about the media reports circulating after the split of G4, that he intended to move to Ireland to follow a career in opera. He explains:
"I did spend some time over there, and there were a few opportunities that opened up for me, but I managed to pursue most of those whilst staying in London. London is such a haven for doing the type of stuff that I want to.
Antonia and Ben in the studio
"But, there were specific opportunities in Ireland and I did manage to do some of those. I worked with the National Chamber Choir of Ireland and other bits and pieces, but my base remains very firmly in the UK and London.
Although the capital is his base, Ben went to school in Cambridge and still has lots of friends and family in the city: "My roots are here and if people ask me where I'm from, I'm definitely still from Cambridge."
On life after G4...
So, is it very different being a solo artist to being part of a team, such as G4?
"It felt weird - the first few concerts and recitals... I was used to having Jon, Mike and Matt either side, and we'd be giving each other grief and quips and stuff, but in a way it's nice to be able to do my own thing and express myself individually. Four different people have four different opinions and I don't have to do those compromises anymore. I can do what I want to do and that's great."
Is he still in touch with the other members of G4?
"Yeah. I spoke with Jon just the other night. A few of us were planning on going out so I texted everyone and said 'Tuesday night, Leicester Square'...." Jon got the day wrong, thinking it was Thursday. "That's just so typical of him," laughs Ben. "He makes the most silly errors... but it was fun nevertheless. We all went out... without John. Next time, eh?
"It's the same with anything. You become really good mates over a period of time and learn a lot about each other for good and for bad. I haven't seen so much of them since the band split, but that never really ceases."
You can listen to the full interview between Ben and BBC Radio Cambridgeshire's Drive presenter, Antonia Brickell, by clicking on this link:
Nowadays, Ben is relishing the opportunity to perform in smaller, intimate venues which give him the chance to "get really up close and personal". It's a far cry from the lights, the crowds and the massive stages of his G4 days, but singing solo, often accompanied by just a pianist, is where he really wants to be.
His stage at BBC Radio Cambridgeshire is even smaller and more intimate, but it didn't take much arm-twisting to get Ben to give us a burst of one of his favourites, O Sole Mia. You can listen to that live rendition, and Ben talking about his charity work on the link below:
Ben's been a supporter of the Mental Health Foundation for years, raising money through ticket sales and collections at his recitals and he's run the last few London Marathons for that same cause.
"So far I've managed to raise over £10,000 for them, which is cool!"
He smiles that cheeky smile as he leaves... and leaves everyone in the studio smiling back...
last updated: 10/10/2008 at 15:20
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