Scientist Jayson Khun-Dkar discovers opera singing skills after television experiment

 

Last year Jayson Khun-Dkar read an advert in a newspaper while sitting on the bus. At the time, he could not read a single musical note and his experience as a singer amounted to a few bravado karaoke performances, which, though highly commended by his friends, gave no clue to an extraordinary talent lying dormant within. Today, Jayson Khun-Dkar is an opera singer.

Out of more than 900 people who responded to the advert, an invitation to take part in a scientific experiment to find people’s hidden talents, Jayson, a 34-year-old scientist, engineer and charity worker, was found to have the latent potential to sing opera at the highest level.

Now he has performed with professional singers in a production of La Boheme and hopes to build a musical career in a genre he calls “operatic rock”. Last night, his story was broadcast as part of the Channel 4 documentary Hidden Talents.

“After replying to the advert, I got called in to do all sorts of weird and wonderful tests,” he told The Independent. “We were blindfolded and told to find our way out of a room, we did language tests and also had to see how long we could hold our breath underwater.”

Applicants were asked to sing Happy Birthday in tune – a fail-safe test of basic musical aptitude, according to singing coach Stuart Barr, that only one in three people pass.

“The pianist kept making the notes go higher and higher,” Jayson said. “This loud voice just started coming out of me and everyone was shocked and so was I. I was so embarrassed I left the room and they had to rush down the corridor to bring me back.”

“Jayson was a revelation,” said Barr, a former president of the British Voice Association. “He had absolutely no idea that there was this voice within him. We saw a look of wonderment in his face when the notes first came.”

Scientific testing proved that Jayson was indeed a born opera singer. Professor David M Howard, an electronics expert from York University who specialises in digital analyses of the human voice, found that Jayson had a “natural ring” to his voice that ideally suited him to singing with an orchestra. Studies of the muscular structure of his larynx also showed his voice, with training, would have the resonance of the best baritones.

Joy Mammen, a voice teacher who has worked with Pavarotti, trained Jayson ahead of his first stage performance.

“He has the raw talent,” she said. “It takes ten years work to make a true opera singer, but he has what it takes to go professional if he keeps going with it.”

Jayson has played the role of Benoit in La Boheme at the Kings Head Theatre in north London. Although he intends to carry on performing as an opera singer (he can sing high baritone and tenor) he has also been writing songs that apply his new-found talent to a different musical genre: rock. “That’s the scientist in me,” he said. “I’m very much into experimenting.”

Through his charity work with the NASA Millennium Award Project, Jayson helped children from disadvantaged backgrounds get into science courses at college and university. He said that he himself been inspired by the potential of aptitude testing to reveal hidden abilities.

“I really believe everybody’s good at something,” he said. “That is what first led me to reply to the advert. We should roll out such aptitude testing across schools as part of the curriculum and at a time of redundancies and mass unemployment it's a very relevant and potent message for people: try to find what you are naturally good at.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballThe more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
News
business
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee