It’s official, summer is over, no more beach days and wave-jumping, definitely no more clotted cream ice cream, and it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get back to work. I was lucky enough to have a proper summer holiday - our last before Joseph starts school, arrgh! - and it kicked off in style with two weeks in the Endellion Festival, in Cornwall. What an AMAZING festival. Daily rehearsals, concerts, operas, recitals, late-night songs, an incredible atmosphere, packed houses and an internationally-acclaimed line-up of performers and conductors. It really is worth decamping to Port Isaac for two weeks in order to be a part of it! I sang in the opening concert and then enjoyed the atmosphere and music while Bob performed in La Boheme. A brilliant start to a fun summer!
Before that, I’d been knee-deep in new works - some new to me, some entirely new to everyone! In June I sang Grace Williams’s ‘Fairest of Stars’ with BBC NOW for Radio Three, and it was an absolute treat to sing what is effectively a symphonic poem with such a wonderful orchestra. And in July I gave the world premiere of a new piece by Patrick Hawes in Norwich Cathedral - ‘Eventide’, telling the story of Edith Cavell. Earlier that week I was moved to tears in a performance of ‘Annelies’, which is James Whitbourn’s intensely moving setting of Anne Frank’s diary. If you get the chance to hear a recording of this piece, I urge you to listen. It’s absolutely breath-taking. And more tears were brimming when I finally got to play Dido in Purcell’s ‘Dido and Aeneas’. I’ve always been Belinda, so to get the chance to play the heroine was an honour, not to mention a challenge!
I also immersed myself in the early summer in three weeks of Bach, when I sang three of his motets, one-a-part, in a staged production. Directed by Tom Guthrie, as part of the Spitalfields Festival, this was a real revisiting of my roots. The Bach motets were a staple part of my days at Clare, and then of course in the Monteverdi Choir, and it was joyous to get to sing them again, and as part of an amazing team of soloists. ‘Death Actually’ was in fact a three-part performance, opening with Rob Murray singing ‘Die Schone Mullerin’ and finishing with a wake/party with the Barokksolisten. It was very warmly received and we’re very much hoping for future performances.
So, onwards and upwards. Much of the autumn will be taken up with preparing for recitals: a lute recital this week in the Cambridge Music Festival, then two recitals based on the life of Dylan Thomas, in Bangor and Swansea in October. I’ll be returning to ‘Silete Venti’ in Brecon in October too, and then November will see me singing mainly Requiems: Faure with the RPO and Tavener with the Bach Choir in the Royal Festival Hall. And let’s not even mention Christmas!
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