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Of breath and bow hair…

Interview

Three sopranos talk about the
pleasures of performing with the cello

Kate Royal

I used to play the violin, very badly, but now as a singer, I sometimes try to imagine I am a string player. The tautness and flexibility of the bow on the string is like the breath on the vocal cords. This will be my first performance with a group of cellists, so I’m interested to see how much volume they’ll make and how I can fit into their sound; certainly Cellophony has an impressive profile in this area.

Arvo Pärt’s religious tale of the Abbé Agathon’s encounter with an angel, with its innocent, impulsive vocal line, reminds me of Debussy’s Pélléas et Mélisande. It’s a great contrast to the sheer romance of Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas brasileiras. There are no words to hide behind in a vocalise like this, just pure tone. It’s a real vocal challenge.

‘The tautness and flexibility of the bow on the string is like the breath on the vocal cords’

Kate Royal

Ruby Hughes

As a child I heard JS Bach’s cello sonatas and suites and fell in love with his music, as I was learning the cello myself. Later, as a singer, I discovered the cantatas, and the pleasure of bringing these two loves together in the trio with Natalie (Clein) and Julius (Drake), has been really exciting. Bach was the first composer to explore the combination of voice and cello and it didn’t happen again significantly until Schubert, whose Auf dem Strom is on our programme.

It’s a great opportunity to commission a new piece from Judith Weir, which I imagine will be something spiritual and contrapuntal, exploring the trio in various combinations. We’re so happy to be giving its world premiere at Kings Place in this series.

Ailish Tynan.

Ailish Tynan

I’ve always enjoyed singing with the cello – it’s such a warm-toned, resonant instrument that I feel we can bounce off each other better than any other instrument. When the cello plays a note and you sing it, you can really melt into one another’s sound. That said, I am looking forward to singing with both cellist Christophe Coin and Maggie Cole on harpsichord and piano.

Christophe is making a new edition of songs for soprano and cello by the 19th-century Italian cellist Alfredo Piatti. He’s going to Bergamo to dig out some manuscripts, so I’ll have to wait for my scores. Coin is steeped in Piatti’s world, so it’s exciting to be giving the first performance of some of his songs, with two such experienced colleagues.

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