Saturday, February 26, 2011

Happy Birthday: Emma Kirkby

This soprano, born February 26, 1949, has been the undisputed queen of early music for the better part of the last century. Possessing a not-quite sizable voice for grand opera, it is perfection for liturgical purposes and her clarion tone has stirred many a stone heart when bursting out Bach, Haydn, Händel, Monteverdi or Mozart. After graduating the Sherborne School for Girls in Dorset she went on to student classics at Oxford. There she discovered her passion for Renaissance and Baroque music after joining the Schola Cantorum. She was a founding member of the Taverner Choir and in 1973 begin her long association with the Consort of Musicke and the Academy of Ancient Music. She worked hard to form relationships with London Baroque, the Freiburger Barockorchester, L’Orfeo (of Linz), the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Palladian Ensemble and Florilegium. With over 100 recordings to her credit, she has sung everything from Hildegard von Bingen to Amy Beach. In 1999 Kirkby was voted Artist of the Year by Classic FM Radio
(Photo: L'Oiseau-Lyre/Decca)
listeners and in November 2000 she received the Order of the British Empire. BBC Music Magazine in April 2007 published a survey of critics to nominate “The 20 greatest sopranos”, controversially placing Kirkby at #10. On 21 January 2011 it was announced that Dame Emma had been awarded the Queen's Medal for Music, an award funded by the Privy Purse and given to an individual who has had a major influence on the musical life of the nation. The soprano has declared that she enjoys live performances to recording. She married lutenist Anthony Rooley and they have a son together. Top 10 listening suggestions are after the jump.  [Source]

"Why still before these streaming eyes" (Johann Peter Salomon)

"Laudate Dominum" Vesperae solemnes de confessore (Mozart)

"Nulla in mundo pax sincera, RV630" Motet (Vivaldi)

"Dalle più alte sfere" La Pellegrina (Cavalieri)

"Voglio di vita uscir" Madrigal (Monteverdi)

"Flow my teares" (Dowland)

"Oh had I Jubal's Lyre" Joshua (Händel)

"Columba aspexit" (von Bingen)

"Sich üben im Lieben" Cantata No 202 (Bach)

"An Evening Hymn" (Purcell)

Troisième Leçon de Ténèbres pour deux voix (Couperin) with Judith Nelson