UK classical music festivals

An interview with: soprano Gillian Keith

This year’s Two Moors Festival (October 15th-25th) is going to be a very exciting one indeed, with a very special series of classical music concerts put on over two weeks with some of the most eminent performers coming to the south-west to take part.

On October 16th, soprano Gillian Keith will be joined at St Andrew’s Church in Ashburton for an evening concert by tenor Tom Randle and pianist Gary Mathewman, with the programme including Bernstein, Handel, Rossini and many more.

We caught up with Gillian and Tom to find out more about this particular concert.

Q&A Gillian Keith

Gillian KeithTom Randle2MF: How did you come up with your programme for the festival?

GK: Choosing a programme to open the Two Moors is in parts an easy task and in other ways a big responsibility. A Gala concert should be fizzy and celebratory, but we wanted to steer clear of clichés, or ‘opera lollipops’, as artistic director Penny put it! We have chosen a programme of duets from Baroque to Broadway, all of them expressing, in one way or another, the delights and joys of love and companionship – romance throughout the ages.

2MF: What will the audience think? Which pieces will they respond to best?

GK: Audiences love a story and for this reason I think people will really respond to our scenes from Carmen and Candide, as well as the fiery Romantic duets by Schumann and Rossini. These pieces will really allow us to get into character and play truly engaging scenes, even within these short excerpts.

2MF: Which is your favourite piece on the programme?

GK: It’s very difficult for us to choose a favourite from our selection, but if pressed, I would have to say Glitter And Be Gay from Candide, because it’s just so much fun to perform. There’s no choice but to dive straight into the melodrama of this aria and, as Cunegonde’s laughing hysteria mounts towards the end of the piece, both the singer and the audience are inevitably swept away.

2MF: How does Bernstein’s West Side Story fit in with the other pieces?

TR: Our programme finishes in the glow of the glittering lights of Broadway. We recently went to see West Side Story on the big screen and were humming along to all the wonderful tunes, and we weren’t alone! Bernstein’s crowd-pleasing, yet incredibly sophisticated music is a brilliant way to round off an evening of great music.

2MF: Have you ever played in such a rural setting before?

GK: I remember my recital of Schumann songs at the 2006 Two Moors Festival, but for Tom this will be his first appearance. We were in Devon two summers ago and spent a glorious day walking on the moors before driving on to Cornwall to explore the Lost Gardens of Helligan. We’re looking forward to the beauty and peace of the rural setting of Ashburton and we imagine that the tranquility of the place will help bring real focus to our performance.

2MF: What’s the oddest place you’ve ever performed?

TR: The most out-of-the way location I have ever sung was the deck of a large cruise ship floating in the middle of the Mediterranean when I was shooting the film version of John Adam’s The Death of Klinghoffer.

GK: My most rural singing experience was in a tiny theatre in a very small, coastal Norwegian village singing Pergolesi for an audience of 25!

2MF: What’s next for you after the Two Moors Festival?

TR: I will be singing Wozzeck with the BBC Scottish Symphony in concert at the end of October, and in November will be at the opera in Toulouse for performances of Britten’s Owen Wingrave.

GK: I will next be singing Mozart’s ‘C Minor Mass’ with the Royal Northern Sinfonia in Sheffield Town Hall.

Fancy a seat at this wonderful concert? Head to our website to order your brochure, or call the Box Office on (01643) 831 370.

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