This week we offer what I consider to be an important cultural document. One of our most internationally admired classical singers reveals her own private musical passions culled from a lifetime of performing, listening and collaborating. There aren’t many great performers of the last half century with whom Dame Felicity Palmer has not worked, and, of course, some of her choices take us back many decades, when expectations and intentions were a little different. So we are treated to quite an historical overview of musical styles and tastes.
I first sang with her in 1975 for a recording of Bach’s Magnificat in King’s College Chapel in Cambridge when I was a careless and carefree 20 year old. Her singing electrified us impressionable young choral scholars, also, it must be added, susceptible to the occasional bout of adolescent cynicism. Her clarity of both sound and thought immediately blew away any of that. Many years later, it was an obvious choice to ask her to be the Chair of our panel of judges for our International Singing Competition in 2017 and 2019.
I was privileged to perform with Dame Felicity many times after that, most notably I suppose on the day after the death of Princess Diana in the Royal Albert Hall for the Proms in a performance of Handel’s “Jephtha”, whose story proved unbearably relevant to the moment.
This is quite an epic playlist to which a single listen may prove challenging. But I am sure that there will be resonant performances here for many of you.
Easter approaches. Spring has sprung. And we start rehearsals for the Festival in a little over 2 weeks. Aaaaargh! That first day in a rehearsal studio in London will be alive with powerful feeling.
And Happy Listening.