Uppermill, Music Festival
I was so glad to be able to return to the Uppermill Summer Music Festival in July 2018 – I had a great afternoon (giving a ‘masterclass’ (never like that title!)) meeting two young students Caroline and Mia students from Junior Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. (I attended Junior RNCM on Saturdays (2002-04) such a great place to learn so many aspects of music and prepare for big college!!) We (well I did, and really hoping they did!) had lots of fun studying a Mozart aria and a Mahler song together in detail and they presented them so beautifully. It was great to hear from the audience members afterwards that they had enjoyed the insight into how detailed our approach is to learning, presenting and interpreting the pieces. It is exciting discovering that the smallest changes and choices can make a biggest impacts on music making and create really exciting performances. The masterclass was followed by performances by two of the Kathleen Ferrier Society Bursary winners Camilla Saba Davies and Jacobo Ochoa who sang beautifully for us.
I returned the following week to Uppermill to perform with Festival Director/pianist Duncan Glenday in a recital dedicated to remembering the legendary contralto Kathleen Ferrier who passed away 65 years ago. It was a real treat to sing many of the pieces that Kathleen had performed in the past including; Handel’s ‘Art thou Troubled,’ Schubert’s ‘An die Musik’ and with big thanks to Duncan and Garfield Jackson (viola) for the chance to perform Brahms’ beautiful 2 songs with viola during the evening. We also included some songs which the audience had voted for to listen to within the programme (which kept me on my toes!!) Thanks to everyone that voted:) It was such an honour to bring back happy memories of Kathleen’s choices of repertoire. St Chad’s Church is such a lovely venue and we had a packed audience for the evening who even gave us a standing ovation at the end!
Kathleen’s recording of ‘What is life’ was the first aria I ever listened to when I was about 15 years old– my wonderful singing teacher at school, Polly, first introduced me to opera and one day bought in an aria to school for me to have a look at ‘Che Faro Senza Euridice.’ I didn’t really know how I’d ever manage to sing an aria and the best starting point seemed to be to keep listening to it, lots! I really felt a connection to her singing and personality and playing through the record I found such a contrast of pieces – and began to grasp the joy of the ‘art of song’ and what it’s all about! Years later, during my second year at music college, I won a bursary from the Kathleen Ferrier Bursary Society competition and received the Joyce Budd prize – the greatest prize from that day was the friendships we made – I met and kept in touch with a wonderful lady Dorothy (her sister, Joyce Budd, was great friends with Winifred Ferrier) and also Kathleen’s goddaughter Kath and her husband Paul who are still such a support and great friends. I have always been really inspired having the close connection to Kathleen and an insight into her life – I always enjoy referring back to the books about her and the recordings she made. Her Letters and Diaries edited by Dr Christopher Fifield give a great insight into her life and also Winifred Ferrier’s book she achieved so much in a short time and she was so well loved. A few audience members at Uppermill remembered seeing her sing live and shared how wonderful she was – It must have been such an exciting time for music and she gave so much of herself to music and did it with such grace.. and humour! I would have so loved to have met her and been in the audience at her performances – the best I can do is to remember her though music and its the greatest honour to have been able to do that this week.
“The greatest thing in music in my life has been to know Kathleen Ferrier and Gustav Mahler – in that order.” That’s what the conductor Bruno Walter wrote after Ferrier’s death from breast cancer in 1953, at the age of just 41.
Most of us never saw #KathleenFerrier perform, but if you were lucky enough to be at #Uppermill Festival this week for @kathrynrudge ‘s Remembering Ferrier recital, you might believe you had. A fantastic selection of Ferrier repertoire sung by a very special voice. @KFSoc pic.twitter.com/Gp3iE9oo3H
— Tim Light (@light100) July 14, 2018
Liverpool, Our Lady’s Bishop Eton School
Thanks so much to Our Lady’s Bishop Eton School and music teacher Leighton Jones for inviting me into school this Summer! I loved meeting everyone and hearing the children sing at their special assembly with the whole school and staff in June 2018. It was fantastic to hear all about the music they are making together, the music activities happening during school-time and in after-school groups and trips to see performances. I was so inspired and encouraged to speak to so many of the pupils who were really enthusiastic in sharing with me that they are learning instruments and enjoying making their music making – With so much credit going to to the teachers and parents that help, support and encourage the children in doing this!
I love visiting schools and especially making music and speaking with the children; Pop, Opera and Disney songs – anything and everything – music is music and it all brings so much joy. It is amazing to know it can take just a moment to connect with the music, the words, the sound, the performance, the person, the heart and soul of it all – and that moment can open up a whole world of music that literally changes lives.
I remember finding loads of subjects and exams a big struggle at school – it wasn’t until I found music that I really felt like there was a subject I could enjoy and throw my heart and soul into. Performing helped me to build my confidence and eventually being guided through a structure of how to practise music taught me so much about the joy of learning and the reward of overcoming obstacles. Music and the people who supported me in pursuing this gave me the boost I needed to make more progress in my other lessons and activities at school. Looking back on it now – I was lost without music and I know there will be other children out there feeling the same. Sharing the importance of valuing music and participating in creative subjects at any age – but especially during crucial stages of childrens’ development means so much to me.
It is so rewarding to be able to provide support wherever I can to help people and organisations in making music an essential part of a curriculum and recognising its benefits as a core part of society.
There is everything to be gained from giving children the opportunity to discover, make and explore music more often together.
It’s awesome when you see the difference a dedication to sharing music together can make over years or just in one moment. I met a pupil from a Reception class who the teachers explained to me was really shy and didn’t usually speak at all or participate in anything – After hearing me singing with my ‘big voice’ and talking about being in operas – the pupil came over to me to sing to me some of their very own ‘opera notes!’ 🙂 …Watch this space!
Thanks to them all – days like these and meeting incredible staff and students are so rewarding and keep teaching me so much more about music and the positive impact it have in our life than I could have ever imagined.
Thank you @kathrynrudge for a truly wonderful afternoon. The children have been talking about what an amazing afternoon they have had. We are all looking forward to you coming again to @bishopeton https://t.co/1DDX5XFmMe
— BEMusic (@OLBEMusicroom) June 26, 2018
ELGAR, CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL
I feel really lucky to have performed Elgar’s wonderful ‘Dream of Gerontius’ in two magnicent historical chapels this year. Performing ‘Gerontius’ in Cambridge had been so memorable and I had to pinch myself again during the rehearsals in Canterbury Cathedral as I looked at the beautiful architecture all around me!
(The beautiful glass installation is by artists Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg and is called ‘Under an Equal Sky’ – It is mould blown glass and steel blown – one hundred clear glass amphorae suspended in the shape of a ship in the Cathedral‘s Nave – each one represents a year of remembrance since 1918 in the shape of a ’Boat of Remembrance.’)
I had last spent time in Canterbury during my first year as a professional singer in 2012 touring with an opera for Glyndebourne in their production of Mozart’s ‘The Marriage of Figaro’. I had been able to explore the beautiful town then and visted the Cathedral… I could never have dreamed I’d be singing Elgar’s Angel there! On 23rd June 2018 I performed with Andrew Staples (tenor) as Gerontius and Edward Grint (bass baritone) conducted by Richard Cook with the Philharmonic Orchestra and Canterbury Choral Society and Youth Choir.
Canterbury choral society as been led by their music director Richard Cooke since 1984 and the Canterbury Society Youth Choir was formed in 2007 and provides an amazing platform for young people – The Society performs four major concerts and hosts Family Carols at Christmas in Canterbury Cathedral every year. Canterbury Festival has invited Canterbury Choral Society to perform a major concert each year since the Festival’s launch in 1984. Find out more at their website
The Dream of Gerontius Op.38 was composed by Sir Edward Elgar in 1900 is a work for voices and orchestra in two parts. Elgar has gifted us the most magnificent and moving musical setting to the text of the poem by John Henry Newman – It’s a work that is literally ‘out of this world’ – and I love singing the part of the Angel!
A little bit of history about Canterbury Cathedral…
The Cathedral houses a Romanesque crypt dating back to the 11th century, a 12th century early Gothic Quire and a 14th century Perpendicular Nave. The beautiful medieval stained glass windows illustrate royal connections, bible stories and miracles and stories associated with Thomas Becket.
I stayed within the grounds of the Cathedral and it was such a stunning setting particularly as the cathedral is illuminated during the evening. It was great to be able to wander around the lovely gardens and cloisters when general visiting was over and everything was so peaceful.
St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, arrived on the coast of Kent as a missionary to England in 597AD. He came from Rome, sent by Pope Gregory the Great. He established his seat within the Roman city walls (the word cathedral is derived from the the Latin word for a chair ‘cathedra’, which is itself taken from the Greek ‘kathedra’ meaning seat.) and built the first cathedral there, becoming the first Archbishop of Canterbury.
Canterbury’s role as one of the world’s most important pilgrimage centres in Europe is inextricably linked to the murder of its most famous Archbishop, Thomas Becket, in 1170. When, after a long lasting dispute, King Henry II is said to have exclaimed “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?”, four knights set off for Canterbury and murdered Thomas in his own cathedral. A sword stroke was so violent that it sliced the crown off his skull and shattered the blade’s tip on the pavement. The murder took place in what is now known as The Martyrdom. When shortly afterwards, miracles were said to take place, Canterbury became one of Europe’s most important pilgrimage centres.
2020 marks an important dual anniversary for the extraordinary figure of Thomas Becket. It will be 850 years since his dramatic murder on 29th December 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral, and 800 years since his body was moved on 7 July 1220 from a tomb in the Cathedral’s Crypt into a glittering shrine. The events of 1220 were orchestrated to relaunch the cult of Becket, and ensured that Canterbury became the principal pilgrimage destination in England and one of the major pilgrimage sites within Europe.
Young Irish architect John Millar designed the venue PORTICO in 1839. He had trained under Thomas Hopper an eminent London architect of the mid 19th Century. This church was built in 1841 by the Presbyterian congregation of Portaferry on land gifted to them by the local landlords, the Savage family. It is modelled on the Temple of Nemesis on the Greek Island of Rhamnous (although this has been contested) but Professor Margaret Myles of the University of California, and a world authority on that ruin, is convinced of its lineage.
The church building was little changed, apart from the installation of an organ in 1917, until it underwent a £1.5m restoration in 2015. This not only resulted in its structural “salvation” but also fitted it out with 21st Century facilities and equipment. Today the building is still used by the local Presbyterian congregation but it is now under the ownership of the charity friends of Portaferry Presbyterian Church and is a nondenominational building used as an Arts and Heritage Centre centre for the region and a venue for weddings, conferences and events of all kinds.
Hale Village, Merseyside
We held a “Mersey Wave Stand up to Cancer Bake Off” at Hale Village Hall on Saturday 12th May 2018. Raising over £1,000 for the charity and it brought people together from across Halton and Merseyside to enjoy an evening filled with live music and really great bakes!
The evening was jam-packed with musical performances from the Mersey Wave Choir and Young Singers and an incredible 30 bakes were on display at Hale Village Hall made and donated by members from across the local community to support the event. The audience were invited to taste the bakes throughout the evening and vote for their favourite bake. Choir member Mary McDonald scooped ‘Mersey Wave Star Baker 2018’ and said it was a ‘dream come true’ to win with her spectacular fresh fruit victoria sponge.
The atmosphere and community spirit throughout the night was great and it is with all credit to the bakers, choir members, young singers and all the volunteers who so generously gave their time and talents to delight us all with their brilliant musical performances and ‘showstopper’ cakes which filled the new Hall!’ The Hale Village Hall has been serving the local community for over 42 years and in 2015 the Hale Parish Council was successful in gaining a Lottery grant for the building of a new hall which was completed in September 2017.
Mersey Wave Music is now in its sixth year of running weekly music groups in Hale Village. The Mersey Wave Community Choir rehearses weekly on Wednesday’s (7pm) in The Wellington Pub Hale Village. Weekly community events including the Young Singer’s Class (7-19 years) take place at Hale Village Hall on Saturday mornings.
For more information www.merseywavemusic.com
The next chance to hear all of the performers will be at the annual Mersey Wave Summer Concert which will take place 7pm Friday 6th July 2018 at St Ambrose Church, Speke. Tickets are available 0151-558-1255 or online. Mersey Wave Music was founded in 2012 by local opera singer Kathryn Rudge and musical director and pianist Jason Ellis.
KINGS COLLEGE CAMBRIDGE
On 30th March 2018 (Good Friday) I performed the role of the Angel in Elgar’s ‘The Dream of Gerontius‘ broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from the magnificent setting of the Kings Chapel at Kings College Cambridge. Performing the piece too were Brenden Gunnel (tenor) and David Stout (bass baritone). Christopher Robinson was the Conductor with the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Philharmonic Chorus. It was such a thrill to sing Elgar’s beautiful music in such a stunning setting as the Chapel to a very receptive audience.
King’s College Chapel is a stunning masterpiece of English craftsmanship. It’s part of one of the oldest Cambridge colleges sharing a wonderful sense of history and tradition with the rest of the University. It was founded by Henry VI in 1441, and includes an elaborate fan-vault ceiling, magnificent stained-glass windows and Ruben’s masterpiece, The Adoration of the Magi.
We had a wonderful time staying within the College and it was very special to be able to being to wander around the beautiful grounds and admire the wonderful architecture. It was a real treat to have breakfast in the famous College Dining Hall (I felt like I was on a Harry Potter film set!) The Hall was designed by William Wilkins in the 1820s and it is considered to be one of the most magnificent and dramatic dining halls of its era. It was part of the Gothic-style development the College underwent during the reign of George IV (1820-1830). There was also a lovely reception after the Concert too in the cloisters which was a magnificent setting and it was great to have the opportunity to talk to some of the audience members afterwards who all seemed delighted and to have thoroughly enjoyed the concert.
We ended our week-end in Cambridge watching the funeral cortege of the world renowned physicist Professor Stephen Hawking – it was very special to be there at this time and great to be able to pay our respects to such an amazing man who inspaired so many people and was so well loved – especially at home in Cambridge.
Eaton Estate, Chester
The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity marked the end of a landmark year with a unique carol concert and it was a big honour for me to be asked to sing. The concert took place at the historic Eaton Chapel on the Duke of Westminster’s Eaton Estate, near Chester. Supporters and fundraisers enjoyed a festive evening with music also from SingMe Merseyside Choir, led by Billy Hui. Speakers included Sarah Callander Beckett, High Sheriff of Cheshire, Kath Tierney, a patient of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, and comedian and actor Johnny Vegas, the newest patron of The New Cancer Hospital Appeal.
My Dad George received brilliant care and treatments from Clatterbridge and it meant so much to sing for their new appeal and be able to support the charity.
Johnny delivered a captivating version of How the Grinch stole Christmas during the service and later spoke to guests about his gratitude to The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and its staff. He said: “I’m very proud to have been asked to become a patron of this Appeal as it’s vitally important for the people of Merseyside and Cheshire that the new hospital, and all it can offer in terms of transforming cancer care, is built. I know what Clatterbridge delivers in terms of treatment, we are so lucky to have it on our doorstep.”
The concert, which also featured readings from Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie, and the classic Christmas film Miracle on 34 Street, came at the end of an important year for The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity. February 2017 saw the launch of the £15 million appeal to help build Liverpool’s first specialist cancer hospital and in July Johnny Vegas had the honour of breaking the ground at the site in Liverpool, along with Everton Football Club legend Ian Snodin.
The hospital will provide in-patient and out-patient care for people from Merseyside, Cheshire and the surrounding areas and is part of a £162 million project to transform cancer care. There will also be improvements to the Wirral site.
Next year will also be vitally important as 2018 marks the 60 birthday of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, with a series of events planned to celebrate the occasion. Andrew Cannell, chief executive of The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It was fantastic to see so many of our patients and supporters gathered together to enjoy this festive celebration. It was a lovely way to round off a momentous 2017 for The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity. I would like to thank all the performers and readers for contributing to a truly wonderful event and also express my gratitude to His Grace, the Duke of Westminster for his kindness in providing the splendid and historic surroundings of Eaton Chapel which helped create such a magical atmosphere.”
If you are able to help The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity, or have a fundraising idea, please contact them 0151 556 5566.
- Song Recital Leigh Music Society February 3, 2020
- Lyndale Cancer Support Centre Concert January 25, 2020
- Mahler Symphony No.2 Kings College Chapel, Cambridge January 19, 2020
- Music in Hospitals and Care UK – RNCM November 27, 2019
- R-Charity Arriva Scouse 5K October 27, 2019