KATHLEEN FERRIER CENTENARY YEAR

This year the Kathleen Ferrier Society are celebrating the centenary of the life and work of Kathleen who was born at Higher Walton, near Blackburn,  on 22nd April 1912.    Kathleen became a singer of international renown but never lost contact with her roots in the North West of England which both shaped her personality and provided many formative musical experiences.

My first contact with the Kathleen Ferrier Society was as a second year postgraduate student in 2005 when I was selected to represent the RNCM at the Kathleen Ferrier Young Singer’s Bursary Competition.  It was my first experience of an external vocal  competition and  I can remember the apprehension I felt wondering what to expect from the day and how I would cope with a competitive public recital.      It was a very special day and I was so thrilled to be awarded the Joyce Budd Bursary Prize.    I have very happy memories of the competition day and the members of the Kathleen Ferrier Society (KFS) made me feel very welcome and were so supportive throughout the event.    I have been so honoured to be associated with the KFS – through the memory of Kathleen Ferrier they genuinely care and support young singers. There is a lovely pride and enthusiasm as they follow singers at the beginning of their singing careers.

Kathleen Ferrier is one of ten Britons of Distinction honoured by Royal Mail in the stamps issued on 23rd February 2012. The image is from the 1947 Glyndebourne production of Orfeo.

I was, therefore, delighted to be invited to perform at a recital at Bridgewater Hall as part of the KFS’ Centenary celebrations.

The ‘sell out’ concert took place in Bridgewater Hall’s Barbirolli Room. The day prior to the recital Dr. Christopher Fifield, Kathleen’s Biographer, and I were invited to BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour to talk to Jenni Murray about Kathleen’s life and career.  Here is a clip of the broadcast. A revised and enlarged edition of the ‘The Letters and Diaries of Kathleen Ferrier’ edited by Dr. Christopher Fifield has been published to mark Kathleen’s centenary year – it is a great read!

It was a great pleasure to perform with pianist James Baillieu for such an enthusiastic audience. The programme included some pieces from Kathleen’s repertoire  – ‘The Stuttering Lover’s’ is one of my favourite recordings by Kathleen.   Peter Davison, Artistic Director at Bridgewater chaired the event.  A special mention must go to Sylvia Alexander who works tirelessly as co-chairman of the Ferrier Society and to Kath Hopcroft , Kathleen’s God Daughter,  who has been such a wonderful support  and has attended many of my concerts and opera performances.

On being awarded the Joyce Budd prize in 2004 I was introduced to Joyce Budd’s sister Dorothy Ford, a very special and inspirational lady. Dorothy is sadly no longer with us, but to have met her and to have spoken with her regularly in the early stages of my singing was the most wonderful gift to have been given that day.

For more information about The Kathleen Ferrier Society’s and their wonderful programme of Centenary Events this year please visit http://www.kathleenferrier.org.uk/kfs.nsf/Pages/2012_Diary.

Special thanks to everyone involved in making the concert at Bridgewater Hall a great event!