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Emma Kirkby (Soprano)

Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works

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See: Emma Kirkby – Short Biography

 

Thomas and Kirkby

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 11, 2001):
< My friend from high school who hated vibrato loved everything he could get hold of that had Emma Kirkby and David Thomas in it. >
Between the two of them they cover a big chunk of Bach and other repertoire very well.

http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/7963/Kirkby.html
http://www.sztaki.hu/~benko/music/thomas.html

I still remember the day when I first heard Thomas in the CD of Händel's cantata "Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo." Händel takes him up to the A above the bass staff followed immediately by the D below the bottom of the staff: a 2.5 octave leap. Thomas nails it. Well, he's characterizing the monster Polyphemus. When I first heard it I had to run the CD player back about eight times in a row to hear it again and again. Then I had to go look at the Handel collected works to make sure this was legit. It is. Handel reused this aria in another cantata with different words, I forget which. But it's the type of thing only a few guys on the planet can sing. Golly.
http://shopping.yahoo.com/shop?d=c&id=274547

 

Emma Kirkby, pulchritude

Donald Satz wrote (July 30, 2002):
I feel just the opposite in that I have zero interest in watching the musicians or conductor. Come to think of it, I don't much interest in seeing scenery or architecture either. Overall, I don't want anything to do with the 'visual' component. For me, it can only take my attention away from the music I am listening to; the same goes for Rock videos unless there are appealing women on the screen.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 30, 2002):
[To Donald Satz] What about classical videos with appealing women? There is a great DVD of Monteverdi with Emma Kirkby and a couple of other fine babes in diaphanous dresses...

Donald Satz wrote (July 30, 2002):
Emma Kirby? Sorry, but her physical features couldn't keep me glued to the screen. My standards are very high.

John Curtis Carr wrote (July 30, 2002)::
[To Donald Satz] I wouldn't kno Emma Kirby if she came into my office and wanted to plop down a legal fee hat wld send me to the south of France, but how can we, uh, torchbearers of culture (selfanointed I'm afraid) talk about debasement of classical music in one breath and talk about some performer's looks in another? Bare bosoms swaying in 6/8 time and all that? Isn't that for rock n rollers? Ask our kids or students why the female rocker named Pink is called that. She admits it. In fact I've wondered for years if some woman in our generation, or yours, who could play violin etudes that would have made Paganini weep would even have a career if she was not attractive. Probably not. It certainly hasn't hurt "The Beautiful Voice" ( Renee Fleming) that she's rather scrumptious. Or is the performance of classical music drawing the same sort of female exhibitionists that rock does --- or urk!! country music --- a tendency that none of us is fighting too hard apparently.

Back to my collection of tasteful nude studies of women who couldn't carry a tune in their, uh, coffee cups.

Antohony J. Olszowy wrote (July 30, 2002):
[To John Curtis Carr] You know, I ran into the same issues when our local orchestra arranged to book Lara St. John, a smashingly attractive young woman who has issued CD's far better than some of the reviews would lead you to believe (BBC Music Magazine, for instance). The blue haired crowd clucked their tongues that we were having the infamously naked Bachian come to our little share of Canada. We certainly had a great poster for the orchestra that year! In live performance, her warmth of personality--perhaps a function of the self confidence that comes from physical beauty-- comes through in her interpretation of the music; people certainly noticed her good looks, but they merely were the hook to get people into the concert hall. Once there, people were talking about her music making.

I guess modern marketing techniques have come even unto us.

Pete Blue wrote (July 30, 2002):
[To Antohony J. Olszowy] Not only has babeness always been and still is a factor in successful music careers -- SOMETIMES EVEN A DECISIVE ONE -- it was never confined to babes of the female persuasion.

Where, for instance, would pianist Ivo Pogorelich (an occasional Bachian) be if he didn't look like a rock star and Martha Argerich hadn't had the hots for him? How about the supremely talented Simon Rattle? His cutesypooness don't hurt. Andre Watts is a musician whose career, at least in the US, has been grander than his talent -- women used to fawn over him in droves and the novelty of his biracialness helped too. Opera provides even more striking examples: the barechested Samuel Ramey at the New York City Opera premiere of "Mefistofele" had every opera queen swooning.

Yada yada yada. The studmuffin parade is endless.

Juozas Rimas wrote (July 30, 2002):
[To Pete Blue] Luckily, this "babeness" factor is clearly less decisive in classical than on the pop scene. Off the top of my head, I simply cannot remember any succesful female pop singer that does not correspond to the current standards of beauty. Perhaps only Barbara Streisand didn't correspond to the Elite requirements. Similarly with men, yet to a lesser extent - I can think of more "ugly" and succesful singers.

If the tendency transfers to the classical music scene, this will be a disaster.

Donald Satz wrote (July 30, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] Pleasing physical features are advantageous in every line of work and will continue that way as long as we still have eyes and hormones. My hormones are racing just thinking about this body-business.

Kirk McElhearn wrote (July 30, 2002):
Juozas Rimas wrote:
< Off the top of my head, I simply cannot remember any succesful female pop singer that does not correspond to the current standards of beauty. >
There are dozens, though not in the Britney Spears league. Many good singers are just all right, especially these days with the new female singer-songwriters.

Juozas Rimas wrote (July 30, 2002):
[To Donald Satz] If the tendency continues you may end up in the world of barbies playing Goldberg variations :)) You will have nothing worthy to listen to. Hormones have always been something really far from classical music to me - absolutely necessary but not in this field. :P

Antohony J. Olszowy wrote (July 30, 2002):
[to Donald Satz] You're assuming all Barbies are talentless. Classical Pianist Barbie (I kid you not) would beg to differ.

Donald Satz wrote (July 30, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] I think that hormones are an important aspect of all human endeavors. And yes, Barbie is a good-looking doll.

Juozas Rimas wrote (July 30, 2002):
[To Antohony J. Olszowy] Actually I'm assuming many ugly dolls happen to be talented :)

Antohony J. Olszowy wrote (July 30, 2002):
[To Juozas Rimas] Touche.

Riccardo Nughes wrote (July 30, 2002):
I saw (and heard) Emma Kirkby in May, in a madrigals recital accompanied by Jakob Lindberg, I was 2 meters from her. Even if she arrived later (plane troubles) and had no time for make-up and rehearsals, she has still her charme.

William D. Kasimer wrote (Juily 31, 2002):
Anthony Olszowy writes:
< You know, I ran into the same issues when our local orchestra arranged to book Lara St. John, a smashingly attractive young woman who has issued CD's far better than some of the reviews would lead you to believe >
That's a good thing, since she's not nearly as "smashingly attractive" as some would lead me to believe...

I have nothing against attractive, talented performers taking advantage of their appearance. I do object, however, when there's little or no evidence of talent, which seems to be the current trend, particularly in opera (or more accurately, what is being marketed as "opera"). I'm not talking about Lara St. John here; I'd find it a lot easier to take her seriously as a if she didn't feel the need to make herself into Linda Brava (who would not have come within shrieking distance of a recording studio if not for her non-musical assets).

Antohony J. Olszowy wrote (July 30, 2002):
[To William D. Kasimer] De gustibus...: )

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 5, 2002):
[To Riccardo Nughes] About eight years ago (already?!) I played harpsichord for a masterclass taught by the Consort of Musicke: Anthony Rooley, et al. This was followed by a potluck dinner at someone's house, a nice opportunity to meet and chat with the group. I talked with Emma Kirkby for a while, and she was delightful, gracious, charming.

Even more memorable from that day was a comment to me by Evelyn Tubb, going through the buffet line: "YOU made these lentils?! Are you married?"

 

OT: Kirkby

Jill Gunssell wrote (July 28, 2003):
< Emma Kirkby, [ snip ] in the SMP under Andrew Parrott, her husband, >
Isn't she married to lutenist Anthony Rooley?

Riccardo Nughes wrote (July 28, 2003):
[To Jill Gunssell] I didn't know this, but A. Parrott married Emily van Evera.

Uri Golomb wrote (July 28, 2003):
[To Riccardo Nughes] AFAIK, Parrott was married to Emma Kirkby some time ago (perhaps late 70s/early 80s). He's definitely married to Emily van Evera now. I'm not sure about the KIrkby/Rooley bit, though it does ring a bell.

Musical partnerships that give rise to life-partnerships are not that rare, I suppose; Leonhardt and Harnoncourt are both married to the leaders of their respective groups (Marie Leonhardt, Alice Harnoncourt); Elisabeth von Magnus is the Harnoncourts' daughter (and played recorder with Concentus Musicus, as Elisabeth Harnoncourt, before making an independent career as a musician). This is not limited to the early music scene, of course.

It all makes for interesting gossip, I suppose, but doesn't have much relevance to the performances produced. My guess is that, in most of these cases, couples came together because they made music together, not the other way around (brothers who form chamber music groups -- the Kuijken brothers, the Hantai brothers, and {to take a non-early-music example} the Chung Trio -- are a slightly different case in that respect).

Uri Golomb wrote (July 28, 2003):
Slight correction. I said: "Elisabeth von Magnus is [....] played recorder with Concentus Musicus, as Elisabeth Harnoncourt, before making an independent career as a musician".
I meant, of course, an independent career as a singer. I certainly did not mean to imply that recorder players are not musicians! And the way tempers have been running in parts of this list about disrespectful comments, I thought I should make this clear...

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 28, 2003):
Uri Golomb wrote:
< AFAIK, Parrott was married to Emma Kirkby some time ago (perhaps late 70s/early 80s). He's definitely married to Emily van Evera now. I'm not sure about the KIrkby/Rooley bit, though it does ring a bell. >
When I met Kirkby and Rooley in c1994, they were a couple...and AFAIK they still are. (This was at a potluck lunch following a masterclass taught by the Consort of Musicke personnel; I was the harpsichord accompanist for some of the singers who received the coaching.) Kirkby told me she wasn't singing as much as she was before, because she was so much enjoying being a stay-at-home mum. I also asked her why she hadn't sung many Schubert Lieder, and she told me it was because she didn't feel confident enough with the German language yet. Nice lady, really charming, gentle, personable.

Joost Jansen wrote (July 28, 2003):
Some time after Brad met Kirkby and Rooley they split. Anthony Rooley is with Evelyn Tubb nowadays. Don't know about Emma. By the way, her German in her recent Bach cantatas is excellent.

Bob Henderson wrote (July 28, 2003):
I had the good fortune to attend a chamber concert (with Andrew Manse and the Academy of Ancient Music) in Wilmington DE (USA) in 1995. The qualities that Brad Lehman ascribes to her translate perfectly to performance. She was entirely comfortable in her role (I think it was Handel) projecting her warmth and skill, her humanity, to a less than full house.

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 29, 2003):
[To Joost Jansen] This surprises me. Tubb (also notably charming and classy and good-humored, like Kirkby) has been married to Michael Fields for a long time, and I've assumed they still are:
http://www.earlymusic.org.uk/dirwww/r-z/evelyntubbmichae.html

And here's a notice that Tubb and Fields gave a concert together justthree weeks ago:
http://www.earlymusicwm.org.uk/events/events.html

Are you sure the Tubb/Rooley duo is not just a professional musical duo?

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 29, 2003):
Evelyn Tubb’s singing

< And here's a notice that Tubb and Fields gave a concert together just three weeks ago: http://www.earlymusicwm.org.uk/events/events.html >
And a tantalizing sample song, nearly 5 minutes long, for download at http://www.earlymusic.org.uk/musicwww/voicewww/client1.html

...and a selective discography at: http://www.landini.org/singers/sopranos/tubb.html

The next question would be: where can one buy this CD on the "Serendipity" label?

Joost Jansen wrote (July 31, 2003):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
<
Tubb (also notably charming and classy and good-humored, like Kirkby) has been married to Michael Fields for a long time, and I've assumed they still are.
Are you sure the
Tubb/Rooley duo is not just a professional musical duo? >
My source is a very reliable one. By the way, Kirkby and Rooley still are giving concerts together too.

 

Dame Emma Kirkby

Bradley Lehman wrote (August 18, 2007):
According to the news list at Goldberg magazine, Kirkby is now a Dame:

"Among the people to figure in the Queen’s Birthday Honours was Emma Kirkby, who receives a DBE, making her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire and entitled to be called Dame Emma Kirkby. With the exception of a peerage, DBE is the highest honour available to a woman, the equivalent of a knighthood and there were just eight in this list.
The announcement came just after Dame Emma had spent a month being shadowed by a television crew, making a programme on her for the South Bank Show to be broadcast on 22 July."

 

Emma Kirkby: Short Biography | General Discussions

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