Performer Focus: Lucy Knight

Lucy Knight

One of the singers performing in the next Musica Poetica concert on Thursday 26 October is soprano Lucy Knight. We discover more about her musical background and career…

Firstly, can you tell us a bit about your musical background and training?

I stumbled across early music by chance, at the age of 15, when some friends took me on a course led by the vocal group I Fagiolini. They introduced me to Monteverdi’s madrigals, which I adored (try listening to ‘Ah! dolente partita!’ from Book IV and not be converted) and so began my obsession with this repertoire.

I did a Music degree at Cambridge, and when I left I became an Apprentice and then a member of the Monteverdi Choir, spending several years immersed in choral music from Bach to Brahms and touring across Europe. I subsequently trained at the Guildhall School of Music and ENO. The work I do now is a mixture of opera and early music – and sometimes both at the same time!

‘Exquisite singing and acting’
– Opera Magazine

On stage with Karl Jenkins

On stage with Karl Jenkins

And how long have you been involved with Musica Poetica?

My first outing with Musica Poetica was for Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri at the beginning of 2016. Soprano Gwen Martin and I started the concert with his Laudate Pueri, which is scored for continuo and FIVE violas da gamba – an intensely sonorous and beautiful sound-world. I love working in a small group because each person has an important soloistic role to play, but ultimately you create something greater than the sum of its parts.

Six years previously Oliver John Ruthven and I had spent a challenging but exhilarating week in France with John Eliot Gardiner, working on music from Purcell to Couperin for small ensemble. When I first sang with Musica Poetica it encompassed everything that I had loved most about that week – performing incredible music, at a really high level, with a small group of colleagues who were also close friends.

Musica Poetica

Musica Poetica

And how have you found this voyage of discovery into the world of Franz Tunder this year?

The 350th anniversary of Franz Tunder’s death has given Musica Poetica a great excuse to explore his vocal works, but I hope that we will continue to showcase Tunder’s music beyond 2017. Whilst it is fascinating to hear the beginnings of Buxtehude and Bach in his music, Tunder is a first-rate composer in his own right. His music is an elegant and expressive blend of early German and Italian styles, often heart-wrenchingly beautiful, and I find his text setting (which embodies the ‘musica poetica’ style) particularly poignant in his writing for solo soprano – although I am definitely biased!

Can you pick out a highlight of your career to date?

I have always found the opening bars of one of the earliest surviving operas, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, completely thrilling. So singing the small role of Ninfa for the first time in Germany was a important milestone, and more significant than grander occasions like my débuts at Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall.

Lucy Knight with OJ Ruthven

Lucy Knight with OJ Ruthven

And what’s on the musical horizon for you?

Ever since my early days in The Monteverdi Choir I’ve loved singing Bach, so I’m excited to be heading to Australia next month to perform the Christmas Oratorio in Sydney Opera House and on tour with the incredible Australian Chamber Orchestra. Before then I have a couple more concerts with Musica Poetica – the penultimate Tunder World lunchtime recital, and a stunning programme including Carissimi in Approaching the Oratorio for Brighton Early Music Festival on 4 November.

Hear Lucy Knight perform music by Tunder and Bach in Actus Tragicus on Thursday 26 June at 1.10pm.

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