picture – Allan Watson
Emma Kirkby’s singing career came as a surprise. As a student of Classics at university she was a keen member of choirs and ensembles, – with the particular good fortune to sing with “historical” instruments known to Renaissance and Baroque composers, the lute, harpsichord, early piano, wind and string instruments, whose sound and human scale drew from her an instinctive response. She was then briefly a school-teacher, until offers of work as a singer tempted her away. Since that time, she has built long partnerships with individual colleagues and groups of all sizes, in Britain and worldwide.
Classic FM listeners voted her artist of the year in 1999; in 2000 she was appointed an OBE, and in 2007 became a Dame. Most recently she was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music (2011).
Amazed by all this, she is nevertheless glad of the recognition it implies, for a way of music making that values ensemble, clarity and stillness above the more common factors of volume and display, and above all she is grateful still to be sharing this marvellous repertoire with talented performers, old and young.
Emma has been visiting professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama for several decades, and taught in summer schools worldwide, the most regular being Dartington, Neuburg-an-der Donau (Germany), Vorau, (Austria) and Federico Cesi, (Umbria).