Magazine article Gramophone

Julian Ovenden

Magazine article Gramophone

Julian Ovenden

Article excerpt

THE RECORD I COULDN'T LIVE WITHOUT Verdi Un ballo in maschera

Sols; National PO / Georg Solti Decca C9/85) The singing of Pavarotti and Price at the start of Act 2 has to rate as some of the most sublime, passionate ever. I wish I'd heard Pavarotti live.

The singer-actor, who starred in Foyle's War and Downton Abbey, on how classical training helped to prepare him for his dual profession

I was very lucky with the three people who guided me in my musical education when I was young. I started as a chorister, at seven years old, at St Paul's Cathedral and the person who was in charge of us there was John Scott, who died very young last year. He really was a brilliant musician, a very passionate man and a fantastic organist.

He used to teach me the organ. When I think back on it, it was so lax: I used to get the keys and in the evenings when I was 11 or 12--I'd let myself in, turn on the lights, go up to the organ loft and make as much noise as I possibly could! And this was St Paul's Cathedral! It was like getting the keys to a Ferrari.

It was a tough life as a chorister; it was sort of at the end of that Victorian style of schooling. There were 3 5 kids. We'd do an hour of music practice before breakfast. Then there'd be another hour of singing before school. Then we'd get to 4 o'clock, another hour, and then there'd be a service. And you'd be at school until Christmas Day. It was hard, but it did give you a real grounding.

Then there was Ralph Allwood at Eton--again a fantastic musician, a brilliant choirmaster but also a rather more relaxed person than John was. He was my tutor at school and a really fine musician and trainer. And then when I was at Oxford I had the good fortune to be working under Edward Higginbottom. That was a different kind of music-making, even though it was still choral. His expertise is French Baroque and there was a real style and elan about it that I'd not experienced before--a real professionalism that was new to me--and it was exciting.

I was mixing a track yesterday for my new album, and I kept thinking about some of those amazing Baroque compositions that have so much going on, and yet all have the same purpose. …

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