Magazine article Gramophone

Miles Jupp: The Comedian and Actor on the Joy of Belting out a Hymn, and the Thrill of Pounding the Bass Drum in a School Performance of Verdi's Requiem

Magazine article Gramophone

Miles Jupp: The Comedian and Actor on the Joy of Belting out a Hymn, and the Thrill of Pounding the Bass Drum in a School Performance of Verdi's Requiem

Article excerpt

I was not a chorister when at St George's School, Windsor, but I did a lot of music there. There was a thing called a Supers' Choir--we would sing Evensong once a term, and that would be our focus. It's like the difference between club level and professional sport, because the choristers would do that Monday to Friday, and a Saturday Evensong, and three services on Sunday, and they would learn that day after day. So they were doing over the space of three hours what we were doing over the course of roughly a term.

I love singing a proper hymn. We go to church in Wales, where we live, and if Cwm Rhondda is one of the hymns, I can sense family members moving away from me as the opening chords start up, as they know I'm not going to hold back!

In the TV series Rev, sometimes we got to record a few hymns, which I always enjoyed--very little of it ended up in the programme as I went over the top and tried to show off, which is completely unacceptable in the world of sitcom.

I remember playing the bass drum in Verdi's Requiem, in the Dies Irae, and I would probably be able to play that now without any rehearsal I reckon. Maybe it wouldn't be very awesome but I can still hear it clearly. It must have been with Oakham Choral Society, which had links with my secondary school. I didn't realise it counted as being a soloist, so apparently I'd got my own applause at the end which I'd completely failed to acknowledge and I would have been just standing there staring at my feet I suppose.

I always enjoyed music, but I think in your twenties you sort of wander off a bit mentally, and then opportunities come up. I got invited by the head of Radio 4 to a Prom, and went to see Yo-Yo Ma play Bach's Cello Suites. I was sat in a box me, Robert Peston and Nick Robinson, watching Yo-Yo Ma. Absolutely mad. But amazing. And when that started--just a man walking on stage, on his own, there's a chair, there's a table, there's a glass of water, and there's us. And he wanders on, sits down, no electronic amplification, no music stand--that was absolutely astonishing. And as he started you could feel just thousands of people focusing straight in, just being hit by it. That was a completely amazing evening.

I suppose we used to listen to quite a lot as a family. …

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