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1 October, 2019

Farewell to Katie

Our recent concert in Antwerp was a bittersweet occasion: it marked Katie’s last appearance as a regular member of the group, as she pursues a new career working in psychological therapy. We asked her to reflect a little on her time with Stile Antico, after seven years and 256 concerts with the group. We’re delighted that she’s able to return on occasion over the coming season as a deputy, and look forward to welcoming her back soon!

What has been your most memorable concert with the group?

If I could choose only one, it would probably have to be performing at the Grammys in Madison Square Garden in New York on my 30th birthday. Although the performance lasted for less than ten minutes, knowing that so many people were watching us, both in the hall and on the internet, was amazing – it was a totally unexpected way to spend a milestone birthday. And the party afterwards was fairly spectacular too! Of course, there have been many others that were memorable for one reason or another. From performing on a boat in an underground lake in Switzerland to singing Lauds at 4am in Merton College Chapel in Oxford, there have been some highly unusual and unforgettable experiences.

Backstage at the GRAMMYs

What is your favourite place to go on tour with the group?

We’re really lucky to have excellent relationships with some amazing festivals around the world which has meant getting to know certain places really well. I always enjoy our regular visits to Antwerp and Utrecht: they are both beautiful and forward-thinking cities, with appreciative audiences who really know their early music. (And the beer is good too!). I feel very lucky to have become so well-travelled over the last few years, which is in large part attributable to our extensive touring schedule. I think I’ve been to the States about 15 times since I joined in 2012, which I have always enjoyed Seeing places that are even further afield, such as Colombia, Hong Kong and Lebanon have also been enriching. Closer to home, I feel a thrill every time I step onto stage at Wigmore Hall; it’s one of my very favourite places to perform and I always consider it a huge privilege to sing there.

Team alto in Colombia

What will you miss most about being in the group?

Without a doubt, the wonderful people. While I have always had a passion for singing early music, it has been performing this music with such amazing colleagues and friends that has made the last seven years so special. The laughter, the shared experiences, the love of the music, even the in-rehearsal arguments(!) will all be so fondly remembered. It also goes without saying that I will miss my colleagues’ first-rate musicianship and the quality of the work that the group produces, although I very much hope that they will continue to let me come back and contribute my own offering every now and again!

What will you miss least about being in the group(!)?

I certainly won’t be sad to see the back of the administration process involved in applying for US visas, although I am actually going to the States with the group again in 2020, so I won’t be leaving that particular joy behind just yet! I won’t miss the occasional very early start to catch a morning flight, although as the group will tell you, I can normally fall asleep in the blink of an eye once we are on any form of moving transport, so I never lost all that much sleep in the end. I definitely won’t miss the mild headache often experienced in the Brussels Eurostar terminal after one too many delicious but fiendishly strong Belgian beers…

What is your favourite piece to sing with the group?

This is almost impossible to answer! There are so many amazing pieces in our repertoire that now feel iconically ‘Stile’ to me. Perhaps it depends on my mood. If I want to feel blissfully relaxed, it might be Clemens non Papa’s Ego flos campi. For something much darker, Robert White’s 5-part Lamentations have been some of my favourite music to perform in concert with the group. The intensity of emotion is so constant throughout the work, it can feel like time is standing still when you’re on stage as the Hebrew letters slowly unfold at the start of each section. I love performing John Sheppard’s large-scale works like Media vita and Gaude, gaude, not least because I get to enjoy listening to my colleagues’ beautiful verses, but also because of the ecstatic feeling you get when you reach the final section of the piece after such a long buildup. Also, anything at all by William Byrd, as I think the group has a huge affinity for his music – it almost feels like coming home to sing it.

Could you tell us a little about what you’ll be doing next?

While I won’t be leaving the world of early music behind forever, I am actually about to start a full-time job working for the NHS providing psychological therapy to adults suffering from anxiety and depression. I recently studied for an MSc in Psychology alongside our busy schedule of touring, so in some ways doing a job where I only have to be in one place at the same time each day will feel quite calm compared with all the travel and changes of freelance life! Happily for me, I already have plenty of depping with the group lined up for when I’ve found my feet in my new job, and I feel very lucky that I will be able to continue to enjoy the singing that I love so much as well as making progress in an exciting new career.