Kathleen Ferrier returns to Wigmore Hall - in spirit

April 11, 2024

Wigmore Hall, London

I'm finally able to announce that my programme, A Celebration of Kathleen Ferrier - her life, letters & music, will be gracing the stage at Wigmore Hall on Saturday, 19 October, at 1pm.

Ferrier’s singing voice is the first I remember being able to distinguish on the radio or on record. I first heard it at quite a young age, at the house of a family friend, who played me her records. She spoke with such reverence about occasions where she had sung in the Bach Choir when Kathleen was singing solo, occasions over half a century previous. It was clear that this was a personality and voice who had had a profound effect upon those who heard her. Her voice had a very ‘human’ quality and a natural honesty that I found impossible not to respond to. She is certainly an artist who has inspired and influenced me as a performer, despite the fact she died 20 years before I was born and I’ve only heard her voice on recordings!

I was inspired to write the show after going to an evening devised by Prunella Scales about the life and letters of Queen Victoria. The performance seemed to be such a fitting tribute to a figure that she so obviously respected and was intrigued by, and I was very moved. I was slightly apprehensive about putting this together because to capture Ferrier in the same way that Prunella Scales captured Victoria wouldn't work, for a variety of reasons. To capture that voice and personality in one would be simply impossible - recordings and living memory thankfully exist to do that job. And the idea of some kind of ‘tribute act’ seemed complete anathema to me! Moreover, music performance styles have changed dramatically since her day, particularly with the advent of the Early Music revolution and developments within music history.

So, what I have aimed for is to put together a show celebrating her life through her letters, diaries and the personal accounts of those who knew her well, mixed with performances of some of the music that was associated with her, and illustrated with rare photos from the Kathleen Ferrier Society archive, as my personal tribute.

As Holofernes, Diana Moore combined military grandeur and suave seductiveness into a superb portrait of a warrior at play on the fields of love.

Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

Diana Moore