We reached out to this season's Messiah soloists to find out a bit more about them. Enjoy!
Margot Rood, soprano
Lucile Richardot, mezzo-soprano
Thomas Hobbs, tenor
Peter Harvey, baritone
How many times have you sung Messiah? What was your first-ever performance?
Thomas Hobbs: I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t counted — but it must be 30 or 40 times by now. My first-ever performance of Messiah was for a small amateur choral society near my hometown in Devon, UK. There wasn’t even an orchestra — just an organ. Furthermore, given I began my musical life as a trumpeter, they also asked me to play “The Trumpet Shall Sound”!
Margot Rood: My first-ever performance of Messiah was Part the Second as sung by the chamber choir at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. We all took turns singing the solos and cheered each other on. This performance was a real turning point for me, as it brought baroque music into my performing life for the very first time and I’ll never forget it!
Lucile Richardot: Maybe four or five times? That’s not so many … ! My first-ever performance, except for excerpts in short recitals, was eleven years ago, as I was just ending my studies at Maîtrise de Notre-Dame de Paris. It was directed by the conductor of the Maîtrise, in the cathedral … and I was very sick, almost without voice. So frustrating for a first time!
Peter Harvey: Too many to count. My first performances was in Chelmsford, 1985. The conductor took "Why do the nations" at double speed by accident. Thankfully the orchestra was more accomplished than he was and between us we rescued it, despite him.
Which part of Messiah do you especially look forward to?
Margot: No matter how many times I have the pleasure of singing Messiah each season, I so look forward to the opening orchestral movement! Such an exciting way to start off the evening.
Peter: "All we like sheep" — waiting to see if I am still as chilled to the core by the adagio ending ("the iniquity of us all") as I was when I first sang in it.
Lucile: I particularly love the very theatrical aria for alto “He was despised,” with its two contrasting parts ... and it seems that the entire work leads to the alto/tenor duet “O death, where is thy sting?”— it epitomizes Messiah, to my mind.
Thomas: I particularly love the soprano aria “If God be For Us.” It comes at a point in the evening when both the performers and the audience have been through so much, and I find it an absolutely beautiful, cleansing moment.
What is the most challenging aspect of singing Messiah for you?
Lucile: Approaching such a hit is obviously challenging. One doesn’t want to disappoint the audience, whose expectations are so huge for masterpiece like this. My first thought at the moment when I start start to sing is to “renew” the music, perhaps surprising the audience.
Thomas: I always feel the tenor has a very challenging task in starting the piece. Aside from the Overture, the tenor is the first thing the audience will hear and it can set the tone for the entire evening.
Peter: "The Trumpet shall sound" is a tough sing for anybody, and as it comes right at the end of a long piece, you have to plan accordingly, keeping physical, vocal, and mental energy all in adequate supply (and then drink beer).
Margot: The most challenging part of Messiah is not mouthing the words to all the choruses that I adore! Especially “All we like sheep” and “Glory to God.”
What is your favourite thing to do when you have free time?
Lucile: Gardening ! If I have a garden at hand ...
Peter: Fixing and making things, country walks.
Thomas: Spending time with my young family, closely followed by woodworking, and then anything to do with cars.
Margot: I LOVE to cook, but I prefer to do so in my own kitchen with my dog Allie hungrily staring at me from the living room.
What is your favourite place in the world?
Margot: My favourite place in the world is Sardinia, Italy. Spectacular food, wine, and views of crystal clear ocean.
Peter: The beautiful coast of West Wales.
Lucile: The town where I was born, in the east of France, or Paris, where I now live.
What are the last three pieces of music you’ve listened to?
Thomas: Before writing this, I have just been travelling. I tend to listen to something completely different when flying or on the road. Today, I was listening to:
Which composer/artist/hero, living or not, would you like to sit next to at a dinner party, and why?
Margot: I’d like to have a beer with Stephen Sondheim because I’m a secret musical theater nerd.
Peter: I suspect Bach would be far too daunting, but have long thought that Haydn would be very congenial company. However, I think it has to be Charles Darwin. He was the most modest of revolutionaries. He changed the way we see the world and ourselves.
Thomas: Bach. I’d love to know what inspired him on a personal level and to discover if he really was a “normal” human being. I sometimes feel that his music couldn’t have been created by anyone from this world. I’d like proof.
Lucile: J.S. Bach maybe, in order to be able to ask him why he never composed any opera!
What words of wisdom would you pass on to budding musicians?
Peter: Don't look over your shoulder at other performers, wishing you were like them. Try to be open and honest as a performer, make the most of what is special about you, and enjoy being different, perhaps.
Margot: Be as versatile as possible when it comes to genre. The more kinds of music you can play or sing, the more music you will make throughout the course of your life.
Lucile: Trust your dreams, and if you give yourself the tools for trusting them, they could really come true! Opportunites will come, sooner or later, but musicians are so often hesitant to take them, because of feelings of inadequacy, doubts, fears of not being ready … just dare and jump in!
Thomas: Always respect your colleagues and try to get on with them! Aside from the obvious benefits of this when making music together, we spend so much time travelling and away from home that, personally, I find it really important to try and have a good relationship with those I work with. It can make all the difference.
Margot Rood: Kelly Blackmon & Collen Neuman
Lucile Richardot: Igor Studio & Romain Bockler
Thomas Hobbs: Benjamin Ealovega
Peter Harvey: Patch Harvey & Kim Hardy