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Born on this day
Michael Bolotin
9th week in year
26 February 2020

Important personalitiesBack

Emma Kirkby26.2.1949

Wikipedia (06 Mar 2013, 15:02)

Dame Carolyn Emma Kirkby, DBE (born 26 February 1949) is an English soprano singer and one of the world's most renowned early music specialists. She attended Sherborne School For Girls in Dorset and was a classics student at Somerville College, Oxford, and an English teacher before developing a career as a soloist. She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2007 Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Education and early career

Emma Kirkby was educated at Hanford School and Sherborne School For Girls in Dorset. Her father was Geoffrey John Kirkby, a Royal Navy Officer.

Originally, Kirkby had no expectations of becoming a professional singer. As a classics student at Oxford and schoolteacher she sang for pleasure in choirs and small groups, notably Schola Cantorum of Oxford, always feeling at home most in Renaissance and Baroque repertoire. As her voice was not particularly large, Kirkby's potential as a soloist was not immediately recognised.

Kirkby was a founding member of the Taverner Choir, and in 1973 began her long association with the Consort of Musicke. She took part in the early Decca Florilegium recordings with both the Consort of Musicke and the Academy of Ancient Music, at a time when most college-trained sopranos were not seeking a sound appropriate for early music instruments. She therefore had to find her own approach, with enormous help from Jessica Cash in London, and from the directors, fellow singers and instrumentalists with whom she has worked over the years.

Kirkby has built long term relationships with chamber groups and orchestras, in particular London Baroque, the Freiburger Barockorchester, L’Orfeo (of Linz) and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and now with some of the younger groups – the Palladian Ensemble and Florilegium. She has also been the Patron of Derby Choral Union since 1993. She has taught for many years at Dartington International Summer School. In 2010 she became President of the 180 strong Dartington Community Choir. In 1994, she was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Music) from the University of Bath.

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