EX CATHEDRA | Sarah Latto - spring 2019

Sarah Latto studied music at Cambridge University, where she held a choral scholarship with Sidney Sussex College. She studied conducting with Stephen Layton, and performed in masterclasses with Stephen Cleobury, Andrew Nethsingha and Timothy Brown. After graduating, Sarah continued her conducting studies in Brighton, where she worked closely with Brighton Early Music Festival as a vocal coach and director.

In 2014, she was awarded the Association of British Choral Directors bursary scheme for young conductors, and in 2015 received a Conducting Fellowship to the Norfolk Chamber Music Course at Yale University.

Sarah was appointed Conducting Scholar with Genesis Sixteen from 2015-16, a young artists scheme run by The Sixteen designed to nurture the next generation of talented ensemble singers. She received mentoring and tuition from Harry Christophers and Eamonn Dougan during the year long programme, during which she conducted the group in concert and in broadcasts on BBC Radio 3.

Sarah is Artistic Director of young professional ensemble Echo, who made their St John Smiths Square debut in July 2017. They were selected as Chiltern Arts Festival Young Artists last year and have since performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall alongside the London Philharmonic Orchestra and collaborated with artist Polly Apfelbaum at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. In 2019, Echo are a featured artist at the Ryedale Festival in Yorkshire.

Alongside conducting, Sarah is a keen accompanist and orchestrator, and runs a composer collective called The Coveryard. She also loves cycling, politics and attempting to do yoga.

Sarah’s reflections

In spring 2020, Sarah wrote about her experiences to date:

“I’m now in my third month of working alongside Jeffrey as Ex Cathedra’s first Associate Conductor. My time with the group started with a flurry of activity, as the group had two big concerts in the space of two weekends. The first was the stunning premiere of the Roth commission A Time to be Born and a Time to Die, alongside Bach cantatas BWV8 and 40. For that, as well as helping rehearse the full group, I worked with the Academy – performing the chorales from the cantatas during the pre-concert talk between Jeffrey and Alec. The Academy did a brilliant job, and they are clearly excellently trained. The following week was Purcell’s The Indian Queen, which was really fascinating to watch in rehearsal. I learnt a lot from Jeffrey’s focus on notes in├ęgales (French Baroque unequal rhythms) and their influence on Purcell’s writing. Another, more mundane lesson is that I’ve been saying Purcell’s name wrong for years… the stress should be Purcell as opposed to Purcell…!

“Last month I conducted the group in concert for the first time, as part of the Fire Burning in Snow Latin American programme at St Mary’s in Warwick. A fantastic experience; it’s really repertoire that I’ve been introduced to through this group, and is absolutely stunning stuff that should be more frequently performed. I’m particularly enamoured by the work of Juan de Araujo, who has been championed by Ex Cathedra for many years – long may it continue. It was also great to work with such intelligent and intuitive singers and instrumentalists. We are performing some of the same repertoire alongside The Indian Queen this month as part of the London Festival of Baroque Music, which should be a brilliant experience.

“I’m also really looking forward to the Summer Music by Candlelight programme, coming up in June. It’s been a nice surprise that Jeffrey has trusted me to choose some of the repertoire for that (hopefully it won’t disappoint…!), and I’ll also be conducting the performance at Hereford Cathedral in full. I’m also looking forward to getting more involved in the community, health and education work of Ex Cathedra later next month, which is an ambitious and far-reaching programme.

“The most striking thing for me is how much of a family Ex Cathedra is – the singers, instrumentalists, staff and volunteers all pull together in the same direction. The group have been very welcoming and accommodating to me so far and I feel very privileged, as are the Associate Conductors who will follow me. I really can’t think of a comparative scheme in which a conductor is able to experience the breadth and depth of an organisation, from rehearsals to board meetings. I’m just sorry that my time with the scheme ends in July!”