EX CATHEDRA | Amy Wood - soprano

From our ‘A Brazilian Christmas’ programme, December 2016

Amy was born in Sheffield and began singing at the age of eleven as a chorister in the Sheffield Cathedral Girls’ Choir. She went on to study at the University of Manchester, where she acquired an honours degree in Psychology, but kept up her regular singing in the University’s Chamber Choir. In 2006 she moved to London to pursue a professional career in singing.

Amy performed as a soloist in the world premiere of Stockhausen’s Mittwoch Aus Licht with Birmingham Opera Company/ Ex Cathedra. She went on to perform the role again at the BBC Proms.

Recent solo performances have included First Witch in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas for Trevor Pinnock in the Wigmore Hall, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Birmingham Town Hall, and Bach’s Mass in B minor in Bracknell. In February 2016, she sang the role of Filia in Carissimi’s Jeptha with Ensemble Plus Ultra/ Boston College Choir, USA. Future solo engagements include First Witch in Dido and Aeneas, Birmingham Town Hall and Handel’s Messiah in Northampton.

Amy performs regularly with a number of professional ensembles including Tenebrae, Ensemble Plus Ultra, The Tallis Scholars, Polyphony, Stile Antico, The Cambridge Singers, La Nuova Musica, The Eric Whitacre Singers, and Ex Cathedra. With these groups she has performed on numerous CDs, and enjoys singing both at home and abroad. She also regularly performs on film soundtracks and popular music tracks.

1. How long have you been a member of Ex Cathedra and why did you join?

I think it was over ten years ago now! I was just finishing in Manchester, and my boyfriend at the time told me he was auditioning for this awesome choir in Birmingham. I was very nervous, as I hadn’t done any professional auditions yet. When I got there, the Concerts Manager made me feel very much at ease, and Jeffrey was lovely, apart from giving me some fiendish sight-reading…

2. What does a typical day look like for you?

There is no such thing! I am a singer, a singing teacher, and training to be a counsellor, so it could be anything from jumping on a plane to America to sing Renaissance polyphony, bashing out some Adele in a practice room in Sevenoaks, sitting quietly and learning about a therapy technique in Lambeth, or singing on a Harry Potter soundtrack at Abbey Road. Thankfully, I like a bit of variety.

I’m obsessed with yoga these days, which is dull to everyone but yogis, so I won’t bore you with all the details. Suffice to say, after a year of practicing, I am still terrible and fall over/ break myself constantly. I love teaching, particularly the more challenging pupils. I recently did a half marathon to raise money for a charity I teach for called Music of Life, providing music opportunities for young musicians with disabilities. I like to go out and eat Japanese as much as possible, and enjoy hanging out with my close friends, a number of whom I met through the ‘Ex Cathedra family’. It’s really quite a special choir, and I can’t imagine my life without it.

3. If you could choose to perform again any piece you have performed before with Ex Cathedra, what would it be, and & why?

Without a shadow of a doubt, it would be the Stockhausen Opera we did in 2012 with Birmingham Opera Company. I reckon I still remember the whole thing off by heart! Singing bonkers music whilst sitting at the top of a ten-foot yellow ladder, dressed like Angela Merkel, face painted like a flag. What’s not to like?

4. What’s your musical “guilty secret”?

In the mad run-up to Christmas, I tire of the traditional Christmas carols pretty quickly and yearn for the festive jollity of a tune from Chilcott or Rutter. They’re both masters of their craft. My favourite from the latter is ‘Donkey Carol’ which is in 5/8 time and always makes me think of my favourite joke: What do you call a three legged donkey? A wonky!