EX CATHEDRA | Elizabeth Adams - soprano

From our ‘Purcell, The Indian Queen’ programme, February 2019

With a piano tuner/ organist for a father and an instrumental teacher for a mother, it was no surprise when Elizabeth decided to be a professional musician. She enjoyed a childhood of tripping over choir robes, singing many first verses of ‘Once in Royal’ and attending countless choral courses with some of the country’s top choral conductors. And so she decided to take the plunge and pursue what then seemed like an unobtainable dream. She now continues her passion for choral singing, performing, recording and touring with groups such as Ex Cathedra, Tenebrae and London Voices.

As a soloist, Elizabeth performed regularly in her home county of Lincolnshire before completing her vocal studies at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. A memorable engagement was singing for a choral society sponsored by a local jewellers, who asked her to wear some of their (very expensive!) jewellery. She has since enjoyed a highly successful solo career, recently singing alongside Carolyn Sampson in Symphony Hall – but alas, no diamond earrings provided!

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

I’ve been singing with Ex Cathedra since 2014, when I was still studying at Birmingham Conservatoire. I’ve been singing in choirs since I was about 7 years old – ‘gently’ nudged into it by have a father for a choir master(!) – so when I moved to Birmingham, it just seemed natural to audition for Ex Cathedra. The combination of old and new that Ex Cathedra excel at is something that I really enjoy, and the projects are so varied each season, giving me something new to get my teeth into every time I come to a rehearsal. It is also, without a doubt, one of the friendliest choirs I’ve ever sung with.

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

One of the things I love most about being a musician is that there are no typical days. A lot of my career involves singing with many different choirs and consorts, but on another day I might be singing the solos in a Rossini Petite Messe Solenelle, recording the soundtrack for a film, teaching, or singing services at the Birmingham Oratory. One of the most important things about being a freelancer is creating a productive routine on days when I don’t have a concert, which generally includes practising for upcoming concerts, getting the dreaded admin done and relaxing of course! I’m a big fan of work/life balance and so I love to try new recipes, binge TV shows on Netflix, and most importantly, catch up with my friends and family over good food and drink.

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

I would love to perform Seven Angels by James MacMillan. This was one of the earliest concerts I sang in with Ex Cathedra and I really enjoy MacMillan’s music. He has a way of combining the angular and urgent with the completely sublime and serene, and the way Seven Angels ends – with huge, sweeping, gorgeous harmonies – is impossible to sing without completely losing yourself in the music.

My favourite overall concert with Ex Cathedra would have to be ‘Mozart’s Women’, which gave me the incredible experience of singing as a soloist alongside Carolyn Sampson – something I won’t forget any time soon!

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

I love going to video game soundtrack concerts! Ever since my brother got me into gaming, I have discovered that there is a wealth of amazing music written for games, and composers are starting to really get recognition for this now. Whenever I attend a performance, the venue is absolutely sold out and the atmosphere is infectious; it’s phenomenal that concerts like these are attracting more and more people – who wouldn’t normally attend classical performances – to see a full symphony orchestra in action.