EX CATHEDRA | Joy Krishnamoorthy - Soprano

From our ‘Christmas Music by Candlelight’ programme 2022

I grew up on Long Island in New York, where I was fortunate to have great musical opportunities at school and at church. I had Suzuki piano lessons
for a while (great for musical memory), but my main instruments were the flute and piccolo. I started singing more in high school and, in university, had lessons with a coloratura soprano who taught me how to access the top part of my range – my most audible contribution to Ex Cathedra! Hearing the visiting choir or Trinity College Cambridge inspired me to do a study exchange to England and I arrived at Birmingham Conservatoire (as was) in 1995. Since then, I’ve considered England my home, though I did return to New York in 1998-9 (sadly, missing both Ex Cathedra proms!).

I worked at Birmingham City University for 15 years, 10 of those in marketing and student recruitment for the Conservatoire. These days I undertake freelance projects for the NHS, creating links between education, community organisations and healthcare. I’ve been a Board Member and Trustee of Ex Cathedra since 2019, but you’ll only see me (and bass John Cotterill) at half the concerts, since we take it in turns to look after our 3 children.

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

I was a musicology postgraduate at the University of Birmingham when a friend suggested I go with him to audition for Ex Cathedra. I dug out a few pieces and went along, not knowing enough about Jeffrey or the choir to be overawed, but knowing enough to be pleased when I got in. That was 1996 and, having missed out those two years in the ‘90s, this is my 25th candlelight season. Since joining, Ex Cathedra has been the focal point of my musical and social life and has given me some of my most memorable
musical experiences.

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

As the children are still young, getting them out the door wearing and carrying the various bits and pieces they need generally occupies the first few hours of the day, with morning music practice or homework supervision thrown in to keep the stakes high. A normal day will see me working from home from 9 till about 3, although sometimes I’m in a school for an event. Since the advent of COVID, there have been more Ex Cathedra meetings in my diary as well. The end of the school day is a rush of fetching and ferrying which ends between 6.30 and 8.30, at which point I start thinking about eating something. Ex Cathedra rehearsal nights are a treat, where one of us gets to slink out of the routine, concentrate on singing, enjoy a biscuit, chat to friends and drive home without any time pressure or the need to read out spelling words. Total luxury.

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

So many pieces! It would be a lie to say I’ve enjoyed every piece we’ve ever performed, but they all have their place and many remind me of specific people, some of whom I don’t often see anymore (Faire is the heaven–Shirley, Singet–Romesh, Monteverdi contrafacta–Carolyn, In the Beginning–Alex, Xicochi– Lizzy, Riu Riu–Louise, Come, Holy Ghost–James, Messiah–Steve, Carmina Burana–Peter, the ‘O’ antiphons–Jeff, etc). In fact, this season has included some of my favourite music, but there will always be a special place in my heart for Figure humaine (Natalie) due to the sheer challenge of performing it, its utter beauty in places and the shockingly high E at the end.

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

From Boulez to Jeff Beck, I love anything done well, so I don’t really subscribe to the concept of a musical ‘guilty secret’. Besides, I need all my guilt to support my chocolate addiction. Happy holidays!