EX CATHEDRA | Lucy Sapwell - soprano

From our ‘New Jerusalem’ programme, January 2015

Lucy started singing at an early age, taking lessons with Emma Winscom.  At nine, she joined Ex Cathedra’s Academy of Vocal Music under the direction of Jeffrey Skidmore.  Her highlights with Ex Cathedra include Bach’s St Matthew Passion at Symphony Hall, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius at The Royal Festival Hall and performances in The Nutcracker with The Birmingham Royal Ballet at The Hippodrome.

She has been a member of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain for five years and has performed in concerts at venues including Coventry Cathedral and The Royal Albert Hall.  She also sings regularly as a member of the choir at her local church.  Lucy has sung solos live on BBC Radio 3 from Eton College Chapel as part of an Eton Choral Course and is now a member of The Rodolfus Choir.  She achieved a Distinction in her Grade 8 singing last year and was recently appointed Youth Board Advisor for Ex Cathedra. She also enjoys helping run Ex Cathedra’s Children’s Choir on Sunday afternoons.

Lucy is currently in her final year at Bromsgrove School and hopes to read Medicine at university.  As a music scholar, she participates in school extra-curricular ensembles and is both a member of the Chapel Choir and Head of Chamber Choir, with previous tours including St Paul’s, St David’s, Gloucester and Lincoln Cathedrals, York Minster, and St George’s Chapel Windsor.  Lucy enjoys playing the violin and is a member of Worcestershire Youth Orchestrawith which she toured Germany in 2013. 

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

I have been singing with Ex Cathedra’s Academies of Vocal Music for nearly nine years now. I joined at the age of nine and my first concert was a ‘Singing Playgrounds’ event at Symphony Hall – one of my first ever concerts. My mum has always been very supportive of my singing; she encouraged me to join Ex Cathedra and, with Emma, my singing teacher, helped build my confidence from an early age. I have always loved singing but often needed a little coaxing when I was younger and looking back, I’m so grateful for all the support and guidance they have given me. Ex Cathedra has helped me progress with my singing, thanks to Jeffrey and his wonderful team of Vocal Tutors.

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

I don’t really have a typical day. School keeps me busy with both academic and extra-curricular commitments and no day is ever the same. A day at school usually consists of lessons in Biology, Chemistry, French and Music as I am currently in my last year, studying for my ‘A’ Levels. When I’m not in lessons, I’m often rehearsing with a school ensemble, from the school choirs to the orchestra or string group. I am very lucky in that I get the opportunity to sing every day, be it in choir practices, in chapel, or in concerts. In the run-up to Christmas, a typical day can also include carol services, performances in The Nutcracker at The Hippodrome or rehearsals for the Santa Lucia service.

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

There are so many I could choose. However, if I had to pick one, my favourite concert with Ex Cathedra would have to be Bach’s St Matthew Passion at Symphony Hall. It is one of my all time favourite pieces and it would definitely have to be one of my ‘Desert Island Discs’. As part of ‘A’ Level Music, I am studying Bach’s chorales from the Riemenschneider and I am really enjoying going through chorales, analysing them and using them to harmonise my own chorale. My debut with Ex Cathedra was singing as a ‘Pickled Boy’ in Britten’s Saint Nicolas which was an unforgettable experience. Most recently, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to sing as ‘Saint Lucia’ in the annual Santa Lucia service in Birmingham Cathedral for the Swedish Consulate, which was undoubtedly the pinnacle of my singing career with Ex Cathedra.

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

Although I now find myself singing a range of different languages including; Latin, Ancient Greek, Swedish and Mandarin, even English had its challenges in the early days. My enthusiasm for singing was sometimes hampered by a lack of understanding of the words and repeating what I thought I heard, not what was written. At the age of six, I was gently corrected that Handel’s Messiah did not feature my favourite Chinese takeaway dish –For unto us a Chinese prawn’ – which I was deeply disappointed about.