EX CATHEDRA | Margaret Lingas - Soprano

From our Rachmaninoff ‘Vespers’ programme 2023

Margaret Lingas was born in Cyprus, raised between the UK, Greece, and the USA, and earned her BMus in vocal performance with linguistics at the University of Victoria, Canada, where she studied with Benjamin Butterfield. While in North America, she sang with the Pacific Opera Victoria chorus, and was a soloist with groups including the Victoria Baroque Players, the Sooke Philharmonic, and Fretwork. 

Now based in Oxford, Margaret continues to perform as a soloist and small ensemble singer, regularly appearing in the UK and Europe with groups including Ex Cathedra, The Sixteen, the Tallis Scholars, Cappella Romana, the Carice Singers, and Echo. Having grown up around a variety of musical traditions (Byzantine chant, jazz, baroque opera, and Greek folk music were all family favourites) she particularly enjoys improvisation, singing in new languages, and exploring vocal styles less often heard in UK choral circles.

Margaret is a regular at the Oxford Oratory, teaches and conducts for Oxford Youth Choirs, and studies with Bronwen Mills.

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

I joined Ex Cathedra in September 2019 as a graduate scholar, so my first concert was the Rachmaninoff Vigil – quite the sublime start. I applied for the scholarship because I was drawn in by Ex Cathedra’s warm, unified, versatile sound the moment I heard it, and also because of the imagination, scholarship, and variety so apparent in EC’s programming and recording back catalogue.

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

I mainly freelance, so there’s no typical day, but it’ll be a combination of: travel, concerts, recordings, conducting, cooking (a perk of travelling is getting to bring home ingredients that are hard to find in the UK…counting down to a US trip in the autumn to restock my salsa verde and jello stash!), kickboxing, and a part-time HR job which, thanks to the wonderful team I work with, is a nice bit of stability alongside the freelance chaos.

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

This is a very mean question. If it’s a single piece, then I have to go with the Mass in B Minor. Bach’s extraordinarily intricate writing takes you through every style and emotion on the spectrum – and shows off both the EC choir and baroque orchestra in all their glory! If I were allowed to pick a full programme (which hugely affects how individual pieces end up feeling in context), I’d revisit my very first CMBC in 2019. I’m sure some of the fondness comes from it being my first candlelight experience but it was the most incredible mix of vital, sing-your-guts-out crowd-pleasers (Tallis Videte miraculum, Stars, Sir Christèmas, the Marlow Advent Responsory), sparkly medieval toe-tappers (including some fantastic modern reinventions), and other EC gems (Merry ding-dong, the Gould Sans Day Carol), alongside exquisitely gentle, timeless moments (surrounding the audience with candles and voices for Gentle Flame, hearing Baïlèro drift down from the balcony, feeling oddly euphoric and weightless while singing the leapy lines in Snowflakes…). I don’t think I ever managed to get through the transition from Teče voda to Sometime I sing at the end without getting a lump in my throat.

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

I don’t feel guilty for listening to/enjoying any music – whatever the style, if it gets to you it gets to you – but I will disclose that I spent an embarrassing amount of time as a 13-year-old memorising the rap verses from Weird Al’s White and Nerdy.