EX CATHEDRA | Shirley Scott - soprano

From our ‘Christmas Music by Candlelight’ programme, December 2019

Shirley has been connected with the music world for all of her working life. She took singing lessons privately and sang in several London church choirs before moving to the Midlands in the mid-1980s. She spent over 20 years working on music programmes for BBC Radio; in her last 10 years there, she was a religious programmes producer specialising in music and worship, and gained a reputation for creative programming and attention to detail.

After leaving the BBC, Shirley and her husband David created Peartree Productions, a successful independent production house that made programmes for the BBC, and produced music CDs – including Ex Cathedra’s Christmas Music by Candlelight in 2002. Peartree Productions wound down when David retired.

Shirley has also worked in events management and concert promotion, and runs a small music management business, representing the distinguished lutenist David Miller.

With her husband David, she is much involved with their local church – St Martin’s in London Road, Worcester – where they run a busy concert programme, including monthly Coffee Concerts for charity, and Tiny Tunes – concerts of live music for babies and toddlers. This involves much home baking and Shirley’s cakes and biscuits are in great demand!

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

Almost 33 years. In the summer of 1986, I went to an Ex Cathedra concert and ended up singing in the second half! (Ask me for the longer story sometime.) Having had no rehearsal, but with familiar repertoire, I watched Jeffrey like a hawk and found that I could follow every expression, every breath, and all the dynamics, from his hands and face. I was hooked, and I officially joined the Choir in January 1987.

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

My day starts with a cup of Earl Grey tea in bed, while I catch up with emails on my iPad. Then I spend far too much time in my home office, mostly on voluntary work for our Church. Our large kitchen garden takes up a fair bit of time – seed sowing and planting from early spring and harvesting from summer to late autumn. I bake all our bread, and most evenings David and I cook dinner together.

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

Oh, it’s far too difficult to choose one piece! I’ve performed my top three desert island choices – Bach’s B Minor Mass, Rachmaninov Vespers and Monteverdi Vespers -with Ex Cathedra many times. I’m also very fond of our 40-part programme and will never forget my 40th birthday when Ex Cathedra and friends performed Spem in alium in our Church, followed by a ‘Spem Party’ for which David catered a 3-course meal for 80 guests.

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

I have Simon & Garfunkel’s album, Bridge over troubled water, in my kitchen. Oh, and I always remember the date of Cliff Richard’s birthday.