EX CATHEDRA | Suzzie Vango - soprano

From our ‘The Sun King at Versailles’ programme, October 2014

Suzzie Vango is a professional singer, voice coach and conductor based in Gloucestershire. She has toured and recorded with professional choirs including: Tenebrae, the National Chamber Choir of Ireland and the Eric Whitacre Singers. She also directs her own five-piece female group, Papagena.

Recently as a soloist she has featured on BBC Radio 4 with the Orchestra of the Swan, at St John’s Smith Square with the Orchestra of St Paul’s, and on a number of Ex Cathedra’s recordings.

Suzzie conducts several choirs including the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain, Ex Cathedra Girls Academy, and Chipping Campden Young Voices. As a specialist choral trainer of young voices, she is regularly invited to give seminars and workshops for national organisations including Glyndebourne Youth Opera, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and the National Association of Choirs. She is also in demand as an adjudicator.

Suzzie has been resident voice coach for Sing for Pleasure, Kidderminster & Wimbledon Choral Societies, Wyre Forest Young Voices, and recently accepted a coaching position at Worcester Cathedral. As vocal advisor to Dudley Performing Arts with her company Vocal.Point she has written their vocal strategy, and is an active member of the Ex Cathedra Vocal Tutor team, working extensively on their successful Education programme for 10 years.

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

As a teenager I experienced a high level of choral singing with the Farnham Youth Choir and the National Youth Choir, so while I was studying music at Birmingham University, I wanted to join a fantastic choir beyond what the university already offered. I heard about Ex Cathedra and got in touch. As I was only 19 I was invited to come along to a rehearsal with the Academy of Vocal Music. I remember the very first rehearsal I went to was for the annual Sankta Lucia service where Jeffrey asked me to sight-read something in Swedish. I nearly fell off my chair. It must have gone well as he asked me to come and sing for his “other choir”, Ex Cathedra! I joined and 13 years and dozens of amazing performance opportunities later I’m now in the Consort and a Vocal Tutor for the education team.

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

It is impossible to describe a typical day because they don’t exist for me. I could be rehearsing for a performance with a choir, recording in a studio, teaching the trebles at Worcester Cathedral or preparing one of my own choirs for a performance. Quite often, I find myself working with the other Ex Cathedra Vocal Tutors on their education projects; ‘Singing Medicine’ at Birmingham Children’s Hospital working with sick children in long term care, or ‘Singing Playgrounds’, training up thousands of “Song Leaders” to develop the singing and playing culture in their schools. This has taken me to hundreds of primary schools all over the UK and even to Thailand, China, and Singapore. I’m particularly proud to have been involved in these inspiring projects which have won some prestigious awards over the past 10 years. Whatever I find myself doing, it’s a really rewarding job and I’m lucky to enjoy what I do so much.

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

It’s impossible to choose. We have performed so many: MacMillan’s Seven Last Words of the Cross with Northern Symphonia, Roth’s Earthrise, the Latin American Baroque programmes, all brilliant.  I suppose Carmina Burana will always be a special memory for me. We have collaborated with BRB on it twice since I joined the choir (and will be again in 2015). I had never heard the piece before and, once I had got my head around the crazy language, I was blown away by the music, the ballet, the soloists, the whole performance.

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

Drum & Bass. I blame my days as a university student… This must be the only explanation for some of the ‘funkier riffs’ in the children’s songs I’ve written and probably the reason that whenever there’s a drum to be hit or some pods to be shaken, Jeffrey hands them to me.