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Exquisite finesse

A song recital by Andrew Kennedy and Simon Lepper


One of the most exciting young voices to emerge on the British musical scene in recent years is that of the tenor, Andrew Kennedy.

Winner of the 2005 Rosenblatt Recital Prize at the BBC Young Singer of the World Competition, and before that of the London Handel Competition, Kennedy, a former choral scholar of King's College, Cambridge and student at the Royal College of Music, is a performer of impeccable precision and exquisite finesse. The voice is tender, not without a certain 'mellow fruitfulness', the technique firm and his delivery delightfully supple. He weaves his way round difficult texts, by which a lesser singer might be baffled, with the ease of a performer possessed of twice his experience. And everything he touches, he sings like one inspired.

Even before he won the Cardiff Lieder Prize, Kennedy seemed destined to emerge as one of the most consummate of artists. His dramatic range is impressive, not least in Baroque repertoire, as is his ability to conjure dark timbres in the lower range while also exploiting, where permitted, the bright upper range which is one of his glories, so that he can convey horror, cynicism and black humour as readily as he radiates warmth, intensity and passion.

Kennedy has rapidly begun to carve out a name not just as a song recitalist, but as an opera singer: he sings Tamino in The Magic Flute at English National Opera this autumn and Flute in Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream later in the season at the Royal Opera House, where he also excelled as a Vilar Young Artist, rising to the challenge in several main house roles. He recently received another accolade, being named a BBC Young Artist.

His opera experience actually dates back further: as a prodigiously talented head chorister of Durham Cathedral, the young Andrew Kennedy, who was born in Ashington, Northumberland, sang -- impressively -- the role of the boy Miles in an intriguing production of The Turn of the Screw at the Harrogate Festival. Later, at school in Uppingham, he even wielded the baton, with evident glee, for a newly composed opera written by a young friend.

St Bartholemew's Church, Tardebigge
St Bartholemew's Church, Tardebigge

Soon after singing Britten's Serenade for tenor, horn and strings and in Elgar's The Light of Life at the Worcester Three Choirs Festival, and the day before he took the stage at London's Cadogan Hall for a BBC Proms Chamber Music lunchtime recital in which he acquitted himself admirably in Tippett's taxing war poems cycle The Heart's Assurance, Kennedy was back in Worcestershire (Sunday 21 August 2005) to give, with his thoughtful and sensitive accompanist, Simon Lepper (likewise a former undergraduate of King's College, Cambridge) a compelling Song Recital, the third in the now regular summer song series staged at St Bartholomew's Church, Tardebigge, a late Baroque building dating from around 1777, just outside the town of Bromsgrove.

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Copyright © 29 August 2005 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK


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