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The singers – Quodlibet

The singers


Ruth Hoskins, soprano

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Ruth has loved music of all kinds since she was a small child, when she was known in the family for singing a lot (usually rather too loudly) and setting songs against the spoken word for the fun of it. She sang with her sisters at family get-togethers around the piano, and in her late teens enjoyed a couple of years singing in a sixth-form and church choir for the first time.

Whilst at school Ruth studied piano and viola to grade 8 (there was no choir available) and went on to study viola for a year at the Scottish Academy of Music. She then gained a degree in Combined Arts from Durham University, in Music, English and Theology, her three loves. While there, playing viola in a performance of Bach’s St John Passion, she was acutely aware of how she would rather be singing than playing in the chamber orchestra!

Some years later, now in Canterbury, Ruth sought singing lessons with Peter Giles and found that the voice was indeed her instrument of choice. She joined a chamber choir he ran and then became the soprano in Quodlibet. Singing in this small a cappella group has been, and continues to be, a great joy that deepens every year.

Ruth enjoys the whole repertoire, and particularly loves the intensity of spiritual expression of composers such as Byrd and Morley, the wonderfully sensuous English and Italian madrigals, and singing a wide range of folk duets with Jane Farrell. She also has a particular liking for the slightly unusual!

Ruth’s interest in the voice and expression has profoundly affected her work as a body psychotherapist (www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellor_24627.html) in which she continues to develop an understanding of how our relationship to our sound, voice and breath reflects and influences our emotional, psychological and physical health. In addition to this, in some kinds of energetic work the throat is understood to hold doorways to the divine experience – thus the voice and its vibration is a possible access point to the spiritual in an otherwise secular life.


 

Jane Farrell, mezzo-soprano

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Singing has always been an important part of Jane’s life. However, after a brief early solo career in school productions, Jane retreated for many years to the safety of the alto section in various large choirs and choral societies, and got her performing fix from amateur dramatics rather than singing. Folk music was also an important early influence.

Since moving to Kent Jane has increasingly downsized the groups she sings with. Joining the Canterbury-based chamber choir Lees Court Music prompted the singing lessons she had long been promising herself, and those lessons with Peter Giles led, via Peter’s small chamber choir, to her becoming the mezzo-soprano in Quodlibet.

Since 2006 Jane has been using her vocal and performance skills working with the company Music for Health, leading interactive music workshops for the elderly and learning disabled in care. Seeing the positive mental and physical effects of music in these groups, and particularly in those with dementia, is incredibly rewarding.

For the last few years Jane has been working on behalf of the Ernest George White Society on a project to allow more people to benefit from White’s Technique. This is the vocal training method taught by Peter Giles, and is very beneficial and healing for speakers as well as singers. BetterVoice, her e-course teaching the basics of the Technique, is now available online (www.bettervoice.co.uk).


 

Richard Pond, tenor

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Richard comes from a musical family, his father Dr John Pond having for many years run the Deal & Walmer Handelian Society, a local choral society set up by the Handel enthusiast Dr James Hall. However, having studied piano and then oboe as a child, Richard only came to singing at university when he joined the college chorus at Gonville and Caius College Cambridge. He says that at his first rehearsal I picked the tenors to join because there were fewer of them!

Having sung with a number of choirs after university, Richard began to take on solo parts and to make the most of his talents. He studied singing with the tenor Cyril Wade, former Senior Lay-Clerk of Canterbury Cathedral and a pupil of Peter Pears.

Richard met Peter Giles at a Handelian concert at which he was in the solo quartet, a meeting that soon led to him to join Peter’s small chamber choir out of which Quodlibet was born.

Richard also sings regularly with a number of other groups including the Beachcombers in Walmer, Canterbury Baroque and Lees Court Music. He is also an organist and cantor at his church (‘Cantor of St Thomas’s’ always sounds good), a former organist and choir master being Dr Hall.


 

Peter Cox, bass

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Peter grew up in Australia. He started as a chorister in a church choir and went on to tour extensively with the Australian Boys Choir. At 22 he became a resident artist with the Victoria State Opera in Melbourne. He was an invited soloist at the opening concert of the Melbourne Concert Hall and was a cast member of the first opera (Don Carlos) in the State Theatre of Victoria.

Since coming to the UK in 1987 he has sung many opera roles including Don Giovanni and Leporello (Don Giovanni), Count Almaviva (Marriage of Figaro), Marcello (la Bohème) and Escamillo (Carmen). In summer 2015 he appeared as The Mayor in Matthew King’s opera The Pied Piper for the Stour Festival and as Baron Zeta in the Canterbury Cathedral Garden Opera production of The Merry Widow.

Peter teaches singing at the University of Kent and The King’s School Canterbury. He is a regular oratorio soloist for many local choirs in the East Kent area.

The 1950s setting … means that Peter Cox, who exudes chocolatey charisma as the amoral, womanising Don Giovanni, can slope around in dark suits and big hats looking deliciously dangerous. He has a fine, rich voice, enjoyable acting talent and every word is placed with precision. (Review of CCGO’s Don Giovanni, www.sardinesmagazine.co.uk).