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2004.12.01 BBC Music Magazine: “Not just for Christmas”

Quotes from SK in the article “Not just for Christmas”

by Amanda Holloway for BBC Music Magazine, December 2004

“I saw George Guest being interviewed on television once, and they asked him, how do you audition someone at the age of six? And he said, “I’m looking for a voice that’s undamaged, and has got some potential. But more than that, I’m looking for a twinkle”

Baritone Simon Keenlyside, a chorister at St John’s College, Cambridge, in the 1970s, remembers strict rules surrounding parental visits. They were actively discouraged even from sitting behind us when we were singing. “When we were on tour in America, I was forbidden from going to see my aunt – she was only allowed to come to the stage door.” He has mixed feelings about boarding, but for him the musical benefits were undeniable. “It’s quite a thing to be sent away for that length of time. The music was utterly wonderful, but the rest of it is a maelstrom of feelings, as far as I’m concerned.”

“Scarred?” says Simon Keenlyside. “Well, I hope I’m scarred in some ways. With scars, it’s best not to deny them, but to carry them.” For him the inspirational figure of choirmaster George Guest made it all worthwhile: “He was a mixture of brimstone and gentleness. He could coax, and goad, and paint pictures for you of what the music was about. I’m not sure if being a chorister had any relevance to the physical aspect of succeeding as a singer, but mentally, it was crucial. George would concentrate on detail, on nuance … it was never just about singing.”

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