2018 Performer Profiles: Zoë Brookshaw

Associate Artistic Director Jamie Campbell introduces some of the outstanding performers taking part in the 2018 Southwell Music Festival.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming soprano Zoë Brookshaw back to the Southwell Music Festival.

1) Who are you, where are you based, and what work do you do?

My name is Zoë Brookshaw and I’m based in Loughton, near Epping Forest on the outskirts of London. I’m a soprano and am completely freelance, which is great because it means that the work I do can be really varied. I sing in the choir at the Tower of London every Sunday and with lots of other professional choirs based in London like the Monteverdi Choir and The Sixteen. The other side of my career is as a consort singer and soloist. Probably some of my favourite work is with a group called Solomon’s Knot, which is a chamber ensemble performing mostly baroque oratorio. We perform big oratorios like Bach’s John Passion or Handel’s Messiah with one or two musicians to a part sharing out the solos amongst us. The really exciting bit though is that the singers perform entirely from memory and we have no conductor… so there’s really no one to save you if you forget the music!! The idea behind this is to remove all the potential barriers between performers and audience creating a more immediate experience for the audience. Small ensemble work like this is probably my favourite thing to do as it’s truly challenging and it also combines my love of singing both as a soloist and in an ensemble.

2) What music are you most looking forward to performing in Southwell this year?

I’m most looking forward to singing the Bach B Minor this year in Southwell. It’s one of my favourite choral works of all time as I think the emotional ark of the music is just incredible. There are some really joyous (and complex) movements like the ‘Pleni sunt coeli’, the ‘Gloria’ or the ‘Osanna’, and also some really anguished moments like the ‘crucifixus’. I’m always exhausted by the end but I love it! I’m also really looking forward to getting to know ‘Child of our Time’ as I’ve never performed this piece in its entirety, but the bits I have done are awesome so I’m excited to discover what the rest of it is like…!

3) What other things have you got coming up that are interesting in the next few months?

In the next few months I’m doing ‘Theodora’ in the Proms with a group called Arcangelo, a big European tour of Verdi’s ‘Requiem’ with the Monteverdi Choir and I’m also performing Bach’s ‘Magnificat’ with violinist Rachel Podger in the Brecon Baroque Festival in Wales.