Emily Packer’s Classical Craze!

For those who were expecting more hip hop and the like from Phil, we’ve decided to flip it this week and bring you some classical music instead. Emily Packer has kindly written about three of her favourite classical vocalists and this is well worth a gander..

I’m going to admit that I don’t sufficiently appreciate any bands to want to go and see them live. Having been brought up in an environment of Classical music, I find myself totally unequipped for dealing with packed, rowdy arenas. So maybe it’s not surprising that the only music concert I have ever attended is “An Evening with Aled Jones” in Chester Cathedral back in April 2008.

When I opened the Chester Standard and saw the advert for the event, I can’t say how excited I was: Aled Jones was going to be in Chester on the week of my 18th birthday! And how lucky I was to have a friend who would buy me a ticket to see him live.Aled’s soothing voice lulled me through the stressful blur of ‘A’-Levels, even curing my insomnia for a while. And in an age of computer-enhanced singing, I have to remark on how great it was that he sounded just as amazing live as he does on recording, especially when he sang the beautiful “San Damiano”.

Reminiscence

When talking about angelic voices, naturally there’s one person who comes to mind before all others, although she has since left the Classical world to become a superfluous member of the Pop world.

I only really began to appreciate Charlotte Church after hearing one of her later covers, “Carrickfergus” on Classic FM TV, but I soon came to appreciate why there had been so much hype over her voice.

The thing I love about these singers is that they tend to cover all of my favourite Classical and traditional songs, so I can pick and choose which versions I like. And Charlotte Church had been no different, covering songs from “Amazing Grace” to Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. And I’m sure I was far from the only one to feel a great sadness when she abandoned her pure soprano voice. But I guess we should be grateful that she left it behind for us to keep enjoying.

But what about both?

There are, however, those whose voices are suited to popular as well as Classical music. Take Hayley Westenra, for instance. As I’ve been raised with such singers as Enya and Sarah Brightman in the background, it wasn’t surprising that after I saw the advert for Hayley’s debut album “Pure”, I had to rush out and buy it. But the one song that made me truly obsessed with Hayley was her haunting cover of Kate Bush’s classic, “Wuthering Heights”.

Classically trained and with a flexible voice, Hayley has sung alongside various artists from Russell Watson to Ronan Keating. But one of my most exciting Classic FM TV moments had to be when I caught a live performance of “Pokarekare Ana”, in which Hayley sang a duet with the aforementioned Aled Jones. Beautiful.

The Irish Princess

In the grand tradition of saving the very best ‘til last, I’m going to shift from Classical favourites to the princess of New Age music. Now, anybody who knows me knows that Enya is my heroine; she’s the first singer I ever remember listening to, and I over-killed her upbeat track, “Book of Days”, when I was about six years old. If she was prone to performing live, I wouldn’t give a second thought to seeing her every time.

Over the course of ten albums, Enya has created songs based on just about every aspect of nature, providing a relaxing backing track to the passing years. And if I could recommend either of her “best of” albums, it would have to be “Paint the Sky with Stars”. The music on it really is as magical as the title suggests, and it includes such inspiring numbers as “Orinoco Flow”, “Storms in Africa” and “The Celts”.

I remember listening to this song on various car journeys. In my honest opinion, no other artist – except perhaps for Aled Jones – creates music with so much atmosphere.

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