Performer Feature: Christopher Webb

Christopher Webb

Tell us a bit about yourself, your instrument and your training to date.

I live in Ealing in west London and I work freelance as a professional bass-baritone singer. I had a slightly roundabout route into professional singing. I read Classics at Girton College Cambridge, where I held a choral scholarship, and then I worked for two years at Clare College Cambridge and sang in the choir there. When I first moved to London I worked in arts management and fundraising, but that wasn’t really for me and I finally started doing what I love – performing full-time – in 2014. I’ve just completed the ‘Opera Works’ training programme with English National Opera, and I learn singing privately with Alex Ashworth.

My voice sits quite low, which is good for the music we’re focusing on with Musica Poetica. The bass cantatas of Tunder and his contemporaries have a large range, often taking me down to Ds and Cs below the stave. The music can also be fast moving with lots of coloratura. It’s a great challenge for me – Tunder must have had some fantastic bass singers at his disposal!

Christopher Webb

Christopher Webb

How long have you been involved with Musica Poetica? 

I first became aware of Musica Poetica in 2014, when I sang Giove in a production of Cavalli La Calisto for Hampstead Garden Opera. OJ Ruthven was the musical director and Musica Poetica the orchestra. Over the next year or so OJ and I worked together a lot more, and started talking about his ambitions for Musica Poetica. Eighteen months after La Calisto I became a co-director of the ensemble, and we “re-launched” Musica Poetica together in early 2016.

What other music ensembles/orchestras are you involved with?

I love choral singing and I’m lucky to work with groups such as the Monteverdi Choir, London Voices, and the London Choral Sinfonia. I’m a Lay Clerk at Southwark Cathedral, and I deputise for some of the professional London church choirs too. I’ve done plenty of touring in Europe as well, mostly with the Blenheim Singers and the Zürcher Sing-Akademie, which is based at the Tonhalle in Zurich.

My opera roles to date have included Dulcamara (L’Elisir d’amore) as an Emerging Artist with Westminster Opera, Colline (La boheme) with Merry Opera, and Sarastro (Magic Flute) with Opera Anywhere. I’m looking forward to covering Leporello (Don Giovanni) with British Youth Opera this summer.

I’m also excited to be appearing as a soloist with Stephen Cleobury and the Orpheus Sinfonia in Mozart Requiem next month, as part of the Cambridge Summer Music Festival at King’s College Cambridge.

Christopher Webb

Tell us some of the highlights of your career to date.

When I was at university, I sang in an a cappella group called Over the Bridge. The legendary John Rutter took us under his wing, and as well as producing two CDs for us, he invited us to sing in some of his Christmas Extravaganzas! The group were also asked to sing at some events in New York City, where we shared the bill with the likes of Stephen Fry and the late Sir David Frost.

Going back a few years, I once sang as a backing singer for The Temptations and shared a hotel with them. I remember jamming with them at 4 a.m. after one performance. More recently, I got to sing on the soundtrack for the remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – true, I was part of a forty-strong male voice choir, but I’m still in there somewhere!

What are your ambitions in music (or any other field). 

It sounds cheesy, but I just want to continue developing as a singer and artist and working in the industry I love. The bass voice can take a long time to mature properly, so there’s plenty for me still to learn. I’d Iike to do more operatic and oratorio work in addition to my choral singing. I’m very excited by the progress Musica Poetica has made in the last year, and I think the group can establish itself at the “top table” of UK early music ensembles in years to come.

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