The last time we caught up with you, you were about to perform Bach’s cantata BWV 54. How did you find it?
Singing Cantata BWV 54 was a fantastically exciting experience. To be accompanied by such an expert collection of players who were so responsive and supportive was an absolute privilege. The experience has cemented this work as one of my favourites in Bach’s output.
You also just sang as part of a quartet in Bach’s Wedding Cantata 196. Tell us about some of the differences between singing as a soloist and as part of a quartet?
In terms of the physical act of singing, it should be exactly the same. You have to take full responsibility for your line, project the text and, as with singing any Bach, rely fully on your technique. But you have to be musically much more flexible. You have to be aware of your colleagues’ lines, know who needs to be in the limelight and how best to let them shine. Conversely, you need to know when you are in the foreground and therefore step out of the texture. The sport of ensemble singing keeps you sharp and is incredibly fun.
Sam at Christ Church Cathedral
What is your favourite moment in this cantata?
The ‘Amen’ fugue is such a delight. The counterpoint is so genius but it doesn’t just stop at being ‘clever’; it’s brimming with joy. The fugue subject is such a natural, perfect little tune that I find it amazing no one thought of it before then. It’s such an earworm.
You’re a full-time lay clerk at Christ Church Cathedral. How do you balance your time between this and your other projects?
It can take some creative timetabling, but fortunately many of the people I collaborate with are also in the same boat. It can be tricky when you have lots of busy people wanting to make music together so you need to think outside the box. It often involves late night rehearsals in people’s kitchens.
You’re also now a member of the inaugural cohort of OBS choral scholars. What are you most looking forward to over the coming year?
Even though we are only two concerts into the year, the scholarship program has already made such an enormous difference. The choir now has a consistent core of wonderful young singers and the sound is very exciting. I’m very much looking forward to tackling the bigger works this year; the St John Passion and the Christmas Oratorio. I’m also really looking forward to working more with Gerhard Gall, our German language coach, who has already made a noticeable difference and I’m sure will continue to tighten the screws in our pronunciation throughout the coming year.