Lesley Garrett to sing in Spalding

Lesley Garrett. Photo: Simon Fowler/Decca Records.
Lesley Garrett. Photo: Simon Fowler/Decca Records.

Cantemus is a “first-class choir” in the words of internationally acclaimed opera singer Lesley Garrett.

Lesley was speaking ahead of her gala concert performance in Spalding Parish Church on Saturday.

Cantemus. Photo: Ted Malkin

Cantemus. Photo: Ted Malkin

She will be singing, not for the first time, with Spalding choir Cantemus, and said: “They are semi-professional because their standards are so high, one of the highest I have heard.

“You are very lucky to have them in the Spalding district as they are a fantastic choir and we’ll be doing lots of music together.”

Lesley’s concert is the grand finale of a week-long music festival at St Mary & St Nicolas Church, called MaNiFEST.

Getting the English soprano singer, musician, broadcaster and media personality to appear was no chance piece of luck.

Lesley’s husband Peter is a long-time friend of Cantemus conductor Eric Wayman. Peter comes from the Christian family of West Pinchbeck farmers and met Eric at Spalding Grammar School.

As Lesley joked, for a farmer there is one thing worse than not having any sons, and that’s having two.

Except in Peter’s case it suited him quite nicely as it meant he was able to pursue his interest in becoming a doctor, something inspired by watching the birth of animals on the family farm and later encouraged by local GP, Dr Aitken.

Lesley said: “I have been coming up to Spalding for 25 years to visit my husband’s family. His parents have passed away now but his brother and nephew have taken over the farm.”

When she appears at the parish church on Saturday the down-to-earth Yorkshire singer will perform her trademark mix of opera and more popular music.

Lesley admits she has spent her life “popularising opera”. Although she was classically trained at the Royal Academy of Music, Lesley’s passion was born in her childhood home where the family would “sing everything, including opera” round the piano.

She said: “That was the form of music that inspired me most. I love it. It was also the most difficult and I like a challenge. It required me to have my voice properly trained.

“The world of opera was what attracted me most strongly, but I have never given up the other music I love. At home we would sing songs from the shows, hymns, popular songs, and I think that has informed my choices ever since and when I do my concerts I always mix up the repertoire because there is no such thing as bad music. It’s all good music.”

And Spalding parish church will be full of good music when Lesley Garrett and Cantemus perform at the sold out concert in the town.