5 Minutes with Bethany Horak-Hallett
Ahead of Royal Northern Sinfonia’s Christmas by Candlelight tour across the North East and Cumbria in December, we caught up with soprano soloist Bethany Horak-Hallett to find out more about her and her musical inspirations…
Who, or what, inspires you?
Maybe this is a bit corny, but I am constantly inspired by the people I meet. I feel very lucky to work in a profession where people’s creativity, imagination and commitment are allowed to thrive. I am constantly inspired and amazed by what people create, their visions and their ideas.
What’s your favourite piece of music to perform?
This is a hard one! But I love Handel. I think he understood the human voice and human emotion incredibly well, and was able to write music that feels so natural and organic to perform. His excitement and passion for music writing is so tangible, and it’s immediately infectious.
How do you deal with pre-performance nerves?
Come well prepared, treat the rehearsal process as your first ‘performance’ and then just let the emotions and the music take over. Trust that my preparation will carry me through.
What is the first album you ever bought?
I promised myself I’d be honest with these answers. It was A Little Bit of Mambo by Lou Bega.
What’s the most recent album you’ve bought or streamed?
I’ve been listening to a lot of solo piano music recently, and I love Mishima Rushdie Momen. Her album of Variations is beautiful, and I’ve been listening to that a lot.
What/when was your big breakthrough?
When I was chosen to be one of the Rising Stars cohort with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightment. It’s been such an integral relationship for my career; they have really invested in us and given us time and space to develop as artists.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Invest in your own sense of self worth and motivation. Life can be beautiful and rewarding, but it can also be challenging and sometimes cruel. If you have enough personal strength and conviction, the wonderful times will be just as sweet, but the hard times will not reduce your self worth.
What is your favourite food?
Spaghetti Bolognese. Religiously so.
What is your most treasured possession?
If she counts, my dog Cally! She is a pure soul and keeps me present and grounded.
What is your most guilty pleasure?
I do like a bit of trashy sci-fi telly. I can spend a lot of time watching fantasy and sci-fi.
What composer, past or present, would you most like to meet?
Antonín Dvořák. He came from such humble beginnings but there is such vivid imagination and story telling in his music. I think he is a perfect example of how imagination and creativity is within anyone and everyone, it’s universal. You can also get a real sense of his love for his homeland. I’d love to pick his brains and listen to him tell some of the wonderful fairytales and stories from growing up in Czechoslovakia during his time.
What special skill do you wish you possessed?
I wish I could switch off my singer’s brain when I’m enjoying some down time! I find it hard to disengage from work.
What would your ideal day off be?
Lots of yummy food. A good long walk and hang with my dog, and then probably a nice meal out with my partner.