April 23 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, June 23, 2013
THE countdown to this summer’s much-loved Audley End Picnic Concerts is officially on – with just 43 days to go until the opening night festivities get underway.
Headliners include Ronan Keating and Michael Ball, while Kim Wilde, ABC and Go West are just a selection of the acts appearing at the popular Greatest 80s Party...Ever!
Bringing the curtain down on the event is Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins, who spoke to reporter SAM TONKIN ahead of her return to the picnic concerts for the fourth time on August 11.
BRITAIN’S darling of classical music can already count the Queen, Pope John Paul II and British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as just a fraction of the global audience she has serenaded.
The Welsh mezzo-soprano has won two classical BRIT awards, sold millions of records worldwide and performed at global sporting events including the 2008 FA Cup Final, Ashes Test Series in 2009, and the Rugby World Cup 2003.
But it’s rare for her to return to the same venue – unless it starts with Audley and ends with, er ... End.
“There is such a lovely atmosphere, especially at the Last Night of the Proms with the Spitfire going overhead and the fireworks – it’s a celebration of everything British,” Katherine says when asked what makes the event special.
“It’s awesome and I’m really looking forward to coming back. Obviously, we’re all hoping for good weather but no matter what it’s like there will be a great display of patriotic British spirit in a gorgeous setting.”
So what can the audience expect?
“There will be the usual mix of opera arias, Broadway and classical songs with the National Symphony Orchestra, along with plenty of frock changes and lots of banter,” Katherine says, excitedly.
And what about emotions back-stage five minutes before show time?
Although she admits to having had pre-gig jitters in her early days, Katherine is quick to point out that performing in front of 74,000 people at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium takes some beating.
“I’m just always really excited to get on stage,” she explains, before adding that her father, who died of lung cancer when Katherine was 15, is always a source of inspiration.
“I’m really calm. I say a little prayer to my dad to bless me for a good performance and then just go out and have fun.”
Asked what has been the crowning glory of her global success, Katherine, 32, replies: “Going out to entertain troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is my proudest moment.
“I have some fantastic memories – they’re such amazing people and it was great to spend time with them.
“Winning two Brit awards was extra-special because it was voted for by the public and all my family were there.”
During the past decade the Welsh beauty has performed with singers from across the classical spectrum, but asked who, dead or alive, she would most like to have shared a stage with, and there’s no contest.
“I have been very lucky to have performed with Plácido Domingo and José Carreras but it would have been amazing to have sung with Luciano Pavarotti to complete the three,” she says.
“I was due to sing with him before he got ill, so that was such a shame because he’s someone I really looked up to.
“As for other people I admire, someone like Adele, who is a different genre but has a big voice, would be great to team up with to do something.”
And a message to Reporter readers who haven’t yet got their picnic concert tickets?
“Anyone who hasn’t been to the picnic concerts before needs to come along because they are a great spectacle and the crowds are just fantastic,” Katherine says.
“For those who have experienced it, thank you for being so awesome in the past and for making the event really special – I can’t wait to see you all again!”
• To be in with a chance of winning one of two pairs of tickets to the Katherine Jenkins concert at Audley End, on August 11, simply answer the following question:
How many classical BRIT awards has Katherine Jenkins won?
E-mail your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 5. Winners will be chosen at random.
Ticket giveaways to the other performances at Audley End will be appearing in the Reporter shortly, so watch this space...