The Corner

Music

A Voice to Listen To

Sir John Tomlinson (Royal Opera House, via YouTube)

In something of a miracle, Sir John Tomlinson speaks almost as beautifully as he sings. I mean the quality of his voice — his speaking voice. And what he says. He is wonderfully eloquent, and you can learn a lot from him.

Sir John is an eminent British bass, now appearing at the Salzburg Festival. He took part in a series of conversations we have here, and we turned this session into a podcast — a Q&A, here.

We talked about his growing up in Lancashire; his development as a singer; what life is like as a bass; the mystery of Britishness in music; and many other things. Sir John was born in 1946, in a community with lots of music-making. Not just listening to the radio and that sort of thing — actual music-making, in church, brass bands, men’s choirs, etc. Is that all gone now? What difference does it make?

Anyway, you will enjoying listening to Sir John Tomlinson. And he does more than talk: He does a fair amount of singing in the course of this conversation — including the opening of Boris Godunov. Not bad. Not bad at all.

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