Ruby Hughes (photographer Barry Hale)
Who or what inspired you to take up singing, and make it your career?
Philip Evry, my mother. Iain Burnside and Graham Johnson Robin Bowman inspired me to pursue singing professionally.
Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career?
My mentor Lillian Watson, David Sirus, Dinah Harris, Laurence Cummings, Julius Drake, my best friend and compatriot Olivia Chaney, Adam Gatehouse.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
Singing what I love singing. Jumping in for a concert, learning Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos and Barber Knoxville in 36 hours for live radio broadcast.
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
Mahler Ruckert Lieder with the BBC Philharmonic and John Storgards, Phaedra with Thomas Sondergard and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, recordings with the wonderful Julius Drake, Berg and Chausson with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. These have been hugely special experiences as New Generation Artist at the BBC.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
Lucerne Concert Hall was the most perfect acoustic I have ever experienced. I adore church acoustics so St Georges Hanover Square is very special, and LSO St Lukes. I also enjoy QEH, Ulster Hall, and Glasgow Concert Hall – to name a few.
Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?
I love listening to Brahms chamber music, music for solo piano by Chopin and Schubert, Schubert and Schumann song, Mahler symphonies, Shostakovich and Prokofiev symphonies and ballets. Berg’s ‘Wozzek’, Strauss’s ‘Alpine’ symphony at full blast!!, Monteverdi ‘Vespers’, Tallis, Byrd.
To perform, I adore Schubert, Schumann, Bach, Handel, Berg, Britten, Mahler, Monteverdi, Purcell, and I love discovering new gems too!
Who are your favourite musicians?
Richter, Kleiber, Oistrakh, Callas, Margaret Price, Jessie Norman, Rostrapovitch, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong. From today’s generation Truls Mork, Laurence Cummings, Cristian Curnyn, Kozena, Sondergaard, Storgards, Paul Lewis, Imogen Cooper, Artemis quartet, Nico Altstadt, AKAMUS, OAE………the list goes on and on.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Probably the most recent: jumping in for BBC Proms with Imogen Cooper and James Gilchrist in Britten’s Abraham and Isaac.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Go to art galleries, look at paintings, sculpture, ceramics – this is the life blood for inspiration and imagination. I have learnt a great deal from instrumental recitals regarding sound as well as from singers, and seeing how performers, actors, and musicians communicate is really important in finding one’s own way of performing. Also, never forget the joy of music making. With the rough and tumble of this industry, my manager never ceases to remind me of this
What are you working on at the moment?
Gorecki ‘Symphony of Sorrows’ for the BBC Proms on September the 4th and a recording of Venetian Christmas Music for BIS.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
Eating ice-cream with my nieces or being neighbours with my favourite people, maybe bringing up a couple of little ones of my own, who knows.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Discovering new places, meeting new and interesting people, dancing with good friends, cooking good food, Thai massage, being spontaneous, and living each day to the full!
What is your most treasured possession?
My mother’s Jazz Piano ceramics, which she made just before I was born. The other is my cello which I would love to start playing properly again at some point.
What do you enjoy doing most?
Too many things to mention!
What is your present state of mind?
Breezy, summery, and with a coffee
A BBC New Generation Artist and winner of both First Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2009 London Handel Singing Competition, Ruby Hughes is the daughter of the celebrated Welsh ceramicist Elizabeth Fritsch. She gained a First Class Distinction Concert Diploma in Concert and Song at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Munich, and was awarded a Royal Philharmonic Society Susan Chilcott Award. A former Samling Scholar, she gained a full scholarship to study with Lillian Watson at the Royal College of Music, London, graduating in July 2009.
Read Ruby’s full biography here
My review of Ruby Hughes, with James Gilchrist and Imogen Cooper, in ‘Britten Up Close’ at the 2013 BBC Proms