The Human Voice
David Jackson, Artistic Director for BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, shares what he’s most looking forward to during Festival of Voice
The human voice is such a fascinating source of pleasure and communication – we all have a voice – and it’s the most personal and moving medium of them all.
Singing, speaking, shouting, crying, laughing – it’s how we link up with one another as human beings. The quality of the human voice can be a remarkable thing – it’s possible to fall in love with the sound of someone’s voice on the radio or on the ‘phone even though we can’t see them.
The sound of the human voice is the first thing most of us heard, and the voices of our loved ones will always draw us to them. Here in Wales the singing voice is particularly admired and rightly so – some of the world’s finest singers hail from Wales, and the hackneyed phrase Land of Song is only hackneyed because, by and large, it’s true. When I moved to Cardiff with my family in 1997 I presumed that Land of Song was no more than a cutesy tag, like The Land of Smiles, or Home of the Brave.
In fact, Welsh people love singing and sing whenever they can – at the rugby, in the pub, in church and even, as I discovered, in business meetings when they want to illustrate a point!
So what could be more appropriate than a Festival of Voice in Cardiff? This wonderful opportunity to celebrate the human voice in all its rich variety should be embraced by us all. My personal love affair with the singing voice is focused on classical music – and began when I was a student in Glasgow, hearing Puccini’s Turandot on some scratchy LPs (remember those?) in the university library. Those soaring, powerful voices and the heart tugging melodies crept in to my heart and have stayed there ever since.
These days I’m lucky enough to have the task of looking after BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, one of the most highly regarded singing competitions in the world, which happens in Cardiff every other year, focused purely on classical singing – and after its solitary existence for over thirty years will henceforth be a year-about partner of Festival of Voice.
The rich, exciting range of events on offer at this Festival of Voice means there’s no shortage of choice – it’s like a wonderful selection box of chocolates. The only restrictions are likely to be time and money, but here are a few of my personal recommendations, definitely biased by my love for classical singing!
And of course, La Voix Humaine (The Human Voice), Francis Poulenc’s fascinating, dark operatic masterpiece for a solitary female singer in an intriguing new production by David Pountney, set in an apartment in Penarth, a well-to-do town adjacent to the city. Sounds like it will be well worth going to this intimate experience.
It promises to be a wonderful couple of weeks. Let’s make the most of it!
David Jackson: Artistic Director, BBC Cardiff Singer of the World