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It’s the start of February, creeping towards the middle of February, and we’ve juuuust entered the busy zone ahead of this month’s tour, called Prophecy (in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London). This is the part where everything hits at once and musicians and office staff look at their to-do lists and realise that, quite suddenly, everything needs to be done at once. If only there were some way of predicting that this would happen…

We’re performing a gorgeous programme, though, which always helps – as does finding an absolutely top-class, internationally-renowned soloist when your advertised singer has to cancel. As a regular performer on some of the most prestigious stages across the world, we were fortunate enough to confirm a space in Scottish mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill’s diary.

Karen replaces Christine Rice, who is unfortunately unwell – we’d like to wish Christine a speedy recovery, and very much hope to work with her again in the near future.

The joint winner of the 2002 Kathleen Ferrier Award, Karen is consistently praised for a voice which is luscious yet strong, robust yet nuanced; full of her obvious passion for music and performance as well as technical excellence. Recent Scottish performances include three shows at the 2017 Edinburgh International Festival, and the Bluebeard’s Castle double bill with Scottish Opera and our own past collaborators, the pioneering theatre company Vanishing Point – but for those who still haven’t had the pleasure of catching her live, we’ve rounded up some of the best bits you can find on Youtube by means of a taster.

(1) Marguerite’s aria from Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust

In 2017, Karen performed Berlioz’s colossal work with the the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, no less. If you want to hear the whole thing, you’ll be glad to hear that it was live-streamed from The Barbican and the recording is online here.

(2) Urlicht from Mahler’s Symphony No.2

Beautiful, soft, emotive Mahler from his deservedly popular second symphony, known as The Resurrection Symphony and exploring the grandeur and beauty of the concepts of the afterlife and resurrection.

(3) Wood Dove’s Song from Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder

Another with Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra, this time from the 2017 Proms and really nailing the Wood Dove’s Song, a story of death and grief from Schoenberg’s ambitious cantata, Gurre-Lieder.

(4) Mahler’s The Song Of The Earth

And, more Mahler! This time in a rather gorgeous setting as part of the Festival de Saint-Denis in France, along with the Orchestre National de France.

(5) Verdi’s Requiem

Your final treat – the entire performance of Verdi’s immense requiem-slash-opera, with Donald Runnicles conducting the Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the 2015 BBC Proms.

Karen Cargill joins Scottish Ensemble for Prophecy at The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh (Tue 20 Feb 2018), Wellington Church, Glasgow (Wed 21 Feb 2018) and Kings Place, London (Fri 23 Feb 2018), performing music by Haydn, Stravinsky, Berlioz and Purcell, including Purcell’s famous aria, ‘When I Am Laid In Earth (Dido’s Lament).