Bibi Heal and Amanda Cook combine for Festival of Chichester

Bibi Heal
Bibi Heal

Soprano Bibi Heal is promising something magical when she combines with Amanda Cook to offer a voice/guitar recital for this year’s Festival of Chichester, on the theme of Nature versus Nurture.

They will be performing as part of the annual Amici Concerts series within the festival on Wednesday, July 10 at 7.30pm in St Pancras Church, Chichester.

From the heartwarming to the heartbreaking, they are promising to delve through the universal truths of our nature and along the paths of our own nurture in an intimate programme which will juxtapose themes of common humanity through interpretations of Britten, Rodrigo and Schubert.

“I knew Meg Hamilton who runs the Amici series with Amanda,” Bibi says. “I had done some stuff with the Kosmos Ensemble and came and did a concert for the series with Milos and Meg. Meg had just had a brand-new baby. She is just incredible! And I met Amanda who does the series with her and I just immediately felt that I could work with her.

“You just sense when someone is on the same wavelength. You need to have a kind of immediate shorthand with that person if you are going to work with them, from the logistics of putting the event together and even the way you send emails back and forth between you, right through to the event itself, what your priorities are going to be for the actual show. You get a feeling for that straight away, and I sensed it with Amanda.

“Of course it is really valid to work with someone who flummoxes you at every turn because you always learn so much when you come up against the unexpected, but if you are creating a duo, there is an efficiency which is required. You need to able to do stuff in a way that isn’t nebulous. You can’t just hang out in the rehearsal room and see what happens. There is a practicality to it and a priority to it which are really important. There is something very particular about a duo. It is very difficult to have a duo with someone if you are not on that same wavelength.”

Certainly not a problem she will encounter with Amanda.

“We have done quite an eclectic selection of music so far. It feels like we have traversed such a lot. We have gone from very simple folk to full-on Spanish and operatic extracts and Lieder and early music and new commissions… even though we have probably only actually done two concerts together so far.

“But things have just slipped into place. We will be talking about something, and Amanda will be saying ‘Oh yes, I get it, I get it.’ This is the first guitar duo I have done. I have done stuff with guitar before but it has been bits and pieces with an ensemble where maybe just to change the texture I have done something solo with the guitar.

“But it is completely different when you are doing a whole concert with a guitar. You need to make sure that you have got the same language and that your languages are completely compatible.

“You have got to make sure that you are both pushing in exactly the same direction or else the audience won’t get that sense of communication that you need to be able to show between you.”

The point is that the guitar/voice combination is special: “It is the intimacy that you get. It is pared right, right back. You can get a vulnerability which can be quite searing as well as being really quite uplifting and visceral. You are never in a wash of sound. It is also totally transparent which means that you have got to be extraordinarily good! There is nowhere to hide – which is also fabulous.

“It is like doing a bedtime story or playing to just two or three people who are three feet away. It has got to be so pure and so clean, and the guitar really really supports that. And I think it can create a magic straight away.”

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