For a sneak peak behind the scenes of Fiori Musicali I decided to start a series of short interviews with the people who make up Fiori.
In this post we hear from Hungarian Soprano extraordinaire Judit Felszeghy.
Why did you decide to make music your career?
My mum sang to me when I was still in her tummy. Singing has always been a natural part of my life. When I was 6 I got a place at a specialist music school with great choir and daily music tuition. At the same age I was accepted to join to the choir which I really enjoyed. I was lucky because I wanted to be there and I had the opportunity to get involved in something I enjoyed.
I decided to make music my career when I was around 14. Being a professional singer had a very appealing way of life. It meant that I could use so many skills and interests I had. It is never boring!
Do you play other kinds of music besides baroque/classical?
When it comes to Baroque singing, my main mentor is Emma Kirkby. I grew up listening to her recordings. Now I have the incredible opportunity to take lessons from her as she accepted me as her private pupil last December. I feel so lucky!
Yes, sometimes I perform musicals, Disney songs and sometimes classical pop songs like songs by Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler and Whitney Houston. I love the traditional folk music of my home country, Hungary, and I often sing folk songs. I enjoy English and other folk music too.
Who’s inspired you?
My other mentors are my other singing teachers, Sylvia Geszty, Krisztina Laki and Csilla Ötvös. I also learnt an enourmous amount of singing skills from my singing partner, Laszlo Blaskovics. In England Penelope Rapson inspired me to perfect my performance, with even more style and elegance.
Is musicality an inborn ability or hard graft practice?
Both. I was born with a natural musicality, a good ear and a good soprano voice. I also work very hard but it’s enjoyable work, practising and getting the best out of the natural talent.
The scariest moment you’ve ever had performing on stage?
I had two such moments that I can think of. One was couple of years ago, when I was very ill throughout winter with really bad laryngitis and a very bad cough. With my ensemble I had a huge concert in Budapest, in a very prestigious concert hall. I hardly had any voice with just a couple of days to go before the concert!
As I got closer to the day I had more or less recovered, but I was concerned that I would’t have my voice back. Fortunately it all went well.
Another time was during a concert in a medieval castle in Slovenia. There was a large wasps’ nest near the concert hall’s window. It had to be open as it was a very hot summer day, but there wasn’t air conditioning. Around 10-15 huge wasps flew in… while I was singing. They were hovering around my head and I was seriously afraid they’d fly in my mouth while singing! I survived the concert without any stingy surprises 🙂
What are you still aiming to achieve?
I would like to achieve an English musical qualification. As all my degrees are Hungarian based, I really would like to start one of the ABRSM music diplomas, and I’ll probably go for the FRSM qualification.
Professionally I would like to have more opportunities to sing with professional groups and gain more musical friendships and partnerships.
What do you do when not playing music? Unusual hobbies/ something we might not expect?
I teach singing and some piano. I read a lot and I love going to the gym and keeping fit. I always danced while I was in Hungary, and I really miss it. I love travelling, and I go to see nice places when my busy schedule allows it.
I recently started running community choirs. I never thought I’d enjoy it so much. It’s music-making, teaching, performing, and also giving pleasure and happiness to other people through music. Great!
What performance sticks in your memory?
I was lucky to see Monserrat Caballe performing live at Budapest Music Academy. I sat really close to the front and it was fantastic to see such a legend singing. The other I can think of is when I had a special experience of singing myself.
I had the feeling – while singing in a concert – that it wasn’t me singing, almost out of body. It was one of Fiori’s concerts at Canons Ashby’s Priory Church. It was as though I heard the performance from the outside. It was a very strange and beautiful feeling. After I had this experience, I found that I could create the same feeling during other concerts.
Thank you so much to Judit for her great answers. For more information on when you can experience Judit performing with Fiori Musicali, check this link out.