Guest Post: Bryn Terfel

He’s the acclaimed baritone who has performed many operatic roles on stages at concert halls and festivals across the world, and who helped mark Symphony Hall’s 21st Anniversary with two concerts accompanied by the CBSO in June 2012.

Welsh star Bryn Terfel, awarded a CBE by the Prince of Wales in 2003, is also an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College in Oxford, President of Welsh charity Shelter Cymru and a familiar face here at THSH.

In amongst a busy international touring and recording schedule, Bryn opens a four date UK tour here at Symphony Hall on Friday 7 June, performing with the Manchester Concert Orchestra. THSH staff caught up with him ahead of his visit.

Lyle (Communications): How are you Bryn and where are you in the world at the moment?

Bryn Terfel (BT): I’m in Salt Lake City recording a new album with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It’s truly an awesome experience.

Fiona (Communications): You were last here with us for two days in June 2012, helping us to celebrate the 21st anniversary of Symphony Hall. It was quite a knees-up. What have been your highlights of the 12 months or so since?

BT: Well, it’s been a very busy year since my last visit. In July I hosted Brynfest at the Southbank centre then lots of Wagner – in the Autumn I had the Ring Cycles at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden followed by Fliegende Hollander in Zurich and La Scala for the first two months of 2013. Then since the end of March I’ve virtually travelled around the World – concerts in Abu Dhabi, Oman, Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington, Auckland ending up now in Salt Lake City for the recording.

Read the Guardian’s review of the Symphony Hall 21st Anniversary Concert here

Mary (Customer Intelligence): How do you manage to learn such massive roles such as Wotan?

BT: I lived with the role of Wotan for many years before singing the role. Wagner is something you really have to study over a long period. You firstly have to familiarise yourself with the text before you start to learn the notes. My scores are covered with wine and coffee stains! You thankfully have long rehearsal periods where through discussion with the director and interaction with the rest of the cast you slowly develop the character and learn everyone else’s role as well. You’ve also got to be physically fit for the demanding Wagner roles. I shed 2 stone for the Ring Cycles at the ROH last year.

Chris P (Programming): If you weren’t singing opera, what do you think you’d be doing now?

BT: I always wanted to be a policeman when I was young and also wanted to be a better rugby player than I was. I’d love to have had the feeling of being part of the success the Welsh rugby team are experiencing now!

Abi (Communications): We know like your golf and ale. How’s that going?!

BT: Very well thank you. When I was in Australia a few weeks ago I managed to get a few rounds in – Royal Melbourne and New South Wales Golf Club and of course where better a place to be than in Australia and New Zealand to sample the fine wines, in moderation of course.

Jo (Marketing): If you could only give one more performance ever, what would you sing and at what venue?

BT: It would be the Verdi Requiem at the church of San Marco, Milan, where it was first performed…with the condition that Pavarotti was brought back to sing the tenor solo!

Chris B (Programming): The Beatles or The Stones?

BT: Impossible to answer!

Thuy (Marketing): What can audiences expect from your concert here in Birmingham?

BT: I’ve invited two up and coming Welsh singers Gwawr Edwards and Caryl Hughes to join in me in a programme that is predominantly operatic including favourites such as Toreador Song, Flower duet from Lakme , together with a couple of numbers from musicals. I’m going to be singing in Fiddler on the Roof in 2015 so I thought I’d give the audience a sneak preview of ‘If I Were A Rich Man’ and of course with three Welsh singers on the stage we have to include a traditional Welsh Song – ‘Ar Hyd Y Nos’ (‘All Through The Night’)!

Bryn Terfel performs at Symphony Hall on Friday 7 June 2013