Kathryn Whitney

BA (Toronto), PGDipPerf (Guildhall), MPhil, DPhil (Oxford)

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Canadian/British singer Dr Kathryn Whitney was raised on Vancouver Island and now divides her time between Britain and Canada. A versatile musician whose work combines concert and recital performance with a wide range of collaborative research, educational and other projects, she is a lyric mezzo-soprano with an “impressively wide dynamic range” (Oxford Times) and a “special gift” for interpreting text (Nanaimo News) whose singing has been described as “meaty”, “prophetic” (Oxford Times) and “very touching” (Sir John Eliot Gardiner). Kathryn is a freelance performer, teacher, researcher, and solo and choral clinician. She is currently an Associate Fellow at the Institute of Musical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Artistic Director of the Winterreise Project, co-Director of the SongArt Performance Research Group at the University of London, co-Artistic Director of the VCM Summer Academy Choral Program, Director of the Solfa Chamber Choir Project, and a member of the voice faculty at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in Canada.

Kathryn was Artist in Residence at the University of Oxford (Wolfson Creative Arts Fellowship, 2002-2005) and at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff (Walton Fellowship, 2009-2010), and in 2012 she was a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Music Performance as Creative Practice (King’s College, London). As a solo singing clinician, she has given masterclasses and workshops for many music colleges and universities, and she tours workshops in vocal technique and choral skills for choirs, including with the British Columbia Choral Federation.

Prior to becoming a performer, Kathryn taught academic music (philosophy of music and music history 1600-present) as a college lecturer at the University of Oxford for over ten years. Kathryn has appeared as a soloist with many ensembles, including the Incontri Musicali (Italy), Budapest Chamber Opera, London Musici, the Oxford Company of Musicians, the Nonesuch Orchestra, London, New Chamber Opera, the Oxford Sinfonietta, Opera Anywhere (UK touring), and in Canada for Voicescapes and the Spiritus Chamber Choir (Calgary), CapriCCio, the Linden Singers, the St Christopher Singers, Victoria, the Palm Court Light Orchestra, the Victoria Baroque Players, and the Sooke Philharmonic. A regular recitalist with a great passion for the song repertoire, she has appeared for many prominent series, including the Oxford Lieder Festival, the Balliol Concerts, the Ralston Recital Hall, Banff, Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, ArtSpring, Salt Spring Island, the Regina Musical Club, and St John’s Smith Square, London. A champion of new music, Kathryn regularly commissions new works, and she has performed over 50 world and national premières, the majority written for her voice.

Her commissioning, touring, and other performance project work has been supported by the Arts Council of England, the BC Arts Council, the Organisation of Saskatchewan Arts Councils, the Vaughan Williams Trust, the Walton Trust, the Royal Musical Association, and the Canada Council for the Arts. Trained initially at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, and the University of Toronto (BA Music & German), Kathryn’s postgraduate studies at Oxford (masters and doctorate in 20th-century music aesthetics) were supported by scholarships from Lady Margaret Hall, Somerville College, and the British Overseas Research Council. Her subsequent studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (PG diploma in early music performance) were supported by an Arts Award from the Worshipful Company of Drapers of London and a Somerville Margaret Pollock Award. Her singing teachers include Cornelius Reid (New York) and Dame Emma Kirkby (London), and her principal teacher is Guildhall professor Susan McCulloch. Kathryn sang her London début at St John’s Smith Square in 2005.