About the artist(s)
Winner of Second Prize at the 2020 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, Ella Taylor is a soprano with a passion for performing contemporary music and works by women and gender non-conforming artists. They graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, where they gained Distinction in MA Performance, a DipRAM for an outstanding final recital, and the Charles Norman Prize, and during 2019 / 2020 were a Young Artist at London’s National Opera Studio. For more about Ella, read their full bio below.
Here are highlights from Ella’s conversation with The Enormity of Now:
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Ella Taylor. I’m a freelance classical soprano. I’m trans and proud. I’m at a stage in my career where I do most things because I need the money but hopefully one day I won’t have to accept everything. I’m at the start of my career and stuck between a rock and a hard place. There’s no work, but the work that there is goes to people that would already get the work.
How did you get here?
I’ve wanted to be a singer, probably since I was fourteen. That was when I was having singing lessons with a teacher who was fierce. It wasn’t about singing because it was fun, it was because you were good and it was possible to do things with it. I always knew I wanted to be a singer, I just wasn’t sure what type.
The path of a singer can never be straight. Sometimes things just don’t go your way. After my Master’s, I was rejected from every single place I applied for. I spent a year feeling sorry for myself and doing bits of freelance work and teaching. Then I tried again a year later. I got rejected from almost everywhere. The last place was The National Opera Studio, and that was the one I thought I’d never get in there. And that was the one that took me. I eventually came second in the Kathleen Ferrier Awards (thank f*ck), found an agent (again, thank f*ck). Now for the first time in my life, I feel secure in my position as a singer in this weird world. I’m just trying to ride the wave and not feel too anxious about it.
How has the journey of your art/career engaged your voice – personally, artistically, politically?
I don’t think there is an artistic journey without an emotional or political journey. I came out as trans at twenty-two years old. I’d finished my undergraduate, got into the Royal Academy of Music, I was moving. There were decisions to be made about how to present yourself to the world professionally. If you do that as a trans person, that’s a political choice as well as a personal choice. I did it a couple of years later, at twenty-four. At first, I thought I’d lead a double life, like a sh*t spy, but that was personally and artistically draining. My decision has completely freed me personally and artistically. Most trans people have spent most of their lives being bloody miserable. Certainly, they have to analyze their body and mind so much more. It’s a curse and a privilege, in a way, to know oneself so intimately, to be able to take those steps.
What is the voice that you found while finding your voice?
I like to hope that it’s the voice of someone brave, of someone who can speak up when they see things that are wrong. And on a shallow point, a voice that’s bloody good at singing.
Winner of Second Prize at the 2020 Kathleen Ferrier Awards, Ella Taylor is a soprano with a passion for performing contemporary music and works by women and gender non-conforming artists. They graduated from the Royal Academy of Music, where they gained Distinction in MA Performance, a DipRAM for an outstanding final recital and the Charles Norman Prize and during 2019 / 2020 were a Young Artist at London’s National Opera Studio. They currently study with Elizabeth Ritchie.
Operatic work includes Galatea Acis and Galatea at the Royal Academy of Music, Countess Almaviva Le Nozze di Figaro for the Strand Chamber Orchestra and Second Lady Die Zauberflöte for Lyric Opera Studio, Weimar). They have also created the roles of Susanne Meyer in Jonathan Higgins’s Schutzwall for Tête à Tête and Father in Alex Mills’ and Gareth Mattey’s A Father is Looking for his Daughter for Rough for Opera/Second Movement, as well as performing in scenes as Agnès Written on Skin, The Governess The Turn of the Screw, Vixen Sharp-Ears The Cunning Little Vixen and Cendrillon in both Massenet and Viardot’s versions of Cendrillon.
Notable concert highlights include Górecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs at Sheffield Cathedral, Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire at the Royal Academy of Music, and a performance on BBC Radio 3 of Oliver Knussen’s Trumpets at the British Composer Awards. Their BBC broadcasts further include Music Matters and their concert repertoire includes many of the major oratorios by J. S. Bach, Handel, Haydn and Mozart.
Ella Taylor is a keen collaborator and recitalist, making a dedicated effort to work with and perform works by people underrepresented in classical music. Recent collaborations include the project After Violence with _REMIX; an exploration of violence and masculinity through a queer lens with drag artist Rhys’s Pieces, as well as working with composers and librettists in the creation of new, LGBT+ work. They also have performed at Leeds Lieder as part of the Composer and Poets Forum and with Ensemble 360 at Music in the Round.
Other accolades include the Lesley Garrett Opera Prize (David Clover Singers Platform), finalist in the Peter Hulsen Orchestral Song Award with the Southbank Sinfonia, and being awarded BBC Chorister of the Year.
Ella Taylor’s time at the Studio was generously supported by Cooper Sinclair, the Sybil Tutton Award from Help Musicians UK and the Opera Awards Foundation.
Their current engagements include Paris Paride ed Elena for Bampton Classical Opera, The Fox (Cover) The Cunning Little Vixen for English National Opera, The Cock The Cunning Little Vixen on tour with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (Birmingham, Dortmund, Hamburg, Paris), Josquin des Prez: Mille Regretz for English Touring Opera’s Spring 2021 Digital Season, Pierrot Lunaire with The Façade Ensemble and Momentum: Our Future, Now Recitals with Roderick Williams for the 2021 Brighton Festival (at Glyndebourne) and at Vinehall School. They have also been selected as a Semi-Finalist for the 2021 Royal Overseas League Music Competition.