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Biography

Penelope Turner is a versatile singer with a large range and an expressive voice capable of producing many different shades and colours of sound.

In her programmes she puts great emphasis on the importance of text and context; careful consideration is given to setting and there is always a strong dramatic content and often a good dose of humour.

Penelope is based in Brussels and sings as a soloist and in small ensembles. Recent solo projects have highlighted her interest in modern and contemporary music, and in particular in composers who mix genres such as classical with jazz, or contemporary with early music.

Performance Highlights

1998 – 2019 

  • CD release in December 2018 of Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady’s first CD: Weill Times, a black tango, available on homerecords.be.
  • Collaboration with the Koriolis Kamerkoor both as Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady and as soloist with the choir.
  • Creation and performance with pianist Andrew Wise of four Kurt Weill programmes with Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady:
    • Weill at Sea. Songs inspired by water by Kurt Weill and contemporaries (2017).
    • Somewhere in Between. Songs in German, French and English by Kurt Weill and assorted Sophisticated Ladies (2016).
    • Marlene in Paris. A programme of songs inspired by Marlene Dietrich and her time in Paris in the 1930s (2014/2015).
    • Just Kurt. Songs by Kurt Weill from the 1920s, 30s and 40s (2013/2014).
  • Projects with the medieval/contemporary vocal ensemble Mora Vocis (three – five female soloists):
    • Mater Dolorosa – Femmes au Tombeau. Many performances in France and the Netherlands (e.g., Festival Radio France; L’Eglise des Billettes, Paris (live recording for national radio); Odyssud; Nederlands Gregoriaans Festival, ‘s-Hertogenbosch; Sinfonia en Périgord; Septembre Musicale de l’Orne.
  • Projects with the medieval/contemporary vocal ensemble La Noeva (six female soloists):
    • Puer Natus Est: Christmas concerts of medieval music (2018).
    • 13th century Llibre Vermell with La Noeva, during En Chemin (2018) and Festival de Wallonie, Les Nuits de Septembre (2016).
    • Hildegard Von Bingen and early polyphony with La Noeva in Festival de Wallonie, Villers la Ville (2015).
  • Collaboration with other renowned ensembles including:
    • Ensemble Oltremontano at Brussels Cathedral.
    • Ensemble Dal Canzoniere (Vincent Grégoire): music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier at Brussels Cathedral.
    • Currende (Erik Van Nevel)
    • Ex tempore (Florian Heyerick)
  • Collaboration with composer Stevie Wishart:
    • York Early Music Festival with Hildegard Vespers and Sinfonye (2013).
    • Hildegard Von Bingen and Stevie Wishart in the ‘Inner Garden’, a FoAM production in the glasshouses of Ghent’s botanical gardens (2013).
    • UK PROM concert with the BBC Singers and Stevie Wishart’s group Sinfonye (2011).
    • Première of Stevie Wishart’s piece Europa at the Styriate Festival, Graz (2007).
  • Miscellaneous projects with pianist Andrew Wise:
    • Classic meets Cabaret. A classical recital programme of  works by 20th century and contemporary composers with a touch of cabaret (2007).
  • Co-founder of two ensembles specializing in the interpretation and dramatic setting of medieval music – in particular the music of the Ecole de Notre Dame of Léonin and Pérotin:
    • co-founder of four-voice ensemble Ut Sol (2002).
    • co-founder of three-voice female ensemble Trigon, 1998 winner of the International Young Artists’ Presentation (Festival of Flanders), Antwerp, Belgium.

Publications

Penelope began her singing career as a choral scholar at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, whilst studying law.  After becoming a UK solicitor, she finished her musical training with a course in early vocal ensemble music with Dr. Rebecca Stewart at the Brabants Conservatory in the Netherlands. Shortly thereafter, she won first prize at the Belgian International Young Artists’ Presentation for early music with the three-voice medieval ensemble Trigon.

Since 1998, Penelope has specialized in early music, and modern and contemporary music, performing at internationally renowned venues including: the Festival of Flanders (Antwerp) and the Festival of Wallonia (Liège and Brabant-Wallon); the Utrecht Festival for early music; the York Early Music Festival; the UK PROM series; the Styriarte Festival, Graz; the Herrenhausen Festival, Hannover; the Festival d’Ile de France; the Festival Radio France; Odyssud; Sinfonia en Périgord; Septembre Musicale de l’Orne; the Slovenia Brezice Festival; and (as soloist) the BOZAR (Henri le Boeuf) concert hall, Brussel; these, in addition to numerous other venues in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Since 2005, Penelope has also been involved in educational projects (for example, in partnership with the Réseau de Musiciens Intervenants en Ateliers (ReMuA), the BOZAR Education Department and the Orchestre Nationale de Belgique and Educ’Art).

Penelope has extensive recording experience, both for CD and live radio, in particular with Mora Vocis, Trigon (Music for Candlemas, released in 2000), Aquarius and the Laudantes Consort.  In 2006 she recorded the contemporary work Song of the Mountains by Frances Turner. The CD she recorded in 2016 with Mora Vocis is awaiting release. Penelope’s first CD with Kurt and the Sophisticated Lady was released in 2018.

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