Welcome back to “Let’s Meet”, a weekly interview where we get a chance to meet members of The Toronto Consort’s core ensemble and Artistic Associates. This week, we meet Laura Pudwell, a mezzo celebrating her 35th anniversary with the Consort next year!
How long have you been a professional musician?
Hm. Professional means earning money, right? So, I guess that means I’ve been a professional at some level or another for 43 years. Although I was not admitted to the musuc programme at U of T (I think they said there wasn’t any voice to work with) I essentially put myself through my four years of undergraduate study at Trinity College by singing. I remember doing projects like small ensemble Bach cantatas, singing the alto line and any solos that might be needed. A group of 6 friends began an ensemble called Sexti Toni which performed small concerts if everything from Josquin to English madrigals. And I did lots of recordings for the CBC programme “Two New Hours”.
When did you decide to pursue music?
After graduating with an Honours English degree in 1981, I worked for the Canadian Council of Churches for five years, all the while singing most evenings and every weekend. I sang with Tafelmusik choir for awhile before beginning to do solo work with them, had a church section lead job at St. Paul’s Bloor Street under John Tuttle, and did my first full Messiah in December of 1985. My boss and her husband had chosen that Messiah for their Christmas concert that year, not knowing that I would be involved. They generously invited me to live with them in their home in the Beaches for one year while I investigated what kind of career in music might be possible. Just after that time, David Fallis phoned to ask if I would come to sing for The Toronto Consort, as they were looking for a new singer. Next season (20/21) is my 35th with the group!
What enticed you to your discipline?
I don’t know that I was enticed…I can honestly say I never thought about singing. It’s just something I have always done. It never occurred to me as a young person that I would become a working singer.
Why do you love Early Music Rep?
The earliest music I was exposed to up until University would have been
composers like Byrd, Tallis, and Monteverdi… standard rep for the Cathedral Choir of men and boys, of which my father and brother were members, and for which my mother was assistant organist. In University, through Sexti Toni, I discovered earlier Renaissance composers like Josquin, Du Fay and Jannequin. But what really grabbed me was the Gothic Voices recording “Feather on the Breath of God”. I had never heard anything like Hildegard von Bingens music before, and was absolutely hooked. In fact, I sang Ave Generosa at my audition for the Consort, and later recorded it on our album “Full Well She Sang”.