Originally, Emma Kirkby had no expectations of becoming a professional singer. As a classics student at Oxford, then a schoolteacher, she sang for pleasure in choirs and small groups, always feeling most at home in Renaissance and Baroque repertoire. She joined the Taverner Choir in 1971 and in 1973 began her long association with the Consort of Ancient Music.
Emma has built long-term relationships with chamber groups and orchestras, in particular London Baroque, the Freiburger Barockorchester, L’Orfeo(of Linz) and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and now with some of the younger groups such as the Palladian Ensemble and Florilegium.
To date she has made well over a hundred recordings of all kinds, from sequences of Hildegarde of Bingen to madrigals of the Italian and English Renaissance, cantatas and oratorios of the Baroque, works of Mozart, Haydn and J C Bach. More recent recordings include Classical Kirkby, devised and performed with Anthony Rooley; Cantatas by Cataldo Amodei; with Fretwork, consort songs by William Byrd; Scarlatti Stabat Mater with Daniel Taylor; Honey from the Hive, songs of John Dowland, with Anthony Rooley; Musique and Sweet Poetrie; and lute songs from Europe with Jakob Lindberg.
In 1999 Emma was voted Artist of the Year by Classic FM Radio listeners; in November 2000 she received the Order of the British Empire, and in June 2007 was delighted to be included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for appointment as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Despite all the recording activity, Emma still prefers live concerts, especially the pleasure of performing favourite programmes with colleagues; every occasion, every venue and every audience will combine to create something new from this wonderful repertoire. She is generously committed to sharing her skills and knowledge through teaching, and has warmly commended the mix of concerts at Powderham between established performers and our New Generation Artists from Conservatoires and Specialist Music Schools.