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Bryn Terfel

Bryn Terfel

Image: Harlequin Agency

A Man
A Voice

He’s a big man, with a red beard, dusted with grey, a mane of hair (sometimes cropped), a big, mobile mouth, and a huge bass baritone voice that could knock you careening across the room if his tenderness hadn’t already knocked you over with a feather and sent you flying to paradise.

We are preaching to the vast and global choir of Bryn Terfel fans. Called “a voice in a billion,” Terfel is a Brit and a Welshman who can sing with love or comic mischief in English, Italian or German. His ardent musicianship is stunning. His support for the singers performing with him is wonderful.

Terfel and Cecilia Bartoli in the Barber of Seville

The Sydney Morning Herald writes, "Terfel grew up speaking Welsh as his first language, mucking out the lamb sheds, playing rugby and singing, singing, singing. A BBC TV documentary shows footage of teenage, pimply Bryn on stage, opening his throat and pouring out a voice as clear as a chapel bell and beautiful enough to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck."

"I started singing because I come from Wales," says Bryn. He loves Wales, every rock and rill, and Wales has entered his voice.

The Herald, "He began winning eisteddfods after his voice broke when he was 11 and went on to study singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. . .From an early age, he eradicated anxiety from his recitals by telling himself, "I can't be nervous. It will only make my performance worse. So I am going to sing the hell out of this song. I am going to enjoy it and the audience is, too'."

In March, 2006, Bryn Terfel was awarded the Shakespeare Prize, awarded for “outstanding contributions to European cultural heritage in English-speaking countries in Europe”. In July the Queen presented him with the Queen’s Medal for Music, established to honour musicians who have made a profound contribution to Britain’s musical life. In August he held his annual bank holiday festival at beautiful Faenol in North Wales, where he grew up. In November 2006 he toured Singapore, Australia, and Hong Kong.

On stage he is a boon drinking companion, a broken-down knight, a cad, a lover, a cannily intelligent and charismatic and transporting performer singing Figaro, Falstaff, Wotan, Don Giovanni, Papageno, German lieder, English songs by Vaughan Williams and Butterworth, show songs by Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lerner & Loewe, and Welsh songs. He is also married to his childhood sweetheart and raising three children in Wales.

His fans are left speechless at a voice described as "dreamy", "earthy", "like leaves rustling", "comical" and "audacious". One of them, seeing him in a music store, fainted. When she came to she realized she had been bowled over by his life-sized cut-out. To be bowled over by his voice, go here, and turn your volume up. These are the songs he released in September, 2006 – Tutto Mozart, Mozart Forever.

And here Terfel sings Ave Maria with Hayley Westenra and José Carreras. Hayley is a New Zealand soprano whose first album, Pure, reached number one on the UK classical charts in 2003 and sold more than two million copies worldwide.

 

 

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Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008 David Abbott & Catherine Glass