CELEBRATED Ukrainian soprano Alla Kravchuk has performed at every biennial Sedbergh Music Festival since its inception in 2000.
This year her top drawer, beautifully toned voice, graces the festival on Friday, June 13 (8pm), accompanied at St Andrew’s Church by pianist Simon Phillips performing an exciting repertoire from grand opera to lieder.
The following night (Saturday, June 14, 7pm) Alla is back at the church singing in the festival’s fabulous finale - Handel’s Messiah, under the baton of guest conductor Timothy Brown, former director of the widely admired Clare College Cambridge Choir.
Alla studied at the Kiev Conservatoire and grew up in a family that loved music.
“My father had a wonderful tenor voice,” she explained. “He was an architect and was always singing and whenever the family met at granny’s we would sing.
“He was very encouraging. I went to music school, studied piano, sang opera and in musicals and discovered that I was enjoying it very much.”
In 1995 Alla was a prizewinner at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in Wales. Three year later she won a place with the European Opera Centre working with Brigitte Fassbaender and Kent Nagano and may other engagements followed.
She now lives in the UK, after being based in Germany as soloist with Niedersächsische Staatstheater Hannover from 2001-2009.
A highlight of her illustrious career in Hannover was the production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, in which she took one of the title roles. It was voted best production in Germany in 2003. The company performed it at both the Wiener Festwochen and the Edinburgh International Festival before being taken up by the Staatsoper Stuttgart. Alla remained with the production throughout.
“It was an electrifying atmosphere at Edinburgh,” described Alla. “It was wonderful.
“Working with Staatstheater Hannover was a very busy time.
“And it gave me a regular income.
“It was a high peak of my career and now I can slowdown and do more teaching. I can use my experience and also explore more concert repertoire.
“It is a privilege to make a living doing one of the things you like doing best.”
Alla has a strong local connection - her husband Tom Alban is a born and bred Sedberghian (Tom’s parents still live in the Dales town).
They met in 1992, when Tom was a BBC radio journalist - now he’s a BBC Radio 4 producer - and Alla was singing with the Boyan Choir of Kiev; Tom was covering one of the choir’s concerts.
“Tom was in Walford and sat down with us after the concert to do an interview. Afterwards we stayed in touch.”
The two-week Sedbergh Music Festival runs until June 15 Box office 015396-20125.