Rory McCleery – Counter Tenor

What do you do?

I’m a countertenor (so a man who sings high!) and conductor – it’s about an even split, although my conducting is mostly working with choirs and vocal ensembles (including The Marian Consort, the ensemble I founded), so it’s all part and parcel of the same corner of the musical world… Given my voice type, I find myself primarily singing early and contemporary music, which is handy as I find both endlessly fascinating – it’s always great to be able to combine the two!

What excites you musically?

All sorts of things! For me, the most important thing in music is probably the communication of emotion: this can be in any number of ways, in many different genres and styles of music. As a performer, I want to feel like there’s always a real connection with the audience, whether in a concert or on disc.

What do you have coming up next?

Quite a few performances of Handel’s Messiah (you can’t really get away with being a singer and not doing it at this time of year!) including one in the Usher Hall in Edinburgh just after New Year. Also, a concert/play about the life of Galileo, with lots of lovely Baroque music that he might have known himself.

Tim asks Rory – How does your work leading and conducting the Marian Consort inform your work as a singer?

The two are really different sides of the same coin, and I always find that thinking about music with one hat on helps to inform what you do when wearing the other. It’s so important as a singer performing as part of an ensemble (which you always are, whether vocal or instrumental – very rarely are we left all by ourselves!) to be aware of the whole picture – the other performers and everything else that’s going on in the music besides your own part – and as a conductor it’s vital to know the expectations of your musicians, so how it feels to sing a particular phrase, where you’re likely to breathe…

Alex asks Rory – If you had to be a member of the Royal family, who would you choose and why?

I’m not an ardent Royalist, but I have had the good fortune to meet a few of them on various occasions – I think probably Prince Charles, as I once performed with him in the audience at Buckingham Palace, and was very impressed that there was someone whose sole job seemed to be waiting to hand him a G&T the second the concert ended!