Who or what inspired you to take up singing, and pursue a career in music?
I was inspired by two things: first, joining Sheffield Cathedral Choir at age 10, and then at age 14 my first singing lesson with my first teacher, Vivien Pike.
Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?
My godmother has always been a great support and influence. She is also an opera singer and has a successful career. Watching her succeed has driven me to succeed.
What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?
A challenge that I have faced and continue to face is respect and understanding of my gender identity. I am non-binary, and came out professionally in March of this year with a post on my website. Changes are made to my biography to complete eradicate my pronouns (they/them). How can the public be expected to accept the use of these if they are never given a chance to see them?
Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?
I am particularly proud of my performance at the Royal Academy of Music of Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, as it was the first large piece of modern music I had attempted. I am also proud of a recording on my Soundcloud of an aria from a Bach cantata, with an obbligato solo by Rachel Podger.
Which particular works do you think you perform best?
I don’t believe there is a definite answer to that question. When I enjoy a piece of music, I sing it well! I do enjoy singing contemporary and modern repertoire, and Mozart.
How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?
It really depends on what I have been asked to sing, or what I have to prepare for an audition.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?
I love performing in Sheffield Cathedral, both for acoustic and nostalgic reasons.
Who are your favourite musicians?
In ‘popular’ music, I love St Vincent and Tune-Yards. In classical music, Rachel Podger, Barbara Hannigan and Miah Persson.
What is your most memorable concert experience?
Every concert is memorable and special in its own way but performing Pierrot Lunaire will be a memory I cherish forever.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
If I can be singing music that I love, with nice colleagues and for a decent amount of money – I’d call that successful!
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Never be afraid to experiment and deviate from the norm!
Ella Taylor performs in ‘After Violence: Baroque Drag, Gender, Masculinity and Violence’ at Sutton House, east London, on Friday 16 November.
Using the music of baroque composer John Dowland, After Violence incorporates elements of dance, cabaret, drag, electronic-pop and baroque music to explore plural perspectives on maleness and masculinity. Further information
Ella Taylor is a recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, where they gained Distinction in MA Performance, a DipRAM for an outstanding final recital, and the Charles Norman Prize.
Ella has a particular interest in performing and premiering new music. Their recent work includes workshopping a new Tansy Davies opera with The Royal Opera House, along with appearances at the Leeds Lieder Festival in the Composer and Poets Forum as part of the Day of Song. At the Royal Academy of Music, they performed Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and Freya Waley-Cohen’s We Phonecian Sailors. Opera scenes include Agnès from Written on Skin, as well as premiering Jonathan Higgins’s Schutzwall, playing the character of Susanne Meyer at the Tête à Tête festival.
Other roles include Miles from Britten’s The Turn of the Screw (Manchester Opera Ensemble), Galatea in Handel’s Acis and Galatea (Royal Academy of Music), La Contessa in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (Strand Chamber Orchestra), and Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte (Lyric Opera Studio Weimar), as well as performing scenes as the Governess from The Turn of the Screw, and Leonore from Fidelio (Royal Academy of Music).
A keen recitalist and collaborator, they have an on-going relationship with the ensemble 4 Girls 4 Harps, as well as the Strand Chamber Orchestra, having recently performed Mahler’s Rückert Lieder with them. While at Academy, they were a member of the prestigious Song Circle and a Kohn Foundation Bach cantata scholar. Other collaborations include work with Ensemble 360 in Music in the Round’s May Festival, singing John Tavener’s Akhmatova Songs, along with work with the groups _REMIX and Oedipa in a project based around Dowland lute songs.
Commended in the Mozart Singing Competition, they were also runner-up the David Clover Singers Platform Recital Prize, as well as the Lesley Garrett Opera Prize, and awarded of BBC Chorister of the Year.
Photo: Jacob Millen-Bamford