Songs in the key of life

Soprano Katrina Nimmo
Soprano Katrina Nimmo
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THE career of a talented opera singer from Lundin Links is soon to steal her voice away from her beloved Scotland.

But those who appreciate the classical things in life still have a chance to hear soprano Katrina Nimmo before she takes up a place at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Opera School.

From tonight (Wednesday) until Saturday, the 27-year-old will star in “King Arthur and Sundry Other Music from the Genius of Mr Henry Purcell” at Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh.

Described as a series of entertaining musical interludes based on the concept of ‘Britishness’, the production combines humour with, of course, oustanding music.

Katrina, who was a pupil at Kirkland High School and later Waid Academy, took some time out from rehearsals to talk to the Mail about her Levenmouth childhood and her hopes for the future.

She moved to Lundin Links when her parents bought Peacehaven Care Home but, even today, they still can’t quite get their heads around their daughter’s choice of career.

“I’ve no idea where my singing comes from – both my parents are tone deaf,” she laughed.

“I never even saw an opera until I was 16 even though I had already decided years earlier to be an opera singer.”

‘Even now my dad’s reaction to it all is hilarious.”

Katrina found a mentor at Kirkland High in music teacher George Gordon, who along with his wife, Robin, at Waid, gave her the best possible start.

Refreshingly, given Kirkland’s sometimes less than glowing reputation, Katrina can’t sing its praises loudly enough. “If I could go back to one school it would be Kirkland,” she vowed. “I had such great friends there and didn’t get as much hassle as I did at Waid.

She added: “The teachers were so inspirational. The school gets so much flak but the music department was so strong.”

What makes Katrina’s journey quite remarkable is the fact that she developed ME at the age of 11 and endured the illness’ debilitating effects for 10 years before doctors managed to diagnose the condition.

She explained: “I felt exhausted constantly – fell asleep so much, missed so much school – and I just felt like giving up but, once it was finally diagnosed, I started to be able to manage the condition through acupuncture.”

Nevertheless, during those years, the teenage Katrina competed at the Fife Festival of Music for several years and won a number of classes including the Lieder and Light Opera categories.

Last year, after obtaining an undergraduate degree in Latin and Ancient Greek, she graduated from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Master of Music Programme.

As well as performing at classical concerts across the country, Katrina also teaches voice and has a post as alto in Glasgow Cathedral Choir.

Work on the oratorio platform includes the solo roles in Handel’s Messiah (Thomas Coates Memorial Festival Chorus, 2010), Haydn’s Nelson Mass (Culbin Singers and in Oban Cathedral 2011) Haydn’s Theresienmesse (Culbin Singers) and Mozart’s Coronation Mass (Lanark Philharmonic Society 2012).

As a recitalist, Katrina was awarded Highly Commended in the Debussy Prize (2011) and Scots Song Prize (2009) at the RCS.

Following two years in Cardiff, she has firm ideas where she would like her career to progress.

“I’d love to go and work on the continent and build experience in performing there. People say ‘those who can’t do, teach’ but that’s not true. Ultimately, because I feel very strongly about music education in Scotland, I’d like to come back and share my experience here.”

Catch Katrina’s King Arthur tonight, on Friday and Saturday – all performances take place at 7.30pm at the Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh. For tickets (priced £6-£12) visit www.xtspro.com or call 07543 496155.