Concert for Kathleen

Centenary event: Kathleen Ferrier
Centenary event: Kathleen Ferrier
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One of South Ribble’s best-loved daughters will be celebrated next month with a special concert.

Singer, Kathleen Ferrier, first rose to prominence before the outbreak of the Second World War when the contralto achieved an international reputation as a stage, concert and recording artist.

With a repertoire extending from folksong and popular ballads, Kathleen, who was born in Higher Walton on 22 April 1912 went on to become arguably the finest female singer England has ever produced.

The special concert to commemorate the singer is being supported by the Kathleen Ferrier Society, formed in 1993 to mark the 40th anniversary of her death, which now has more than 200 members from around the world.

Councillor Phil Smith, South Ribble Borough Council cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration, leisure and healthy communities, said: “Kathleen Ferrier was a remarkable contralto who remains very popular, even to this day, which is testament to her extraordinary singing voice.

“This special concert in Leyland is a wonderful way to mark the centenary of her birth and I hope as many people as possible support this excellent event.”

The daughter of a Lancashire village schoolmaster, Ferrier showed early talent as a pianist, and won numerous amateur piano competitions while working as a telephonist with the General Post Office.

She did not take up singing seriously until 1937.

In 1942 her career was boosted when she met the conductor Malcolm Sargent, who recommended her to the influential Ibbs and Tillett concert management agency.

She became a regular performer at leading London and provincial venues, and made numerous BBC radio broadcasts.

After the outbreak of the Second World War Ferrier was recruited by the Council for the Encouragement of [Music and] the Arts (CEMA), and in the following years sang at concerts and recitals throughout England

Ferrier was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 1951 and inbetween periods of hospitalisation and convalescence, she continued to perform and record.

Her final public appearance was as Orfeo, at the Royal Opera House in February 1953, eight months before her death.

Her passing came as a shock to the musical world and particularly to the general public, which was kept in ignorance of the nature of her illness until after her death

On New Year’s Day 1953 she was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

The concert will be held next month at St Andrew’s Parish Church, Leyland, on Saturday November 10 at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £10 for adults, with accompanied children under 16 admitted free, and are available from South Ribble Museum and Exhibition Centre, Malcolm’s Music Land and choral society members.