Soprano Bibi Heal offers lullabies, prayers and flights of fancy in Chichester

Bibi Heal. Picture by Tim Dunk
Bibi Heal. Picture by Tim Dunk

Soprano Bibi Heal offers The Eyes of a Child, a programme of lullabies, prayers and flights of fancy, as the latest performance in Chichester’s Amici Concerts series.

Founded in 2014 by Amanda Cook and Meg Hamilton, Amici Concerts presents a mixed programme throughout the year of classical, early music, jazz and world music concerts featuring internationally-recognised performers, emerging professional artists and local talent.

Bibi will perform in the University of Chichester’s Chapel of the Ascension, Bishop Otter Campus, College Lane on Thursday, March 24, at 7.30pm. She will sing Poulenc’s Song Cycle La Courte Paille, Schubert’s Ave Maria, folksongs, Juliette’s waltz from Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette and Wiegenleid by Brahms.

“The idea was really anything that might be viewed through the eyes of a child,” says Bibi, who is mum to two-year-old twins.

“The concert is actually on Maundy Thursday. I wasn’t asked for a sacred concert, and I didn’t actually know the final date when I programmed it, but obviously from a children’s perspective is something that opens up lullabies and hymns, and also there is this most incredible song cycle by Poulenc, seven short songs, all very contrasting, that were written as bedtime stories to be sung by his friend and muse for her seven-year-old child.

“It has got the most fantastic scope and sweetness, but all of them are like little microcosms. The idea is that once you have sung the song cycle, then your child is ready to go to sleep! But story-telling in that way is something that really captures the imagination.”

Bibi, who completed her postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music after gaining a first-class degree in music from the University of East Anglia, devised the programme herself: “It’s a bit like writing an essay. The last thing you put on is the title. But really when you are devising a programme, you have got to start with a really brilliant piece that you really want to sing, and for me that was the Poulenc, and then you develop it all from that starting point.”

Inevitably, motherhood gives Bibi a different perspective on everything – though she was quickly back to performing: “The thread of performing is something that has always been there. It just gets a bit finer, but now I am in the position where I can do something once maybe every couple of weeks, but not more than that. It just wouldn’t be possible to do something once a week when you are looking after twins!

“When you have children, all the priorities that you used to have just go out of the window. Obviously some core things stay, of course, but all the things you used to be precious about just disappear, and you get such a wonderful insight into so much more, so many more emotions, especially in poetry. You can tune into emotions in so much more depth and with such a greater depth of feeling.”

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