David Allsopp | Countertenor

Countertenor David Allsopp talks about his career and favourite music to perform and listen to.

How did you get your start in music and how did you become involved with Gabrieli?

I started singing aged 9 in Rochester Cathedral Choir and went on to a Choral Scholarship at King's College Cambridge ten years later. I spent four years in the choir there while also reading a degree in computer science – I'd planned to pursue a more ‘normal' career running a company I'd started in my final year but instead applied for and got a job in Westminster Cathedral Choir which started immediately after my leaving King's. The music scene in London is sufficiently close-knit that when a complete outsider gets a job, people gossip and it wasn't long before the Gabrieli choral fixer dropped me a line. My first project was the Spotless Rose programme (which was called Hail Queen of Heaven initially) which we toured in Spain in June 2007 – I think we've now done 21 performances of it and I'm quite amused to be nearly the only member of the consort, apart from Paul of course, still to have done all of the concerts!

Tell us about some of your favourite music (both to perform and listen to). My favourite piece, since long before I first performed it, is Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers (most especially the Ave maris stella and the end of the Magnificat) and I've enjoyed giving quite a few performances of it for its 400th anniversary, both with this group and others. I tend to listen to quite a variety of music, depending on what I'm doing at the time. Most of my CD collection is classical (well, baroque or renaissance, technically speaking: the classical period being a little out of a countertenor's depth!) but also includes albums of a few well-known rock and folk artists as well as several CDs which I generally deny owning!

Tell us a story!
We spend a lot of time performing in churches and cathedrals all over the world in addition to concert halls and some of these don't necessarily have modern creature comforts such as heating (or air conditioning, depending on the time of year!). One performance in Venice a couple of years ago particularly sticks in the memory. We gave a performance one November of Vespers in Chiesa del Redentore in Venice. It's a beautiful basilica – you can even see the water lapping up against steps through its glass doors while performing – but the building is totally unheated. It's certainly the only concert where I've had pyjamas and more than one additional t-shirt on underneath white tie (and still been cold). Though that was nothing compared to the keyboard continuo players who were both wearing gloves and our two violinists who were huddled around the back of the church during the Psalms (which they don't play in) desperately trying to keep their fingers warm ready for the instrumental fireworks needed towards the end of the piece!