Sally Dunkley | Soprano

Not only does Sally Dunkley sing in the Consort, she is well known for her editions of early choral repertoire, which have featured prominently on several Gabrieli recordings including the recent releases A Spotless Rose (2009) and The Road to Paradise (2007). Sally leads a varied musical life, which she describes below.

What has drawn you to early music?
My starting point was wanting to sing the music – acquiring some vocal technique with which to do it was a later ambition. I owe so much to two mentors: Martindale Sidwell, one of the great choir-trainers whose profile should have been much more widely known and whose professional consort sopranos were my esteemed role models, and David Wulstan, my tutor at Oxford and the director of the pioneering ensemble the Clerkes of Oxenford, which was a large part of my life for more than ten years.

Since then, as a professional singer with the Gabrieli Consort I've sung in projects ranging from a sprightly Messiah to a 40-part Mass by Biber to the recent programmes The Road to Paradise and A Spotless Rose, text-based compilations that present 16th-century vocal music alongside 20th-century settings. (And got to visit Bogota as well as a lot of stunning cathedrals and churches in Spain.) I also enjoy singing with Philip Cave's group Magnificat, and with The Sixteen, of which I'm a founder member; in addition, there were over 1000 concerts with the Tallis Scholars, and along that route I made lifelong friends as well as catching a glimpse of many countries and cities that I hope to return to at leisure one day, when there's time. (Enjoying the travelling is definitely a useful thing in this line of business.) Listing all my recordings for the PPL royalty scheme took a long time, as there seem to be rather a lot of them. Incidentally, my Desert Island selection would include music by Philippe Rogier (Linn Records – have a look!), Sheppard, Josquin, Bach, Mozart, Finzi, Duruflé, Mahler and Wagner. And maybe some big-band jazz. Varied enough?

Tell us a bit about your editorial career.
Starting in my student days I've been involved in making editions of 16th-century music from original sources. Many of these have been prepared for specific performances and/or recordings; some are published by Mapa mundi and others in the series Musica Dei donum that Francis Steele and I set up with OUP.

Learning about coaching vocal ensembles has been a great discovery, and I also enjoy giving talks and taking workshops all over the UK. One of the highlights of my year is tutoring at Philip Cave's summer workshop in the USA.

How do you spend the rest of your time?
Among the (many) non-profit-making activities that take up any remaining time has long been digging around in library volumes looking for unsung masterpieces, work that can sometimes be put to practical use as programme consultant; I worked with Paul McCreesh in this capacity on the a cappella programmes The Road to Paradise, A Spotless Rose and Songs of Farewell. There are quite a few CD liner notes with my name at the end of them too – so many on Sheppard that I'm at risk of quoting myself.

Do you have any musical ambitions yet to be fulfilled?
I would like to sing the Strauss motets!

How do you like to spend your time when you're not involved in something musical?

Roasting in the sun, preferably in the depths of rural France.