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The life of internationally renowned classical singer Kathleen Ferrier will be remembered by Cumbria County Council's archive service with an event in July to celebrate both the 50th anniversary of the service and what would have been her 100th birthday.
Although born in Lancashire, Cumberland played a vital role in her rise to stardom. On marrying in 1935 Kathleen Ferrier moved to Silloth where her husband became the local bank manager. In 1937 she entered the annual Carlisle Festival of Music competition and won the piano prize.
Her husband then bet her a shilling that she wouldn't enter the singing contest as well. She accepted the challenge, entered the contralto solo class and won first prize for best singer at the festival.
Kathleen gave piano lessons to the local children and performed professionally for the first time at the parish church in Aspatria.
She was soon travelling the county bringing music to the factories, villages and hostels of war-time Britain. But to further her career she was told to move to London and after signing her first professional contract she headed to the capital.
It was there she became world famous - renowned for classic interpretations of Bach, Elgar, Handel, Brahms and Mahler.
Kathleen Ferrier’s repertoire was varied ranging from folksongs to classical music and despite her death from cancer at the age of just 41 in 1953 she left an important and continuing legacy in the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Scholarship which continues to this day and has supported a number of famous singers including Bryn Terfel and Lesley Garret.
She was also recently featured on a new Royal Mail stamp collection as one of ten ‘Britons of Distinction’.
On Friday, 13 July a display on her life will be opened to the public at the Carlisle Archive Centre at Petteril Bank Road, Carlisle with an open reception at 10.30am in the Victorian kitchen. Her life will also be remembered in a lecture and recital at Carlisle Cathedral.
On the same day at 12.45pm at the Carlisle Cathedral Fratry, Dr Chris Fifield, editor of the Diaries and Letters of Kathleen Ferrier, will give a unique insight in to her life and singing career during the 1930s and early 1940s.
At 7.30pm Carlisle Cathedral will host the Centenary Recital by Cumbrian soprano Joan Rogers and Carlisle based pianist Michael Hancock. They will perform a programme of songs by Purcell, Schumann, Richard Strauss and Tchaikovsky.
Both events are part of the 2012 Carlisle Festival, www.carlislefestival.org.uk, which will host six events from Thursday 12 July to Sunday 15 July.
There will also be a piano recital by renowned pianist Sam Haywood; a composition competition for school-children where their compositions will be played; and a concert on the Saturday performanced by the Abbey Singers and Carlisle Cantate.
Cllr Gary Strong, Cumbria County Council's Cabinet member for the archive service, said: "Kathleen Ferrier's talent is clearly still keenly remembered around the world and it's important that we underline her link with the county.
"This is one of the many great ways we're celebrating the 50th anniversary of the archive service in Cumbria and one which brings together world-class talent with local history."
The display is part of a programme of events to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Cumbria Archive Service. Full details of year of celebrations can be found at www.cumbria.gov.uk/archives