Proms singer set for warm welcome home

Emma Lee Former Norwich Cathedral chorister Elizabeth Watts has made her debut at the prestigious Proms. But on October 4 there will be a rare chance to see her perform in a more intimate setting when she returns to her home county to take part in a fundraising concert.

Emma Lee

When singer Elizabeth Watts steps out on stage at the Royal Albert Hall tonight, it will be yet another high note in a fast-rising career.

The former Norwich Cathedral chorister is making her debut at the prestigious Proms. But next month, October, there will be a rare chance to see her perform in a more intimate setting when she returns to her home county to take part in a fundraising concert.

Liz, who grew up in Hethersett, will be performing at the village's Methodist church on October 4 in aid of church funds.

In fact, her first ever performance, in Stargazers, was on that very stage.

It's a busy year for the up-and-coming talent who has recently been working on the other side of the Atlantic.

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Tonight she will be singing the soprano part in Vaughan Williams' Sinfonia Antarctica at the Royal Albert Hall. And at the end of October her first CD, featuring songs by Schubert, will be released on the Sony label.

Liz is quickly becoming a name to watch. But the seeds of her blossoming career were sown when she was very young. As a child she enjoyed singing with her family and in choirs and joined the Norwich Cathedral Girls Choir as a founding member.

She gained a first class honours degree in archaeology from Sheffield University. But, inspired by soul divas and Maria Callas, she decided to fulfil her theatrical ambitions and, in 2002, won a scholarship to the renowned Royal College of Music.

The former Norwich High School for Girls pupil, who is currently based in London, has a string of awards to her name. Two years ago she won the Kathleen Ferrier award - although she wasn't able to stick around to hear the good news after her performance in the final - she had to jump straight into a taxi to the Coliseum theatre where she was appearing in Monteverdi's opera Orfeo.

It was only after she came off stage there that she discovered she had won the £10,000 prize, whose illustrious former winners include Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel - while soprano Lesley Garrett was runner up in 1979.

And last year she represented England at the 2007 Cardiff Singer of the World competition, reaching the final and winning the prestigious Rosenblatt Song Prize.

Liz has spent the last three months playing the role of Susanna in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro at Santa Fe in New Mexico.

“Santa Fe is the American equivalent of Glyndebourne in this country and it was a very exciting three months for me,” she says.

Liz says she is looking forward to her concert in Hethersett which will feature well-known songs and arias - she is currently busy putting the finishing touches to her programme for the evening.

“I am very excited about coming home to the village I love, and meeting up with the ones I love,” she says.

And Hethersett is looking forward to welcoming her home.

“We are extremely grateful that she is giving her time and talent so generously and taking time off from her hectic world schedule to sing in Hethersett,” Methodist minister the Rev Derek Grimshaw says.

Tickets for Elizabeth Watts's concert at Hethersett Methodist Church on October 4 cost £10. Contact Juliet Harwood on 01603 810237 or Anne Steward on 01603 811052 to book.