Singer and multi-instrumentalist Anna Tam gives traditional British songs her own loving personal twist. She sings with a clear bright voice and accompanies herself on a selection of ancient string instruments including the nyckelharpa, viola da gamba and whatever else she can find. Her approach to the folk tradition is centred in the stories the songs tell and the people who lived them. Aside from her solo performances she has also worked with many groups, most notably touring internationally and recording with the Mediaeval Baebes between 2013 and 2016. Her current project is Wilde Roses, a duo with singer and recorder player Emily Ovenden, in which they are exploring the Medieval and Renaissance folk traditions and 16th century Broadside Ballads.
Soprano, multi-instrumentalist and composer Anna Tam enjoys an eclectic career performing as soprano and on nyckelharpa, viola da gamba and baroque and modern cello.
During her early studies she performed at the Wigmore Hall, London and sang at St Mark’s Basilica, Venice. Whilst at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama she performed several times on BBC Radio 3, including for a festival of the works of Elliot Carter, developing her long standing interest in contemporary music, furthered by performing works by Frank Martin with the LPO Future Firsts at the Purcell Room, London. She continues to explore the 20th century and contemporary repertoire of the cello alongside a passion for the early repertoire of the voice and her bowed string instruments.
‘my journey into early music performance practice – as soprano, and on baroque cello, viola da gamba and nyckelharpa – offers me as much an opportunity to explore new sound worlds from a contemporary perspective as a discovery of the historical sounds so important to a fuller appreciation of this music.’
It was her extensive exploration of Bach’s cello suites during performances throughout the UK and Europe that led her to investigate historical performance practices on baroque cello and later viola da gamba and nyckelharpa. This specialism gave her in 2012 the opportunity to perform the premiere of two previously unknown arias by Vivaldi recently discovered at Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire on BBC1’s ‘Britain’s Hidden Heritage’ and she performed as soprano, nyckelharpa and viola da gamba player with the Mediaeval Baebes from 2013-16. Current projects include Tapestry – a duo with Catherine Groom Horsewood (Wolf Hall, The Globe); and Khronicles – a rock/folk band with Emily Alice Ovenden (Pythia, Mediaeval Baebes) and Stephen Yates (Guitar magazine’s Guitarist of the Year).
‘improvising and composing enrich and refresh my interpretation of the classical repertoire and likewise, my extensive experience in the performance world is vital to my work as a composer’
Her setting of James Joyce’s early poem cycle ‘Chamber Music’ for soprano, tenor and renaissance ensemble premiered at the Brighton Fringe Festival in 2013 and has since had several performances in the UK. She also writes and arranges for theatre and for her own performances.
In 2014 Anna released her first album ‘With love…’ with pianist Jonathan Musgrave featuring some of the most loved works in the repertoire for soprano and cello.
Anna lives on her beautiful boat just outside London gaining inspiration from the woods and the river.