Friday, 12 May 2017

REMEMBERING NORMA PROCTER (February 15, 1928 - MAY 2, 2017)

British contralto Norma Procter.
Sad news out of England as the Grimsby Telegraph reports the passing of British contralto Norma Procter, of Cleethorpes, last week Tuesday from complications arising from “acute Parkinson’s disease” at the advanced age of 89 years.

Procter, a noted Mahlerite, famously recorded the complete alto repertoire of the noted Austrian composer – this, in spite of possessing a contralto voice. Procter’s outstanding prowess in this arena, and as an oratorio, concert and recital performer, earned her the distinction of being considered one of the leading British contraltos to have lived after the close of the Second World War. Procter dominated both vocal classes across Europe for the span of some two-plus decades, making her debut singing Handel’s Messiah at London’s Southwark Cathedral in 1958, followed by an operatic performance in the role of Lucretia from Benjamin Britten’s “The Rape of Lucretia” the same year at Suffolk’s Aldeburgh Festival (having been hand selected for the title role by Britten himself); which would in turn be followed by Procter’s Covent Garden debut as Orpheus in Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice in 1961.

Having worked under some of the most elite conductors of her day, including (but not limited to) Bruno Walter, Leonard Bernstein, Jascha Horenstein, Sir Malcolm Sargent, and Pierre Boulez, Procter is perhaps most celebrated (at least by the author of this blog) for her sublime performance singing Mahler’s 2nd, under maestro Rafael Kubelik. This recording in particular is quite significant for me – Procter’s sublimely emotive rendition of “Urlicht” from the symphony’s 4th Movement is what first introduced me to the works of Gustav. I have posted the video below once before to Unraveling Musical Myths, but it is more than worthy of a reemergence into the glaring spotlight in which it – and in which Ms. Procter - so justly belong.

Rest in Peace, Norma.


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