All in the Family

By: Alice Jones

June 29, 2019



A mother and daughter duo are set for a joint appearance on stage tonight at London’s Barbican.

London Symphony Chorus soprano Alison Ryan (49) and her daughter Kate Rowsell-Ryan (9), from Crouch End, are both singing in ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’, an opera by Janacek, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and directed by Peter Sellars.

Kate, who goes to St Joseph’s School in Archway, auditioned last July to join the London Symphony Orchestra’s Junior Discovery Choir, for under 11s.

“My brother Alex had been in the LSO’s junior choir,” she says. Having got through the audition for the choir, she then had the chance to audition to sing in ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’.

She got through that audition singing “Naughty” from Matilda. Now she’s under study for the part of the frog.

“There’s lots of jumping,” she laughs.

Learning the words off by heart for the opera, which is in Czech, is a challenge for all the singers, including her mum, Alison. But Kate soon came to grips with the language.

“I just sat down and memorised it,” says Kate.

After two weeks, they were expected to be “off the book” – not using a score. Kate had it all under control.

For Kate’s mum Alison, who’s been in the London Symphony Chorus for four years, the week leading up to the concerts has been a bit of a logistical nightmare. There are rehearsals every night after school, first for Kate and then for Alison.

“But it’s only for a week,” says Alison. “It’s just lovely to see how enthusiastic the children are. For me the highlight is being on stage with my daughter.”

Kate had everyone in stitches on the first night of rehearsals. Peter Sellars introduced the Discovery Choir to the London Symphony Chorus asking if they’d met before. She piped up “Oh yes, I know them, that’s my mum over there!”

She loves working with Peter Sellars: “He’s really fun.”

And while her mum prefers to listen to classical music, Kate’s choice is pop.

“I have one of those dreams, probably like most people in the Discovery Choir, that one day I’ll be a famous pop star.”

For more information on the LSO’s choirs go to:

LSO Discovery Choir

LSO Community Choir

LSC website

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