Bibi Heal and Amanda Cook

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Bibi Heal – soprano

Amanda Cook – guitar

HENRY PURCELLAn evening hymn
JOHN DOWLANDFlow my tears
CLARICE ASSADA tide of living water (arr. O Vesely)
BENJAMIN BRITTEN (arr.)O waly waly
BENJAMIN BRITTEN (arr.)Last rose of summer
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZARTAbendempfindung an Laura
DALE KAVANAGHEtude ritmico
TRADITIONALThe parting glass (arr. Laura Snowden)
JOAQUIN RODRIGOCuatro madrigales amatorios
BART HOWARDFly me to the moon
IRVING BERLINLet’s face the music

Nature versus Nurture

Based in our very own Skipton, Bibi Heal is a British soprano with an exceptionally expressive style of communication. Completely at home on stage in opera, oratorio and recital, her immediate connection with audiences and style of storytelling through singing has proven captivating for listeners of all ages and abilities. She has sung for the Royal Opera, Bregenz Festival, Opera OT Rotterdam, Gstaad Festival, Latitude Festival, Opera North, and with the RPO, Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Ulster Orchestra, Europaïsches Barockorchester and Tercia Realidad.

Amanda Cook is one of the leading guitarists of her generation. She has performed in the USA, South America and throughout Europe. Her highly acclaimed performances are noted for their musicality, fluid technique and ability to draw in the audience. She has broadcast live on television and radio abroad, and in the UK for BBC Radio 3 In Tune, BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour and Classic FM. Amanda is also a member of the critically acclaimed Vida Guitar Quartet who regularly tour the USA and Europe. They have released several CDs on the BGS label.

Together Bibi and Amanda have become widely known for their highly expressive, captivating performances and the powerful detail of their characterisations that bring their songs to life. In this diverse programme, they explore and showcase the universal influences of human nature and mother nature, showing how we can all find resonance, humour and nourishment through these commonly shared threads. Bibi and Amanda are also collaborators and principal artists in ‘Song Surgery’, a unique recital project supported by Arts Council England ‘prescribing’ songs to satisfy, connect and inspire.

Please note that this concert will take place ‘in the round’ with the artists performing at ground-floor level.

To find out more about Bibi and Amanda, see and

Photo credits: Paul Mitchell (Bibi) and Gemma Klein (Amanda)

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Nature and Nurture at Skipton Music

Skipton Music’s 2023-24 season got off to a flying start with an exhilarating recital by soprano Bibi Heal – Skipton’s resident diva – and guitarist Amanda Cook. The wide-ranging programme, from Dowland to Hoagy Carmichael, was ingeniously devised to celebrate the relationship between humans and the natural world and the many ways in which poets use imagery from nature to enrich their verses.

Bibi Heal is one of those rare singers who believes that the words of songs matter. Not only did she introduce each song with her own idiosyncratic (but truthful) translations, she acted out the meaning of the words using the full space created by the ‘theatre in the round’ layout. Combined with her ravishing and expressive voice and deep musical sensitivity, this was a recital of intimate yet powerful expressiveness.

Amanda Cook’s guitar playing was also a revelation. Most of the songs were originally written for piano accompaniment, but in her skilful hands the transcriptions for guitar (mostly by Amanda herself) were totally convincing, with a range of colours and dynamic that most pianists would struggle to emulate. This was indeed no accompaniment, but a true partnership between two wonderfully sensitive musicians at the top of their art.

When every piece was a delight it is hard to pick out particular highlights; but for me the ‘Evening Hymn’ by Henry Purcell and ‘Mein Stern’ by Clara Schumann stood out among the songs, and ‘Sueño’ by the Spanish composer Francisco Tárrega among the guitar solos. As an encore, a Swahili lullaby brought the evening to a delicate and satisfying conclusion.

Charles Dobson