The Canadian soprano, Gillian Keith, is a graduate of the McGill University in Montréal with a degree in Piano Performance. Private vocal studies with soprano Ann Monoyios followed. Her post-graduate studies were at the Royal Academy of Music in London, with Ian Partridge. At the Royal Academy she won the main prizes for Lieder, Russian and French Song and Early Music, and upon graduation was awarded the Dip.RAM and the prize for Best Final Recital. She studied also with Barbara Bonney. She is a recent recipient of the Tillet Trust Award, and was the winner of the vocal category in the 1998 Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition. She has become firmly established at the forefront of her profession since winning the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Award in 2000.
Gillian Keith is in great demand for performances in recital, oratorio and opera. She has earned praise particularly for her interpretations of Baroque music. She is equally respected for her song performances.
Gillian Keith has appeared with major orchestras, ensembles and conductors, and at venues and festivals all over the world, and has sung principal roles with English National Opera and Scottish Opera. She performed with John Eliot Gardiner throughout Europe and in the USA, on his year 2000 Bach Cantata Pilgrimage, and in 2001 she sang as soloist with John Eliot Gardiner in performances of Georg Frideric Handel's Messiah and Israel in Egypt in Germany, Austria and Turkey. She sang the role of Josabeth in Athalia in the 2001 London Handel Festival. Of her performance the Financial Times wrote, "Keith sang radiantly, with a fluent technique...and showed a wonderful polished quality high in her register." Further performances in 2001 included the Brighton Festival with Richard Hickox and the City of London Sinfonia, the Felicja Blumental Festival in Tel Aviv with Yuli Turovsky and I Musici de Montréal, and the Cheltenham Festival, where she gave the world premiere of Clandestiny by the British composer Simon Holt. Other recent oratorio performances have included Finzi's Dies Natalis (both in the Amersham Festival and the Isleworth Festival), a recording for Bavarian Radio of Hasse's oratorio Il Cantico de tre Fanciulli, and a performance of Bach Cantatas with Christ Church Baroque in Dublin.
Gillian Keith made her Wigmore Hall recital debut in June 2001. In Early 2002 she sang with the Classical Opera Company in a programme of concert arias by Mozart and his contemporaries, of which the Evening Standard wrote, "...she sang with easy brilliance, thrilling in Mozart's Per pieta with the silky tone of her top notes." In February 2002 she worked with Nicholas McGegan, performing G.F. Handel's Gloria, and works by Arne and Felix Mendelssohn with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. In April 2002 she performed with the Los Angeles Bach Society, and later gave also recitals for CBC Radio in Montreal and at the 2002 Newbury Festival. Other recent engagements included G.F. Handel's The Choice of Hercules and J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass (BWV 232) with The London Handel Festival Orchestra, F. Mendelssohn's Midsummernight's Dream with John Eliot Gardiner, and Mozart's Bastien und Bastienne with the Classical Opera Company at the Schwetzingen Festival in Germany.
As chamber musician and recitalist, recent highlights have included performances with counter-tenor Paul Esswood and The Musicke Companye in the UK and abroad, Nicholas Maw's La vita nuova with the Manson Ensemble, Britten's Les Illuminations at the Royal Academy of Music and Tavener's Akhmatova Songs in Dublin's Mansion House. Gillian Keith, along with her accompanist Simon Lepper, was chosen to perform in this year's Young Songmakers Almanac concert at St John's Smith Square, London. Gillian Keith and Simon Lepper have also recently performed at Fairfield Hall in Croydon as a result of their award from the Tillet Trust. Future commitments include song recitals in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Harrogate Festival and Canterbury Festival, a concert performance of Purcell's Fairy Queen in St Paul's Chichester, Bach's Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) in the Bath Festival and a performance with the Tallis Scholars.
Gillian Keith’s operatic roles have included Papagena in Mozart's The Magic Flute for Toronto's Opera Atelier and Belinda in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. She is currently performing as soprano soloist in English National Opera's staging of J.S. Bach's St John Passion (BWV 245). She looks forward to singing the role of Woodbird in Wagner's Siegfried and Amor in Gluck's Orfeo, both for Scottish Opera.
Gillian Keith’s recordings include the recently discovered G.F. Handel Gloria with John Eliot Gardiner for Philips, Purcell's The Tempest for Naxos, and a disc of early Debussy chansons for the Deux-Elles label. Other recordings include Purcell’s The Tempest for Naxos and Johann Adolf Hasse’s Il cantico de’ tre fanciulli for Koch.