Described in the British press as “this golden-voiced Australian soprano,” Margaret Field was born in Australia. She attended the MacRobertson Girls' High School in Melbourne and went on to Melbourne University where she obtained a B.Mus degree and a Dip.Ed. She began her performing career in Australia as a principal soprano with Victoria State Opera and became a regular broadcaster for the ABC. She moved to England, where she now lives, in 1973.



Margaret gave more than eighty recitals for BBC Radio Three. She also made solo appearances at most major British music festivals, including the Bournemouth International Festival, Exeter Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, the "Towards the Millennium" national concert series and several Three Choirs Festivals in Hereford, at one of which she was the soloist in the Te Deum by Paul Patterson, who wrote the solo part especially for her. She has sung as soloist with many of Britain's foremost orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Concert halls where she has performed as a soloist or recitalist include The Royal Festival Hall; Queen Elizabeth Hall; Wigmore Hall; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Glasgow Royal Concert Hall; St David's Hall, Cardiff and Symphony Hall, Birmingham.


In 1987 she gave the UK’s first broadcast performance of Henryk Górecki’s Symphony No.3 (Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and in 1989 she gave the work its London premičre in the Queen Elizabeth Hall with the London Sinfonietta. Both performances were conducted by David Atherton. Górecki stated publicly that Margaret was his favourite interpreter of the Symphony, and in 1994, at the composer's express invitation, she undertook a much praised UK tour singing the work with the Polish State Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Jerzy Swoboda. This was followed by a tour of Israel singing Górecki's work with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra as part of the 1995 Holocaust commemorations. She also gave the world premičre of his (then incomplete) Dobra Noc (Good Night) with the London Sinfonietta at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in May 1990, as part of a memorial tribute to the ensemble’s artistic director Michael Vyner.



Her other overseas performances include a highly acclaimed performance of Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs with the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra in Finland, conducted by Frank Shipway, and Mahler's Fourth Symphony with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under Hubert Soudant in Melbourne and Canberra. She has given oratorio performances in Switzerland and Norway and has undertaken concert and recital tours of Italy, the Netherlands, Ulster and the Irish Republic. She has also given recitals in Vienna and Prague.


An extremely versatile singer, Margaret has a wide repertoire ranging from the baroque and classical to the contemporary. Highly regarded as an interpreter of modern music, she was a founder-member of the Felsen Trio and sang regularly with the Gemini Ensemble, directed by Peter Wiegold. She has given first performances of many works by contemporary composers, several of whom have written pieces especially for her. Her notable engagements include a performance of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire under the direction of Peter Hill at the Firth Hall in Sheffield and Dmitri Smirnov’s Songs of Love and Madness after Blake with the Chameleon Ensemble, directed by Andrew Ball, at the 1990 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival.



Margaret’s operatic work includes many roles with the Victoria State Opera in Melbourne. More recently she sang Susanna in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro with Highnam Opera at the Queen Elizabeth Hall London, and Alice Ford in Verdi's Falstaff and the title role in Puccini's La Bohčme with English National Opera at the London Coliseum. She also sang principal roles in Baroque opera at the Barber Institute, Birmingham.



She made her first record “Cabaret Songs of the Jazz Era” for the ABC in Australia, and she performed two character roles on the BBC Artium recording of Delius’s opera Margot la Rouge. She also sang the solo part in Borodin's Prince Igor Suite with the RPO under Geoffrey Simon for Cala Records. Her CD of British Song was released in 1995 by Redcliffe Recordings and in the same year her CD of rose songs "A Garland of Roses" was released on the Walsingham Classics "Voice of Australia" label.



Margaret enjoys a high reputation as teacher. For 22 years (1973-1994) she taught at Sheffield University and she was appointed a Visiting Tutor in Singing at Birmingham Conservatoire in 1985. She retired in 2011 after 26 years’ service. She conducts regular master classes in solo singing and has given workshops in singing technique for choirs and choral societies, including the National Youth Choir, the International Choral Summer School, the North Wales Summer School of Music, and courses organised by the Association of British Choral Directors. For six consecutive years she was invited to give master classes at the Austrian-American Mozart Academy in Salzburg, Austria, then organised under the auspices of Austin University, Texas. She continues to give private tuition at her home in Ledbury, Herefordshire, England, where she lives with her husband, composer and record producer John Rushby-Smith, and where she is able to indulge her passionate enthusiasm for gardening.



Margaret Field was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of Birmingham Conservatoire in 2012.




(17 August, 2012)





MARGARET  FIELD:  Repertoire  Reviews    JOHN RUSHBY-SMITH:  Biography  Compositions  Discography