Carolyn Sampson (c) Marco Borggreve

Carolyn Sampson's 5 favourite pieces

We asked British soprano Carolyn Sampson - one of our shortlisted Singers in this year's Royal Philharmonic Society Awards - to share with RPS Members five pieces of music she loves listening to right now.

Plug in your earphones, click play, and scroll down to read her sentiments for each track...

One piece that's basically permanently on my playlist is Mahler's Symphony No. 2. I sang in the choir in the Royal Albert Hall with massed Bedfordshire Choirs and Youth Orchestra when I was a teenager, and have never forgotten how huge both the piece and the hall felt. Here's the 4th movement by the Minnesota Symphony. I had a great time recording Mahler 4 with them (to be released later this year) so was curious to hear their reading of the second symphony. It doesn't disappoint.

Recently, I've been programming a recital that Kathryn Stott and I will perform in Australia next year. We wanted a couple of solo spots for Kathy, and as I'll be singing some Fauré and Mendelssohn, I thought some Songs Without Words would be fun. So, I've been enjoying this recording of Charles Owen playing Fauré's Trois Romances sans paroles. Here are his fingers, skipping over the second of the group.

I'm a big fan of Véronique Gens and will be recording some of Canteloube's Chants d'Auvergne next year with the Tapiola Sinfonietta for BIS records. For inspiration (and a head start with the Occitan pronunciation!) I've been listening to Véronique's recording with the Orchestre National de Lille.

I think it's a wonderful privilege to be in a position where I'm able, from time to time, to programme concerts as I really want to. One thing that I am keen to do is support our fabulous living composers by giving them a platform whenever possible. Cheryl Frances-Hoad is writing a piece for me to premiere at the 2020 Oxford Lieder Festival next October. We're thrilled they have commissioned it, and I'm hugely excited to see what she writes. In the meantime, I love the album Stolen Rhythms, and I particularly enjoy the way oboist Nicholas Daniel 'sings' on the piece A Refusal to Mourn. The recitative is stunning.

Something recently reminded me of John Shepperd's extraordinary Libera Nos, which is a piece I associate with my days of singing with The Sixteen. We recorded it on the album Philip and Mary and I listen to it with pleasure thinking of the great friends that I made whilst performing this sublime music.

Equally at home on the concert and opera stages, Carolyn Sampson has enjoyed notable successes in the UK as well as throughout Europe and the US. On the opera stage her roles have included the title role in Semele and Pamina in The Magic Flute for English National Opera, various roles in Purcell’s The Fairy Queen for Glyndebourne Festival Opera (released on DVD) and Anne Truelove The Rake’s Progress and Mélisande Pelléas et Mélisande both Sir David McVicar productions for Scottish Opera. Internationally she has appeared at Opéra de Paris, Opéra de Lille, Opéra de Montpellier and Opéra National du Rhin. She also sang the title role in Lully’s Psyché for the Boston Early Music Festival, which was released on CD and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy in 2008.

Carolyn is shortlisted for the 2019 RPS Award for Singer along with soprano Nina Stemme and vocalist Elaine Mitchener.

Click here to read Carolyn's full biography.


Daniel Barenboim, RPS Gold Medal 2007: Classical music will not survive unless we change our attitude and make it something that is essential to our lives. Join the RPS if you believe in the future of music.


In 'The Red Headed League', Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson attended a performance by the violinist Sarasate at a Society concert in 1891.