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Simon Keenlyside

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Biography

Simon John Keenlyside was born in London on 3rd August 1959, son of Raymond and Ann Keenlyside. Both his father and his grandfather were professional violinists; Raymond played second violin in the Aeolian Quartet. “Where other children would have nursery rhymes, I’d go to bed to the sounds of Haydn, Mozart and Schubert.” “If you sang as a boy you got picked on. It was lucky for me that I was sporty and athletic.”

Simon studied the violin as a child, but never took it seriously. Singing was far more pleasurable, and aged 8 he joined the choir school of St John’s College Cambridge with George Guest, where he remained for six years. He described this as “an incredible start in my musical life”, but one that he did not enjoy in other ways. “We toured all over the world - Japan, America, Australia. No holidays. Recordings all the time. And professional little shits at nine, you know. I wouldn’t advocate it for children.” “Best place for the child is in the home.”

However, Simon credits Guest with teaching him “almost everything I know as a musician”. “He’d tell us stories to kindle our imagination and would dramatise an anthem by getting us to imagine we were marching to Jericho with our trumpets. His feeling for words is what set me on my path as a singer.”

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