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Pepe Becker began her musical training as a child in Nelson: as one of four girls in the otherwise all-male Nelson Cathedral Choir, playing oboe and piano, and singing/playing in school groups and local choirs and orchestras. She completed a Bachelor of Music degree at Victoria University of Wellington in 1987, majoring in Composition. Since then she has been a freelance professional musician, teaching and performing throughout New Zealand and abroad.
In New Zealand Pepe has performed as soprano soloist alongside internationally acclaimed early music singers Emma Kirkby and Richard Wistreich, given concerts for the New Zealand International Arts Festival and toured for the New Zealand Music Federation / Chamber Music New Zealand.
She has also appeared as a soloist with such groups as The Tudor Consort and Cantoris (also being a member of both groups for several years), The Baroque Players, Polyhymnos, Cantus Firmus, Harmony and Counterpoint, Collegium Vocale, the Phoenix Choir, the Rotorua District Choir, Festival Singers, the Amici chamber choir, the Auckland Bach Cantata Society (Bach Musica), Kapiti Chamber Choir, Palmerston North Choral Society, the Hamilton Civic Choir, The City of Dunedin Choir, The Orpheus Choir of Wellington, the Wellington Regional Orchestra (Wellington Sinfonia / Vector Wellington Orchestra), Stroma and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
In 1991 Pepe was awarded a QEII Arts Council grant assisting her to study singing for one year with Jessica Cash in London. In 1992 she moved to The Netherlands, where she studied Baroque Singing at The Hague’s Koninklijk Conservatorium. Whilst in Europe, she performed professionally in Ireland, Britain and Holland, with such groups as the BBC Daily Service Choir, the Utrechts Barok Consort and the Nederlandse Bachvereniging.
She returned to New Zealand in 1993, and in 1994 founded the Wellington-based vocal consort Baroque Voices, which she sings in and directs. In 1999 she also became a member of the semi-professional national chamber choir, TOWER Voices New Zealand, directed by Dr. Karen Grylls.
As a soprano soloist in major Baroque and Classical works such as Oratorio and Opera, Pepe’s performance repertoire includes: Bach’s St Matthew Passion, St John Passion, Magnificat, Christmas Oratorio, Mass in B Minor and several Cantatas; Handel’s Messiah, Judas Maccabeus and Samson; Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas; Blow’s Venus and Adonis; Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona; Haydn’s The Creation, The Seasons and various masses; Mozart’s Requiem, Vesperae Solennes de Confessore and masses; Vivaldi’s Gloria and Monteverdi’s Vespers.
Best known for her performances of early music, Pepe has also sung in concerts of music by contemporary New Zealand, Japanese and other composers: many of her own works have been performed in New Zealand and several have been recorded for broadcast by Concert FM. One choral work (commissioned by Wellington Cathedral of St Paul directed by Andrew Cantrill) was also performed several times during the choir’s tour of Britain and Ireland in July 2002; and her longest work to date, the “Mass of the False Relation”, was premiered by Baroque Voices in July 2006 (and that concert, entitled “Massive!”, was also recorded onto CD).
Pepe is a National Recording Artist for Concert FM, and has also featured as a soloist on BBC Radios 3 and 4; on recordings by The Tudor Consort, Baroque Voices and TOWER Voices NZ; on David Farquhar’s CD “Half a Century of Song”, released in 2003; and on a NAXOS CD (Mendelssohn’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’) and an ATOLL CD of Baroque duets by Bach and Purcell (‘Rustic Revelry’, with bass David Morriss) - both to be released in 2006.
Pepe also lectures in Musicianship at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington.
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photo © Justine Lord, Wellington
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last updated: 6 November, 2006