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Ena Mitchell (Soprano)

Born: ? - Carlisle, Cumbria, England
Died: June 1979 - Carlisle, Cumbria, England

The English soprano, Ena Mitchell, was the daughter of a distinguished cabinet maker. Her voice attracted attention at school and she started piano and singing lessons. In 1925, she played the lead in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience under the direction of Dr F.W. Wadely, the Master of the Music at Carlisle Cathedral who was to later write a lullaby in her honour.

Before World War II, Ena Mitchell mainly sang in music halls but her voice lent itself so much to the classic, that she soon found herself under the guardianship of Ibbs and Tillotson’s, one of the leading musical agents. She sang for all leading choral societies and Festival of the UK and Europe. She sang oratorios with the Halle, Royal Choral Society and the Bach Choir in the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Orangery at Hampton Court under the baton of the conducting greats - Sir John Barbirolli and Sir Malcolm Sargent.

Ena Mitchell retired from her own successful national and international music career in 1961 at the very height of her profession. Yet Ena never found the heart to leave singing for good and became a sought-after coach and teacher. After retirement, she became a teaching professor in Scotland and Manchester but travelled as she would never leave her home in Carlisle. She never left her native Cumbria yet her name became known to hundreds of young singing hopefuls whom she trained through the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow and the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Hilary Hodgson, retired Musical Director of Dalston Male Voice Choir in Cumbria, has often quoted to her choir members a saying attributed to Ena Mitchell, when acting as a music teacher :”Never sing louder than lovely”.

Ena Mitchell died within just two days of her husband William in Howard Place in 1979. Their son Ifor James is one of the world’s best-known horn players.

Source: The Cumberland News Website (October 2004); Lebrect Music Arts Photo Library; International Who's Who in Music & International Directory (6th Edition, 1972)
Contributed by
Teddy Kaufman & Aryeh Oron (December 2006); Michael Williams (January 2012)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Reginald Jacques


BWV 11 [Sung in English]

Links to other Sites

Concert remembers star soprano (The Cumberland News)

Lebrect Music Arts Photo Library

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Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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