"I was thrilled just to make the finals in Cardiff, let alone to win," he says. "You never know what you're up against - there could so easily be another Bryn Terfel round the corner. It really has opened up some fantastic opportunities. I was just glad to come out of it unscathed!"
The Northumbria-born Kennedy, who is in the cast of Tristan und Isolde at the Edinburgh Festival this month and will sing Tamino in The Magic Flute at the English National Opera this autumn, has been singing since he was a boy chorister at Durham Cathedral. He keenly promotes new repertoire - such as Ian Venables's intense Housman cycle Songs of Eternity and Sorrow. On 22 August, he will perform Tippett's powerful song cycle The Heart's Assurance in the BBC Proms Chamber Music series.
"The work has incredible depths," he enthuses. "It's not done as often as, say, Tippett's Boyhood's End or Britten's Winter Words. Tippett chose words by two poets, Alun Lewis and Sidney Keyes, who were killed in the Second World War at the tragically young ages of 28 and 20. It's concerned with a lost generation - the thought of what could they have achieved, had they lived.
"The poetry is full of pithy responses, conjuring up an acute sense of waste and loss, often in forceful imagery encompassed in just a couple of words. One song, 'The Dancer', tells of prostitutes who comfort soldiers with physical love, while acutely aware of the horrors that lie behind."
22 Aug (020-7589 8212; www.bbc.co.uk/proms)Reuse content