Ruth’s parents met at Music Camp in Bothampstead, directed by Bernard Robinson. Her father played cello, her mother clarinet, and Ruth grew up playing viola in family string quartets. The first fee she ever earned was £5 playing viola in Westminster Abbey.
The professional musicians in her family were on her father’s side. Her father’s grandfather Christian Gottlieb Padel was a piano soloist, born in Christiansfeld, south Denmark, who studied at the Leipzig Conservatoire with Carl Reinecke, Moritz Hauptmann and Beethoven’s pupil Ignaz Moscheles. In 1868 he settled in York, teaching – one of his pupils was the composer George Butterworth – and playing concertos with the York Symphony Orchestra. His son, Ruth’s grandfather Charles Frederick Christian Padel, born in York, played the violin and as headmaster of Carlisle Grammar School established a vigorous school orchestra and a family string quartet, a tradition that continues through the family.
But wherever she has lived, Ruth has also sought out singing, whether this meant learning Cretan mantinades from workmen in the archaeological trenches at Knossos, or in more formal settings. She has sung in the Schola Cantorum of Oxford, Philippe Caillard’s choir in Paris, the choir of St Eustache in Les Halles, the Heraklion Town Choir in Crete and – for a couple of evenings, unpaid – in an Istanbul nightclub. She currently sings in a madrigal group.