Seclusion Discs – Saffron van Zwanenberg

Seclusion Discs – Saffron van Zwanenberg

Seclusion Discs – Saffron van Zwanenberg

We have asked our tutors while they are marooned in isolation what 8 tracks mean the most to them, so we can share some new listening ideas with you and find out a bit more about them.

First up is our Artistic Director and tutor on two of our courses for singers, Saffron van Zwanenberg. She says:

“This was really hard! I started by making a list of all of the music I couldn’t live without, but that was far too long, so I tried to narrow it down chronologically based on music that has influenced me in some way throughout my life. Unsurprisingly perhaps, there is quite a lot of opera…

Track 1: “Here’s a How De Do” from The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan (D’Oyly Carte Company)
Not a very cool choice…My grandparents were huge G&S fans and my earliest musical memory is them taking me to see the Mikado, I think I was about 4, I loved it and still do. They also named all of their pets after G&S characters, so Buttercup the dog and Pish Tush the cat were a big part of my childhood.

Track 2: Trio from Norma – Bellini (Caballé, Sutherland and Pavarotti)
I grew up abroad and had limited access to music, so it was mostly through tapes (cassette tapes!) that my parents had brought with us, which included all of the Decca Pavarotti/ Sutherland recordings which I would sing along with great gusto (and very little technique!) and I have loved Joan and Pav all of my life. This was a particular favourite for all of us, so much so that my Dad made it our answerphone message for years.

Track 3: “O Soave Fanciulla” from La bohème – Puccini (Pavarotti & Freni)
When we moved back to my home town of Newcastle I was lucky enough to go to many performances by Scottish Opera who were at the time the main touring company in the North.

I saw all sorts and I remember realising that opera had the ability to move me more than anything else I had experienced. La bohème is just one of those pieces, I know it so well now, I always think it won’t get me, but at the end I am always crying.

Track 4: “Glitter and be Gay” from Candide – Bernstein (Barbara Cook)
This was another of the Scottish Opera productions, and the moment I heard this was pretty much the moment I decided to become an opera singer…not sure what that says!

Track 5: Die Junge Nonne- Schubert (Felicity Lott/ Graham Johnson)
I didn’t get as much exposure to song as I had to opera until I went to music college, and then I discovered Schubert, who had the same effect on me as Puccini, and still does.

Track 6: Final Chorus from Radamisto – Handel
This was such a difficult one to narrow down, assuming I couldn’t just put Handel and everything he wrote! I chose this in the end not because it is one of his greatest moments but because it means something to me. When I was at the RCM we were fortunate at the time to do an opera with the Handel Society every year. In my final year on the opera course we did Radamisto and I can still remember the feeling of happiness singing this chorus at the end having successfully navigated (survived!) the whole piece alongside some great friends.

Track 7: “Tutto nel mondo è burla” from Falstaff – Verdi
For being simply the best ending to an opera ever, and my favourite opera to boot.

Track 8: Overture to Le Nozze di Figaro – Mozart (Sir Colin Davis)
Had to have some Mozart, but again found almost impossible to narrow down. I chose this because it makes me feel such anticipation of exciting things yet to happen and it also marked a massive highlight in my career when I conducted it for one of Jackdaws’ projects, Song Story, involving 5 SEND schools, around 80 young people playing it on a range of things you could blow, shake and whack alongside a group of professional instrumentalists, and it was one of the best feelings I have ever had!

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