Music has been a very important part of my lockdown experience. At first there was silence: long-anticipated projects cancelled
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!
…they all feature in Jackdaws Summer Production 2015!
Every July, the Jackdaws Summer Production is a week of paint, glue, manuscript, music, sets and costumes. This year, of course, is no exception.
It began on Monday morning, when the 20 children were presented with choices from which to select a combination of music, story and design upon which to build their production. Once selected they had one week.
There were 3 stories to use as a possible plot, 3 composers whose music could be used as basis for original compositions and 3 artists whose work would inspire the staging, costumes and design. The morning was spent reviewing the choices and in the afternoon, voting took place to decide how the rest of the week would be spent. After all votes had been cast, the count revealed they would be using the plot of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, accompanied with music inspired by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and set in the varied styles of contemporary German-American artist Kiki Smith.
And off to work they went…
See the final performance today, Friday 31st July, 5pm at the Silk Mill, Frome. Tickets cost £2.
About the themes:
The Tragedy of Macbeth was written by William Shakespeare at the beginning of the 17th century. Set in Scotland, it follows the story of Macbeth, 11th century King of Scotland, and his rise to power. It is a dark story or murder and deceit, and carries much superstition among actors.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was an Austrian composer who lived from 1756-1791. He was a child prodigy and went on to compose operas, choral music, chamber music and pieces for piano; much of which is still performed today.
Kiki Smith is an American artist born in Germany in 1954. She now lives and works in New York City, where her art and exhibitions on provocative and taboo subjects gained her wide renown. She works in a variety of media including sculpture, printmaking, drawing and jewelery.
Have you always wanted to sing an aria, duet or chorus from Mozart’s most famous opera?
The Magic Flute has enchanted music and theatre lovers of all ages for hundreds of years. With charm and wit, it tells the story of a terrifying and joyful journey in pursuit of love, wisdom and happiness as Prince Tamino tries to rescue the Princess Pamina from the evil Sarastro. From the stratospheric arias of the Queen of the Night, through the jolly folk tunes of Papageno the Birdcatcher, to the profound music of Sarastro, leader of the enlightened ones, it is a full expression of Mozart’s musical and dramatic genius.
At the Come and Sing Opera Day, William Carslake will guide you through Mozart’s magical masterpiece. You will sing some of the most rousing choruses and tackle the solos and ensembles. William says, “we will sing in English, and can send out in music advance if wished. Please let us know if you would like to sing a certain part!”
‘Often referred to by many as Mozart’s only pantomime, The Magic Flute is a riot of life, lust and ludicrous plot that somehow belies its portentous position in Mozart’s output’ – Classic FM
The course runs from 11am to 3pm on Sunday 14 December and is open to singers of all abilities. The £35 fee includes the delicious home cooked lunch and all music needed for the workshop.
Jackdaws is in Great Elm, just 3 miles from Frome. Visit the course page to book or call 01373 812383 to ask any questions.