A Lone Voice

The art of the singer/songwriter is to able to engage immediately, and on all levels, with their audience. The singer who accompanies on the piano is able to create both the sound world and the song. People expect to see pop artists like Chris Martin or Lady Gaga performing while at the piano, while in the Jazz world we might listen to Nina Simone and forget she’s the one at the keyboard. But for classical music, we have to go back to the 19th century salon to find that intimacy of singing and playing art songs – we have polymaths in terms of composer/conductors or harpsichord/conductors or even singer/conductors – but where are the singer songwriters – the singer pianists? Where has this art form gone to?

Based around Schumann’s pivotal song cycle Frauenliebe und Leben, I wanted to explore a program which drew on the art of self-accompaniment, and invited audiences to listen anew to a sound world that was being wholly created by the one performer. Rather than stand alongside the piano, I wanted to sit at the piano – thereby making music that has an inherent theatricality in performance, rather than simply a feeling of being presented. How would the journey of Chamisso’s woman alter, if the audience sees her ‘create’ her own harmonic world?

Bringing song back from a sense of ‘recital’ and more towards the ‘intimate’ – the full program looks at works by Britten, Schumann and Hahn, himself a prodigious self-accompanist at the salons in Paris, and offers a chance to experience and discuss these works afresh, for both for the performer and the audience.

The Lone Voice was set to premiere at the West Cork Festival in 2020, but will now receive its debut at the Oxford Lieder Festival in October 2021

Benjamin Britten
The Trees they grow so high
The Ash Grove
O Waly Waly

Reynaldo Hahn
A Chloris
Le Rossignol des Lilas

Robert Schumann
Frauenliebe und Leben
Seit ich ihn gesehen
Er, der Herrlichste von allen
Ich kann’s nicht fassen nicht glauben
Du Ring an meinem Finger
Helft du, ihr Schwestern
Susser Freund, du blickest
An meinem Herzen, an meiner Brust
Nun hast du mir den ersten Schmerz getan

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Photography By: Sven Arnstein and Gerard Collett
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