Songs and Stories

In Conversation: Christina Wilson

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Welcome to Songmakers! This is your first collaboration with Songmakers Australia. What excites you about this?

As a young singer in London I had the privilege of working with Graham Johnson as a Young Songmaker. The culminating concert was in St Johns Smith Square, at which he very kindly commissioned a friend to paint me in performance as a wedding present. 

This is a constant reminder of that experience which established my passion for performing Art Song at the highest level. Back in Australia, when I heard Andrea had founded Songmakers Australia with this purpose in mind and that Graham was the patron, I'd hoped one day to be involved. I'm delighted to have this opportunity.

How does it feel to be part of a vocal ensemble?

It's a joy to make music with other musicians, especially with other singers in an Art Song context. This is a particularly treat as it makes possible programs and performances of greater variety, artistic interest, and richness. 

I'm looking forward to singing with Merlyn for the first time and again with Andrew. We have sung in several concerts together and last year performed as husband and wife in the Handel opera Jephtha

How is this different from your other work?

I'm very lucky that I'm married to an accompanist, Alan Hicks and until we moved Sydney earlier this year, a lot of my performing work has been based in Canberra.  Singing with Songmakers Australia is giving me two new wonderful opportunities - to work with Andrea and to perform in the Melbourne Recital Hall. 

Russian Lullaby includes works by many great composers. What is your favourite piece in the program? 

The Shostakovich songs are a musical and emotional revelation to me. The solos, duets and trios are in such a range of moods and characters. The alto solo is a poignant lullaby, beautifully imbued with a feel of the deep Russian Jewish soul. 

In Conversation: Andrew Goodwin

Welcome to the Songmakers line-up! How does it feel to be part of a vocal quartet?

I love performing in groups, especially quartets. It is so enjoyable to blend voices with other people and make really lovely harmony. It is something I fell in love with when I was a chorister at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney. In opera, duets, trios and quartets come up quite a bit, and they are always lots of fun.

This is your third collaboration with Songmakers Australia. What do you like about working with them?

Songmakers Australia are a wonderful group of voices and minds. Performing with them has always been a highlight for me. Their experience and attention to detail has always been inspiring. It is also really fun to perform with them, which is probably the most important thing. 

The first program in 2016 includes works by Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann. What is your favourite piece in the program?

I really do enjoy performing Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte. It is such a wonderful work with plenty of places to shine, but Schumann’s Spanisches Liederspiel is just beautiful. And as it will be with the other Songmakers, it really will be lot’s of fun. 

How is this different from your other work?

Well, it’s not really all that different. I’m still singing the same way I always do, just maybe aligning myself a little more with the other singers. We are all soloists, so I guess it really comes down to blending well and giving a little more attention to the overall balance of our voices. 

Andrew Goodwin's first performance with Songmakers Australia for 2016 will be in "Songs to a Distant Beloved" on April 13 at Melbourne Recital Centre. The performance will feature Beethoven's "An die ferne Geliebte" on the bicentenary of its composition.

Tickets available via the Melbourne Recital Centre Box Office. Discover more about Andrew at www.andrewgoodwintenor.com.

In Conversation: Nicholas Dinopoulos

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How does it feel to be part of a vocal quartet?

Singing in ensemble, particularly with musicians you connect with, is a huge thrill. I’m always amazed at how voices can vibrate in sympathy to produce moments of great power and also tenderness – quite astonishing!

What does the Art Song genre mean to you?

Art Song has been extremely important in my development as an artist. It's not really possible to have a career solely singing recitals, but we do it because it's such a special and intimate medium. Being so close to your audience is just wonderful, and sifting through buckets of new repertoire to bring people things they’ve never heard before is a really important part of our job.

The first program in 2016 includes works by Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann. What is your favourite piece in the program?

I’m a bit addicted to Schumann at the minute actually, and have wanted the group to perform the Spanisches Liederspielsince its inception. This year I get my wish, but Andrea has gone a step further and masterfully reconstructed Schumann’s initial conception of the piece – never before heard in Australia.

What is coming up next on your schedule?

I’ve just finished up two Bach projects - Christus in the St. John Passion (one of my favourite roles), and a program of music by Bach's ancestors with Latitude 37 (including my first time singing the famous cantata Ich habe Genug). Coming up are two projects out at Monash University (where I direct the 80 voice concert choir) – Haydn’s Mass in Time of War (actually with Merlyn, Sally-Anne and Andrew as fellow soloists), and a program called “A Field of Dreams” featuring music by Eric Whitacre, Randall Thompson and my great friend and mentor Noel Ancell that I’m really excited about conducting. With Songmakers, we’re also returning to the Art Gallery of NSW and Art Song Canberra, both of which have been real highlights of the past five seasons.

Nick Dinopoulos sings with Songmakers Australia in "Songs to a Distant Beloved" on April 13 at Melbourne Recital Centre. The performance will feature a reconstruction of Schumann's original conception of the "Spanisches Liederspiel".

Tickets available via the Melbourne Recital Centre Box Office. More about Nick's upcoming work at www.nickdinopoulos.com.

In Conversation: Merlyn Quaife

How does it feel to be part of a vocal quartet?

When voices come together as well as ours do, it’s pure joy.

What do you like about working with Songmakers Australia?

The repertoire we perform is always interesting, and keeps me learning new things. Then there’s also working with colleagues I love and respect.

The first program in 2016 includes works by Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann. What is your favourite piece in the program?

I love it all and prefer not to pick a favourite!

How is this different from your other work?

Singing at St Francis’ Church (in the heart of Melbourne) is in fact quite similar to what we do in Songmakers. Masses often encompasses quartet work, but with orchestra. Art Song is definitely different to singing opera, but I decided to retire from opera after the 2013 Ring. I could, however, be persuaded to do a cameo…

What is coming up next on your schedule?

At the time of writing this, next on my schedule is Easter Sunday Mass at St Francis’. Schubert Mass in G and MozartLaudate Dominum plus I get to join in with the HallelujahChorus – fabulous! Then it’s Songmakers at the Recital Centre on April 13!

Merlyn Quaife appears with Songmakers Australia in "Songs to a Distant Beloved" on April 13 at Melbourne Recital Centre. The performance will feature Mozart's Notturni for three voices and piano, plus song cycles by Beethoven and Schumann.

Tickets available via the Melbourne Recital Centre Box Office. More about Merlyn at www.merlynquaife.com.

In Conversation: Andrea Katz

How does it feel to be part of a vocal quartet?

It's wonderful. In fact, it feels like playing with a string quartet with subtitles!

What do you like about working with Songmakers Australia?

Songmakers Australia has been a dream of mine for the last 20 years. Putting together the group was a great achievement for me, and even more so to reach 5 years of undisputed great music making.

What does the Art Song genre mean to you?

Oh, so many wonderful things! Matching your sound with the voices, shaping the phrases and words together. Just talking about the poetry is a joy, with so many beautiful words to paint.

The first program in 2016 includes works by Mozart, Beethoven and Schumann. What is your favourite piece in the program?

It is very difficult to choose, but I do have a special affinity with Schumann…

What is coming up next on your schedule?

In May I’ll be the adjudicator of the Piano and Classical Voice sections at the City of Hobart Eisteddfod. There's also a few more masterclasses to give in both Canberra and Hobart, and then more concerts with Songmakers Australia (of course!).

Andrea Katz is the pianist and artistic director of Songmakers Australia and will next appear in "Songs to a Distant Beloved" on April 13 at Melbourne Recital Centre. Further recital dates and education projects are outlined atwww.songmakersaustralia.com.

Tickets available via the Melbourne Recital Centre Box Office. More about Andrea at www.andreakatzpianist.com.