The Rodolfus Foundation | Summer Newsletter 2019
Sophie Daneman: Interview
- Favourite performance venue?
Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. It has 2500 seats but feels so intimate and there is some kind of extraordinary magic in the acoustic - you can hear a pin drop - and the audience is incredible!
For chamber music and recitals though, you can’t beat the Wigmore Hall.
- What new repertoire are you enjoying learning at the moment?
I’ve just been learning songs from The Hollywood Song book by Eisler for a programme based around composers who were exiled from Germany and Austria during the Second World War and ended up writing for Hollywood films. Many of the texts are by his great friend Brecht and the songs are wonderful; poignant, bittersweet, very chromatic and on the edge of tonality but with a simplicity and sincerity that goes straight to your heart.
- What music do you enjoy listening to in your free time?
I listen to a huge range of music throughout the day if I’m not working. Purcell, Joni Mitchell, Bach, Bowie, Couperin, Amalia Rodrigues, Schubert. . . .
Aretha Franklin never fails to cheer me up and give me energy - she has to be one of the greatest singers of all time.
When it gets late (I’m a real night owl) and the house is quiet my tastes get more rarified and I might listen to Victoria or Byrd or some solo lute or gamba music. But my absolute favourite thing at the moment is to listen to my teenage sons playing covers of the brilliant but sadly now ex indie/folk oxford-based band Stornaway.
- Could you describe a particularly profound musical experience from your early years?
Two spring to mind - the first time I ever went to the theatre was to Covent garden to see Stravinsky’s Firebird. I was around 6 years old and I was on the edge of my seat - gripped by a mixture of exhilaration, terror and ecstasy at the sounds and sights. I think from that moment on I was hooked! And I can honestly say that the other is the experience of singing psalms conducted by Ralph on my first choral course at Uppingham. The discovery of the pleasure to be had from expressing text so naturally through music was a revelation and has stayed with me ever since.
- Do you have a favourite Rodolfus Choir memory?
There are so many. . . .busking in St Marks,Venice; singing Carissimi’s Jeptha in that chateau in France ( Filia was my first ever ‘proper solo’) then all of us lying out under the French night sky; writing limericks about each other on the long bus journeys. . .. . .But I have one particularly profound musical memory of singing the Vaughan Williams mass in G minor up high in the organ loft as part of the service in the cathedral in Graz one Sunday morning. It felt like really serious music making and when we came out the sun was shining and we busked on the steps for a huge crowd of people and I can remember thinking what an exciting world full of such possibilities it was.
- What words of advice do you have for young singers hoping to enter the professional world?
To try as hard as possible to avoid being too passive or complacent. Keep searching and discovering - to find and learn new repertoire, to be a better linguist, to learn from and listen to the people around you . . . .and most importantly of all to push yourself to seek out that imaginative spontaneity that transforms the words from the page into your own personal and creative truth. That’s the spark that really makes people sit up and listen.
Oh - and never read post performance blogs!
Sophie Daneman has enjoyed a long and distinguished career on both the opera and concert stage. An accomplished recitalist Sophie has appeared at many of the world’s major venues including the Wigmore Hall and Carnegie Hall, and her extensive discography includes lieder recordings for EMI and many with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants. Following her staging of the 2013 Le Jardin des voix for Les Arts Florissants, Sophie’s career has diversified and she recently directed a double bill of Rameau’s La naissance d’Osiris and Daphnis et Églé for Théatre de Caen.