Mary triumphant

The whirlwind of activity that always precedes a new show is finally abating and I’ve been able to step back today and look at what I and my team at McCaldin Arts have achieved with Mary’s Hand. It has been the most fantastic experience and I am totally thrilled with it.

Firstly, I owe huge thanks to the team that has made the piece with me – Di Sherlock, Martin Bussey, Andie Scott and Sophie Meyer. Mary’s Hand works on many levels and its success is in large part due to the balance of musical, textual and design elements that has been achieved through a genuinely collaborative exchange of ideas and critical process. 

The decision to make another one-woman show after Vivienne was not a foregone conclusion. However, Mary’s Hand naturally builds on that show’s success, not least my interest in revisiting the stories of historical women with blurry or dark reputations.  In addition, my interest in setting myself development challenges as a performer has been brilliantly answered in Mary’s Hand, thanks to our collective insistence on refining the piece to its best.

Thank-yous are also due to Tête á Tête for programming a third McCaldin Arts production in its Opera Festival – my progress as a maker of new work is closely linked to TaT’s support and encouragement. My thanks, too, to the clergy of St Paul’s Knightsbridge, which provided rehearsal space and where we ran Mary’s Hand in its first draft.  The Church of the Holy Cross warmly welcomed us for the August performances and we are delighted to have made new friends in our local King’s Cross area.

The biggest thank you of all is to Cheyney Kent, who not only curates McCaldin Arts’ online presence, but provides behind the scenes support at every turn. Without him Mary’s Hand simply would not have made it to the stage at all.

Mary’s Hand premieres

Clare McCaldin as Mary 1

Photo: Robert Workman

After an intense year of work, the premiere of Mary’s Hand is approaching fast. The first performance is in Chester on 21 June, with London performances on 1 & 2 August. Ticket information for all dates is here.

We have some fantastic publicity photographs of the finished costume (left.) This was completed with funds crowdfunded from our supporters, to whom much thanks. The video below introduces some of the key creatives on the team and footage of our try-out in April 2018 with the costume still in its partially-finished state. The experience of running the show with the three instrumentalists and an invited audience was of enormous help to us in making final adjustments to our work before the premiere.

You can discover more about the project at McCaldin Arts. You can download and read Di Sherlock’s libretto for Mary’s Hand here and read an interview with our composer Martin Bussey here. 

 

 

 

Allison Cook

clare mccaldin podcast

I work on all kinds of great projects, some of which I’m invited to join and some which I have developed myself with colleagues. However, because all the preliminary work goes on behind the scenes you won’t always get to hear about this process. So, armed with my trusty iPhone, I’ve taken to capturing conversations with friends and colleagues about all sorts of interesting projects, to share with you, the interested listener.

This week I talk to mezzo-soprano Allison Cook, who recently appeared in the Royal Opera’s new production of From The House Of The Dead and who will soon return to London for a more significant role.

Lucy Stevens on Ethel Smyth and Grasp The Nettle

clare mccaldin podcast

I work on all kinds of great projects, some of which I’m invited to join and some which I have developed myself with colleagues. However, because all the preliminary work goes on behind the scenes you won’t always get to hear about this process. So, armed with my trusty iPhone, I’ve taken to capturing conversations with friends and colleagues about all sorts of interesting projects, to share with you, the interested listener.

In this episode I talk to contralto Lucy Stevens about her current one-woman show Grasp The Nettle, narrating the life and work of early 20th century composer and womens rights pioneer Ethel Smyth. We also took a moment to compare notes on what’s involved in putting together a small show and trying to take it on tour.

Daniel Goode

clare mccaldin podcast

I work on all kinds of great projects, some of which I’m invited to join and some which I have developed myself with colleagues. However, because all the preliminary work goes on behind the scenes you won’t always get to hear about this process. So, armed with my trusty iPhone, I’ve taken to capturing conversations with friends and colleagues about all sorts of interesting projects, to share with you, the interested listener.

This week I talk to the actor Daniel Goode. Dan is appearing in a touring production of Great Expectations, so I had a chance to catch up with him ahead of an appearance at Richmond Theatre. We discuss singing and acting, and why these two disciplines overlap for him; we also talk about his other interests and the work he does as an advocate for creative individuals in the craft industry with his company Making Goode.

Tales From Backstage Podcasts for 2018

clare mccaldin podcastThroughout 2016 I spoke with a number of my colleagues about their work. Initially speaking with people wrangling various animals at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, I quickly opened the discussion up to other musicians and artistic practitioners that I know. These discussions, edited down to 10-15 min podcasts – which I called Tales From Backstage – were good fun and full of interesting stories and insights.

Then, at the beginning of this year, I appeared on Soho Radio with some other artists (I had come on to talk about my show Over My Shoulder, concerning a famous daughter of Soho, Jessie Matthews). The experience of talking with other artists reminded me how stimulating and revealing these discussions can be. Consequently, I decided to revisit the podcast series and to try and think of other colleagues who might want to talk about their work and experiences. I’m really pleased that my first few emails were replied to with enthusiasm!

Here, then, is a new series of podcasts. I have already started, by talking to the irrepressible soprano Natalie Raybould the day before her performance of Pierrot Lunaire at the Guards Chapel on 27 February. The podcast I’m publishing today is a chat with the artistic polymath Kerry Andrew a week or two ahead of the release of her new album with her band You Are Wolf.

All podcasts can be heard via claremccaldin.com/podcast, or on iTunes, Mixcloud, or any other podcast player (like PlayerFM) with a good RSS feed. 

Kerry Andrew

clare mccaldin podcast

I work on all kinds of great projects, some of which I’m invited to join and some which I have developed myself with colleagues. However, because all the preliminary work goes on behind the scenes you won’t always get to hear about this process. So, armed with my trusty iPhone, I’ve taken to capturing conversations with friends and colleagues about all sorts of interesting projects, to share with you, the interested listener.

In this episode I talk to Kerry Andrew, a composer, performer, broadcaster, writer and cartoon character (!) about her many creative outlets and influences. We recorded this interview in a lively South London café, so the sound can get a bit cluttered sometimes; we’ve tried to clean it up a bit so you can hear everything that Kerry has to say!

Natalie Raybould on Pierrot Lunaire

clare mccaldin podcast

I work on all kinds of great projects, some of which I’m invited to join and some which I have developed myself with colleagues. However, because all the preliminary work goes on behind the scenes you won’t always get to hear about this process. So, armed with my trusty iPhone, I’ve taken to capturing conversations with friends and colleagues about all sorts of interesting projects, to share with you, the interested listener.

In this podcast I talk to soprano Natalie Raybould, who is preparing to perform Arnold Schönberg’s celebrated Pierrot Lunaire, a 20th century masterpiece she has tackled more than thirty times. Bunkered in a busy South London café during snowfall, Natalie and I discuss Pierrot, Sprechstimme, and her other current work .

Over My Shoulder – London performance

Born in a Soho slum, Jessie Matthews rose to become a superstar of stage and screen throughout the 1930s, and was often described as “the English Ginger Rogers”Elisabeth Schumann was a German opera and song specialist whose popularity with British audiences remained undimmed even after Germany and England had fought a war. Both women were hugely famous in their day, and yet their names are hardly recognised now by younger generations of music-lovers.

Over My Shoulder sets out to remedy this by weaving together the stories of these two singers around their unexpected intersection here in London. In a strange twist of fate, Jessie and Elisabeth now lie buried on opposite sides of the same West London churchyard. Could they also have met years earlier in Covent Garden at the height of their fame? Might there be some connection between the two women?

Paul Turner (piano) & Clare McCaldin (mezzo)

Clare McCaldin (mezzo-soprano) and Paul Turner (piano) combine story-telling and singing to celebrate the lives and work of Jessie and Elisabeth. Tales of romantic scandal, tragedy, falls from grace and triumphant come-backs are inseparable from the remarkable artistic contribution of these two women.

The performance includes music by Felix Mendelssohn, Richard Strauss, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Hugo Wolf, Johannes Brahms, Otto Klemperer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Noël Coward, Harry Woods and Rodgers & Hart.

15th February 2018, 7.30pm
St Paul’s Church, 32a Wilton Place, London, SW1X 8SH

Tickets £25, £15, £10. Interval drinks will be served (donation requested).
Click here to book in advance or buy a ticket on the door. 

The Future of Knowledge

I’m delighted to have been invited to speak at the Future of Knowledge conference at the British Museum on Monday 12 February 2018. The conference is organised by the Knowledge Quarter to mark its third year of promoting productive partnerships, fruitful networks and creative interaction between its member organisations.

I will talking about McCaldin Arts’ project Mary’s Hand, which is in development for performances in 2018. In dealing with historical issues around the life of Queen Mary I, the show considers how her reputation was posthumously manipulated by her half-sister Elizabeth I, and the partial treatment of important facts and truths. As it turns out, fake news and PR spin are not a recent invention.