Revolution!

I’m off to the Stroud Festival later this month for a concert with two of my long-time friends and collaborators, Paul Sheehan and Paul Turner. This year’s Festival is themed on Revolution in the Arts so we have created a new programme exploring this idea in three dimensions – aesthetic, harmonic and socio-political. Inevitably there’s a lot of overlap but we will be offering everything from Beethoven to Cathy Berberian, via Ravel, Wagner and Weill. It’s a terrific range of repertoire, full of interesting juxtapositions, and we think that even the most knowledgeable members of our audience will make discoveries.

As the concert is taking place on the day when the UK may or may not be leaving the European Union, Revolution seems a very appropriate theme and we are assuming that anything could happen!

Tickets available via the Stroud Festival website: https://stroudfestival.org/

Happy 25th Birthday!

The Swindon Recital Series celebrated its 25th year on Sunday evening. It’s a remarkable achievement to have sustained this strand of high-quality music-making in the face of many local pressures on the classical music audience. The celebratory concert featured series founder and artistic director Paul Turner, with other performers who have been regular contributors over the years.

Music of Renown Ensemble

Members of the Music Of Renown Ensemble performed with me in a reprise of William Walton’s Façade, which we first presented in 2012.

with Paul Turner

Paul and I also performed a much-loved staple of our recital repertoire, A History of the Thé Dansant by Richard Rodney Bennett. The jazz theme was maintained with Schulhoff’s “hot” saxophone sonata and an arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue for the same forces as Façade.

Here’s to another 25 glorious years!

St John Passion, St Paul’s Knightsbridge cond. Papadopoulos

Clare McCaldin rehearses JS Bach’s St John Passion at St Paul’s, Knightsbridge. Photo: spkb.org

On Saturday, I took part in a performance of JS Bach’s St John Passion BWV 245 at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, an in-house performance of the work. The professional church choir, of whom I am one of the altos, shared the solo arias as step-outs: I sang Von den Stricken meiner Sünden. Director of Music Stephen Farr played continuo with music scholar & cellist Finlay Spence and an orchestra of instrumentalists from the associated Royal College of Music was directed by Assistant Organist Michael Papadopoulos.

Messiah, Hertford Choral Society, 3 Nov 2018

Clare McCaldin rehearses Handel’s Messiah in Hertford. Photo: HCS

Last weekend I was delighted to return to All Saints Hertford to sing the Alto arias in a performance of Handel’s Messiah. Conductor Derek Harrison conducted the Camerata of London in a performance of the early Prout edition of Handel’s enduring masterpiece. Hertford Choral Society have a strong local following and we all really enjoyed the warmth of both the music-making and the reception of the performance.

The performers receive the applause in Hertford. Photo: HCS

Agency news

Clare McCaldin

Clare performing Messiah at Worcester Cathedral

Following a change of management, I’m delighted to confirm that I will be on the roster of Ann Ferrier Artists, effective from 1 October 2018. I  look forward to working with Ann, whose new website is annferrierartists.com.

For a list of my current concert repertoire click here.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ for Mary’s Hand

We’ve had the reviews for Mary’s Hand in London. I am thrilled to get five stars in The Independent – my first review in a national newspaper.

Writing for The Independent, Alexandra Coghlan said, “Elegant, thoughtful, current without being gimmicky and immaculately presented, Mary’s Hand is a 70-minute rebuke to the UK’s major opera companies.

At the centre of it all, holding the stage with girlish, flickering fingers and a pitiless thrust of the chin is mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin… an outstanding singing-actress.”

mary's hand

You can read the rest of that review here and a digest of all the reviews on McCaldin Arts.

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.