23 July 2012
Singer sisters Madeleine (pictured right) and Anna Pierard are going to be sharing the stage in four of our upcoming concerts this August as part of Madeleine’s CMNZ tour with pianist Terence Dennis.
Madeleine is a Jette Parker Young Artist with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden in London and Anna is based in the Hawkes Bay with her family. Even though they aren't currently in the same country the talented duo took time out to answer a few questions so we could get to know them a bit better.
Madeleine: My first musical memories are Mum singing to me. She is a beautiful singer (she now performs in a jazz ensemble and as an actress). As toddlers, we spent a lot of time in the theatre while mum was on stage rehearsing and she and Dad were both music teachers - Mum taught piano and Dad, the clarinet. There was always music in the house, whether it was at the piano (usually Mum playing some Ravel or us banging on those precious keys) or on the stereo. I hadn't actually planned to become a professional musician. I had plenty of wonderful examples in my family to be inspired by, mainly my aunt, Catherine Pierard, but I suppose it wasn't until winning the Lexus Song Quest in 2005 that I really thought I might have it in me. I had my heart set on Medicine from when I was very small, so that was a big change-of-heart!
Anna: My first musical memories are of us children around the piano, mum playing. We all had our favourite songs - mine, was 'All the pretty little horses'. I loved the melancholy feel of it. I can't remember the precise moment I realised I wanted to be a singer, I only know that it was all I always wanted. I think listening to recordings of my Aunt sort of galvanised me into focusing my attentions on singing and leaving the viola behind.
Madeleine: That I get to tour with my sister, Anna. I am so excited about these concerts and how involved I am going to be with some NZ music again. This is something I miss over here... I have always been dedicated to performing new NZ works since doing my composition degree at Vic under Jack Body, Ross Harris and John Psathas and although I have been somewhat involved while I've been resident in the UK (especially recording Lyell Cresswell works with the NZSO and Ross Harris' Symphony No. 2, which was written for me, with the APO), I do miss being around it all the time.
Anna: All the duets!!! I love singing with Maddy.
Madeleine: It's incredibly exciting to have such a close dialogue with your colleagues. I can liken it to working as part of a cast in an opera, where we have to listen and react, both musically and dramatically to everything the other does. But since we have a conductor as the medium, we're not really in direct communication with the orchestra, nor they with us... so to have that artistic immediacy with instrumentalists is very special. It enables you to speak through their interpretation as well. The challenge is the focus that it requires to achieve this... especially when the piece is new or rather difficult, where sometimes the vocal line has only a very vague harmonic relationship to the rest of the ensemble.
Anna: I love the intimacy, there's room for more delicacy of feeling and singing. I think it's easier to establish a relationship with your audience when singing at that level as opposed to in an opera, or recital with orchestra. That can mean more risk and one of the challenges that you don't have to face when singing opera is having to create all sorts of different moods an interpret different composers' styles in a varied programme. This can be a challenge or it can help keep the singer entertained!
Madeleine: I have always wanted to learn the cello. I don't know why I didn't... I suppose I was the pianist, my brother Tom was the cellist (he is now a percussionist and a member of Strike... confusingly my uncle Tom is also professional cellist) and my sister, Jane plays too. Anna played viola and Margot the violin, so we often used to play chamber music at home and at school. I find that the cello resonates with my character more than any other instrument, especially in pieces such as John Tavener's The Protecting Veil. My second choice would be the oboe or cor anglais. To me, they sound like intense love and sadness all-in-one.
Anna: I would love to be able to play the piano because it would make my life SO much easier, I'm sure.
Madeleine: That's an impossible question to answer! In fact, I don't think I can... I admire so many people for so many different reasons. I am surrounded by people who are at the top of my field every day and just being there watching them work is utter joy, especially as I see how much they live, breathe and love it. There are people I admire in my family.
Anna: I admire most people for all sorts of different reasons. At the moment, I admire my husband for most things. I also admire Christine Goerke, currently singing Brunnhilde in NZSO's Die Walkure. She is the epitome of style and warmth and a wonderful artist and colleague. And what a singer!! I'm learning so much from her.
For more information on Madeleine Pierard’s concert tour, and the centres in which she will perform with Anna, visit: http://www.chambermusic.co.nz/artists/47-madeleine-pierard-and-terence-dennis-with-anna-pierard/