Tuesday 10 October 2017

Re-Sung: Dylan Perez introduces his new concert series in Bloomsbury

Creating your own opportunities is very much something that has become increasingly common with young artists and performers, happy to combine artistic and entrepreneurial skills. Re-Sung, a new song-recital series opens on Wednesday 11 October 2017 at Bloomsbury Baptist Church and will be running throughout the year with four Autumn concerts already announced. The series is the brain-child of accompanist Dylan Perez, who is currently just finishing his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The concerts take place at 6pm, and last for around 50 minutes, and Dylan wants them to provide a new look at both the song recital repertoire and format, both of which can often be pretty traditional.

Dylan John Perez (Photo Bertie Watson Photography)
Dylan John Perez (Photo Bertie Watson Photography)
Dylan wants to try and break down the barriers between the audience and performers, and the church is set up so that both can mingle and give the performers chance to talk to people. The series came about because Dylan was keen to create more performance opportunities for himself and was offered a slot at the Bloomsbury Baptist Church by his sponsors. He asked if it was possible to do more than one concert a year, and was presented with 12!

Dylan is keen to improve the audience's knowledge of the songs beforehand, so that during the performance the singers are not presented with a sea of heads reading their song translations, not to mention the rustling of papers. He plans to put full translations up on the Re-Sung website before- hand, along with further information and essays. On the day, the audience will get just sentence or two, summarising the song.

Tenor Nicky Spence is one of the singers performing at the first concert, and what attracted him to Re-Sung was partly this idea of presenting the songs in a way which gives the audience a simple key, a paraphrase to help the audience. Whilst full translations are wonderful, Nicky feels that for the audience to be able to pay attention to the performance, they need something a bit more straightforward.

Nicky Spence (Photo David Bebber)
Nicky Spence (Photo David Bebber)
Given Re-Sung's rush-hour time slot and more casual presentation, Dylan is hoping to attract new audiences, and feels that this simpler presentation will help engage them. Nicky emphasises that they are not trying to re-invent the wheel, but simply to give singers the opportunity to really own something, to be in their moment. Dylan thinks that it is important for a young performer to have a forum in which they feel safe enough to be able to take risks and to feel liberated enough to try things. He points out that once you get out of college, it is a relief that you don't have to impress people and juries.

The first concert, on Wednesday 11 October, will be a song sampler with all different kinds of songs, languages and genres, very much an introduction to song. After that, each concert will delve into more specific topics such as sonnets or fables, and of course there will be a Schubertiade. The venue is known for other concerts, and Dylan has already been doing other things there. If people miss the rush hour and take a later train home, then they will be able to catch 50 minutes of song, and there is a good pub across the road for carrying discussions on afterwards, providing space for performers and audience members to talk about the songs with the feeling of being grilled. And Dylan is keen to talk to the audience after events, to find out what worked and what people did not like.

Nicky feels that performers sometimes have to work quite hard to keep song alive, and the number of singers who have purely song recital careers is quite small. But there is a lot of enthusiasm for song from song performers and Nicky finds it nice to work in a small direct way. Despite the enthusiasm from performers, there are not actually that may opportunities to do recitals and doing a full recital can be quite overwhelming for a young performer, and something of a labour of love with all those texts to learn. Re-Sung will be using a group of singers for each concert, so that each gets a chance to shine.

The recitals will be free, Dylan doesn't feel that students and young artists can charge a huge amount for tickets, and if you want to attract a young audience you have to have pricing accordingly. Nicky feels that the Wigmore Hall's £5 tickets for the under 35s is just right.

Dylan Perez and Robert Hugill chatting about Re-Sung (photo Nicky Spence)
Dylan Perez and Robert Hugill chatting
about Re-Sung (photo Nicky Spence
Dylan admits that it is an ambitious series, and he does not know if it will work. He has a lot of ideas and needs to see what works. Dylan has programmed the Autumn season, and is just about to organise the Winter series. One of the areas that Dylan is interested in is programming new music, but he feels it needs to be things with melodies, that the audiences can grasp. And there is so much possible repertoire, that he is aware of the need for balance. As an American, he hopes to present more American music and thinks that there are some amazing songs. Once composers he mentions is William Bolcom, and his cabaret songs. Bolcom used to teach at the University of Michigan where Dylan first studied.

As an accompanist, Dylan has quite an impressive pedigree. He completes his studies at the Guildhall School in 2018, and prizes have included the Gerald Moore Prize for accompanists, and the Paul Hamburger Prize for Accompaniment as well as being a a finalist in the 2016 Kathleen Ferrier awards at Wigmore Hall where he, along with his duo partner mezzo soprano Bianca Andrew, received the Loveday Song Prize, and was a finalist in the competition again in 2017. Along with duo partner Iúnó Connolly, Dylan was a semi-finalist in the 2017 Das Lied International Song Competition in Heidelberg, Germany.

Wednesday's concert will be performed by three singers, Nicky Spence, Frances Chiejina (currently a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at Covent Garden) and Julien van Mellaerts (winner of the 2017 Wigmore Hall / Kohn Foundation International Song Competition and the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards), with a repertoire including Schubert, Schumann, Richard Strauss, Wolf, Faure, Ravel, Britten, and Quilter. Nicky will be performing the Richard Strauss songs; he has recently start performing songs by this composer having been asked by Roger Vignoles to sing on the eighth (and final) volume of Roger Vignoles' complete Richard Strauss song series for Hyperion Records. Nicky comments wryly that he was effectively assigned all the songs that people had said not to earlier on in the series, citing one which has both a top C and a bottom A in it. But they found it an interesting challenge to make the songs lyrical, and not just sounding difficult. But Nicky is also keen to perform them, finding it a very different sensation to sing a song live than to record it.

Full information about the new concert series from the Re-Sung website.

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1 comment:

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