I returned from the Royal Opera’s tour of Japan this year with a two-day turnaround before I went out to Dubrovnik to meet the Brodsky Quartet. We hadn’t worked together before and I was joining them for a one-off performance of Trees, Walls, Cities, a collaborative work involving eight pairs of composers and lyricists, each of whom has written a song about a particular walled city. The cities named in the project are London, Derry, Dubrovnik, Nicosia, Vienna, Berlin, Utrecht and Jerusalem and the project aims to perform the piece in each city, having started at the City of London Festival in 2013.
One of the attractions of a piece like this is that I am effectively singing eight pieces not one, so get to explore the musical language of eight different composers. In Trees, Walls, Cities there is a satisfyingly broad range of idioms and languages to manage, which are linked together by musical material by our ninth composer, Nigel Osborne. As well as English and German, I sang in Aramaic and Croatian: it was especially satisfying to be told after the concert that my pronunciation was good enough for the gist of Isidora Žebeljan‘s fiery folk-inspired song to be understood. We had a fantastic time performing Trees, Walls, Cities and the Brodskys and I hope to continue our association with other projects.
We were all there as part of the Sentimento Festival, which is the brainchild of a Croatian singer and entrepreneur, Markos. The night before our own concert, the Brodskys and I appeared alongside Markos in his outdoor gig in the central piazza of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, with the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra providing accompaniment. The piazza and main street were packed with spectators, who got a preview of tracks from Markos’s new album and I got a rare opportunity to channel my pop princess and sing with a microphone!