Conservatoire training for singers and pianists tends to revolve around core skills and core repertoire. Changes in the music industry, however, demand a fresh look at what it means to be a singer and a pianist in the 21st century, together with a reappraisal of what their core skills might be. Responding to these challenges the Guildhall School has over the last 8 years developed a unique form of music theatre which expands both skill set and repertoire, staging song in specially devised narrative contexts that draw out from both singers and pianists a new level of imaginative input. Iain Burnside discusses some of his recent projects alongside two Guildhall students who took part in them – and outlines the benefits of combining song, speech and movement in bringing new perspectives on song repertoire.
Iain Burnside is a pianist who has appeared in recital with many of the world’s leading singers (“pretty much ideal” BBC Music Magazine). His recordings straddle an exuberantly eclectic repertoire from Beethoven and Schubert to the cutting edge Gramophone Award-winning NMC Songbook. Away from the piano Burnside is active as a writer and broadcaster. As presenter of BBC Radio 3’s Voices he won a Sony Radio Award. His play A Soldier and a Maker, created at the Guildhall School, was performed at the Barbican Centre and Cheltenham Festival and broadcast by Radio 3 on Armistice Day (“searing” Daily Telegraph). Iain Burnside is Artistic Director of the Ludlow English Song Weekend and Artistic Consultant to Grange Park Opera.
Soprano Claire Lees recently graduated from the Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. She is a Samling Artist and is a recipient of an Independent Opera Voice Scholarship and Fellowship. Claire regularly performs with her duo partner in the Netherlands for the Vrienden van het Lied (Friends of the Song). She has performed in numerous venues such as the Wigmore Hall, the Barbican Hall, St James’ Piccadilly, St Martin-in-the-Fields and Peterborough Cathedral. Claire has worked with Iain Burnside on his Drums and Guns project in collaboration with the Juilliard School and Royal Irish Academy of Music, performing in Dublin, London and New York. She sang in her first season in the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus in 2018.
Adam Sullivan is a tenor with the ENO Chorus. He performs throughout London.