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February 2016

A Q&A with… British Comic Opera

By | News

Daisy Evans, founder and artistic director of British Comic Opera, has a single mantra for her new project…

Have more fun

With a big bag of opera tricks ranging from improvised opera, to sing-offs, to jazz opera and even an operatic Death Match – it’s the dizzying heights of grand opera, delivered straight to your cocktail table.

 

Intrigued? Confused? A little frightened? We wanted to get a better look at what she has in store for us before BCO make their appearance at Omnibus on the 5th of March.

 

Say the words, “British Comic Opera” and people probably think Gilbert and Sullivan. What’s the concept here?

British Comic Opera is designed to make you laugh with high quality music making. There are so many songs, scenes and pieces that are hilarious, we want audiences to see them! We also have sketches and improvised sections that show just what is so funny about opera and what we go through as music-makers day to day in the business. Opera is not always serious – just have more fun!

Does opera – with all its passion and intensity – mix with laughter and comedy?

If music is capable of making you weep, its capable of making you laugh. Through music, emotions are distilled and presented in a heightened way. It’s perfect for comedy as well as tragedy!​

What kind of audience is this for? People who love opera, or those who’ve never heard a bar of one?

This is for everyone, young and old, music lovers or not. Our core principle is comedy. We just use music to make it!

You’ve worked at ENO and the Royal Opera House. Now you’re going to be faced with more intimate audiences and more intimate spaces. How do you adapt to that?

I have also worked in intimate spaces with my company, Silent Opera. I’m used to it, and I think it’s a much more interesting place to make opera.

What would you like your audiences to feel after they’ve been to a BCO evening? Should they just feel amused or is this an introduction to more and bigger productions?

This is the start of making opera on a mid scale, and BCO aim to make longer evenings that present fully staged comic operas in an interesting format and accessible space.

British Comic Opera are at Omnibus 5 March

BOOK TICKETS HERE

A Q&A with… Emilia Mårtensson

By | News

Emilia Mårtensson has built a well-deserved reputation as one of the most exciting young vocalists on the UK Jazz scene.

To get a taster of what’s in store for her her appearance at Omnibus on the 21st of February, we decided to pick her brain about home and the future of jazz. 

You’re London-based, but Swedish, with a Slovenian mother, where do you call home now?

I count myself very lucky to be able to call London, Sweden AND Slovenia home. I’m very blessed to have strong connections to people and the culture in all three places and I love the contrast between the three.

Which is your favourite city in terms of performing?

It is always wonderful to perform at home so I would have to say London, Izola (Slovenia) and Malmö, (Sweden).

Was The Observer’s tag ‘The New Face of British Jazz 2012′ a help or did it just set up awkward expectations?

No it didn’t set up any awkward expectations at all. It was a good year for me as I debuted with my album ‘And so it goes…’ and also Kairos 4tet, a wonderful band I was singing with led by Adam Waldmann, which had just won the MOBO Award for best Jazz Act. It was great to get the recognition and it came at a good time as I was just starting to make a name for myself on the Jazz Scene, so I am very grateful.

Who are your heroes, in music and performance generally?

Oh is it too cheesy to say that all musicians I know, love and work with are my heroes? The London Jazz scene is such a wonderful community of people. I constantly get inspired by people’s drive and determination and of course by all the great music that keeps coming out from the London Scene. I am very proud to be part of it.

Your Swedish roots are obviously still important and your blend of folk and pop into your repertoire blurs categories. How much do you think labels like ‘jazz’ are important to you, and to audiences?

It is not so important to me. I suppose labelling music has a purpose in that it gives you some direction in to what the music involves, but actually these labels can be misleading and scare audiences away from music they might really appreciate. For example the word Jazz, I think, is often associated with having a specific sound but today there is SO much music that is being described with this word.

Your ‘Women Make Music’ funding from the Performing Rights Society is something you are obviously proud of. Is it still hard for women to make waves in the music world?

I am proud of it and I think it’s great that schemes like these exist in order to draw more attention to female artists and composers to create more role models.
I feel that things are starting to change slowly, even if it is with baby steps. There are a lot of great female band leaders, artists and composers on the scene right now, which I’m sure will encourage the next generation.

Has jazz got a future in the 21st century? What are the important things that will bring new audiences to jazz?

I think improvised music, rich harmonies, great melodies, stories and collaborative musicianship definitely has a great future in the 21st century. It would be really sad if not. Perhaps one thing that needs to happen is the exclusion of categorizing the music and leaving it open for people to make up their own minds about what the music means, is, and sounds like.

Who are your favourite musical collaborators and why?

I have been and still am collaborating with lots of different musicians and projects and my favourite thing about that is that you get many different musical outlets so I can’t say I have any favourites. BUT I am perhaps a little bit extra excited at the minute about my next project, which is a collaboration between myself and Janez Dovc (Slovenian accordion player and composer) and Adriano Adewale (Brazilian percussion player and composer). Together we have composed and arranged a set of music inspired by our three different folkloric cultures. The music involves a lot of improvisation and interaction on stage with an emphasis on telling stories. I am excited to say that we will be recording in April and the album will be released in September this year on Two River Records.

I am also very excited about my collaboration with Luca Boscagin (guitar) and Fulvio Sigurta (flugelhorn and trumpet) who will be joining me for my performance at OMNIBUS on Sunday 21st of February. This is a new project which will involve all sorts of songs that we love, including Jazz Standards, Swedish Folks songs and original compositions. I am really looking forward to this!

Emilia Mårtensson will be playing at Omnibus 21 February

BOOK TICKETS HERE