Heaven and hell: an audience with the women of the West Cork Chamber Music Festival
From listening to Debussy to drowning, five performers from the recent Bantry festival share their ideas of life’s highs and lows
What’s your idea of musical heaven? Probably not singing. Probably listening to a big Debussy-fest or a Berg-fest, or a Brahms piano concerto-fest. I think I’d be in the audience somewhere. But it would be a big, symphonic sound-world, I think.
And your musical hell? Being asked to sing for the rest of time? No. You can’t say without being rude about something, can you? I don’t know. I couldn’t possibly say.
What’s your non-musical heaven? That’s easy. Hanging out with my family.
And your non-musical hell? I’ve actually lived quite a happy life. I can’t think about crappy things. Non-musical hell? Being ill, or my family being ill. For me, for work, that’s quite grim. You have to look after yourself so much. But when other people are ill you can’t help them.
What has been your experience with cancellations? I quite often stand in as a replacement. I’m quite happy reading things I don’t know. So, actually, cancellations have often worked in my favour, and I’ve had some lovely opportunities jumping in at the last minute. But I was ill recently with bronchitis, so it was valid, but I didn’t know it was bronchitis and I pretty much had to cancel the day before. People were not impressed. It’s hard as a singer. You try to understand your own voice, and you obviously hope very much that if it isn’t a hundred per cent it’s going to improve. It can be a difficult call to make early enough to say it’s not going to improve. We all suffer tensions, and issues, and sprained thises and thats. But for singers it’s hard sometimes to make the right call.
What’s your idea of musical heaven?
I think it would be pure communication, perfect musical understanding and spiritual thought. Music and heaven are probably the reasons we become musicians and we become an audience. And the ultimate necessity is more than beauty, it’s unity, it’s totality, it’s understanding, reaching the soul of the audience, of the musicians you are playing with, the composer, the poet. Music transcends time through the instant, and it’s through music that we are closer to heaven as such.
And your musical hell?
Isolation, complete isolation. Or insincerity and the abuse of music.
What’s your non-musical heaven?
It will always be music. Even silence is music.
And your non-musical hell?
The absence of life. The absence of music.
What has been your experience with cancellations?
I love being the replacement when there is a cancellation. It’s very beautiful. It’s like being part of a chain. That’s a pleasure. The worst with a cancellation is two days before if you are ill and you have to decide if somebody will be able to do something different and the audience will enjoy it, or whether you will be able to recover.
What’s your idea of musical heaven? Performing something which you feel very deeply with people who seem to be on the same wavelength as you, and things just flow and click into place without you having really to talk about it.