After the 2015 release of her award-winning chart-topping Decca album, Greta Bradman is ready to bring My Hero tour to audiences across Australia! The tour will begin late next month and will encompass both capital cities and regional centres.
We caught up with Greta before the tour to discuss the recording process of My Hero, the reasoning behind her careful choice of concert venues, and jazz.
So let’s talk first about the album, My Hero, that pays tribute to some of your musical heroes. Could you talk a little bit about how you compiled the songs?
In a way it started with my time from studying in Wales in 2014. While I was there I worked predominantly on repertoire and the direction I was taking with my singing with Dennis O’Neill my teacher there. It was there that I met Richard Bonynge and he said to me that we have to find a reason to work together soon. At that point my career had started in an unusual fashion where I had come from a background of chamber music and some opera, but my focus had been on the more instrumental type repertoire of the vocal department. I was really working on refining that direction and then meeting with Richard and starting to work with him and Dennis, I started having more of a sense of the direction I wanted to take and the albums I wanted to make. That’s how the concept started; I wanted to record something that really reflected who I am as an artist. When Richard asked me to record an album with him, which I had dreamt of in my more optimistic moments, so I of course said yes. Then it came down to the really nitty gritty of working out what we wanted to record. It felt a bit surreal working on these arias that were from some of my most loved operas.
This record was just one of those things that was very much bootstrapped in a way, a friend of mine and I prepared all the music. I was nervous about hiring scores and what that would look like and as I was to present a final master to Decca everything up until that point was up to me. Delivering an album like this puts a lot of onus on the artist in terms of fundraising, but on the flip side is the retention of copyright. I remember sitting at my kitchen table with Rhys Boak, whose is coming with me on this tour, helping me prepare the scores. Then I printed them all out and sat at my kitchen table and over the course of about five days I painstakingly stuck them all together. I was terrified- I couldn’t believe I was doing this to send over to the English Chamber Orchestra! But I stuck all the parts together with Sellotape and sent it off to London and then arrived over there, it was very much an evolving process.
Do you prefer the recording process or performing live?
It’s almost like they’re two sides of the same coin, they both have their challenges and come with a certain amount of trepidation but also a lot of fulfilment and joy. At the end of the day both of them are all about celebrating the music so that’s what it comes down to.
The venues for the My Hero tour are all churches or cathedrals. Was that an important decision for the concert?
They’re places that I adore in terms of their acoustics and what you do with them but I really wanted to keep these concerts small for a couple of reasons. One is that it was a way of having continuity and being able to take it to regional centres that are quite small. The other thing is that I think it is very important for artists to really take the time to get to know their audience and to connect with the individual audience members and say thank-you and please stay on this journey with me. Without their support I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing. The great thing about this tour is that I know the venues are small enough that I can stick around afterwards and say thank-you and have a chat to anyone who wants to have a chat. That’s the really important thing.
19 concerts in 40 days around the country is quite intense. How do you take care of yourself and your voice during the tour?
It’s one of those things where stamina is built up over years and its not just vocal stamina, its almost emotional stamina and ability to have a more sustainable form of energy. More than anything the thing that really energises me on a tour like this are the people, not just in the moment but those conversations afterwards and keeping it real. I think afterwards I’ll probably take a few days to regroup, but on the actual tour it really is about the memories. I love going around and hearing stories. The other thing about this music on my Hero album, and something that I love, is that it’s pretty much music that my grandparents would have been listening to when they were younger- that connection across the generations. Its something that I think is really really special and unique about classical music.
We recently saw you on stage in From Broadway To La Scala. How are solo tours different? Will you be missing Lisa, David and Teddy?
The magic thing about concerts like that is that if the music is really treated with the same integrity as it would receive in a full production of the opera or musical it comes from, then I think it offers the audience with little morsels from an array of opera and musicals and then hopefully they’ll go away and think “you know I really enjoyed that particular aria from that opera and maybe go along and see the full the production”.
To be honest I think I had Lisa, David and Teddy withdrawals after the last tour finished! I think concerts come in different forms, solo recitals are different but I think I’m so used to them that I don’t even think of them in a way. Even though their solo in terms of only one voice its still very much collaboration. It’s just a different form, it’s me and Rhys on piano and organ. There will probably be a little bit of talking between Rhys and myself. I’ll try not to give him too much of a hard time or tease him too much on stage!
And finally, is there a completely unexpected song that you would love to sing?
My dad is a jazz musician so I listened to a lot of jazz music when I was growing up, and I have to say when I was in my teens I had a complete fascination with a number of singers including Maria Callas, another being Bessie Smith, and Aretha Franklin and Louis Armstrong… but if there was anyone I think Aretha Franklin is just amazing. I have been known if you were to listen in on me having a shower there will quite often be a bit of Aretha going on.
Greta Bradman will begin touring on the 21st of April, performing 19 concerts with a special focus on regional centres. For more information visit www.gretabradman.com
My Hero T O U R D A T E S
- Thursday 21 April, 7pm – St. Michael’s Cathedral, Wagga Wagga, NSW
- Friday 22 April, 7pm – St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Burwood, NSW
- Friday 29 April, 7pm – All Saints’ Anglican Church, Ainslie, Canberra, ACT
- Saturday 30 April, 7pm – Cootamundra Town Hall, NSW
- Sunday 1 May, 2:30pm – St. Jude’s Church, Bowral, NSW
- Thursday 5 May, 7pm – Good Shepherd Church, Hamilton, VIC
- Friday 6 May, 7pm – St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Ballarat, VIC
- Saturday 7 May, 7pm – All Saints Church, East St Kilda, Melbourne, VIC
- Monday 9 May, 7:30pm – St. Mary of the Angels Basilica, Geelong, VIC
- Thursday 12 May, 7pm – St. Peter’s Cathedral, Adelaide, SA
- Friday 13 May, 5pm – Ngeringa Cultural Centre, Mt. Barker Summit, SA
- Thursday 19 May, 7pm – St. John’s Cathedral, Brisbane, QLD
- Saturday 21 May, 7pm – St. David’s Cathedral, Hobart, TAS
- Sunday 22 May, 2:30pm – St John’s Anglican Church, Launceston, TAS
- Friday 27 May, 7:30pm – Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle, NSW
- Saturday 28 May, 7pm – St. Stephen’s Uniting Church, Sydney, NSW
- Sunday 29 May, 3pm – St. Saviour’s Cathedral, Goulburn, NSW
- Saturday 10 September, 7pm – St. George’s Cathedral, Perth, WA