Projects

The London Songbook

Sarah is curating the first edition of The London Songbook. Comprising twelve new songs by twelve composers, dedicated to this great and complex city and inspired by the Great American Songbook, this collaboration will culminate in Sarah singing The London Songbook in a series of concerts, as well as a recording and a printed edition of the songs.

If you are interested in supporting this project (including sponsoring a song), we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please get in touch here.

Sarah Gabriel 5 - Kate Mount i

Published on September 5th, 2017

Dartington Festival | Songs of the Jazz Age

In August at Dartington Festival, UK, Sarah explored her love of popular song from the 1920s onwards with pianist Stephen de Pledge and clarinettist Steve Dummer. They gave their late night concert in the Great Hall at Dartington, performing songs by George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Harold Arlen, and others.

Sarah Gabriel Stephen de Pledge Steve Dummer

Published on August 28th, 2017

‘Dorothy Parker Takes a Trip’ to Petworth Festival, July 2017

Dorothy Parker Takes a Trip was created for Dartington International Festival and premiered in August 2016. Sarah Gabriel will appear at Petworth Festival in July 2017 in a revival of this one-act solo play, directed by Richard Williams.

This is a story about Dorothy Parker in her letters, essays and poems, with songs by Harold Arlen, George Gershwin, Milton Babbitt, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmichael and others. Also featuring Dorothy Parker’s lawyer’s assistant and a filing cabinet.

Sarah Gabriel - Dorothy Parker takes a trip

Published on February 19th, 2017

Film: Days of Candy

Sarah appeared in Sigurd Kolster’s 2016 short film, Days of Candy, produced by Ed Fairweather for National Film & Television School.

Set in 1929, on the day of the Great Crash, she plays Anne Gram, the wife of a man who has invested poorly with cataclysmic consequences.Days of Candy - Sarah Gabriel

Published on October 31st, 2016

Ethel Smyth: Impressions of an Extraordinary Life

Ethel Smyth - Sarah Gabriel and Galos Piano TrioGalos Trio & Sarah Gabriel present an evening of stories and music exploring the life, music and encounters of the irrepressible composer Dame Ethel Smyth and her friends: Brahms, Clara Schumann, Grieg and Tchaikovsky, told through her own words.

Written by Felicity Broome-Skelton
Performed by the Galos Piano Trio with soprano Sarah Gabriel as Ethel

Ethel-Smyth-1913 - Sarah Gabriel Galos Trio

 

 

They gave the premiere performance at St. David’s Cathedral Festival on 1st June 2016.

Next performance: Luton Library Theatre, 5th December 2016 for Luton Music. Tickets available soon.

Published on June 2nd, 2016

Forbidden Songs | music banned by the Third Reich

In 1938, Adolf Ziegler curated an exhibition in Düsseldorf of ‘Entartetemusik’: ‘degenerate music’ which was proclaimed to be the cause of the ‘decay’ of the music of the age. Not only was the work of contemporary composers such as Weill, Berg, Schoenberg, Hindemith and Stravinsky condemned, but also Jewish composers of the past such as Mendelssohn and Mahler.

Sarah gave her first recital of the music of these ‘degenerate’ composers at Dartington International Festival in August 2015 with pianist Alexandra Vaduva – including Berg Seven Early Songs, Schoenberg Four Songs Op 2, and also songs by Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, Mendelssohn and Schubert set to poetry by the forbidden Jewish poet, Heine.

In April 2016, she and pianist Robin Green gave their first peformance of Mahler Rueckert Lieder along with the Berg and Heine settings at Thornbury Arts Festival.

On Monday 25th July at 7.45pm, Sarah and Alexandra will revive their programme at Guiting Festival, with the addition of Broadway songs by Kurt Weill, operetta, and the beautiful Shakespeare songs by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.

Published on June 2nd, 2016

New Music | Sarah Gabriel and composer Joseph Atkins

Sarah Gabriel and Joseph Atkins are currently collaborating on Joe’s first opera – a dramatic monologue for soprano.

Songs and song cycles composed by Joe and premiered by Sarah include Notes on a City, Notes on Love, It was only the angels who sang, Cry Apples and Sonnet 113.

Joseph studied at New College, Oxford and the Royal Academy of Music. He composed the scores for Mud Sweat and Tractors: the Story of Agriculture (BBC2, nominated for a Grierson National Documentary Award) and Shooting the War (BBC4).

Concert works include Notes on Love (premiered at St John’s, Smith Square), It was only the Angels who Sang (St Martin-in-the-Fields), Sonnet 113 (St George’s Bristol), Mirroring the Voice (International Voice Association’s Annual Conference 2005 and the Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall) and Cry Apples (Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon), pieces for the Spitalfields Festival, COMA London and the New Cambridge Singers plus orchestrations for the opening of the refurbished Colston Hall in Bristol conducted by Charles Hazelwood. He is currently composing a new piece for the BBC Elstree Concert Band’s 25th Anniversary Concert.

Joseph’s credits as Musical Director and accompanist include the European premiere of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Me and Juliet (Finborough Theatre) and workshop productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre plus cabaret appearances at The Pheasantry, Chelsea and Pizza on the Park.

Photo of Joe Atkins: Sarah Gabriel

Published on November 27th, 2015

Poulenc | La Voix Humaine

Performances of Poulenc’s extraordinary monologue opera (with words by Cocteau) to come in ‘found spaces’ and site-specific locations in 2015 and 2016.

Sarah Gabriel, soprano
Christopher Glynn, piano
Edward Dick, director

Sarah Gabriel La Voix Humaine Cheltenham Festival i

 

When I first performed Edward Dick’s new production of La Voix Humaine at The Cheltenham and Deal Festivals, they asked me to write about why I love this piece. Here’s what I said:

‘Come on now, be honest! Which one of you wouldn’t rather listen to his hairdresser than Hercules? Or Horatius, or Orpheus… people so lofty they sound as if they shit marble!’

When I was little, I was thrilled by this speech in Amadeus (partly, I’m sure, because of a word that was strictly embargoed). I don’t agree entirely with Mozart’s rant: I love performing Handel, Hasse, Gluck, and of course, Mozart, and I relish opera plots filled with deities and royalty. But that momentary frisson from the film came back to me when I first encountered Poulenc’s monologue, La Voix Humaine.

It’s a great opera about an unremarkable person. It’s colloquial, and it takes place in real time. There are mundane moments that establish a universal theme – not just about lost love but about something much less romantic: the urge that we have to manipulate others, and even humiliate ourselves, when we are not in command of a situation, or are fearful of not getting what we believe we need.

Elle is desperately, recklessly in love. He hasn’t treated her kindly (‘For five years,’ she says, ‘I’ve lived through you…passed time just waiting for you…‘) and, the day after breaking up with her, he phones her, not to change his mind (which she wills so forcefully) but to retrieve their love letters (which she refuses to realise). For forty-five agonising minutes, we hear Elle on the telephone using every imaginable means to convince him to come back to her.

I’d suggest that most of us have been in a position in which we are desperate to wrest control, and simply can’t. With Elle, it happens to be to do with love – obsessive, undignified, all-absorbing. She is prepared to lose everything – to give it all away – to get anything back. With Cocteau’s words and Poulenc’s notes, she colours every shade of persuasion and manipulation – from invoking precious moments of nostalgia with filigree charm, to a mortifying self-debasement that is difficult to witness.

It’s already a tired trope, but I believe it’s true that the more ‘connected’ we are technologically, the more disconnected we’re in danger of becoming. When I’m in an audience, I don’t just want to watch what’s in front of me; I want the symbiotic relationship between the piece, the performers and the audience to permit a catharsis that only occurs in a live performance. If the performance tells a story which resonates, I come away from that experience enriched, troubled, sorry that these things happen to people – or that they do it to themselves. I hope that these experiences make me understand the human condition a little more. The ugly, but entirely human aspect of catharsis is the relief that the story didn’t happen to us.

To me, this piece is inseparable from Paris. When I first visited as a teenager I was fascinated by the city – with its facades of haughty, grubby, secretive windows, behind which I presumed that peculiarly French dramas took place. Since I’ve known La Voix Humaine, I’ve looked up at buildings while walking through the city and thought, ‘That could be her room,’ (in the suburb of Passy, Poulenc said) or, ‘He’d live there,’ (somewhere smarter). The thing is, I could be right about any of those places, because – give or take a couple of foolish, fallible choices and the tragic ending – this story could be almost anyone’s.

Published on December 2nd, 2014

Sarah Gabriel & Dominic Harlan | Songs About Us

Songs About Us - Solitary Hotel - Sarah Gabriel

As a duo, Sarah Gabriel and pianist and presenter Dominic Harlan have introduced songs in six languages to audiences of all ages.

They have also performed Dominic’s shows for families, When yesterday we met and Songs About Us at Wigmore Hall, Glyndebourne (with Paul Carey Jones) Cheltenham Music Festival, Oxford Lieder Festival, the Tête à Tête opera festival (with Philip Smith) and Leeds Lieder Festival with baritone Matthew Sharp as part of the International Concert Series.

Published on October 22nd, 2014

Shakespeare: Sarah Gabriel, Chuk Iwuji & Iain Farrington

Sarah Gabriel, actor Chuk Iwuji and pianist, composer and arranger, Iain Farrington, perform songs and other music inspired by Shakespeare, as well as sonnets and monologues from the plays.

Chuk Iwuji is celebrated for his interpretations of Shakespeare, not least at the RSC, where he played the title role of Henry VI in the Olivier-award-winning histories series. He has been directed by Sir Peter Hall and Sir Richard Eyre at the Royal National Theatre. More recently he has been on a world tour of Richard III with Kevin Spacey, directed by Sam Mendes. His face also appears on a 68 pence stamp…

Iain Farrington’s compositions and arrangements have been performed all over the world, and most recently in the UK for Aurora Orchestra and Britten Sinfonia and at the BBC Proms. As musical director for the Shakespeare programme, Iain will arrange and play on the piano much-loved and lesser-known orchestral works and film scores. He played the piano next to Mr Bean at the Olympics 2012 opening ceremony.

Alongside extracts from Shakespeare’s plays and poetry, they perform music by Schubert, Richard Strauss, Korngold, Walton and others.

Published on September 10th, 2014

Next Performance

26 Oct 2017 at 19:00

CONCERT | Bach Cantatas BWV 79 & 80 | Copenhagen

Sarah appears again as soprano soloist with the London Bach Players on their first tour to Denmark. Bach ca

Location : Store Magelby Kirke, Kirkevej 6, 2791 Dragør, Copenhagen, Denmark

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