Saturday, June 23, 2018

Home & The Artisans - An Evening With Greta Bradman.

On Friday evening, I fulfilled something of a promise to myself that had been delayed for a couple of years, owing to the recent challenges I've had health wise - of which regular readers of my blog will no doubt be aware. 

Having parted company with my wife and son, who were off to a thrilling AFL match between Port Adelaide and Melbourne at the Adelaide Oval, my daughter Lucy and I went to see our first performance by Australian soprano Greta Bradman at St. Peter's Cathedral. 

Greta is touring around Australia presently, in support of her new album release 'Home' - a lovingly curated selection of music inspired by her love of home, family and love itself.

(image credit: Decca/Universal.) 

Already the album has proven a hit with fans around the world, continuing an upward trajectory for Greta, which has just been so wonderful to observe since she began performing back in 2010.

Accompanied by acclaimed classical pianist Kate Johnson, the capacity audience were taken on a lovely ride through the very essence of Home, which was presented musically as a concept as much as it was a place.

(Acclaimed pianist, Kate Johnson and Lucy.)

The performance itself, in the hallowed environs of Adelaide's glorious Cathedral was at once intimate, soulful, uplifting, and utterly romantic. We we're treated to a repertoire that included movements from Dvořák, Rimksy-Korsakov, Schubert, Chopin, Handel and composers with a much more personal connection to Greta herself. I couldn't go without mentioning one special tune, composed by Greta's grandfather, titled "Everyday Is A Rainbow For Me." Written as a loving tribute to the girl who became his wife, Greta reached across time to pluck this beautiful flower from her grandfather's far away garden and share it with us here in the present. It was an exquisite and personal moment.

(image credit Albert Comper/Lynn Elzinga-Henry.)

What struck me the most about Greta's performance was her relationship with the Cathedral itself. She was cognizant of every nook and cranny of the building, its illustrious curves, its rafters, the volume of the space. How Greta adapted her vocal technique to accommodate her surrounds was fascinating to behold and she projected her voice effortlessly up into the lofty heights above us, delivering through out the building. In chatting with other audience members after the performance, it was clear that no matter where you were in the building, the aural experience was equal. Greta and the Cathedral had a mutual understanding, and were as much a partnership with one another as Greta and her pianist Kate. 
Everyone was drawn into her sphere by the end of the first half. 

And then, a moment happened, that will stay with me and Lucy for the rest of our lives. 

During an interval between songs, Greta related a story about her experience of having had throat surgery a couple of years ago, which would have been quite a risk to her career. 

During that time, she received correspondence from a "bloke" (that made me smile) who was undergoing similar surgery - the first having occurred on the exact same day as hers. 

That correspondence turned into a lovely back and forth over the past couple of years in which Greta and this man encouraged each other and checked in on each others progress. 

She then looked straight at me and said, "That bloke is in the audience tonight. His name is Dean and I'm so thrilled I will finally get to meet him after all this time. I want dedicate this next song - Bach's "Ave Maria" to Dean - to us both - who'd lost our voices and found them again."

To say that I was floored would be an understatement. To say that I was emotional would be accurate. 

Greta fulfilled her promise and we had a lovely moment after her performance, embracing as though we were old friends. We chatted about the performance, with Greta relating her impressions of that special relationship with the Cathedral I mentioned earlier. Greta remarked about how it had evolved from the first time she'd performed there to now and how she understood the building and its eccentricities. I appreciated the meaning of that. Greta engaged in a wonderful chat with Lucy about her dance classes and the upcoming school holidays.

During our chat, I was able to gift her an advance copy of The Artisan Heart. Before I left home, I'd stowed it in my shoulder bag, in the vague hope to leave the copy of the novel with Greta's tour staff.

As a tribute to the connection we'd made, Greta appears in a brief passage in the novel. It was my way of saying thank you to her. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe I would have the opportunity to present it to her herself.

(Artisans together - The Soprano, The Writer and Lucy.)

After a photo together, we parted and Lucy and I braved the chilly Adelaide evening to make our way to the Pancake Kitchen for a post performance dessert treat. We were both buzzing over the evening we'd had and the special moments we shared together.

Greta and Kate will go on to tour her album until mid July here in Australia. I'm so thrilled that so many more music lovers will have the opportunity to experience her magic.

'Home' the new album from Greta Bradman is out now

For tour dates, visit Greta Bradman here.


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