The soprano spoke to LLLC’s Emma Clarendon about her visits to London and making her UK debut at the Wigmore Hall.
How excited are you to make your UK debut? My grandmother’s friend lived in the UK, so I used to visit London quite often as a child. I have gone to concerts, opera and musical performances in London and got the impression not only of the city’s richness in culture, but of it being very much open to new ideas and different cultures while sustaining traditions. There is no doubt that it is quite daunting to perform in such a city, especially at Wigmore Hall, but I am truly grateful for this wonderful opportunity and hope to enjoy every moment of it.
What can audiences expect from the concert? For this concert, in the first half I have compiled British, German, French and Italian works with a shared theme of flowers, from which I hope the audience will be left feeling the season of spring. In the second half are Japanese works, from the most popular Japanese songs that any Japanese person would know, to more challenging and avant-garde pieces. With the last piece Mai, in which I will also be dancing, I hope to introduce the beauty and the different elements of Japanese performing arts to the audience.
When it came to creating the programme for the concert, what was the thinking behind choosing the pieces for it? I wanted the programme to reflect me. As a classical singer, I perform various works from different countries around Europe, so instead of concentrating on the pieces in one language, I thought I would sing in four different languages. And, as spring is just around the corner, I chose pieces to reflect that. I often sing Japanese songs as well and wanted to include them in the programme, to share with the audience the unique charm that Japanese melodies and language create.
How important was it for you to include pieces by Kunihiko Hashimoto and Kosaku Yamada? Kosaku Yamada plays a vital role in the history of Japanese songs. He was one of the first Japanse composers to go to Europe to study classical music and to then use the techniques he learned to compose songs in Japanese. His works range from songs that children can easily hum to difficult but beautiful pieces. I love Kosaku Yamada and believe that his works are crucial when introducing Japanese works .Mai by Kunihiko Hashimoto is based on the Kabuki classic Musume Dojoji. I was blown away when I saw my professor performing it and have dreamt of performing it ever since. I trained in Nichibu as a child and will incorporate the dance into this music in order to express the woman’s emotion of transforming herself into a snake.
After the recital, what is next in store for you? On top of a recital in Fukuoka on 10th March and a concert accompanied by the lute in Nara on the 16th March, I will be performing in Tokyo the part of Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, and the title role of a new work Kurenai Tennyo.
By Emma Clarendon
Sara Kobayashi will perform as part of the Avex Recital Series 2019 at Wigmore Hall on the 2nd March.