Goa’s classical singing sensation Joanne D ’ Mello is in Goa in the run-up to the Stunning Stratospheric Sopranos, a virtuosic programme celebrating the female voice, on 4 January 2012 at 7.15 pm, Kala Academy (Tickets available at Furtados Music). She spoke to Dr. Luis Dias about the upcoming concert and about music in general.
Welcome back to Goa, Joanne! You’ve certainly gone a long way since you left our shores. Do let us know your career path since then.
I started studying music full-time in 2007 at the Royal College of Music in London under the expert guidance of Patricia Rozario. Since then I have been busy performing all over London and other parts of England. I’ve sung in some operas as a soloist and in the chorus, been a soloist for various concerts and have even appeared twice on BBC for their series called Song of Praise! Currently I am based in Belgium at the Flanders Operastudio in Ghent where the focus is the Operatic Repertoire but we also have masterclasses on the German lieder repertoire.
Are you excited to be back as a performer? Any thoughts about the programme?
I am thoroughly pleased to be invited to perform on this concert tour with my teacher Patricia Rozario. It’s a huge honour for me to share the stage with my teacher- someone I have great respect for and admire hugely.
The programme will consist of some of the greatest operatic repertoire written for sopranos. Solos, duets and trios. We will be covering repertoire from the Baroque period to the Romantic. Composers like Handel, Mozart and Gounod will be featured and we will be singing in Italian, French, German and English.
We’d love more of our youth to follow in your footsteps. Any advice (apart from the ‘Giving Voice to India’ series begun by Patricia Rozario, of course)?
I hope this concert will give our audience a taste of the wonderful western classical repertoire and encourage them to listen to it more. Since it is not generally part of the sound world we are used to, it takes some time to cultivate a taste and liking for it. But once you’ve acquired it, it will grow into a passion that will give you much pleasure for life and can never be taken away from you. Those who have the privilege of studying it, should know that listening to as many performances of other artists is very important.
Singing students in India are very lucky to have Patricia Rozario visiting thrice a year to conduct voice workshops. I would highly recommend making the most of this opportunity.
What should we, as parents and as a community, be doing to detect and develop vocal talent at the outset?
I think Singing is one of the most healthy activities a student can occupy themselves with. There is such a wealth of choral repertoire, sacred and secular that can be sung by all voice types. It is important for young people to start off by having a chance to sing out in a group, so there is no chance of feeling shy or nervous. Some of my happiest memories are from singing in my school choir conducted by Jean Kalgutkar and then in the senior choir at the Kala Academy. I have always enjoyed singing in choirs in church, school and college. It’s the best way to start learning to read music too. There is safety in numbers so it is not too daunting for young people to try out. I think parents should encourage children to join choirs, regularly attend practice and always have good quality music played at home.
(An edited version of this article appeared in the Navhind Times Goa India on 3 January 2012)