WAO Ghost Spotlight with Adrian Soares
As we relish the revival of live performance, now is the moment to peek at the intensive journey to transform notes on a page into a breathtaking musical experience. From the score to the stage, we want to shine a spotlight on our creatives working in the Ghost Light to bring the magic of opera to you. Connect with your state opera company on an intimate level and explore the teamwork, discipline and fervour burning brightly in our rising stars.
Join us with Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Adrian Soares as he reveals his rigorous preparations for The Nightingale, the thrill of performing to a diverse live audience, and his quest to support as many local businesses as possible.
1. Tell us about your experience returning to live performance with Standing Room Only – how does it feel to have a physical audience again? What was the atmosphere like in the ballroom?
It was awesome to perform to a physical audience again, and to see such a diverse crowd. From the regular opera attendees, to those working in the city on their lunch break, and those who were just keen to hear live performance again in such a wonderful historic venue. Something this pandemic has revealed is how dependent artists are on live performance for a fair amount of their income. Emerging out of this period we are seeing people with a desperate hunger for that live experience, which is inspiring. After the Spanish Flu came the roaring 20’s, and I don’t think that was a coincidence! Let’s hope we see a similar revival for the arts.
2. What challenges and opportunities did the pandemic period present? What did working in the “ghost light” mean for you as a young artist?
When the pandemic hit, I instantly lost all my performance gigs like many other musicians. Luckily, I was still able to teach all my students online via Zoom and Teams and continue earning income. Working in the “ghost light” has meant being as versatile and adaptable as possible. I found myself recording many backing tracks for students to work with, work-shopping pieces for composers, and producing content for online platforms, such as West Australian Opera’s Act-Belong-Commit Singing for Children series with the lovely Perry Joyce. I also had some spare time to try out some new repertoire, work through a few operas and piano reductions, and learn new skills on Ableton and Cubase. Any time to learn new skills as a young artist is golden!
3. As we prepare to present The Nightingale in October, what tasks and responsibilities do you have as repetiteur?
First and foremost, learning the score inside and out. Over the summer break, I was tasked by Chris van Tuinen to typeset the entire original piano reduction and vocal score, which was incredibly hard to read. So, over a period of about 2 months, I was already learning the score in detail by putting all the parts into Sibelius.
As a repetiteur, I will be working with the conductor (fellow YAP Leanne Puttick) in sorting out tempi, transitions between scenes, and different cues, giving my best orchestral impression from the piano. I’ll also be working with the soloists and various children’s choirs separately, and then intensively during production week. The discipline required to keep playing music to a high standard in the rehearsal process, while listening out for every part and watching a conductor, with many repetitions and long hours, is mind-boggling to say the least. However, I must power through and be the most supportive and efficient musician I can so all the pieces can come together.
4. How important do you think it is to engage young people in opera, both as artists and audiences?
I must confess that I was a latecomer to the opera form, as the first opera I actually watched was WAO’s production of The Pearl Fishers in 2016. I started to appreciate the art form more, and I delved into a variety of different operas to see what was out there. I wish I had been introduced to opera earlier, as some of the best musical moments and writing can be found in opera and can be quite inspiring.
When young people actually get involved in the creative aspects of opera, we can see how the transformative power of music and drama affects them – the confidence that comes with learning how to express and share ideas in an environment of mutual respect, to create something of which they can be proud.
Just before the pandemic hit, I was working on an educational show to tour around Perth and regional areas for WAO during Harmony Week with fellow YAPs Chelsea Burns and Lachlann Lawton. Programs like these are so important for kids to experience, so here’s hoping we can get back out on the road and showcase what opera has to offer!
5. What have you learned about yourself over the past few months?
The importance of taking breaks and having time to myself. I’m usually flat out working between teaching, accompanying, performing and rehearsing. Only took a pandemic to stop me in my tracks and make me reset…
6. How will you be spending your days now that restrictions are relaxed?
Slowly getting back to work – whether it’s accompanying for exams, recitals, or music nights, or preparing The Nightingale for WAO. I’ll also be supporting as many local businesses as I can, especially with my continuing quest to sample burgers from as many places as possible (also a valid payment option for a hungry musician).
7. What exciting projects do you have on the horizon?
Apart from preparing for The Nightingale, I’ve got a couple of potential projects lined up, including learning repertoire for some chamber music concerts, such as the Brahms and Madsen Horn Trios and Percy Grainger’s arrangement of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess for two pianos.
I’ll also be continuing to perform for some residential aged care homes (socially distanced of course) with Lachlann and Chelsea, with a selection of operatic and modern favourites.
Don’t miss The Nightingale on 3 & 4 October – featuring Adrian Soares as repetiteur, this production is an exciting new collaboration between five companies. Find out more here.
ABOUT ADRIAN SOARES
Adrian Soares is a current member of the Wesfarmers Arts Young Artist Program at West Australian Opera as a repetiteur. He completed his piano studies at UWA with First Class Honours in 2019, and was awarded the prestigious Tunley Music Scholarship, the VOSE Concerto Prize, Waveney Wansborough Prize and Flora Bunning Chamber Prize. Adrian has also performed with WASO as a casual musician and as a soloist performing Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G. He currently works as both piano teacher and accompanist for Iona Presentation College and Mercedes College, whilst also working as a freelance performer and accompanist for many ensembles and soloists in Perth. Adrian was recently awarded the Lady Callaway Award from the Australian Society of Music Education in recognition for outstanding service as an accompanist in the field of music education.