Press Release – Orchestra Wellington
The soprano soloist for Orchestra Wellington’s next concert might just be a modern superwoman. Lexus Song Quest winner Madeleine Pierard will be 37 weeks pregnant when she sings for the concert named “La Donna Ideale”.
So far Pierard’s smallest and nearest listener has remained quiet under her ribs when she sings, but afterwards the occasional lively bout of kicking can put sleep in short supply.
It’s all part of life for a freelance musician, Pierard says. “You have to take the work when it’s offered,” she says.
Pierard’s work regularly takes her between Paekakariki and London. In October, she’s booked for more work in England.
“But due to Britain’s immigration rules, the baby has to be born here in New Zealand, first,” Pierard says.
She’s not fazed by the challenges of singing around her pregnancy. “My sister Anna has done it, singing Suzuki in Auckland shortly after a caesarian in Spain.”
She’s kept very fit well into her pregnancy, and hasn’t felt out of breath. And she’s surrounded by support wherever she goes.
Her husband lives in Paekakariki, and she can count on a large and close-knit family in New Zealand.
But her studies in London in the Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artist Programme have given her a connection with Covent Garden that could be lifelong.
“As a graduate of the Jette Parker programme, I can return any time for coaching. The staff keep a strong interest in everyone they’ve worked with, and it’s got a very family atmosphere. When I went back after my wedding in New Zealand, everyone knew and congratulated me. I felt so welcomed.”
While in London during her second trimester, Pierard had a brief stay in hospital. New Zealand soprano Aivale Cole stepped in to “hang out” and make sure Pierard didn’t feel alone. “She was just awesome.”
Pierard may simply have a gift for friendship. She says she really enjoyed singing competitions when she was younger. “I never met animosity or bad feeling. It was a big social scene, and I loved meeting other singers there.
Pierard confesses she loved competing in the Lexus. “I enjoyed it so much. And winning it was the affirmation I needed that this was for me. Before then, I was sort of an accidental singer.”
Pierard’s family includes many musicians and Madeleine had always sung in choirs. “But becoming an opera singer has been a surprise to me. I was always more into early and Renaissance music.” She studied biomedical science and composition at Victoria University, only taking serious singing lessons two years before winning the Lexus.
Almost immediately upon arriving in London after the Lexus, reviewers were praising her voice for its “glittering, secure virtuosity” and her ability to give a role “style, temperament and personality”.
Pierard joins Orchestra Wellington to present two song cycles that cross the divide between popular and classical music. A set of songs by Luciano Berio are inspired by folk songs and folk singers from Azerbaijan and the Auvergne to Sicily, Sardinia, and Kentucky. Their theme is love. Orchestra Wellington’s composer in residence Juliet Palmer also takes love as her theme in her new work for the orchestra, Solid Gold. Palmer took titles from 30 years of solid gold hits and formed them into a collage of lyrics, which she set to her own music inspired by the sound world of pop production
“She’s very engaging, and I can’t wait to work with her in person,” says Pierard.
Two works by Beethoven begin and end the concert – his dramatic Leonore No 1 overture and his witty Eighth Symphony.
Beethoven: Leonore Overture No 1, Op 138
Juliet Palmer: Solid Gold
Berio: Folk Songs
Beethoven: Symphony No 8, Op 93 in F major
Sunday 8 September. 4pm. Opera House
Tickets from Ticketek 0800 842 538 Service fee will apply