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Eline Vandenheede - Soprano


1. Is your family musical?

Not at all. My father is into finances and my mother used to own a grooming studio for pets. I tried following my father’s footsteps for a while but it just wasn’t for me. I learned that my passion for music will always have priority. As a child I couldn't fall asleep without classical music and I wanted no other future than becoming a musician.

2. You are currently on the Guildhall Artist Masters Programme, studying with Susan Waters. How is this progressing?

Studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama has been a true enrichment so far. I believe the school has all the tools and people it takes to guide me towards my goals. They are very supportive towards me and have the most exciting projects to offer. Susan Waters is inspring, patient, knows all about vocal technique and if needed she is like a second mother. I never left a lesson without new knowledge.

3. In the spring of 2015, you made your operatic debut as Ilse in Frühlings Erwachen from Benoit Mernier. How were your feelings at the time and how was the performance received?

I was in my third and final year of the Undergraduate Level and prepared Ilse’s aria for the audition, hoping to join the chorus. It was such a surprise and gift being chosen to join the International Opera Academy in Gent for a few months. I was very new at everything and I am still grateful that they trusted me with this wonderful opportunity. It gave me such a boost to perform amongst talented and advanced musicians. The reviews about the performances were very promising, although my family didn’t get used to the modern interpretation of opera right away.

4. In July 2017 you will perform the role of the first moon woman in the newly commissioned opera by Andrew Norman called ‘A Trip to the Moon’ with Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra. Can you tell us more of this production and how does the honour of first performance of an opera piece with such big names feels like?

I’m thrilled with the prospect of learning from such a distinguished musician as Sir Simon Rattle! Singing with the London Symphony Orchestra is so exciting, it will be the best orchestra I ever sang with. At this point there is no existing recording from this opera, which makes interpreting very interesting. I always love performing contemporary music. It gives a lot of satisfaction to hear the opinion from the creator of the music during or after a rehearsal process.

5. What are your fondest musical memories, privately or performing?

This is a difficult question, I have plenty of them. Inventing music instruments out of kitchen equipment could be my favorite, the egg slicer became a harp and the pans were my drums. I also used to love dancing ballet on Chopin’s nocturnes and mazurkas. Or, when a friend of the family brought my first actual instrument home, a piano!

6. Would you consider teaching in the future?

I taught singing and solfège when I lived in Belgium. It is an interesting thing to do because one needs to recall the basics and put them into words. It is easy to forget fundamental knowledge when studying complicated music and teaching therefore always helped my own learning process. I’m sure I will teach again but I promised myself to stick with classical music only.

7. How often do you practice?

Probably more than I should, I often get caught singing my lines in the supermarket and on the tube. I practice singing several hours a day but it doesn’t stop there. Learning languages, doing background checks on operatic characters or poems and maintaining vocal health are as important as the singing itself.

8. Who would your dream accompanist be, from the present or past?

That’s Jozef De Beenhouwer. He possesses the art of making life much easier for singers through his generous accompaniment. He is one of the people from whom I learned the most, together with Lucienne Van Deyck. This is a wonderduo I will never forget!

9. What advice would you give to young musicians at the start of their journey?

Don’t mess up school? I’m probably not the right person to say this. I always forgot my homework because I went practicing music from the moment I got home. No I would say, if music really is your passion, follow your guts. Find the instrument and repertoire that fits you both mentally and physically. Have lots of fun sharing music!

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submission May 2017