Dawn Upshaw (Brooke Irish)
"Be good to your art and your art will be good to you."
—Dawn Upshaw, soprano
Dawn Upshaw has been praised for her versatility, the 'lunar-like' quality of her voice, and her natural, down-to-earth manner. She is known world wide for her operatic performances, her interpretations of contemporary music and her multitude of recordings.
She lives near New York where she is also mom to two children. Ms. Upshaw will be in Winnipeg to perform Chants d'Auvergne (Songs of the Auvergne) by Joseph Canteloube and Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra by Osvaldo Golijov with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on March 23 and 24.
CBC Weekend Morning show host Ismaila Alfa sat down with Ms. Upshaw before one of her rehearsals in Winnipeg.
How do you react when people call you a 'down-to-earth diva'?
I think it's a compliment of some sort! I do try to keep life as simple as possible and that's hard these days.
How did you come to be such a versatile artist?
I grew up during the Civil Rights movement... the music I grew up on was Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joni Mitchell. I thought music was meant to change the world... that it was meant to enlighten, or inspire and to make the world a better place. Then I got interested in musical theatre. I took a music history course. I started learning more about classical music. Then I got interested in contemporary classical music.
Was there any one person who influenced you?
There were several people, some musicians, some not. I do remember one conversation with mezzo soprano Jan DeGaetani who is sadly no longer with us. She had a huge interest in all different kinds of music. I do remember her telling me that I could do whatever I wanted to do and I could choose the life I wanted to have... It turned me from thinking about other peoples' expectations to trying to create the life I wanted to have.
Is there one thing that would surprise people about you?
Even though I come across as rather strong and assured, actually I'm somewhat shy and reticent to stand up in front of thousands of people and have them stare at me... People would be surprised to know how hard this is sometimes.
Any advice for aspiring young singers?
Be good to your art and your art will be good to you.
You can hear Dawn Upshaw in conversation with Ismaila Alfa on the Weekend Morning Show on Saturday March 24 at 7:40 a.m. In the meantime,
LISTEN to Dawn Upshaw sing Golijov's Three Songs for Soprano and Orchestra