Preview: Pimlico Lieder Project, Wigmore Hall, London W1

Lessons in the art of lieder
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The Independent Culture

Now making a big name for herself both as a recitalist and in opera, the soprano Gweneth-Ann Jeffers regards her musical start in life as providential. When she was three, her mother decided to expose her to opera, taking the infant Gwen to see The Marriage of Figaro at Covent Garden. "They gave me cushions so that I could see, and apparently I sat there open-mouthed, wide-eyed, and on the way home I said to my mother that that was what I wanted to do."

When she was four, she badgered her mother for piano lessons, then "baby" singing lessons at seven: "Little folk songs like 'The Bonny, Blue-eyed Sailor'. I just loved singing - I loved the fact that I could communicate a story."

What really put her into top gear was getting a place at the City of London School for Girls, where there were two orchestras, three choirs and plenty of peripatetic instrumental teachers. "I regard myself as having been very privileged," she says.

So when she presents the Pimlico Lieder Project at the Wigmore Hall, she'll be giving something back: this multimedia event will mark the start of a new programming strand for this imaginatively run institution.

The project itself is the brainchild of the tenor Gareth Malone. "I wanted to take lieder to a young audience," he says, "because nobody else was doing it, presumably because of the language barrier. It is a tough sell. But Pimlico School, with its musical bias, seemed a suitable place to start."

Jeffers's recent recital of Mahler and Wolf will be the starting-point for three parallel projects that will come together in the Wigmore performance: one for 11-year-olds, one for 13-year-old specialists who are writing songs for Jeffers to sing, and a drama project in which 16-year-olds will present movement with masks while Jeffers sings Wolf's Mignon Lieder. "These kids are very imaginative," says Jeffers. "It's wonderful to see what's coming out."

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