British mezzo-soprano Lore Lixenberg has performed widely in opera, concert repertoire and music-theatre, and worked with many leading composers. Her rich experiences in contemporary music include the lead role in Bent Sørensen’s opera Under Himlen at Copenhagen’s Royal Opera House as well as taking part in many projects with Théâtre de Complicité.
Lore Lixenberg appears on NMC performing works by Stuart MacRae, Deirdre Gribbin, and works from the NMC Songbook and Next Wave series. Click here for a full list of albums.
Lore Lixenberg Q&A
Can you share with us your top five contemporary composers and/or pieces?
Difficult question as this changes every 10 minutes according to what I've just performed or listened to!
1. Stockhausen: The 'Licht' cycle specifically 'Mittwoch' - This for me is 'The Ring Cycle' for the 20th century only with more humour.
2. Gerald Barry: The Importance of Being Earnest/The Bitter Tea of Petra Von Kant...well, everything really!
3. Frederic Acquaviva: Mess - it's so epic and such fun to sing.
4. John Cage Songbooks - I know,I know...written in 1970, but they create such a magical space.
5. Trevor Wishart - Globalalia
Where and what was your first musical performance?
The first one I remember was when I made the 'Orchard House Drama Club'. I was about 7 or 8 and had been digging a dirty great hole in a corner in the garden. I made an opera based around events in a Roman Villa belonging to Julius Caeser that I was convinced if I dug far enough I would find.
My first official performance was as a ladybird in the school production of Noye's Fludde, such a great enduring piece.
Any stories of unusual jobs you had prior to entering the music world?
I roasted coffee for a while. It was quite interesting because each sort of coffee bean makes a different sound when it acquires a certain quality of roast. The beans sing to you when they are ready!
I also, in a moment of unemployed desperation, learnt plumbing at my local college. I like the fact that no matter how sophisticated, digitalised and advanced our human society becomes, a plumber would always be in demand! The intake and outflow of water will always be viscerally analogue.
You’re stuck in a lift with three people of your choice (dead or alive)! Who are they and what do you play to keep everyone entertained while you wait to be rescued?
Oh god, I hate lifts. I'm so claustrophobic! So maybe it would have to be a doctor that could keep me under medication. Perhaps I would bring Carl Djerassi back to life - he was brilliant fun as well as being a great doctor. I think Haydn would be great in a situation like that, I imagine him to have been a sunny, elegant, unflappable character, and perhaps Tesla? Maybe he could get the lift moving again? I wouldn't sing, I would lie on a bed while Haydn played and Carl mixed cocktails and Tesla could work on the situation. Or maybe I should sack Tesla and have an amazing shiatsu massage therapist in there instead!
What are you working on at the moment?
So many things on the boil! A recording project I'm working on is 'Nancarrow//Karaoke'. I've made arrangements of Nancarrow piano rolls for my voice, I'm multi-tracking them and when I perform them in concert I sing one voice live. The idea is to keep the consistency of timbre of the player piano but with the liveness that Nancarrow couldn't find in his lifetime. I was talking to David Alberman about the first time Nancarrow heard his music played in ensemble, apparently he nearly cried having been told his whole life that his music was unplayable.
I am working a lot at the moment with the younger generation of composers - Laurence Osborne, Stephen Crowe, and Alex Maguire are writing new pieces for me, and also the 'Next Wave' project with NMC and Sound and Music at The Sage Gateshead that is incredibly exciting.
Rolf Hind is also writing an opera for me based on the writings of Rumi for the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. I'm very excited about that. It will include plenty of harp, inside of piano and percussion. Wonderful sonorities. Also the team of musicians he has working on this is really amazing.
If you could collaborate with anyone across any genre or art form who would it be and why?
I would love to perform in an opera with Robert Lepage because he creates such wonderful spaces, in a music theatre piece at the Menaus Opera House in the Amazon. I would also like to collaborate with Dutch clothes designer Iris van Herpen on some interactive music-theatre costumes, and Korean architect Kimsooja on an opera scene with buildings using light and hologram. Those designs are just so gorgeous to be in.
Also on my with list is to to some duets with saxophonist Evan Parker.