Interview with Anna Pierard
Anna Pierard is well-known – and well-loved – for her skills as an opera singer, but she also takes an important role as ‘glue’, sticking together creative collaborations. This year’s Festival sees two such enterprises: Scena and Cuentos de España (Stories of Spain), two very different shows that have in common Anna’s knack for building teams of talent.
The Cuentos de España fire was ignited when Anna found she shared a passion for Spanish composers with pianist Lorelle McNaughton. Recently returned from a Creative New Zealand supported scholarship in Barcelona, Lorelle caught Anna’s eye as a fellow-fan of the sounds of Spain.
“I thought there’s a kindred spirit, we both have this obsession with Spanish composers. I popped it away to think about how to bring some work together,” explains Anna. “These things take hold and work themselves into my brain!”
What emerged is a tribute to Spanish music, in all its complexities, emotions and passion. With both Anna and Spanish husband Jose Aparicio singing in the show Cuentos de España is a collaboration of three very different talents, all of whom have a love affair with the music of Spain.
I like that role of giving other people a chance to shine, I can see creativity in others and I want to build that up.
“I see myself as bringing people together," explains Anna, "but I’m not crucial in the delivery of the piece.”
With Scena, Anna has brought together a far larger team, that includes three directors and 25 young performers from Project Prima Volta.
“This is about getting kids on stage performing meaty bits of opera,” says Anna. “Full operas can be onerous for audiences and for performers, this way more students can take centre stage. They step up and they are surprised by what they can achieve.”
Scena presents four, fifteen-minute segments from operas. The first two are directed by Jose Aparicio, the third by Katherine Winitana and the last by Glen Pickering.
Katherine herself was in PPV and is an accomplished singer. She now mentors PPV students. Glen is an experienced director who has a particular skill working with young people.
“The people I respond to have helped me to understand how diverse a team needs to be,” explains Anna. “But it’s not completely altruistic, I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t getting a hell of a lot out of it. I do get an incredible amount back in terms of energy and inspiration.”
One of Anna’s talents is seeing potential in other people, some of which they don’t even realise themselves.
“It’s not that they don’t see it, it’s just they don’t seize upon it,” she says. “People can be afraid of their own potential, afraid of letting themselves down. It’s a confidence thing.”
With Scena, Anna is leaving the bulk of the creativity to the rest of the team. She says she’s adding the “soft touch” while performers and directors do the hard work in the rehearsals.
I’m out the back trying to make sure all the strings are tied, working in with the Festival Team. And most importantly I’m making the lunches!
Scena is at 6pm on Tuesday 16 October & Wednesday 17 October at the Blyth Performing Arts Centre.
Cuentos de España has two performances: 12.30pm, Thursday 18 October at the MTG, and 7pm, Friday 19 October at the Blyth.