The Beauty of Nature has been captured in music throughout the generations and the reflection of the beauty found in nature and humanity are revealed here in this collection of songs taken from Romantic French and English composers of the 20th century.
All composers on this album had to live through at least one or both of the world wars. A time of trauma and destruction. Hence, to be able to escape to find purity, sanctity and life in nature, in the midst of such vast destruction, truly reflects a hope for humanity, in the artistry of the music they created.
I found it fascinating that the 20th Century English composers on this album, for example, John Ireland and Frank Bridge, were heavily influenced by the French Impressionist movement and that Ralph Vaughan Williams (RVW) studied composition with Maurice Ravel for a season in Paris.
There are also other fascinating connections between the composers on this album: a young Herbert Howells met RVW at the premiere concert of “Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis”; Hahn is known to have loved Fauré’s music and Thomas Dunhill was married at the same church that John Ireland was the resident organist at!
The different interpretations of nature found in each song, from serenity to turbulence, is really a kaleidoscope of the variety of human nature and emotions that we all experience. Nature is the one thing that can capture the perfection and beauty of life, and like life, can change drastically and quickly with the different seasons.
While creating this album I was particularly inspired by many countryside walks and wrote the poem "A Secret Garden" to be a reflection on the different stages and perspectives of life as a journey - and the discovery of each person’s individual "Secret Garden" - a place of peace and perfection to rest.
All of these songs are very close to my heart and I have grown up singing them or enjoyed discovering new gems in the repertoire. A particular favourite of mine is Howells´ “King David”, which is a rarity. Howells was known primarily for his compositions of sacred church music and wrote very few songs, but I hope you find, like me, that “King David” is something very special.
After all the time collaborating with Andrea, we are very proud to present to you our CD Album
"A Secret Garden" that takes you on an adventure through different scenes in the English and French countryside, and we hope you enjoy the journey!
Written by Jessica Ruth Eccleston
„Sensual, powerful and voluminous the mezzo of Jessica Eccleston ...“ (Der Standard 2019).
The exciting and upcoming mezzo-soprano Jessica Eccleston made her international solo debut as the Resident Solo Lyric Mezzo-soprano at the Landestheater Linz, Austria. There she played the roles of Hänsel in ‘Hänsel and Gretel’; Olga in ‘Eugene Onegin’; Maddalena in ‘Rigoletto’ and Marguerite in Berlioz’s ‘La Damnation de Faust’, the lead role in the world-premiere of Christian Diendorfer’s ‘Die Wand’ - the Oberösterreichischen Nachrichten wrote:
„The voice was outstanding from Jessica Eccleston…“,
Sesto in ‘La Clemenza di Tito’ - Musik-heute wrote: „Jessica Eccleston as Sesto was one of the highlights of the evening... „, Zweite Magd in ‘Elektra’ and Néris in Cherubini‘s ‘Médée’ to name but a few. She continues to hold a close working relationship with the Linz Landestheater.
She was awarded the Linz Landestheater’s Jugendensemble Preis 2018 for her outstanding achievements as a soloist at the house and as a young singer of great promise.
Jessica read Music at Cambridge University where she held a choral scholarship at
St. Catherine‘s College. While at Cambridge, she made numerous TV and radio broadcasts, CD recordings and toured internationally as a soloist. Subsequently, Jessica was awarded the
Annie Ridyard Scholarship to study for her Masters in Vocal Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music and an entrance scholarship to study at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Jessica frequently appears as a soloist in oratorio and concert works, including Haydn’s ‘Nelson Mass’; Rossini’s ‘Petite Messe Solonelle’; Handel’s ‘Israel in Egypt’; Rossini’s ‘Stabat Mater’; Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and Elgar’s ‘Sea Pictures’, to name but a few. She has sung at venues such as Cadogan Hall, Bridgewater Hall, and St John Smith‘s Square. Jessica enjoys composing songs, choral and orchestral pieces and has performed and conducted many of her own works.
She continues to tour the world as an international opera soloist at numerous opera
houses, and has played Weberin in Rimsky-Korsakov‘s ‘Das Märchen vom Zaren Saltan’ at
Theater Erfurt, Germany; Arsamene in Handel’s ‘Xerxes’ and the Alto Soloist in a staged
version of Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ at Theater Flensburg, Germany. She is highly in demand as a concert recitalist around the world and has a great passion for singing as a soloist in oratorio works. In her spare time, she loves cooking and going for countryside walks!
Andrea Szewieczek was born in 1992 in Linz, Austria.
She finished two Bachelor programmes (piano soloist‘s program and piano pedagogy) at the University of Performing Arts Graz (Markus Schirmer, Christiana M.
Perai) as well as a soloist‘s Master programme at Bruckner University Linz (Oleg Marshev). In addition, she attended various masterclasses with well-known pianists such as Paul Badura-Skoda, Mikhail Voskresensky, Endre Hegedüs and Jan Kadlubiski.
During her university studies, she was awarded several prizes at international piano competitions – amongst others 1st prizes at „International Piano Competition
Ischia“ (Italy), „Concorso Internazionale Città di Sarzana“ (Italy) and „XXII International Music Competition Cortemilia“ (Italy), 3rd prizes at „Euregio Piano Competition“ (Germany), „Lions Musikpreis“ (Austria) etc.
Since 2018, Andrea Szewieczek has been working as a répétiteur at the singers‘ department
of Bruckner University Linz and as a freelance pianist and piano pedagogue. She has performed as a stage pianist in an opera production of Peter Konwitschny in Musiktheater Linz,
worked as an opera répétiteur at Theater an der Rott (Eggenfelden, Germany) and as a
musical répétiteur at various productions in Austria. Moreover, she is the constant répétiteur of Chor ad Libitum (Heinz Ferlesch) and a steady member of Kurorchester Bad Hall.
Besides her numerous concerts in Austria (Brucknerhaus Linz, Bank Austria Salon Vienna,
Stefaniensaal Graz etc.), international performances as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician have led her to Germany, France, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy.