An early SING FOR WATER conducted by Helen Chadwick

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As a songwriter, singer and composer, with a background in theatre, I compose for concerts and to commission for song-theatre showssite-specific choral eventsopera, dance and theatre. I also love recording albums and running creativity, singing and songwriting workshops.

 

 

 

Michel Harper and Helen in the dress rehearsal of Helen Chadwick's THE SINGING CIRCLE in the Floral Hall at The Royal Opera House
Michael Harper and I in my site specific work THE SINGING CIRCLE at The Royal Opera House

My Story

I spent my childhood dancing and playing the piano and then went to study theatre and dance. The focus was on creating and devising group theatre, and it was then I wrote my first song.

Creating performances 
After college, five of us set up a collective where we tumbled theatre out of the back of a transit van into pubs, schools and village halls. It was a period of continuous collective creation and collaboration. Those years were the most powerful training I ever had and led me to touring Europe with a physical theatre company where I was inspired by meeting other companies who created their own shows from scratch in many forms and languages.

Theatre and Singing
As I loved singing and songwriting, I joined a voice course which led me to the National Theatre Studio. There I ran a weekly voice and body class for actors and took part in many theatre development projects. Through that building I was inspired by some incredible directors and met and made friends with people I still work with today.

Song-theatre
While my life splurged into working with other theatre companies, drama schools, choirs and abroad, I was always doing concerts and making shows. I also worked on shows with directors such as Simon McBurney, Katie Mitchell and Lloyd Newson.  In the last few years I have started to call them “song-theatre” as all of them have songs at their heart, and yet are theatre, but they are not what we know of as music theatre. My working partner and collaborator on all the song theatre shows that are make with testimonies is Steven Hoggett.

Helen Chadwick War Correspondents 4War Correspondents photograph by Simon Richardson

Choreographers
Having danced all my childhood with a wonderful chorerpographer Mari Bicknell, I was inspired by the choreographer Kenneth Macmillan and later by Liam Steel and Steven Hoggett. We started collaborating on song cycles based on testimonies.  My love of creating through the body, which came from childhood, found its way back into my work thanks to them. I’ve also composed for Luca Sylvestrini’s Protein Dance, and recently spent time In Meredith Monk’s loft both singing and moving with her team.

Recording Songs
My world is theatre but the core content is song. I was always writing songs and started to record them with Jon Wilkinson, a sound engineer to whom I am deeply grateful as we made ten albums together and he gave me the confidence to put my songs down into audio form.

Collaboration
Without collaboration, collaborators and supporters, none of what you find in these pages would have been possible. Great thanks to each and every one.

A BODY OF SONG
A BODY OF SONG for Greenwich Festival

Influences
Hearing King’s College choir sing evensong; devising community theatre; touring physical theatre internationally; being part of the Magdalena Project – an international network of women who create theatre; singing Meredith Monk’s music around Wales with some of her ensemble; three field trips to meet Georgian singers in the Caucuses; singing on the film Troy on the LA Warner lot; growing up with two parents who could speak or read other languages, who were curious and engaged, and who welcomed people from all over the world into our home.

Awards
President’s Award from WaterAid
Honorary Fellowship from Dartington College of Arts.

Languages
I have done performances in French, Italian and Spanish and  a few introductions in Portuguese for performances in Brazil.

Explore
Have a look at some performance videos or listen to my songs

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