Far and Near Artist Interview: Rebecca Richardson

 Photo credit: Shawn Flint Blair

Photo credit: Shawn Flint Blair

This summer, we are reuniting with wonderful artists from past projects. Soprano Rebecca Richardson of recital project UNBOUND IDENTITIES and Lee Miller in the world premiere of TABULA RASA joins us for FAR AND NEAR, a concert of classical and popular music that explores distances both big and small. 

Far and Near

June 25th @ 7:30pm

United Palace of Cultural Arts

1410 Broadway, NYC 10033

Free admission, please RSVP below!

 

Tell us a bit about yourself - who are you and what do you do?

I was born and raised in Southern California and have consequently been sunshine-deficient since moving to the east coast six (!) years ago. When I'm not singing, I'm most likely napping or drinking wine (or drinking wine and then napping). 

 Unbound Identities. Photo credit: Sara Lin Yoder

Unbound Identities. Photo credit: Sara Lin Yoder

What part of NYC do you live in? And what’s your favorite thing about living there?

I live in Bushwick, but the faaaar side (like the number of stops on the subway once you get into Brooklyn is in the double-digits). However, I live on the top floor of my apartment building, and even though it's only 5 stories tall, somehow there are zero taller buildings between my apartment and the Manhattan skyline. The views can be UNREAL. Brooklyn is the perfect escape from "the city," something I particularly appreciate on weekends and days off. You feel like you're escaping the madness of Manhattan while still having access to all the benefits of a big city at your fingertips.

What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when moving from the West Coast to the East Coast?

WEATHER. And not just to the endless winter months, but also the humidity in the summer (Why is everything always wet!? Why does 70 degrees feel stifling!?). I never realized how much of an impact weather can have on your mood, your productivity, everything!

The theme of Far and Near is the distance between where you are and where you long to be, both literally and figuratively. Have you been on any interesting journeys lately?

Premiering Tabula Rasa was an artistic journey unlike anything I've experienced before. Helping to bring a brand new piece to life had so many unexpected challenges, but I've never been so invested in a performance and so filled with joy by the process and fulfilled by the outcome.

 Rebecca Richardson as Lee Miller in Tabula Rasa, with Eugenia Forteza and Allison Gish. Photo credit: Joyce Yin

Rebecca Richardson as Lee Miller in Tabula Rasa, with Eugenia Forteza and Allison Gish. Photo credit: Joyce Yin

We believe music is meant to be shared and can be life-changing. How has music shaped your life?

Music is the deepest and most sincere way to connect with others (in my opinion). Music is able to communicate emotions, intentions, the deepest places of our souls in a way unlike any other, sometimes without us realizing it. We listen to music because we want to feel, because we want to be told a story, and because we want to share something with those around us that only music can facilitate. I've never found a better way to express myself outside of music.

 Rebecca Richardson in Tabula Rasa. Photo credit: Joyce Yin

Rebecca Richardson in Tabula Rasa. Photo credit: Joyce Yin

If you could travel back in time and have dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?

This is possibly the hardest question I've ever had to answer... you are talking to a serious history nerd here. Probably Elizabeth I. Incredibly intelligent, fierce, relentless, and unapologetic in who she was despite every single card having been stacked against her. She's the reason I became to intrigued by historical research in the first place.

Here's another hard question! What is your favorite Elizabeth-related or -inspired piece of music?

 Coronation portrait of Elizabeth I of England. Copy c. 1600-1610 by an unknown painter of a lost original of 1559.

Coronation portrait of Elizabeth I of England. Copy c. 1600-1610 by an unknown painter of a lost original of 1559.

About to get even more nerdy here... her reign gave rise of the English madrigal! A big part of my education in music involved singing in early music ensembles and church choirs, so the music of Thomas Tallis and Thomas Morley hold a very special place in my heart.

Any books or resources you'd recommend for learning more about Elizabeth I?

Alison Weir's biography is a great place to start. As far as all things Tudor go, Lucy Worsley's talks and programs on BBC are great. She's the chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces in the UK, and she's hilarious and doesn't take herself too seriously. I wish we were best friends. I would invite her to join my dinner with Queen E if allowed.

Dream vacation destination?

Currently, I'm dreaming of Provence - amazing wine, amazing food, gorgeous setting, and I can refresh my French-speaking skills.

Far and Near is part of the Lobby Series at the United Palace of Cultural Arts, an important arts and community resource, and also the Uptown Arts Stroll, a month-long festival celebrating the arts in Northern Manhattan. Can you share an experience you've had in which music helped bring a community together?

I was in 6th grade when 9/11 occurred. I remember listening to newscasters in chaos and disbelief on the radio in the car on the way to school that morning. As soon as class began that morning, there was silence for what seemed like hours but was probably a couple of minutes before an announcement of the morning's events came over the speakerphone. Rather than open discussion or continue with class as scheduled, my teacher played a CD she had of Brahms. That entire morning, in place of the cattiness, the drama, and the apathy that often accompanies everyday life in middle school, everyone sat, hugged, held hands, and just listened. Nothing could have helped a bunch of pre-teens process such tragedy and uncertainty in a better way.

 

Join Rebecca on June 25th for FAR AND NEAR. Please make sure to RSVP for this event!

 Tabula Rasa. Photo credit: Joyce Yin

Tabula Rasa. Photo credit: Joyce Yin

 Rebecca Richardson as Lee Miller in Tabula Rasa,

Rebecca Richardson as Lee Miller in Tabula Rasa,

 Soprano Rebecca Richardson and pianist Jennifer Peterson in Unbound Identities. Photo credit: Sara Lin Yoder

Soprano Rebecca Richardson and pianist Jennifer Peterson in Unbound Identities. Photo credit: Sara Lin Yoder

 Unbound Identities. Photo credit: Sara Lin Yoder

Unbound Identities. Photo credit: Sara Lin Yoder