Sunday 24th December, 2006

 

Anne Fridal shares her love for Christmas

 
 
 
 
 
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International dramatic soprano Anne Fridal launched her newest CD, With All My Love at Christmas, in early December. WomanWise asked her a few questions about the CD and this special time of year.

*WomanWise: What’s this new project about?

*Anne Fridal: This new project is all about my love — for Christmas, and to everyone at Christmas. It’s a compilation of traditional Christmas pieces — the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria, the one that everybody can play; the Schubert Ave Maria; then there are other classical pieces, like Mozart’s Alleluia. Then you go into more “Christmassy” songs, like O Holy Night, which as you know is a standard of Christmas. 

I was introduced to Sheldon Blackman by my old friend Geraldine Connor, in Tobago when we were trying to relax over there, and we (Sheldon and Anne) came up with an opera version of The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy. That was made famous by Geraldine’s father, Edric Connor.

We were just jamming, but it turned out so well that I said to Sheldon, “You are on my album!” It’s the most popular one on the CD. We also did a jazzy version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Roger Israel has been the engineer for all of my CDs, from 2003’s Symphony in G, From Opera to Kitchener (with Phase II Pan Grove, arranged by Boogsie Sharpe).

Being the engineer, he’s capable of doing everything. He played keyboard and also included a bit of semi-classical guitar.

The last thing on the album is my poem A Trini Christmas. I went through the whole thing with turkey baking and Santa… and ending with the message that one should not just think about Jesus at Christmastime but all through the year.

WomanWise: What were, for you, the most memorable songs, musicians, producers in the project?

Anne Fridal: Edric Connor, Geraldine’s dad, he was my father’s best friend — he stayed in my father’s house in Bergerac for something like six months. Geraldine and I landed up at the Royal College of Music in the same year. We were walking up the stairs at the college and were the only two ladies of colour there. We confronted each other and introduced ourselves. I discovered our parents were good friends and we were both Trinidadians. She was my roommate for two years.

The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy has brought back a lot of memories to me. As a child, that’s something we sang every Christmas. In England we used to do a church concert, at Emmanuel Vicarage in West Hampstead, that Edric Connor sang at, along with Rudolph Walker, Nina Baden-Semper.

So that’s one song that’s on my mind all the time. All the other songs, of course, are meaningful. O Holy Night really captures the spirit of Christmas. The Mozart Alleluia I love. My vocal ability is coloratura — embellishment, that’s what I do best. So the Mozart’s Alleluia, I included it because it shows vocal prowess.

WomanWise: What’s the perfect setting in which to listen to this CD?

Anne Fridal: There are so many settings! The perfect setting, I would say, is to put it on from the beginning, have it played all through Christmas week. But on Christmas Eve, you put it on for the wrapping of the presents, you’re doing your turkey and fixing up the house. You can take it off when you’re having a rest at midnight. And when you get up in the morning, you put it on. It would be like church. You could play it over and over for Christmas Day!

I have a lot of nerve saying that, but the feedback I’ve had is that the people who have it would listen to it like that.

A lot of the music you could listen to at Easter. I also have The Holy City and The Lord’s Prayer on it. Trinidadians love that (The Holy City).

WomanWise: How do you feel about this time of year?

Anne Fridal: I love Christmas, it’s my favourite time of year. It’s bringing family and friends together when sometimes you can’t see them all the time. It’s special this year for me because all my family is going to be here, everyone — including my newly acquired niece of eight months. Christmas this year is going to be started by me giving a speech about how happy I am to have everybody around me.

It’s also a time when I like to give something back. There are so many kids out there. My eldest sister, Joyce and myself are going to do another little drive. It makes me feel good, knowing that I’ve done something for the less fortunate.

WomanWise: What are your plans for the new year?

Anne Fridal: I am still doing a lot of travelling. I will be here only for a short period. I’ll be travelling to the States again. I’ll also be travelling to England. I really am looking forward to going to England. I will be singing at Harewood Castle in Leeds, specially invited by the Earl of Harewood.

Next year is the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. Slaves had a lot to do with the building Harewood House. So the (Harewood) heirs are giving back to the community, in putting on Carnival Messiah (Geraldine Connor’s stage musical). It won’t just be a show, it will be like a mini-Carnival, with Trinidadians as well as English people, a real melting pot.

And I will be doing the role of Mary, Mother of Jesus. After that, we’re hoping to do lots of exciting things.

With All My Love at Christmas is available at Crosby’s Music Centre.

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