On the Couch with Jane Sheldon

Jane Sheldon oncWho is Jane Sheldon?
I’m a soprano and I live in New York and Sydney. I primarily sing modern chamber music.

What would you do differently to what you do now?

Who inspires you and why?
I am extremely lucky to have people around me – friends and colleagues – who are driven by an utterly imperturbable vision for their own work: stage director Adena Jacobs, my husband Peter Godfrey-Smith, who is a philosopher, the team at Sydney Chamber Opera, composer John Zorn, Jeff Gavett of New York’s Ekmeles…. The admirable single-mindedness of these people exerts an influence I think of as very good: they encourage me to reflect on what it is I want to be doing with my work, and to then just get on with it and do it. They’re wonderful people to be around.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I’m confident that by being involved in creating art you can make a difference in a deep way, though this is not a very popular idea in our culture. Its effects are harder to measure than other contributions, but they’re just as real, I’m certain. If I ever found myself with lots of spare cash I’d use some to support a young artist/artists, and the rest to support ocean conservation.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Joshua Tree National Park in California in spring when the desert wildflowers are blooming. It’s hot, the beautiful, alien landscape is like nowhere else, and there’s a wonderful drive-in cinema nearby.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I always tell visitors to get the Manly ferry and go snorkeling at Fairy Bower; go to the MCA; and check out what’s on at Carriageworks.

What are you currently reading?
Andrew Ford’s Earth Dances: Music in Search of the Primitive.

What are you currently listening to?
Bjork’s Vulnicura, Bombino, Cyrus Meurant’s Seul, Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, and Meet the Composer on New York’s Q2 Music.

Happiness is?
Complicated, but I think you can get a considerable amount of happiness from working out, or simply deciding, that there’s a point to what you’re doing in life.

What does the future hold for you?
I’m about to sing in a wonderful program of folk music arrangements with Zephyr Quartet; then performances with Omega Ensemble of works by Mahler, Mark Isaacs, and Paul Stanhope; I’m learning Helmut Lachenmann’s amazing Got Lost for shows in Sydney and London with pianist Zubin Kanga; and in August I go into production rehearsals for Romitelli’s An Index of Metals with Sydney Chamber Opera.

Praised by the New York Times for singing “sublimely” and described as “superb, with a voice of penetrating beauty, precision and variegated colours” (Sydney Morning Herald), New York-based Australian soprano Jane Sheldon has sung under the direction of William Christie, Charles Dutoit, Antony Walker, and Reinbert de Leeuw.

Specialising in early music and active in the creation and performance of new works, she has performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Pinchgut Opera, Boston Camerata, Halcyon, and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra.

Jane is also a member of the acclaimed touring ensemble for composer John Zorn and has performed his music throughout the world. In New York she works with Wet Ink, Talea, and Ekmeles, and appeared in New York City Opera’s 2012 Vox Festival and the 2014 MATA Festival.

In 2011 Jane was awarded Performance of the Year with Ensemble Offspring at the Australian Art Music Awards for The Origin Cycle – a work she co-commissioned. Her most recent album, North + South was nominated for a 2013 ARIA Award for Best Classical Album.

Upcoming engagements include Stockhausen’s Stimmung with Ekmeles, New York’s Resonant Bodies Festival of contemporary and experimental vocal music, and the world premiere of John Zorn’s Madrigals: Book II in Milan.

Jane will be appearing with the Zephyr Quartet in Música Anonymous at the Utzon Room, Sydney Opera House (17 June); Elder Hall, Adelaide University (19 June); and the Beckett Theatre, Malthouse Theatre (20 June). For more information, visit: www.zephyrquartet.com for details.

Image: Jane Sheldon