Interview with the Ida girls

This week on the VBO blog we’re getting a wee bit posh. About time.

That’s right, it’s soprano Sunday and we have a VERY classy treat for you: an interview with four glittery goddesses about the joys of music.

The Ida girls are Laura Coutts, Wendy Carr, Georgi Mottram and Sarah Vaughan. They met while performing in a production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Princess Ida and have been fast friends ever since. They got on so well, they decided to team up and taken on the world with their sleek blend of operatic arias and contemporary favourites.

Having trained at some of the world’s leading musical establishments, this talented foursome have performed all over the world – and even on the telly on BBC1’s This Week: Christmas Special. And we wanted to chat to them ahead of their performance at The Other Palace for the Big Smoke Festival later this month.

Sarah Vaughan, Laura Coutts, Georgi Mottram, Wendy Carr

You are four leading ladies in your own rights – how difficult did you find it initially to share the spotlight?

LC: “I've never have a problem with sharing the spotlight with these gorgeous ladies!  We've been the best of friends ever since we've met and sharing the stage with them gives me so much more enjoyment than as a soloist.

WC: “We all support and respect each other so much that I've not really considered that we share the spotlight when we're performing together!”

GM: “The girls are all so talented I love listening to them on stage. I feel so proud performing with them.”

SV: “I love it. In some ways it's more challenging in terms of what you're singing, but knowing you have three of the most supportive people standing beside you is amazing.”

What drew you all to music in the first place? Have you always been fans of opera?

WC: “My dad is an accomplished musician - mainly a pianist and organist - so I was exposed to lots of music growing up. I've always loved classical music and play various instruments and write music, but it wasn't really until after I left secondary school at 18 when I started to get classical singing lessons and properly considering training in opera”

GM: “My dad was always a big fan of Phantom of the Opera and used to play it as I was going to school- the overture is quite a tune to listen to in the morning! I fell in love with that show and heard Dvorak's 'Song to the Moon' for the first time when I was 12 and played it on repeat- I thought it was so magical!”

SV: “I was obsessed with all of the big belters growing up (I used to screech along to my walkman walking around the village with my mam not realising how loud I was singing), so I loved anyone with a big voice... Celine Dion in particular. I'm also named after a really famous jazz singer, so I listened to a lot of her stuff.”

LC: “I've always been obsessed with music. Not always opera (in fact my grandfather used to play it for me and I thought it was awful). I fell in love with opera after my first singing teacher gave me a Sumi Jo CD to go home and listen to. Her voice was like a bird!”

You all come from different corners of the world – how do you think your homelands have influenced the way you sing?

SV: “I think growing up in Ireland has definitely influenced the way I sing. We have huge musical output and great tradition of group singing, so it's definitely taught me how to listen and blend. Irish music is vibrant, rhythmic and full of beautiful melodies.”

LC: “You'd think that being Australian and all my voice would be really nasal! The only way my homeland has influenced the way I sing is that I sing better in Summer!”

WC: “I've done traditional Scots singing, having been a member of a Scottish fiddle group in my teens, and I do enjoy still singing in that style, though I think it's pretty separate to how I sing generally now. It's almost like it's in a different box in my head.”

GM: “I feel incredibly lucky coming from Jersey in the Channel Islands- I always had immense support from sponsors which makes me feel very valued as an artist, which in turn lets me make creative choices as a singer.”

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

LC: “We've somehow created a superstitious circle-bum touching thing before we go out on stage. Sort of like a group bum high five. Reminds us to have fun and we all have each other’s backs.”

How do you choose the songs you perform in your shows? Do they take your particular vocal skills into account or do you simply pick the songs you love?

WC: “It's pretty much a group decision - we brainstorm a lot as a group and usually have similar opinions on what could work. I definitely have to take everyone's individual vocal skills and particular vocal tone/timbre into consideration when arranging a song, but we all have very different voices and strengths, meaning that it's quite easy to figure out who will suit singing what.”

What can people expect of your show at The Other Palace?

WC: “It's a really varied show, so something for everyone! Some contemporary pop, songs from the big screen, well-known operatic arias, legendary musical theatre numbers... even our take on some classic rock!”

GM: “And glamorous dresses goes without saying!”

Do you have a dream opera role? If so – what is it and why?

LC: “Cio-Cio San from Madama Butterfly. It's such a heart-wrenching role that requires an incredibly controlled vocal line plus amazing acting. One Day.”

SV: “I LOVE Poulenc and he has an amazing opera called Les Mamelles de Tiresias, I have performed arias from it before, but would LOVE to play Therese/Tiresias as her character is so out there and a great challenge to sing.”

GM: “My dream role has to be Christine Daee in Phantom of the Opera (sorry, that's a musical!) because I just adore the Phantom.”

WC: “I think Lucia from Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti. I did a post-grad in Acting so the opportunity to play such a brilliant role would just be amazing, plus the music is wonderful! "Spargi d'amaro pianto" is one of my absolute favourite arias ever.”

Is there any advice you would give to young women wanting to have a career in classical music?

SV: “Practice, practice, practice and find a great teacher! Take it slow and build great technique then find the style you want to concentrate on.”

WC: “Go for it. And I mean that in every sense! Literally go and take lessons, go to see opera and other classical concerts, listen to it as much as you can - as well as other types of music so you can get a good understanding of music in general”

What do you see as the future of the Ida girls? Where would you like to take it next?

GM: “We would love to focus on the recording side of things and continue to create our own music (we've written a few originals) and create more interesting ways to merge classical music with more contemporary songs.”

LC: “I would love to see a regional UK tour and possibly an invitation back to Australia (we are off in July). Then some dates in the US. Then world domination.”

Sounds about right! If you’d like to see the Ida ladies on their path to world domination, you must grab a ticket to their show on July 11th, and you can do so….right…. HERE.


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