Image: Performing with cellist Diego Carneiro de Oliveira at The Bolívar Hall
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MUSIC & VISION
Working primarily as a collaborative pianist, Helen has a passion for chamber music and vocal accompaniment and has performed with many leading artists in her field, including Dominic Miller (Sting), Lizzie Ball, Omar Puente, Coro Cervantes, Bárbara Llanes, Clara Rodríguez, José Menor and Nina Corti. She has also shared a platform with Morgan Szymanski, Fábio Zanon and Marcelo Bratke. Below is a selection of both her own performance projects and other curations.
Exploring the Lyric History of the Argentine Tango
Originally launched to a full house at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room, the TangOpera project offers a unique and seductive blend of tango
and high art. We explore the rich and complex lyric history of the Argentine tango by tracing its global trajectory through the many historical
cross-currents of the Atlantic melting pot into the development of a truly multicultural art form. Revealing roots in African rhythms and other
popular influences ranging from opera, zarzuela, musical theatre, cabaret, Neapolitan song and French chanson, this programme showcases the golden age of tango canción and highlights how the tango is mirrored in the art songs of classical composers such as Carlos Guastavino, and in the ‘tango operita’ of Astor Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires.
TangOpera showcases the unique voice of tenor Leonardo Pastore - one of Argentina's foremost singers, whose longstanding, dual career in both the opera and tango worlds has allowed him to cultivate an authentic and compelling vocal fusion of these two seemingly disparate genres. He is joined by soprano Jaquelina Livieri and mezzo soprano Florencia Machado.
Nina Corti performs a bespoke choreography to Granados' 'La maja dolorosa No. 1' at the National Gallery
Music in the Time of Goya
Chamber Classics Inspired by Francisco de Goya y Lucientes
A chamber-music celebration of the great Spanish painter Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, originally curated as part of the The National Gallery's blockbuster exhibition, Goya: the Portraits. 'Music in the Time of Goya' explores the elegant musical aesthetic of Goya's era and its intoxicating effect on the Romantic imagination of 19th-century composers such as Enrique Granados, and beyond to the 20th-century works of Manuel de Falla, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco and the film music of Roque Baños. A colourful programme of fiery Spanish fandangos, seguidillas and boleros alongside well-known classical favourites by Beethoven, Ravel, Scarlatti and Sor, performed by an exciting collective of leading young Ibe/rican artists with special guest, flamenco dancer and percussionist, Nina Corti.
The Great Classical American Songbook
America's Greatest Classical Melodies
Featuring award-winning American soprano and Juilliard graduate,
Christin Wismann, this programme extends the concept of the cherished 'Great American Songbook' to encompass American lieder, showcasing some of the USA's most sumptuous classical melodies, including well-known favourites by composers such as Barber, Ives, Copland and Bernstein, as well a treasury of secret songs by Edmonds, Uqurhart,
Beach and others.
Musical Border-Crossings Through the Americas
Un símbolo de paz alumbrará el vivir
de todo el continente americano.
Fuerza de optimismo; fuerza de hermandad...
...será este canto de buena vecindad...
Music knows no borders...
There was a time when Americans, North and South, celebrated their shared history and collaborated towards common political and economic interests. In 1941, the American composer Aaron Copland travelled to Latin America on a diplomatic mission organised by the American government as part of the Panamericanist initiatives of Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy, which aimed to cement hemispheric solidarity in the face of rising European fascism. This new dialectic was embraced by composers throughout the Americas and helped to forge a renewed sense of artistic identity, producing a golden age of 'American' music that would give birth to some of the most compelling and enduring works in classical music history.
‘PanAmericana’ offers the perfect antidote to turbulent 21st-century politics, with a fresh take on the classical music of the New World, tracing hemispherical classical music connections from New York to Buenos Aires. The project articulates a diversity of voices from across the Americas which speak a common musical language and affirm music’s power to transcend political borders and foster cultural understanding. This kaleidoscopic programme, encompassing an eclectic range of influences, from jazz, lied, tango, opera and musical theatre to folk and film music, allows audiences to enjoy some of their all-time favourite North American music by iconic composers such as Bernstein and Gershwin alongside lesser-known gems from South of the Border by composers such as Villa-Lobos, Piazzolla, Lecuona, Chávez and Brouwer. This is music full of passion, lush tunes and irresistible rhythms.
PanAmericana premiered at Barbican's Milton Court Concert Hall in October 2017 as part of Echoes Festival, featuring Luis Gomes, Duo Diez, Los Angeles Duo, Wilmer Sifontes, Ian Anderson (former Principal Viola of the European Union Youth Orchestra) and Vanessa Lucas-Smith (who recently recorded the 'Calais Sessions', facilitating musicians in 'the jungle' refugee camp in Calais to write and record music as part of an album). The music was complemented by traditional Colombian dance performed by special guest community dance group, Talentos Colombian Folk Group.
Omar Puente engages with the audience at Southbank Centre's Purcell Room
A 'Revolutionary' Concert
500 Years of Latin American Classical Music in 1 Hour
"A 'Revolutionary' Concert" premiered at Southbank Centre's Purcell Room with special guest Cuban violinist, Omar Puente and The Latin Chamber Orchestra, against the backdrop of Latin America's bicentennial celebrations of Independence.
Taking the audience on a kaleidoscopic journey of discovery through five centuries of Latin classical music history, this project elucidates the varied responses of Latin American composers who sought to find an autochthonous classical voice for their hemisphere. Featuring the imagined Aztec rhythms of Carlos Chávez, the sacred jungle music of the Jesuits, and the exuberant Modernism of Villa-Lobos, this dazzling programme also offers the chance to meet opera stars, Christopher Columbus, Simón Bolívar and Che Guevara, and features a subversive new commission by acclaimed Venezuelan composer, Ricardo Lorenz, for pots, pans, megaphone and audience participation.
Chopin in the Caribbean
19th-Century Antillean Piano Music
‘Chopin was Cuban.’
How might Chopin’s music sound if the composer had been born in the Caribbean? Whilst Chopin never crossed the Atlantic (the closest he would ever get to a tropical island would be a sojourn on Mallorca in 1838-9), his influence on the ebullient classical music scene of the 19th-century Antilles was superlative. At a time when many Latin Americans were fighting to achieve independence from Europe, Chopin offered an enticing model of musical nationalism with which they could construct new identities. These hybrid, colonised cultures identified with Chopin’s exiled condition; as Chopin sought refuge in the Polish folk melodies of his mazurkas, so did Caribbeans embrace local valses, danzas and contradanzas into their works. The last and most famous of these Caribbean Romantics, the virtuosic Cuban pianist-composer Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963), would himself come to be known as ‘The Chopin of the Caribbean’.
This event was commissioned for Echoes Festival 2017 to commemorate the 2017 anniversaries of two great figureheads of Romantic Antillean music: Cuban composer Manuel Saumell (1817-1870), and from the Caribbean mainland, Venezuelan composer Teresa Carreño (1853-1917). It featured pre-eminent Latin American pianists Clara Rodríguez and Gustavo Corrales Romero, both leading exponents and international ambassadors of this unique repertoire, performing a colourful programme blending Romantic lyricism with authentic, toe-tapping rhythms, including music for 4 hands by Lecuona, Saumell, Gottschalk, Cervantes, Statius Muller, Lamothe and - of course - Chopin!
Venezuelan composer Antonio Estévez (1916-1988)
Homage to Antonio Estévez
Helen joins forces once more with pre-eminent Venezuelan pianist Clara Rodríguez, soprano Amaia Azcona and actor William Roberts in a vibrant programme of Venezuelan chamber music to mark the 2016 centenary of Antonio Estévez, one of the most important Venezuelan composers of the 20th century and a leading light of the Parisian-Venezuelan avant-garde. Estévez' work is a revelation within contemporary music, standing out for its rare beauty and profound originality. It is heard here alongside music by his compatriots Modesta Bor, Inocente Carreño, Antonio Lauro and Ricardo Lorenz. Commissioned for Echoes Festival 2016.
Still Life with Parrot and Fruit (1951), Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
'¡Comamos y bebamos!': An Edible Concert
Musical Tapas from Spain and Latin America
Two things Latino culture is perhaps best-known for: music and cuisine. Music meets gastronomy in this colourfully unique chamber programme which offers an opportunity to sample the fiery musical flavours of Spain and Latin America. With several, mouth-watering musical courses on the menu, audiences can savour the spicy sounds of Mexican home-cooking and Brazilian street food; imbibe the spiritual ritual harvest music of the Andes; overindulge in some Argentine drinking songs; feast on lavish Medieval Spanish carnival villancicos; and partake of some foot-tapping timba with generous lashings of salsa music on the side - served hot. With music so good you can almost taste it, this event really works up an appetite - it functions best in combination with drinks receptions, post-concert buffets and sit-down dinners.
Originally commissioned by Canning House as part of their Botany & Gastronomy series, featuring Helen Glaisher-Hernández alongside Andy Morton, James Pearson, Lizzie Ball, Ahmed Dickinson and Carlos Fuentes.
Spanish soprano, Lorena Paz Nieto
The Secret Songs of Women Latina Composers
Welcome to the captivating world of Luso-Hispanic art song as conceived throughout the ages by its most outstanding and beguiling women authors - the quantity and quality of whom belie the popular stereotype of Latino culture as being traditionally 'macho'. Discover the compelling voices of women composers spanning three centuries from all corners of the Latin world, including Spain, Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, presented by two pre-eminent female Spanish-British artists specialising in this repertoire: soprano Lorena Paz Nieto and pianist Helen Glaisher-Hernández.
Alongside the more established names of composers such as Teresa Carreño, Chiquinha Gonzaga, Gisela Hernández, and some of the pillars of Luso-Hispanic letters like Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Gabriela Mistral, the concert also presents the forgotten treasures and forbidden songs of some twenty lesser-known authors. The artists will introduce you to the incredible personalities of all these creative women and the inspiring, and often tragic, biographical stories behind their art.
Difficult to define collectively, the songs in this eclectic programme broach a kaleidoscope of themes, covering everything from love, motherhood and gender politics to less stereotypically 'femenine' subjects such as landscape, philosophy and spirituality, articulated through a multitude of musical languages and influences as diverse as plainchant, folk music, jazz, tango, zarzuela, children's songs, Romanticism, film music and various avant-gardes.
The best reason to come along to this event is, however, not to hear some great women composers, but simply to hear some great composers! Prepare yourself for an evening of lyric revelations and essential new musical acquaintances that might just leave you wondering how you ever managed to live without them...
Programme originally launched at the October Gallery in London in November 2019 and performed at the Leeds Opera Festival and on BBC Radio 3's In Tune in 2023.
A Solo Piano Recital of Tangos by British Composers
Despite how it sounds, the notion of 'Anglo-Tango' is perhaps not entirely the oxymoron that it might seem. This programme of tangos for solo piano, written exclusively by 20th-century and living British classical composers, offers not only an idiosyncratic exercise in musical border-crossing but also opens a window onto the particularly British iterations of the longstanding foreign infatuation the tango has engendered globally since the first global tango craze of the 1910s. These tangos, on the one hand displaying a broad and eclectic range of highly individualistic and innovative approaches to the genre, also reveal British composers in dialogue with each other, forging something approaching a collective national tango style. Spanning almost a century, they range from Walton's precedent-setting 'Tango-Pasodoble' to contributions by other grandees of British composition such as Rodney Bennett, Finnissy, Nyman and Birtwistle, alongside a plethora of other pre-eminent names from the British contemporary classical canon.
Returning this gesture of cultural diplomacy and bringing some indigenous verve to the programme is the virtuoso Argentine pianist,
Lilia Salsano, who performed the programme from her native province of Santa Fé for a online performance as part of Echoes Festival 2021.