The musical phenomenon that is soprano Sarah Brightman has embarked on yet another world tour. After dazzling major cities in South America throughout November and December in celebration of her latest studio album, Hymn (released in November), she is now heading to North America, where she will visit her legion of fans in three Canadian cities: Laval, February 9th; Toronto, February 10th; and Vancouver, March 18th.
The inspiration for the album came to Brightman after emerging from weeks of intense cosmonaut training in 2015. In preparation for a 10-day trip to the International Space Station (which she has postponed due to family reasons), Brightman found herself so cut off from the outside world that, “when I came out of it, I [discovered that] we as a people were becoming quite dystopian,” she says, “and so I wanted to do an album that was very uplifting, with pieces of music that made me feel safe and familiar, and that spoke about values and good things. That transferred itself to the idea of choir, of voices coming together, of how when they sing together it makes life better.”
So began a two-year search for songs that would suit not only her own voice, but that of an entire chorus. Among those selected was “Hymn” by British progressive rock band Barclay James Harvest, and it struck her as a fitting album title. “It doesn’t only remind me of songs we might have sung in church when we were younger, it also reminded me of … the feeling of the earth, the joyousness,” she says. “[A] hymn is about singing something on a very positive note, and it talks of moral things, uplifting things, heavenly things.”
The title track is arranged in grand Brightman style, her signature pure-but-powerful soprano voice riding above sweeping choral and orchestral arrangements. The same treatment is accorded to songs from the movies and opera, from Christian pop and some ballads as well. A fun tidbit: Brightman recorded “Tu che m’hai preso il cuor” for the album while visiting Vancouver, bolstered by the city’s relaxed ambiance. “What you find with music, with the beauty of it,” Brightman says, “[is] if it’s good, it transcends all time. So that’s how I thread things together, because I think visually—as well and the shows I’m doing on the concert tour—I’ve created vignettes for these pieces.”
It all comes together in a huge, operatic, glamorous, large-scale, “movie-esque” (her word) approach—which, on this tour, includes the 600,000 Swarovski crystals adorning her costumes. Brightman claims, rightly, that she’s created her own authentic genre. “It’s very rooted in me, it’s very much a part of my spirit,” she says. “I think that’s why I have [had] a very long career, because people connect with that. Audiences subliminally know when it’s come from your heart because it all blends together into a [single] work and it’s cohesive.”
As demanding and costly as touring can be, Brightman wouldn’t have it any other way. “At the end of the day, you want to be in front of your audience, you want to connect with them, you want people to come to the party.”
Listen to the title track from Sarah Brightman’s album Hymn, now.
Sarah Brightman will be on tour in Laval on February 9th; Toronto on February 10th; Vancouver on March 18th.
Photo credit: Simon Fowler.
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