Steve Davislim’s career knows no boundaries. He sings in all the great venues of the world, and in all genres, equally celebrated in opera, oratorio and lieder. He began his vocal journey with the great Dame Joan Hammond, darling of Covent Garden and the Vienna State Opera, whose recording of O mio babbino caro sold over a million copies. We recently chatted to Steve to ask him about his early teacher and the repertoire he will be performing with ANAM during his visit.
Can you share some of your recollections of Dame Joan with us, and what you still retain from her in your own work?
Dame Joan helped me enormously at the beginning of my career and in a way still helps me today, as do all of my teachers in one way or another. For me she had a fortitude in her dealings with every day issues that is very necessary to survive the travel and stresses of performing. She would always sprinkle her lessons with personal anecdotes, especially the ones during the war years where times in London were tough. She often related stories about performers having their own costumes, singing in cold auditoriums with the constant fear of bombs falling, doing their own make-up and making do with whatever was available. This flexible attitude is one that has helped me greatly, as one is always confronted again and again with difficult circumstances. She always made the best of a trying situation. I believe this pragmatic attitude was always heard in her singing too. Her fabulous voice was also an inspiration. She would often sing along and you could always see in her eyes that she longed to stand on the stage again. This love for the music and performance was, and still is, highly inspiring for all of her former students I am sure, as it certainly is for me.
Your performing schedule covers opera, concert work and lieder – no one could pin you down to any one of these. What do you get from singing lieder that you don’t get from your other areas of work?
Lieder is the most intimate magnifying glass to the soul that any singer can aspire to. It is just you, the pianist, the poet and the composer, in an intimate setting that allows for infinite nuances to unfold at your whim, nuances that are often brushed over with other larger performance mediums. When everything is right, the results are unique and immensely satisfying. This of-course takes nothing away from opera and oratorio. Each medium is glorious in its own right and has, when performed with sufficient humility, the ability to access the divine in us all. How blessed I am to be able to enjoy all this wonderful music! As the long gone Russian conductor, Juri Aronovic once said to me backstage before a performance in Italy: “You know Steve, we have the best job in the world. Every day we get to speak to God and get paid for it too!” How right he is.
Hear Steve Davislim perform with Tim Young and ANAM’s pianists in the last morning concert in ANAM’s Season.
Excerpt from “It’s a hat-trick! ANAM’s vocal trifecta” (Music Makers vol 19, ANAM)
SCHUMANN Dichterliebe, op. 48
R STRAUSS Selected songs
BOWMAN Selected songs
Steve Davislim tenor
Timothy Young piano
Venue ANAM, South Melbourne Town Hall
Tickets All $35 (includes complimentary morning tea following the performance)
Bookings anam.com.au 03 9645 7911