Our Earth Singing saga continues this Spring as we follow Mezzo Soprano Katarzyna Sądej’s eco-awareness music travelog, to Canada this time. Earth Singing is the name Katarzyna has coined for her project of employing her beautiful voice to draw attention to the environment.
LRW: I’m excited to share your third Earth Singing installment with my readers. I understand Canada was your country of choice for this project. Why Canada? Why now?
KS: Canada represents my project so well. It’s a vast, lush land of such varied landscapes and such glorious wilderness, that I need to showcase it through Earth Singing. I spent 6 weeks making videos in Switzerland, and I knew I wanted to do more of these videos in Canada too. It is Canada that has true unadulterated nature and wilderness, and we need to protect those parts of the world that are unspoiled by humans.
LRW: Agreed. Indeed! Were there any other factors that clinched the choice?
KS: Canada, like the USA, is my home country, so it only felt natural to want to create a tribute for it. Even if I am away for long periods of time, or living in other countries, Canada will always be where I grew up and where I first developed an obsession with nature (through childhood camping trips!).
LRW: That’s so cool. Fond memories. Please go on.
KS: The development of the Omicron variant, as well as the war in Ukraine delayed my plans to record in several other European countries. But since I was already planning to record in Canada (though I meant to record in the summer!), I decided to create some tributes to the seasons – Winter, Fall and Spring – since they are so varied and prominent in the lifestyle of Canadians.
LRW: Nice idea. Styling recordings for the seasons really does showcase the varied beauty of Canada. How long did this segment take, from start to finish?
KS: I would say that this segment is ongoing. I’m not sure I will ever be “done” with Canada when it comes to this project. It’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world with true unadulterated nature, and vast expanses of pure wildlife.
LRW: Ah, that’s understandable. Canada is on my bucket list to visit more extensively, for sure. Your videos were shot in Ontario. What’s the story behind your choices? Were they favorite childhood haunts? How did you physically get there?
KS: I grew up in Ontario. It is a huge province with a lot of wilderness areas and is always lovely to spend time in places where I would go camping as a child.
LRW: Adorable! What lovely memories to inspire your videos.
KS: Yes indeed, but I do want to mention that I am also recording in Western Canada as we speak. I plan on recording in many more Canadian landscapes, not just Ontario’s.
LRW: Western Canada is gorgeous, too. I’ve had the privilege of visiting longtime former art students in British Columbia one summer. Memorable! I look forward to viewing your Western Canada videos when they’re ready. Back to your video strategy, within the area, what influences your selection of the various locales to record and shoot your videos?
KS: The story behind my choices are rather simple – I scout what could be nice backdrops whenever I visit a new place, or walk a new trail. So, I often have in the back of my mind what might make a good background and acoustic, and I return to those places. Sometimes I am wrong about acoustics, though.
LRW: How do you mean?
KS: My winter video was actually a bit harder to put together because I realized after-the-fact that snow can dampen sound, and the voice won’t carry as far. So, I had to use mostly footage where I was standing fairly close to the camera. It’s different in the mountains, as opposed to a forest, where I filmed my winter video. But I had to be creative and make use of Ontario’s gorgeous forests.
LRW: Ah, yes. I remember strolling the town in Mammoth Mountain on a winter evening and not hearing my footsteps in the snow. Good creative problem-solving. How did you decide which music to sing in these locations?
KS: I will often choose songs based on the lyrics and how they relate to the landscape. For my Fall season video, for example, I used “Automne” composed by the French composer Gabriel Fauré, which specifically describes the fall season, and uses it as a metaphor to the melancholic human condition.
For my Winter video, in contrast, I used a beautiful melody by Reynaldo Hahn, which essentially says “If my heart has wings like a bird, I would fly to you” – suggesting that the bird represents bravery: If only I were brave enough, I would fly to you. I used footage of the Canadian birds in late winter, juxtaposed with me singing in the forest in late winter.
LRW: Gorgeous music and vistas. Nice how you pared the pieces with the seasons, and visual references with the lyrics. During our last interview, we spoke of dangerous encounters with Swiss cows. Do you have any similar adventure stories with Canadian wildlife with which to regale our readers?
KS: My collection of blooper videos containing animals (and insects) interfering with recording is always growing. From super loud squirrels, to buzzing bees and flies, and even bee bombs, I think that might make a good video in itself, so I may save some of that for a future “extras” video 😉.
LRW: OMG – super loud squirrels! I’m sure my young students will delight in nature’s silly although annoying antics as you have captured on film.
KS: I will say that recording the seasons and doing live singing in them is challenging in a Canadian winter!! It is cold in Canada in January and February! Singing operatically live in such cold, and then also realizing that the sounds wasn’t carrying in further-away shots because of the snow, made making the video a fun challenge.
LRW: Singing in the freezing winter cold takes determination and chutzpah. You go, girl! Did you happen to collaborate again with the wonderful Canadian pianist Nadia Boucher?
KS: Yes, Nadia appears in these Canadian videos as well, and I am eternally grateful for such an awesome collaborator!
LRW: Nice! For your past videos I understand you were the sole producer, photographer and videographer. Were these new projects also solely produced or did you take on partners?
KS: Apart from Nadia Boucher recording the fabulous piano parts for me, I did everything myself: filming, singing and producing.
LRW: And that’s what’s known as bootstrapping. Very impressive. Admiration from one who bootstrapped her own art and piano school. How may my readers and I help support your current and upcoming Earth Singing projects?
KS: I do have a “Become a Patron” section on my website now, if anyone is interested in supporting me financially for these videos. Please feel free to click the link if you like. Your support is greatly appreciated.
However, I honestly appreciate people simply sharing my work, if they enjoy it, and following me on my social media. I’m so happy when fans who subscribe to my YouTube channel “like” the videos as well (People often don’t realize how important and beneficial subscriptions are for creators; it helps me grow my audience).
LRW: Good to know. Thanks for the link. That’s very true. I’m subscribed and hope my students will consider doing so as well. Your project seems to (finally) be getting some public attention. Can you tell me more?
KS: Yes, I’ve been able to do some presentations and interviews, including presentations for social and environmental organizations, as well as interviews with several blogs such as Anne Warburton‘s Blogspot, Rogers TV in Ottawa, Canada; an Instagram interview with Alison Cohen for her “Inspiration Show” and an interview for Nature Links.
LRW: Congratulations! I was excited to learn of your recent interview with Artivism, an organization that features artists who create projects for social change. How did they find you (I’m so excited they did!)?
KS: Well, sometimes ideas and information travel between a chain of people, right? That presentation for Artivism was indirectly thanks to none other than you! You began covering my project via this blog, it reached a former piano student of yours, Zubin Grogg, who is involved with an organization called Nature Links – for which I did one interview and one presentation about my project. Zubin, in turn, had worked at Adelphi University (where Artivism is based) – and he told them about my project. They, in turn, got in touch and I booked a presentation with them. I’m very happy with the engagement and reactions to the presentation that I’ve gotten, and it’s helped the project reach so many more eyes and ears – which is the ultimate goal: to get people to celebrate nature, to get involved with nature, and to get people interested in preserving Earth’s wild places. So, thank you for sharing my project and triggering this chain reaction, Linda!
LRW: Wow! I’m so happy to hear. Zubin will be thrilled. Such a beautiful chain of events. It’s an honor to have been of service. I recently saw your post about Earth Singing being featured in Artivism’s upcoming multi-venue exhibit entitled “Artivism: The Power of Art For Social Transformation” in New York. What’s the story?
KS: I’m so glad you discovered my post. This exciting exhibit features artists and their art which encourages social change, from multiple disciplines! Your readers in New York are invited to check out the exhibits if they are close to any of these venues listed in the link. It begins early May.
LRW: How exciting! But back to your video projects…you had corresponded with me that you are releasing your own original music featuring only vocals. Makes me think of the mesmerizing meditative works by Hildegard Von Bingen. What was the inspiration behind this?
KS: Yes, I have a few pieces and samples available on my Youtube channel, with more coming soon (much is still unreleased or in progress). The Playlist where you can hear those samples of my original music can be visited via this link.
I became interested in layering my vocals to create full songs. I love looping and layering to create meditative, evocative and emotional pieces that are inspired by the sounds of nature itself and by the limits of the human voice. I really came up with this while working on Earth Singing, being inspired by the profound beauty of our Earth and the music that wild nature creates.
The “Spring Bird Song”, for example, is a celebration of the cacophony of bird song in spring, which somehow still creates a harmony, and is still a beautiful symphony, despite the slightly chaotic and random nature of it.
LRW: Neat! I hope my readers will check this out. So, from Switzerland back to Canada. Where do you plan to record and film next?
KS: I am going to California and Florida in the very near future. Beyond that, there are several other exciting locations in the plans, which will be revealed soon enough😉
LRW: I look forward to blogging about your wonderful projects as they come to fruition. I hope they continue to bring the attention to the arts and the environment that you envision which is greatly needed for our culture and future of the planet. Where may my readers follow you on social media?
KS: All my links to various platforms can be found on my Linktree.
LRW: Perfect! I encourage my readers to peruse your platforms. I wish you all the best!
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