Retrospect: Adanya in Paris

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Personal account from mezzo-soprano Adanya Dunn.

I am excited to share the start of 2022 with a series of firsts: first major performance since the 2021 Pandemic season, my professional French debut, and my first time meeting and working with Barbara Hannigan!

As part of the Phil’Intime series at the Maison de la Radio in Paris, Barbara curated a chamber music program that featured three EQ young artists alongside members of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, with herself conducting and singing (this time, separately!).

On Sunday, January 9, 2022, I performed Ravel’s Trois poèmes de Mallarmé and Emma Posman (soprano) performed selections by Stravinsky, both of which were conducted by Barbara, and Rolf Verbeek conducted Barbara as she sang the Quatre poèmes Hindous.

I felt so much ease and calmness being conducted by Barbara. The connection was beyond that of a singer and conductor that governed two separate entities (the orchestra and the singing). There was constant dialogue and discussion between everyone involved regarding the poetry, the interpretation, the music, and feeling – it was a way for all of us involved to holistically experience the piece and to create something together. I felt so much support and at the same time, space and freedom to lead and express myself, which was openly encouraged and welcomed.

Having glimpses into the kind of leadership and mentorship that Barbara creates and especially within the framework of EQ, I see these kinds of experiences as helping to shape and recreate what it means for musicians, especially younger, emerging artists, to be part of the real world practical experiences.

EQ is a young artist program incredibly unique as it provides real life professional experiences on a worldwide level, is inclusive of a variety of locations, types of opportunities, and repertoire, and is cohesively strung together through the framework of EQ.

The network effect of Barbara Hannigan and the EQ young artists begins as a basis of mutual understanding between all those with whom she works – this goes from having audition workshops and training programs that integrate certain philosophies and premises, to meetings and discussions, and to the actual live experience of working in the kinds of settings EQ creates. In my experience, EQ creates a familiar language and tone amongst its participants which help to foster safety, thus leading to vulnerability, which can open communication, and eventually to lead to connection that extends to the audience. I felt this to be true throughout the entire rehearsal process and at the final performance. Though only 2 days of practice with the chamber orchestra, the time we shared was deep, focused, and fun. And the audience eagerly applauded everyone after the performance for almost 10 minutes of continuous bows!

We work together synergistically and carry with us as individuals into non-EQ settings, the experiences we have gained, simply by being present.

As someone who leads various creative projects and initiatives beyond my own singing, I am so thrilled to have had glimpses of the inner workings of EQ and of how Barbara executes her work and projects. These are all living, breathing, and thriving examples of how music and the arts can lead to a better world overall. I am thankful to be a part of this journey.