Here you can find and read an exclusive interview with Tarja about her new record AVE MARIA En Plein Air by Winter Storm Slovakia.
When was the idea to record this album born and why have you decided to sing and record only Ave Maria songs on this album? Why not to sing various classical pieces?
The idea to record this album was born already many years ago with the help and support of organist Kalevi Kiviniemi. He was suggesting me to record this kind of album, because he, among my audiences in my classical concerts have always deeply appreciated me singing Ave Marias.
I have always loved singing Ave Maria’s since I started taking lyrical singing lessons. I think my voice sounds as it’s best in chamber music and that’s the music style what I have been mostly studying as a lyrical singer. Through years I had almost always included Ave Maria songs in my traditional Christmas concert programs, so I decided to write one on my own few years ago for my forthcoming tour and this Ave Maria is included on the album as well.
Can you explain the subtitle, if we can call it as a subtitle, „en plein air“? Is it related to the process of recording, singing technique or anything else?
The church “Lakeuden Risti” where the album was recorded is called in English “The church of the plain”. This was the ispiration for the title of the album.
Is it true that you recorded this album more or less like „live“? How did this kind of recording differ from the studio recording?
First of all, the church environment differs a lot from a studio environment. All the musicians performed the songs together with me without an audience and we chose the best takes afterwards. Nothing has been edited nor any studio tricks have been used, so we cannot say that there has been any post production happening after the recordings were finished. So what you hear on the record, is purely how the songs sounded in Lakeuden Risti church during the recording session.
Did you spend long time to prepare and record this album?
It takes months to get ready for this type of recording. I needed to make a serious research before finding the pieces I wanted to have included on this album. I also needed carefully to prepare them with my singing coach, in order to follow and respect the composer’s style in singing. I took me a long time to rehearse these songs, but the recordings itself were done only in 2 days.
While recording, did you feel any spiritual enrichment for your personality? It´s different kind of music from your rock albums. Was there anything different at this point?
I didn’t feel anything else rather than wanted to do a great job vocally in these songs and respect the composers of the songs. My focus was completely in the performance.
You recorded it in a church in Finland. Did you need any special permission to record the album there?
We needed to ask permission for the recordings from the church parish and vicar and agree the dates in advance to reserve the church for me.
Have you rearranged those Ave Marias on your album and how have you actually chosen the Ave Maria songs and authors?
Some Ave Marias on the album have been arranged by organist Kalevi Kiviniemi, in others we followed the original arrangements. I was the one who chose all the songs for the album. They are my favourite Ave Marias.
Who did record musical instruments for this album or did they record them with you at the same time?
Kalevi Kiviniemi played the organ, Marius Järvi cello and Kirsi Kiviharju harp. We performed the songs together while Mika Koivusalo was recording us.
When, how and why have you decided to compose your own Ave Maria and was it an important step to you as an artist?
I wrote the song at home in Buenos Aires many years ago and it was born just in few hours. I wanted to write an Ave Maria for my Christmas tour. It was just another step in my career, I wouldn’t call it that important, but it was definitely a learning experience. The nicest thing that came out of this has been that my audiences in Christmas concert tours have truly loved my composition throughout some years already. It is wonderful that finally it’s been recorded.
What does this album represent in your musical career and to you personaly?
As it is my first purely classical album, it is very important album to me as an artist. It represents my long background in classical music and my knowledge as a lyrical singer. I am happy that I found a partner interested in releasing this type of a recording from me, being not an album that represents the other part of me, as a rock singer. I am blessed to be able to make a career as a lyrical singer, because classical music was truly my first love since I was a little child. I have worked a lot to become accepted as a lyrical singer, so I hope this album helps a bit in that aspect.
Photo: Eugenio Mazzinghi