Blog > Eavesdropping On the Interview – with Juliet Fraser

Eavesdropping On the Interview – with Juliet Fraser

Oxford House is always evolving and part of the evolution means working with more people and building more relationships which help to improve not only Oxford House but also the community. Thus we are extremely proud to say that we have our first artist in residence – none other than the wonderful Juliet Fraser. If you are wondering why the name rings a bell, it’s because Juliet was here in June performing her programme ‘A certain kind of light’.

Juliet is already hard at work in her new position, and has created a new series – eavesdropping, which we simply cannot wait for. Oxford House talked to Juliet about her new programme and with every answer we became more and more excited about the programme.
So listen in and practice EAVESDROPPING (on the interview before the show starts).

How does it feel to be the first artist in residence at Oxford House?
It’s exciting! These are times of change for Oxford House, with the renovations starting next year, which will launch a new chapter for the building and the organisation. I’m really happy to be part of the adventure!

What makes Oxford House special to you?
I’ve been doing my singing practice in the chapel for over five years now — it’s special to build this sort of relationship with a studio space. After all, this is where I sound my worst, as well as my best! It’s where I experiment, where I come to sing when I’m tired, frustrated or frightened, as much as bouncing with optimism about what’s ahead, and so I feel the chapel has been a place of constancy through all the ups and downs of the past few years.

However, I must say that it’s also just a very special place in its own right. I think this is because of its history as a place of worship, and because of the warmth and beauty of the wood panelling.

What do you hope to achieve in your new role?
My main aim is to spread the word about what a wonderful space the chapel is, and to see it used more for a certain sort of music event. It’s not suitable for everything, but it happens to be ideal for the sort of event that interests me: intimate, informal, rather quiet… And this desire was a big inspiration behind my new series, eavesdropping, which launches in November.

Is there a reason why the series is called ‘eavesdropping’?
Oh yes, four reasons! It’s a sort of multiple play-on-words: 1) eaves, because it’s up in the eaves; 2) dropping, because if it’s raining there will be raindrops leaking through the windows!; 3) eve(s), because this first series is devoted to female artists; 4) eavesdropping, because that’s what I’m inviting the audience to do, to ‘listen in’ to the performers’ new work.

What can we expect from your new series?
Eavesdropping is a series of four evening events, each a double-bill, and a weekend-long symposium devoted to new music. The series presents new work or works in progress by eight performers in an intimate and informal setting — it’s more an open session than a performance, and the audience is able to hear the performers introduce their work and chat to them afterwards. ‘New music’, as a genre, essentially means music being created today in the classical music tradition. The majority of the eavesdropping artists are classically trained but with a somewhat experimental practice: the music you’ll hear is likely to be quite varied, some will be obviously classical, some obviously experimental, and there are some folk, pop and electronica influences too. The symposium is still being planned, but it will be a combination of talks, discussions and performances which investigate female creativity and the legacy and future of women in new music.

What are your personal hopes for Eavesdropping?
Oh, just that people enjoy themselves! And that it somehow builds the community and network of women working in new music. Sometimes it can feel a bit lonely, forging a new path, but in fact I think there is a huge amount of untapped support out there.

Is there a reason behind all the artists in the first season being female that ties in with the series?
It just sort of happened like that. When I started imagining whom I’d like to invite, I realised all of the people on my little wish list were women, and then I became very excited by the idea of creating something that nurtures and supports these amazing female artists. There is quite a problem in classical music with the underrepresentation of women, especially as composers, conductors and artistic directors, and I feel we all need to do our bit to help us move towards gender parity. At the same time, I’m taking quite a light touch with this angle: ultimately, eavesdropping is a series about talented artists presenting interesting work, not about gender.

What else should we expect after the first season of eavesdropping?
Can I do the first season first?! It’s a huge amount of work, organising, fundraising, promoting, so I think it’s one step at a time. But I do already have ideas about some artists to invite for the next season…

By Thufayel Ahmed

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