In full bloom

Apr 18, 2012, 07:02 IST | Soma Das

Soprano Charlotte de Rothschild teams up with harpist Danielle Perrett for A Bouquet of Flower Songs. Through 30 songs, and in languages such as Japanese and French, the duo will transcend seasons and eras

Charlotte de Rothschild is in Mumbai, after an extensive 10- concert tour in Japan. Post this concert, she heads home to the UK before embarking on a US tour. Being journey-bound, however, doesn’t deter Charlotte who is buoyed by the joy of performing flower songs.

Danielle Perrett with Charlotte de Rothschild

Flower child
Her love for all things floral started thanks to her grandfather Lionel de Rothschild, the creator of the Exbury garden in Hampshire. Having grown up surrounded by nature, she was inclined towards songs about flowers. Apart from residing in the 200-acre garden, Charlotte is also the director of Exbury and offers tours to visitors. Interestingly, a pink rhododendron and a white camellia are named after her.

Her first performance of flower songs was at Kew Gardens near London in the 1980s. She hasn’t looked back since. Her first record of flower songs was launched in Japan helped by a Japanese classmate at the Royal College of Music. Interestingly, she enjoys a huge fan following in Japan, more so since she sings in Japanese (she sings in 18 languages including Hebrew and Latin). She believes that learning various languages helps assimilate the essence of the songs.

Big in Japan
At her recent concert in Japan, Charlotte recounts that several members of the audience confided in her that these songs brought back memories. “Japan experienced a tough year after the earthquake, and these songs were about offering hope and lifting their spirits. Being flower songs, their appeal is universal; people are moved and react to it. My songs were about flowers in spring, which has a spiritual significance for the Japanese. Since the imagery talks about the countryside, which is what most of Japanese are nostalgic about, it brought back memories of childhood and happy times,” says Charlotte.

For her Mumbai show, Charlotte will perform with Danielle Perrett. It includes songs about summer, autumn, winter and spring and will include compositions such as Aka Tombyi by Kohsaku Yamada, Die Lotusblume by Robert Schumann and Das Veilchen by Mozart. Duet delight Charlotte and Danielle became friends in the 1990s after a series of collaborations for various performances. Presently, they are working on an album of fairy songs by British composers from the 19th and 20th century, which will be released in June worldwide, and on a recording of Family Connections, which traces the musical heritage of the Rothschild family; the recordings were done at a Suffolk church. While floral songs may seem unconventional to many, Charlotte admits she prefers such songs to popular opera compositions as they are different. She also feels that the harp complements flower songs.
Danielle describes her duet with Charlotte as a “marriage” adding that she admires working with her: “We met at a musical level and became good friends. It helps since performing can be lonely at times. Also, we inspire each other.”

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