Karin Schaupp and Katie Noonan’s latest collaborative album, which they are set to tour nationally, sees them fly through a selection of their favourite South American tunes in Songs of the Latin Skies.
“This has been in our mind for a long time,” says internationally acclaimed guitarist Karin Schaupp, “It seemed like a natural progression. When we had talked about future projects even early on in our collaborations, this was always on the bucket list.”
Songs of the Latin Skies continues Schaupp and Noonan’s tradition of making albums based on some geographical limiter. Previously we have seen Songs of the British Isles, which focussed on British traditions, and Songs of the Southern Skies, which worked through the annals of Australian music. In Songs from the Latin Skies, Schaupp and Noonan make their way through the Latin-American pantheon.
“It took us a long time to choose only one CD’s worth of music because there’s so much amazing music in that style,” says Schaupp. “We started off with a really long list and sent lots of emails back and forth. That’s how we always end up choosing a repertoire, in that same method, with a long brainstorming list that we both add to, and then we start whittling it down.”
The album’s track list has a variety of national strings to its bow, including the USA, Peru, Argentina and Venezuela, but more than anything it features music from Brazil. Asked why that is, Schaupp says it simply felt right for their styles, and notes her long affection for Brazilian music, having herself played with Carlos Barbosa Lima, who worked with noted Brazilian composer and bossa nova legend Antonio Carlos Jobim.
“It’s what we thought suited us. We both love Jobim and [Luiz] Bonfa. I think we both have a great weakness for Brazil. At one stage we were considering just making a Brazilian CD,” laughs Schaupp. “I’ve always felt an affinity to the rhythm and the groove of this music. I would say it’s almost part of the standard guitar repertoire. You’d be pretty hard pressed to find a classical guitarist that hasn’t played some Latin music at some point in their studies, let alone in their concert career.”
The album boasts a range of songs sung in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Schaupp says conquering this lingual variation was no mean feat for Noonan, and the style of music resulted in her adapting her style from what people might expect of the noted singer.
“In a lot of the pieces on this album, she sang in fairly low keys for her, using the lower range of her voice, which people may not be as used to hearing from her,” says Schaupp. “The result is like everything she does – it’s outstanding. Portugese is incredibly difficult [to sing in], much harder than Spanish. Katie worked really hard, and I think she certainly has the seal of approval from Portugese speakers there too.”
Soon to tour the album nation-wide, with its debut in Hobart, and then here for two Adelaide Fringe shows in the Garden of Unearthly Delights, Schaupp is in the midst of rehearsals with Noonan and says they’re “chomping at the bit to get out there” and bring the album to audiences in a live setting.
“It’s definitely the same repertoire as the album, but I think it’s very different to play something live,” she says. “The audience becomes a part of that performance. The communication with the audience… That real communion and sharing, and in this case, the beautiful, soulful, joyful music – you can’t replace that. Katie and I are very much on the same page there.”
So, what’s next for Schaupp and Noonan once the tour is over? Which ‘sky’ will they tackle next?
“I’m sure we’ll keep collaborating, and I think definitely there will be more albums. It’s given us a focus for each project, being geographically based gives you some distinct styles to play with. I suspect France may be the next place we look, but don’t hold me to that – I’m only saying that because you asked!”
Katie Noonan & Karin Schaupp, Songs of the Latin Skies
March 18 & 19, 6:45pm
Magic Mirror Spiegeltent, Garden of Unearthly Delights