Intimate, graceful and timeless, with her breathtaking album, ‘White Sands’, Lone Madsen has taken her professional experience as a classically trained clarinetist and breathed new life into a classic art form. Madsen’s mission is simple yet ambitious: to bring the distinctive timbre of the clarinet – her own enchanting sounds and haunting melodies – to a far wider audience.
“I would like people to see – and hear – that the clarinet can be every bit as captivating and suggestive as the human voice,”explains an impassioned, Madsen. ‘White Sands’ is not simply a reinterpretation of traditional clarinet music but an innovative reinvention of beautiful sounds, rhythms and melodies – some old, some new. Madsen’s exquisite music transcends the world of a superbly trained classical artist, appealing to popular music fans and classical devotees alike.
“Simple beauty permeates Lone’s musical sound world, from the emotional clarity of her compositions to the purity of tone of her clarinet playing”
Tom Hull of Ingpen and Williams
The most effective reinterpretations of any art form all too often happen from the inside, out, and Madsen’s take on the classical clarinet is no exception. Born in quiet, quaint Denmark, at the tender age of four Madsen moved with her family to English shores, to just outside London and the leafy suburb of Surrey. “My father was an entrepreneur so we came to Britain to work,” she explains. “Although my father was never particularly musical, my mother’s side of the family is and we do have a well known conductor in the family. My mother swears to me that we’re related to Mozart – by marriage, rather than by blood lineage, unfortunately!”
Enchanted by the performing arts, Madsen like many young children, was encouraged to take piano lessons and soon moved off the ivories and on to her first wind instrument – a recorder. “Lots of children take up the recorder, don’t they? Maybe I just spent more time on it than most – or perhaps I was deeply antisocial – but I took to it quite naturally. For me the hours of practice time in my bedroom wasn’t some sort of musical rite of passage my parents demanded that I take but purely pleasurable – I was lucky.” One particular Christmas Madsen was given a clarinet as a gift from her parents. “Well, that was it. Any hope that I would become a doctor or a lawyer went straight out of the window – I was hooked!” Dedicated and enthralled, Madsen spent time racking up her clarinet grades with distinction in an effort to convince her parents that she should take her musical career to the next level. After a small blip involving a few months in a Danish Sports Folk High School (a cross between an army training camp and a new age Danish commune), they too were convinced.
“Lone Madsen is amongst the most talented musicians in Europe. There is an ethereal, timeless beauty to her work that transcends most of classical music being produced today. She is truly exceptional”
Such an individual streak, a desire to experiment and challenge perceptions of herself and her art is of huge significance when considering Madsen’s next important career step. Following her heart she decided the best place to push herself and her medium would be New York City, at the world-renowned Juilliard School, an exceptional school that specialises in music, dance and drama and is known for being the most selective school of its kind in America. “At Juilliard for the first time I could really begin to master my craft; absorbing all I could about different techniques and the history of this exceptional instrument. Classical, jazz, experimental – there’s nothing that wasn’t touched on or questioned. I began to absorb all I could and really began to understand the difference between art and craft. Of course, if you practice hard enough, anyone can get to a particular level – right? I knew I wanted to go further, to exceed my own expectations – to develop as an artist.”
Madsen’s superb talents were duly noted by the school’s board and the following September, 1998, she found herself playing her beloved clarinet in the Lincoln Center of Performing Arts. Under the exceptional tutorage of musicians such as clarinetist Charles Neidich, Madsen was able to combine her love of performance with her passion for music. “There were no boundaries at Juilliard,” she explains. “We would put on productions pushing the limits – experimental, multimedia shows with music, film and dance. We restaged and adapted Stravinsky’s ‘The Soldier’s Tale’ with director Stephen Kennedy Murphy.” Madsen took Stravinsky’s famous work, unpeeled it and opened it up to the other musicians, acting out each musical movement to rapturous applause on stage at the Lincoln Center. Finally, she had got a taste of what she could achieve by pushing herself and her colleagues creatively and going beyond tradition.
“Lone Madsen’s wonderful sense of style and rich, expressive sound will appeal to a wide, eclectic audience which should help gain an even greater popularity for the instrument”
Steven Epstein (Grammy Award -Winning Producer)
All work and no play, however, can lead to burnout, something many young classical artists talk of with worrying regularity. Drama was something Madsen had always been taken with and while at Guildhall in order to give her mind and body something else to feed off other than scales, arpeggios and harmonies, she took acting and dancing classes in the evening. “I got into The Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, just for a short time and also The Drama Centre. It was magical, although as courses ran off the ‘method’ acting technique, at times it was intense, immersing yourself into a particular character so fervently.”Madsen’s acting skills also won her the part of Miss Grey in Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning adaptation of ‘Sense and Sensibility’.
Since graduating from Juilliard with a Masters degree in 2000, Madsen’s clarinet playing has seen her work with some incredible musical talents. She is well established as a soloist and chamber musician and has performed in prestigious venues such as The Lincoln Center in New York, The Barbican and The South Bank Centre in London, as well as participating in a variety of international music festivals (Aldeburgh, Banff and Sarasota). Lone’s work is creatively diverse: from playing at the Bückeburg Castle in Germany at the behest of Prince Alexander Schaumburg Lippe, and duetting with former Chanticleer Countertenor Terry Barber in recital to composing work for the original soundtrack of Bliss’ ‘They Made History’ album, and Mike Figgis’ ‘A Portrait of London’ for the 50th Anniversary of The London Film Festival. Other important collaborations have seen her work with Andrea Bocelli, Thomas Ades, Milton Babbit, Alfred Brendel, Michael Kamen, Nora Kroll Rosenbaum and the Szymanowski Quartet.
“Lone Madsen is a musician of great warmth and charm; always a beautiful sound, always a heartfelt emotion”
In 2001 Lone Madsen formed a classical group, ‘The Lumen Ensemble’. Made up of Madsen on clarinet, Maurycy Banaszek on viola and Jan Rautio on piano. The trio met at a music festival and performed under the instruction of Robert Levin, Charles Neidich and John Perry, playing throughout the US and Europe to great acclaim. A recording of their work was released in 2007, fresh takes on works by Mozart, Bruch and Schumann with Grammy Award-winning Richard King and EMI producer John McCracken. Madsen is also excited to be working with 18-time Grammy Award-winning producer Steven Epstein on her next album and performing with Andrea Bocelli in Los Angeles in the near future.
“It is wonderful collaborating with other artists in larger ensembles” explains Madsen, “But at the same time I have always had that desire to compose and a calling to branch out on my own. I wanted to create my own soundscape – experimenting with other musical genres, creating my own music -layering textures, rhythms, darker harmonies and sonorities with the seductive sound of the clarinet at the forefront”. With the release of ‘White Sands’ a selection of music arranged and composed herself, Madsen has finally realised that quiet, buried ambition. Graceful, refined, captivating, contemporary – Lone Madsen’s moment, like her music, is right now.
Lone recently played Mozart Concerto as part of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival with the Johanneburg Festival Orchestra in Johannesbrg, South Africa as well as a series of chamber concerts in both Johannesburg and Capetown, South Africa. She will also be featured on SAFM, Classic FM and National TV.
Lone is currently working with The English National Opera and Punchdrunk theatre company on a new production of The Duchess of Malfi.
Lone will be performing Mozart Clarinet Concerto in the Albustan Festival, Beirut , Lebanon on the 24th February. www.albustanfestival.com