Soprano singer Aurea Marston will be joining Malaga resident and pianist Cornelia Lezin for a number of concerts in Andalucía in January. Like Cornelia, who lives in Cajiz where she regularly holds concerts in her converted mill, Aurea is originally from Switzerland. She was born in a village near Basel to a Swiss mother and American father.
The two musicians first met when Aurea needed a pianist for her concert-diploma exam.
"We got along immediately and we have been working together as a duo since then," explains Aurea, adding, "I haven't counted, but we have performed together for the last 12 years, so we have performed together many times."
Aurea will arrive in Malaga on 19 January for rehearsals and the first concert will take place at Cornelia's El Molino de Cajiz on 25 January. "We are very much looking forward to it. It is a fantastic programme we have prepared," the singer says.
This isn't the first time she has been to Malaga. Aurea has a close relationship with Spain, having stayed for a time while she was studying and then visiting Catalonia on another occasion. The musician says that this is her fifth visit to Malaga and on each occasion she has performed with Cornelia.
"I absolutely fell in love with the south of Spain, the warm generous people and their kind and honest interest in the sort of music we bring to them," she admits.
"It is always something special coming to Malaga. I am looking forward to the people, it is great how they are thirsty for music, for art, and I love how they listen to a language that isn't even their own! I am very grateful and honoured to be back in January."
The other three concerts will take place on 27January at the Casa de la Cultura en Almuñécar, on 30 January at Sala Maria Cristina in Malaga and on 6 February at Sociedad Filarmónica de Almeria (Almeria philharmonic society) in Almeria.
Aurea explains that all four concerts are "all about the music from around the 1900s in Europe, from the so called Fin de Siècle era". She goes on to say that the poems of the music "describe the mysteriousness of night, the life of stars and the human journey of love and longing."
Cornelia and Aurea have prepared well-known pieces including Beim Schlafengehen by Richard Strauss and Debussy's Fêtes Galantes, as well as lesser known music like Zemlinsky's waltz songs, which Aurea explains "are extremely beautiful and each one a little gem."
Austrian composer Alban Berg and Spanish composer Joaquín Turina also feature in the programme. "We are looking forward to bringing those to the Spanish speaking audience," says Aurea.
Aurea explains that she studied music in Basel with "great teachers" and says she was "lucky enough" to debut at Basel's theatre in 2006 with renowned Swiss conductor, Armin Jordan (father of Philippe Jordan who is a Swiss conductor and currently music director of the Opéra National de Paris and chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra).
"I took in everything he said during rehearsals, he was fiercely dedicated to the music, and he was extremely funny," Aurea recalls. However, she explains how on opening night, tragically, he collapsed in the orchestra pit while conducting and died a few days later. "It was a very intense beginning of my operatic career" she reflects.
Aurea and Cornelia have an endless list of "funny and not so funny" anecdotes springing from their 12-year professional relationship.
"We were engaged to perform together in Almuñécar around three years ago. We came to rehearse on the morning of the concert, and Cornelia realised that the pedal on the piano was broken." Fortunately Aurea says they were able to find an expert who could fix the pedal in time for the concert in the evening. "It sounds funny afterwards," laughs Aurea, explaining that it certainly wasn't at the time.
Aurea concludes that she keeps coming back to Malaga thanks to Cornelia and her "continuos dedication and commitment and her connections" that have made it possible for the singer to come again.