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Going for Golda

Gratitude, yoga and dance will prepare soprano Golda Schultz for her BBC Prom performance at the Royal Albert Hall
Soprano Golda Schultz

This article first appeared in our summer ’18 issue of MyGreenPod Magazine, The Natural Revolution, distributed with the Guardian on 03 Aug 2018. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

Golda Schultz has been described as ‘a newcomer who simply has everything’. According to critics, ‘she can spin off a line of pure silk with ease’, has a voice that’s ‘big, clear, technically stupendously perfect’ and is able to convey ‘a sparkling personality, with a ready sense of humour.’ So what’s the secret to this South African star’s success?

Dance and joy

We’ve heard Golda’s preparation involves dance and yoga: she’s even been caught doing her favourite asana, the Peaceful Warrior, atop a grand piano.

On 07 August Golda will perform Brahms’s A German Requiem with the BBC Symphony Orchestra; is she planning to dance in her dressing room at the Royal Albert Hall? ‘Oh gosh, ​yes!’, she tells us. ‘Dancing must always happen. It gets me out of my head and into my body. ​It wakes up my soul and makes me less self conscious, but more aware​ of my body​. It’s a great way to check in with yourself. Dancing is also a true expression of joy flowing from the body. Why not do it?’

Joy is central to Golda’s performances; before stepping on stage she focuses on creating a joyful experience – for the orchestra, the audience and the performers – and an open space in which the audience can emotionally engage with the moment.

‘I think people want to connect’, Golda tells us. ‘We are programmed for it. An audience is just as likely to have a profound experience with any other performer as long as there is something to connect to. The performer’s passion for the music, the joy, the profound musicality – t​hose are the things that connect. Me jumping around in my dressing room to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ won’t matter to them, unless it opens my heart space and allows me to give a heartfelt performance. Then and only then do these things matter.’

Where the magic happens

Alongside an open heart, an active and ready core is vital for a killer performance; as Golda puts it, that’s ‘where the magic happens.’

‘Singing is a full-contact sport and as such you need your core ​– the centre of the powerhouse – to be at attention’, she tells us. ‘That doesn’t mean holding tension, but rather ​keeping it ​at active rest so that it can be engaged for when you really need to carry your sound into a hall.’

Golda Schultz will perform with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Symphony Chorus in the Brahms’s A German Requiem BBC Prom on 07 August (Royal Albert Hall, 19.30). This Prom will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and on BBC Four on 10 August. Book tickets (from £9.50) here.

Yoga and energy

For Golda, the act of singing is like starting a car; you have to warm it up a bit. ‘You can’t just sing from nothing’, she tells us. ‘You have to activate your body and mind for the act of projection​ and f​or the act of engagement, physical and mental. ​T​o do that you ‘build heat’, and ​get the blood flowing through carrying oxygen and nutrients to the parts that need it. You do that and your instrument will do all you want it to, because you are taking care of it!’

To build heat, Golda turns to yoga; the Warrior is Golda’s favourite asana because it helps to open the hips and chest. ‘I really enjoy Peaceful Warrior most because it helps me remember to be flexible in my body. Don’t hold energy in any one place. Let it flow through you. Focus on the grace of your body being able to move and create shapes. It’s a beautiful physical metaphor for singing. Don’t hold the sound or control it: let it flow from your core, vibrating over your chords and out into the world where it moves those who hear it.’

A golden rule

Choosing to focus on gratitude and joy, while observing a ‘sometimes routine’ of yoga and dance, seems to have nailed it for Golda. ‘Soprano Golda Schultz was frankly perfect in her recitatives and arias’, one critic remarked. ‘Her voice is creamy and smooth, with a brilliant finish and expert control… Schultz could not have been better.’

Golda goes out into the world with good intentions: she tries to be the best version of herself every time she steps on stage, and wants to remain conscious of the fact she’s a ​servant to the music and a mediator who allows the audience to have an experience.

Beyond that, what’s Golda’s best piece of advice for performers? ‘Know that this matters. This moment matters. To someone’, she tells us. ‘It might not be your best day, but for someone – in the audience, listening on the radio or watching on TV – this is the day that matters. So give all you have for that moment. Invest in that moment. Whatever bad notes come out or rhythms you forget count for naught if you remember that it’s the moment that matters and what you do with it. Always give your best and don’t expect perfection; give an audience honesty and they will feel it!’

Click here to find out more about Golda Schultz and her upcoming performances

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