Héloïse Werner

Recipient of the Michael Cuddigan Trust Award 2018, Linda Hirst Contemporary Vocal Prize 2017 and a Leeds Lieder Young Artist 2018, French-born and London-based soprano and composer Héloïse Werner was one of the four shortlisted nominees in the Young Artist category of the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards 2017 presented in association with BBC Radio 3.  She is one of the BBC Radio 3’s 31 under 31 Young Stars 2020. 
In April 2019, Héloïse performed her solo opera The Other Side of the Sea at Kings Place as part of their Venus Unwrapped series  (“you can’t help but be dazzled by it” **** The Times). Héloïse is soprano and co-director for contemporary quartet The Hermes Experiment (soprano, clarinet, harp and double bass). 




Coronasolfege was born at the start of lockdown in March 2020. Just like every other musician in the world, all my performances suddenly got cancelled and I was stuck at home with nothing to do. I needed to find something to keep myself occupied. I started experimenting with creating rhythms and short melodies only using my face (eyes, teeth, voice) and my hands (on my cheeks). I came up with a simple 30-second composition where my eyes, teeth, voice and hands each go in different but repeated rhythms: eyes in crotchets, teeth in quavers, voice in triplets and hands in semiquavers. I filmed it, posted it on Twitter and Coronasolfege was born.

To my surprise, a huge amount of people interacted with it online and I thought - this is fun, why not carry on! So throughout the lockdown and after, I kept going, creating 35 Coronasolfege videos, and counting. They are all available to watch here.

Creating these Coronasolfege videos gave me a sense of purpose - each one was like a mini challenge. My main goal with them was to cheer people up so each video is upbeat and sometimes funny. Alongside the rhythmic games and melodic earworms, I also enjoyed creating comical characters using world-plays and props.

This project has been a lovely way to be socially engaged with people from all over the world during the difficult periods of isolation.

This project has been a lovely way to be socially engaged with people from all over the world during the difficult periods of isolation. I taught Coronasolfege through the CoMA Online Summer School, and it gave me the idea of expanding this concept to other performers. So I wrote this new piece for the wonderful Gesualdo Six: 

I am very honoured that my Coronasolfege project received a commendation for the RPS Inspiration Award in this year’s RPS Awards.

On a more general note, I feel very grateful to have been able to produce new work during this incredibly tricky time that we are all going through. BBC Radio 3 in particular have been very supportive of my work, both a solo artist and with my contemporary quartet The Hermes Experiment, offering various recording and broadcast opportunities - I am immensely grateful to them. I have also been able to write new pieces for myself and other performers, and give various live streamed concerts, again both solo and with Hermes. The Oxford Lieder Festival was a particular highlight and I am so impressed with all the amazing work Sholto Kynoch and his team have done to produce this wonderful festival and transfer all the concerts to a digital platform.

...not waiting for gigs to arrive in my inbox, but rather think creatively on how I could still create new art when the concert halls are shut and the future is so uncertain.

When lockdown happened, I suppose I was lucky in a way because I was already used to creating work and seeking opportunities for myself, whether on my own or with other collaborators. This has been incredibly useful in getting me through the last year, not waiting for gigs to arrive in my inbox, but rather think creatively on how I could still create new art when the concert halls are shut and the future is so uncertain. Planning anything feels a little daunting at the moment but I am determined to keep going for as long as I can and try to bring a little bit of joy to the world.