Rebelles is a group of nine female singers with nothing in common apart from a shared love of singing.
That's how things started anyway. Through music Cat, Sally, Sibyl, Anna, Marina, Andrea, Michelle, Zoe and Julia have become a close-knit group, curious to try a wide range of styles.
These dynamic women have just performed their latest show, She Will Survive, at the Rialto Theatre in Brighton. Set in a drab staff room and inspired by various articles in gossip magazines, She Will Survive is a cabaret on work and life where dreams, heartaches and cups of tea are shared before the bell rings and it’s back to work.
MD Stefan Holmstrom said:
“We’ve used the Estill approach of identifying and training the structures needed to create a certain sound, so that Dolly Parton's Nine To Five doesn’t sound the same as Schubert's Du Bist Die Ruh, for example. All nine singers have different musical backgrounds, so some will find a certain style easier because it's familiar to them. Through Estill we hope to give each person the knowledge and skills to be versatile - it's fantastic fun to experiment!"
The music selected for She Will Survive was extremely varied and features an eclectic mix of songs, from folk and classical to jazz and pop. The Rebelles all love this, as not only do the singers have to make the arrangements work, concentrate on blend and interpretation, but also adapt their voices and the overall sound they make to suit each song.
Soprano Sally Wilson said:
"Stefan helped us with this challenge at the beginning of each rehearsal by warming our voices up thoroughly and allowing time and encouragement for us to experiment with making different sounds. For example, before singing our first number, Dolly Parton's Nine to Five, we would establish a sound that had a twang in the voice. Experimenting with twang helped the song to have the kind of cutting edge sound needed and made us feel more confident performing it. I've discovered that I can get the twang sound into individual notes, but it is quite a challenge to keep the sound as the pitch moves around, particularly from low to high. It's harder to maintain twang at higher pitches, as your voice wants to go back into its comfort zone and revert to the way you would normally sing those higher notes. So achieving twang in the voice successfully and then maintaining it, is work in progress for me!"
"The most classical number in the show was Schubert's Du Bist Die Ruh, which I have sung before as a soprano soloist. It is written for solo voice, but our very gifted accompanist Tim Nail, adapted it into three part harmony, but kept the piano part exactly as Schubert wrote it. I really enjoyed singing this version with added harmony. It worked very well in performance and I sensed that it had quite a major impact on the audience, as it is a very beautiful melody and intensely emotional and romantic. The challenge was to make our 9 voices sound as one and not allow any individual sounds to be heard. I was amazed at how well we achieved this, when I heard a brief video clip recorded from the audience at our first performance. Because I was already familiar with the song, and know the style of singing required for lieder, I did not need to do so much work to achieve the right sound for this song, but Stefan encouraged other members of the group to find their more classical singing style, which really made for a great harmonic blend, as well as an appropriate sound for Schubert.”