Performances affected by Coronavirus crisis

Since the restrictions to public life forced upon us by the Coronavirus pandemic crisis, some McCaldin Arts performances have been cancelled.

Please check McCaldin Arts social media, or keep an eye on Clare McCaldin’s website’s Forthcoming (or diary) page for more information.

Please look after yourself and one another. We look forward to seeing you – and performing for you – again in future.

Over My Shoulder new dates

We haven’t performed Over My Shoulder for a couple of years so were really pleased to be invited by King’s Lynn Music Society to bring the show to their recital series in the King’s Lynn Assembly Rooms. Paul Turner and I perform the full-length entertainment on Wednesday 18th March at 7.30pm in Norfolk.

We will also offer a shortened version on Friday 20th March at 1.00pm at the Royal Opera House’s Live at Lunchtime series.

We’re especially pleased to take the show to Covent Garden, as Elisabeth Schumann gave her last performance in the UK at that house, and Jessie Matthews was appearing at the same time in her most famous role just a few steps away on the Strand.

Mary’s Hand dates for 2020

This is the last year that Mary’s Hand will be touring and we are delighted to be taking the show to some wonderful venues in 2020. In the Spring we are hosted by New Paths, a lively and relatively new music festival in Beverley, which has already established itself as a creative force in the North-East. A couple of weeks later we are at the Mayfield Festival in East Sussex, which celebrates its 50th birthday this year.

Then later this year, our last three performances are in locations important to Mary’s Hand and to Mary herself. The Queen withdrew to her estates in Suffolk during the Succession crisis that brought Lady Jane Grey to the throne, and it was from there that she made her progress to London to depose Jane and claim the throne for herself. We are marking this connection to Suffolk with a performance in Aldeburgh.

Our tour ends at the Tower of London as part of the celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of the foundation of St Peter ad Vincula by Henry VIII. This beautiful Tudor chapel houses the remains of three characters featured in Mary’s Hand – Anne Boleyn, Lady Jane Grey and Thomas Cromwell, all of whom were executed on Tower Green.

Details of dates and tickets can be found here.

Vivienne to debut in America

We are delighted to hear that Stephen McNeff & Andy Rashleigh’s dramatic song cycle Vivienne is to be performed for the first time in the United States of America. A small new company, the St. Louis Opera Collective, will give performances of Vivienne on 18-20 October in the city in which – rather wonderfully – T. S. Eliot was brought up. We wish STL Opera Collective all the best as they bring this fine cycle to an American audience. More info via

Mary in Gloucester

Yesterday we brought Mary’s Hand to the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester. Our performance was in a late night slot at the recently refurbished St. Mary-de-Crypt in the centre of the City, just 5 mins walk from the cathedral. This wonderful space posed some interesting issues for our production – but any obstacles to an original staging are also opportunities for inventive variations on the way we tell Mary’s story. Director Di Sherlock introduced a podium in the centre of space and a splendid recess in the choir offered interesting variations in which to imagine fresh stage pictures of the drama and Mary’s dress (above).

We were happy to be able to perform to a full house at St. Mary-de-Crypt. The following morning we attended a talk from Dr Linda Porter about the life of Queen Mary I. This informed and sympathetic dissection of the first Queen Regnant’s life provided absorbing context to the mid-16th century Tudor court. We had time to visit the nearby memorial to John Hooper, the Bishop of Gloucester, a Protestant burned at the stake under Mary’s regime.

It was a super experience to bring our work to Gloucester with its history and audience and we’re grateful to the Three Choirs staff for helping us feel so welcome!

Snape Residency: A New Poly-Olbion


Snape on Monday morning, from a practice room in the Maltings

On Sunday a group of us from McCaldin Arts will travel to Aldeburgh to spend a week developing some ideas for a new performance work. At Aldeburgh we will be guests of Snape Residencies, a project based at Snape Maltings, the epicentre of the Aldeburgh Festival set up by composer Benjamin Britten in 1948. We’re really grateful to Snape Residencies for their help in bringing us all to Suffolk and for the support that will help us to make the most of a week of artistic & professional exploration.

You can read more about our initial ideas for A New Poly-Olbion, based on Michael Drayton’s 17th century Poly-Olbion on this page. Clare McCaldin, the producer-performer of McCaldin Arts will be joined by the writer Di Sherlock, the composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad, pianist Libby Burgess and the spoken-word performer John Constable. Though the week will be an extended workshop with a final showing to a local audience we hope we can keep you up to date with our experience via social media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Society of Antiquaries with Mary’s Hand, 15 Feb 2019

Last night we were part of a very special event. We had been invited to return to the Society of Antiquaries of London to give a abbreviated performance of Mary’s Hand next to the portrait of Queen Mary I on which Andie Scott and Sophie Meyer (pictured, below) had based their performative costume for the show. The historian Dr John Cooper, a fellow of the Society, gave a talk on the history behind the eponymous Queen and, after the performance, Clare stayed in the costume to chat with the audience and pose for pictures.

It was terrific that the original instrumental ensemble from the summer shows in London (‘Mary’s Band’) were all available to play and that Martin Bussey had time in a particularly busy week to come and hear his music played live for the first time since then. Di Sherlock directed the condensed version of her drama for the space – as she has done each time, as demanded by a site-specific show – which was a surprisingly responsive room for musicians, allowing the words of the story their full bloom.

This event was something of a first for the Society who are trying new things to open up their institution and encourage interest in their collection. To that end, the museum collections manager, Kate Bagnall had curated a small but directly pertinent exhibition in the hall, including royal seals depicting Queen Mary & King Philip II of Spain, a book of Fees & Offices recording Mary’s accession, a copy of a Holbein etching of ‘Lady Mary’ (before she was crowned) and a pair of proclamations for Lady Jane Grey and then Mary, who succeeded her, famously after only nine days. This exhibition remains open over the next week for those who would like to take a look – perhaps if you’re on your way to see the performance at St. Paul’s Wilton Place? (visit for their opening times). There was also the chance to buy a Marian tea towel! Our thanks to Danielle Wilson Higgins and her predecessor Lucy Ellis for bringing this project to fruition.

The Spring tour of Mary’s Hand now begins in earnest with a complete performance at St. Paul’s, Wilton Place on Tuesday before the show goes North for the rest of the week. As ever, all the details, including booking links, are available via

Mary’s Hand 2019 Spring Tour

Photo by Robert Workman

In one month from today, we will begin a short tour, performing Mary’s Hand in London and the North of England.

This begins with a unique event, in which we’ll perform extracts from the show in front of the portrait which inspired the wonderful costume, the centrepiece of the show’s design. Andie Scott and Sophie Meyer researched and constructed Mary’s post-coronation dress from a 1554 portrait by Hans Eworth which hangs in The Society of Antiquaries of London, in Piccadilly. Clare will sing parts of Mary’s Hand and the historian John Cooper will give a talk on the history around the period.

A few days later we will give a full performance of Mary’s Hand at St. Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge – the venue in which our striking publicity photographs were taken by celebrated arts photographer Robert Workman. From there we travel to Hexham in Northumberland, where Clare’s father helps to run the annual Abbey Arts Festival, for a performance in the Queen’s Hall, and then across the Pennines for another at Lancaster Priory.

Mary’s Hand Programmes

Finally, the tour comes to an official conclusion with a performance at Music In Pinner, a popular music festival in north London.

At each event there is an opportunity to buy a copy of the detailed souvenir programme which has many more photographs, essays and information about the history of the period and the making of the show.

For dates, times and tickets for all these events, please click on this link. We hope to see you there!

Clare & McCaldin Arts Newsletter

Image: Clare in the Royal Opera’s production of Carmen. Photo: Neil Gillespie

This week Clare sent out her quarterly Newsletter. In it you’ll find news and information about her forthcoming performances, new projects beginning in the new year and how to get hold of tickets for the Spring tour of Mary’s Hand, one of the stand-out successes of 2018’s Summer opera festivals in London.

If you’d like to get Clare & McCaldin Arts’ Newsletter then you can sign up here.

Clare McCaldin on Lieder

Ahead of her appearance at this year’s Oxford Lieder Festival, we sat down for a chat with Clare McCaldin about the artform. Clare is the director of McCaldin Arts.

clare mccaldin mezzo-soprano

© Ben McKee Photography 2018

What does ‘Lieder’ mean to you?

I think of landscape and drama – internal drama as well as the external. Sometimes it can be something simple like a tree that precipitates the poet’s responding to it. There’s this intimate connection between landscape and sentiment, and an internal or external narrative depending on whether the poet intends that.

What’s your first memory of Lieder?

I remember learning Die Forelle to sing at a music competition, or something. I guess I was about eight. That’s the first thing I mastered in German.

So the song being in German is important to Lieder?

Yes, Lieder is German song. It’s such an integral part of what the song is. Performing the song in translation cannot be the same.

When did you discover that this is the importance of Lieder? Did it coincide with studying modern languages at University?

No, it was when I started taking singing seriously. Obviously, studying the language meant I wanted to speak it properly, to understand the phonetics, but their relationship with song only began to matter when I became interested in singing.

So has the appeal of singing German poetry always been about the words or did you come to Lieder through this landscape, or abstract, connection?

I do know a lot of people who have a particular image for a particular song, that’s one way of working with music. That’s principally not how it works for me because I’m lucky enough to work in languages that I understand more or less well, because I speak French German and Italian, enough to understand what’s going on. I feel I have a detailed enough grasp of the text, that actually the text is the thing that takes me into the song. If images do come along then they have come from the text.

What Lieder recital has made the biggest impression on you?

I went to hear John Tomlinson singing, I think, his first Winterreise in public. I confess to having gone along a little bit out of curiosity as he’s not latterly done a great deal of Lieder, so I thought it would be an interesting thing to hear. It’s fascinating that it has stuck in my mind far more than recitals given by famous singers-of-Lieder, because it was an extremely powerfully felt story. Perhaps it was a natural choice, Winterreise, for someone who has done Wotan a lot. It felt that there was an enormous amount of direct experience in the songs. All of that was really distinctive and convincing and I just really liked how much it felt as if it came not just from him as an artist but through him, from a tradition. A different tradition perhaps, from the Lieder tradition, but a tradition nonetheless.

That’s idea of tradition is interesting. What then is the most ‘authentic’ Lieder performance you’ve heard?

Well in some ways, if that idea of tradition follows, then it needs to be a German native singer. One would hope they have the most direct, thorough understanding of the tradition. It needn’t be – it’s hard to say. We strive to get close to the tradition in terms of performing stuff that’s not ‘our own’. I mean, I’ve heard Holzmair and Gerhaher both of whom were tremendous, not just because they’re native speakers but something bound up with that. Oh… I don’t know whether it’s fair to say that Lieder feels most comfortable in the baritone range? It’s something about it being in the speaking range, somehow there’s a kind of intimacy to it. It’s interesting that I’ve named two baritones who I think excel in it. I don’t know if that favours me too as a mezzo-soprano!

You’re singing Röntgen, Brahms and Schumann. Do you like them?

Yes! The Brahms are quite finely wrought. There’s a lot of weaving with the viola, which requires a lot of control that’s really fun. Less so in the Röntgen which is more about passing the baton backwards and forwards. I’m really looking forward to them!


Clare performs at the Holywell Music Room at 5.30pm on Thursday 25 October as part of the Oxford Lieder Festival, with Simon Tandree (viola) and Libby Burgess (piano).

Clare returns the next day, Friday 26 October, for a song workshop at the Shulman Auditorium in Queen’s College at 10am, and then performs new songs, settings of Whitman by composer Ross Griffey, also in the Shulman Auditorium at 3.45pm.