MEZZO SOPRANO & 'AMBASSADOR OF ARTS'
Friederike Krum is an award-winning German Mezzo Soprano based in London, acclaimed for her vocal versatility. Her private and public concerts take her all across Europe and her audiences are mesmerised by her exceptional variety of repertoire, from classical to contemporary, as well as her ability to switch her voice from a fully classical mezzo soprano to a mellow, smooth voice that allows her to sing Jazz, Musical and famous crossover songs.
She has performed alongside some of the world’s leading opera and crossover stars including Plácido Domingo, José Carreras, Neil Shicoff, Agnes Baltsa & Russell Watson. Friederike trained in Hamburg with Professor Ingrid Kremling and later worked privately with Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. She has received several prestigious awards and TV documentaries about her life and career have been aired.
Friederike did record a charity single with platinum-selling UK classical crossover star, Russell Watson. Friederike and Russell did perform their duet together at the Royal Albert Hall in 2018 as special guest stars in the Best of the West End show to standing ovations. She also starred with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Cristian Mandeal at the Cadogan Hall in 2018 where she sang the 'Vocalise' by Rachmaninoff & 'The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs' by Górecki.
Her talent for opera, crossover and jazz has seen her perform for TV audiences of millions and some of the world’s biggest venues and leading orchestras. A favourite of Royals and dignitaries Friederike has become the ‘Voice of Reconciliation’ as a German soprano chosen to sing regularly for the British Forces as well as German Forces. In November she has been performing at the official WW1 Centenary Remembrance service in the Cathedral of Berlin. On request of the German Forces she performed at the NATO camp in Afghanistan in 2014. Her clients & audiences include many top brands and companies across Europe as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel, Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen, the late Baroness Thatcher, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman and the Duchess of York. She was asked to sing the National Anthem in the presence of HRH The Princess Royal and HRH the Duke of Cambridge.
With Prince Alexander zu Schaumburg-Lippe and the EuropaChorAkademie, Friederike toured Germany with a unique "Classic meets Jazz” programme and both joined Prinz Hohenzollern for a concert at the Prinzenregententheatre in Munich where they triumphed in front of a sold out house.
Despite a busy concert schedule and as mother to two wonderful children, Friederike always makes time to support charities close to her heart. She was the very first Ambassador of the famous Chelsea pensioners at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, was “The Voice” of Children in Crisis and when the José Carreras Leukaemia Foundation asked her to support them she was delighted to perform alongside her friend Plácido Domingo Jr. at the prestigious José Carreras TV Gala.
THE STORY OF MY ALBUM
It’s been quite a journey. During a career that has lasted over three decades and taken her from her native Germany to London, Friederike Krum has learned from the best, sang with the best and deployed her extraordinary mezzo-soprano in the service of Opera, Jazz, classical Lied and Musicals.
Now, on her new album 'Somebody Loves Me', with her own unique and experienced vocals she explores the timeless music of George and Ira Gershwin, stripped back to just her voice and the piano of Ronnie Scott’s Artistic Director, James Pearson.
“Why Gershwin?” she smiles. “Why not? George and Ira Gershwin’s music has followed me all my life since I heard the song 'Somebody Loves Me' at school when I was 11 - it was love at first listen. Gershwin has the same effect on people like ABBA: everybody loves the songs from young to old. Gershwin’s music reflects the desire for romance and the understanding that all we really want to do is to love and be loved. Even though I’m a twice-divorced modern single mother, I have no problem to record a romance album. That desire for love is always there.”
For Friederike, the improv aspect of Jazz as a contrast to the more structured nature of classical music has always been vitally important, allowing her to feel and interpret the songs. Without sheet music, but with Friederike co-producing, arrangements were worked out as she and James Pearson recorded.
On the album, Friederike strips down the best loved Gershwin love songs to just voice and piano plus the occasional clarinet, played by Ed Barker and those songs soar in the purest and most intimate of settings. “All we really worked on was finding a suitable key and I explained to James the feel I wanted for the songs and album overall and after that we made it up from there,” she purrs. “It was a magical process.” “I had a clear vision of how the album should sound which was smooth, mellow and intimate, which is why I chose not to use my classical voice but a more mellow, warmer register. Luckily with James at my side it was easy as we understand each other when it comes to music almost without words and feel the music of Gershwin in the same way”
Friederike first heard 'Summertime' when her grandfather took her to see Porgy & Bess in Manheim as a young girl. “It’s an extraordinary song, I love melancholy, but it’s a song of hope and a better future. Our version was a genuine first take”.
Meanwhile, her version of 'The Man I Love' is born of experience. “I’ve tried a few times to find the man I love! I am not searching but I am open if and when he stands in front of me. Women don’t need men in today’s world, but not needing something doesn’t mean you don’t want it. I don’t need chocolate, but I love chocolate! These days, if I fall in love, boxes have to be ticked, enrich my life and be a real partner in crime and live up to these lyrics, 10 months, 10 years down the line.”
There’s a whole new twist on 'I Got Rhythm', similar to how Paul Young’s Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home) replaced Marvin Gaye’s swagger with rue and remorse.
“Nobody’s every sung it like this. Today, so many songs are turned into dance versions which lose the melancholy. I’ve done the reverse and turned an upbeat song into something melancholic and dreamy.”With its smoothness, its unified feel and those spectacular, emotion-drenched vocals, the album nods to Friederike’s heroes: Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand and the deeper side of Doris Day, but it shines new light through an old window. It is unmistakeable, uniquely Friederike Krum.
But to understand her musical destination now, you need to take a step back. Proficient on piano and cello as a child, the daughter of a Hamburg pharmaceutical factory director and music loving mother, she studied singing under Prof Ingrid Kremling and later worked privately with the legendary and legendarily fierce Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, widely regarded as the greatest soprano of the 20th Century. “She was scary. She was very hard, but she appreciated that I could take her tough talk and that I liked the direct approach rather than sugar-coating.”
After a successful career in Germany, where she sang alongside Plácido Domingo, Agnes Baltsa and Neil Shicoff, she moved to London in 1999. For love rather than money. “I came over to London because I was big time in love and was getting married. It was a massive step, but if you don’t take the leap of faith for love, what do you take it for? Anyway, at that time I was travelling the world and lived in hotel rooms so something inside me was ready for the next step and to settle down. I always knew I wanted children, so giving up Germany and my busy career did not seem such a sacrifice. The marriage did not work out, but if everything’s smooth you don’t learn anything, you don’t really evolve”.
In Britain, she combined motherhood with building a new career in a new country.
“I’ve enjoyed being a mum from the first moment but I would lie if I said it wasn’t at times a tough change from feeling the thrill and joy of singing for a sold out concert hall, to tidying up playrooms that seemed messy again fifteen minutes later. “Before my kids were born, I had been singing, performing and travelling extensively but I
never had that desperate need to be known everywhere by everyone. It was always about the music.” "I willingly made the transition from being on stage myself to watching my kids on stage instead in school plays. They actually performed in the Royal Albert Hall first and trust me, they still enjoy rubbing that one in. Then after 8 years my marriage sadly went south and I filed for divorce”.
Despite all the classical music surrounding her in her parents’ home, Friederike was a Wham!, Michael Jackson and Earth Wind & Fire fan, but there was always the Gershwins, whether she was singing from their vast catalogue of music or being thrilled by the trio of their songs in the film Mr Holland’s Opus.
“Every time I hear 'Somebody Love Me' I think of myself as that girl in the classroom hearing it for the first time. My teacher Dr Uwe Kraemer was a legend. He knew how to make music come to life for us and he loved modern and classical music alike. Unless it’s a purely classical concert, I’ve sung this song at every show for the past 30 years and I’ve never tired of it. It comes alive every night and it was always going to be the album’s title: it’s the ultimate dream that there is someone out there who loves you, no matter how many times you try and fail.”
Which takes us full circle on the musical journey of Friederike Krum.