Voice of Reason: A Tango Singing Teacher & Her Way with Words

Posted on March 9, 2015 by Rachael Leonie in EXPAT, MUSIC & VIDEOS

Interview by Rachael Leonie.

Thursday’s interview started just like any other. Sitting in AnnA’s tranqui apartment, just slightly removed from the whizzing of cars and colectivos down Corrientes, I listened to the impassioned artist as she told me about her life (born in Germany, travels in Ecuador, university in the Netherlands), her passion (tango singing and teaching), and her immigration to Argentina (driven by her career and scholarships). But words became tangled once she attempted to express her fervor for the city. As I, the desperate wordsmith in search of the perfect label, tried helping her translate her sentiments (“enthralled? impassioned? addictive?”), she took pause to carefully arrange her thoughts. A few seconds later, she had it: “Sättigungspunkt.”

“Excuse me?” I was befuddled. Was this some lunfardo I’d never learned?

“Sättigungspunkt,” she repeated once more.

“Can you write that?” Me, once again the word-hungry etymologist.

She wrote down a diaeresis-dotted letter jumble, then explained it was a German word with an untranslatable meaning. It’s that feeling you get once you’ve had enough, she explained, that point when you are completely satisfied; your saturation point. Buenos Aires, she continued, “is not my city for life, but I haven’t had enough of it. As long as I get inspired by the city, I’ll keep coming back.”

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Never before have I heard someone put into words –or, essentially one word—what so many expats feel towards this city. Our love-hate relationship changes hats every day, and yet we’re still at a loss of how we feel towards the Paris of South America. There are the days when the humidity makes us feel heavy, the dollar blue isn’t as high as our wallets would like, and the noisy streets make us crave the country of our childhood –but yet we still stay. Why? No one knows. But AnnA? AnnA knows.

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This self-assurance translates to her life’s work. While studying classical singing at Rotterdam Conservatory, she heard her first snippet of tango singing. Upon hearing the passionate, slightly burnt-out voice, and the bisonoric pull of the bandoneon, she knew in that instant that tango singing was her destiny. And from that moment on, she did everything in her power to make her dream a reality, which included persuading Rotterdam Conservatory to create a Masters of Music in Tango Voice. By the end of the program, Rotterdam Conservatory’s Tango Voice Masters program had a graduating class of exactly one student: AnnA.

With vocals trained to the point of perfection and a curiosity to experience Argentina’s tango culture, AnnA traveled to Buenos Aires on scholarship where she continued to take classes for 9 months in an immersed setting. Upon completing her studies, she began a yearlong pond hop between Berlin and Buenos Aires, performing with large orchestras and small ensembles in both parts of the globe. By the end of the year she was exhausted, and resolved to dividing her time less sporadically: staying in Buenos Aires for the majority of the year and in Berlin for tango shows November through January.

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“Here, in Buenos Aires, you can sing with everyone. There’s so much talent to choose from,” AnnA says when describing why she loves singing tango in the city, “the amount of input you get here is incredible.” AnnA uses that hereditary talent to the best of her abilities: within the next year, she will release a CD with arrangements written by herself and a Buenos Aires-based quintet. The final product will be a musical hybrid of Argentine tango and the classics: Shubert, Schuman, and Weill.

AnnA hasn’t yet reached her sättigungspunkt with Buenos Aires. And we are thankful for that. As AnnA continues gracing Argentina’s tango clubs and musical ensembles with her sultry, powerful voice, she also finds time to teach vocal lessons. From basic vocal technique to classical voice lessons, tango singing, and everything in between, this esteemed singer teaches it all, endowing each student with knowledge she’s gathered across the years from top conservatories and singers. Her teaching methods stem from the Lichtenberg Technique, a practice rarely taught outside Germany’s top conservatories, which focuses on freeing the voice and making use of each of the body’s senses to refine the vocals. Each student receives a global education, learning the best of many techniques acquired from AnnA’s studies, collaborations, and performances in Europe and South America. Her classes are open to all ages and all levels. Check her website for more info and contact details.

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