Who or what inspired you to take up singing and pursue a career in music?

I always loved to sing; in fact, I can’t imagine a life without being allowed to sing.

Singing makes me feel free, and what is a life without freedom? I suppose there are many ways of expressing oneself, but for me, the most natural is to sing. I like the fact that my body is my instrument, and that I can use it to communicate with an audience. It’s such a direct transfer of emotion from my heart to other hearts. I never thought there would be another path for me. That’s my path.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

My music teacher in high school, Tim Bruneau, had a big impact on the way I listen to and think about music. He taught the chamber choir at the girls’ school I attended in Los Angeles, and we rehearsed every day. He always shared the latest recordings with us. We listened to incredible singers (mostly women) every day: Jessye Norman, Kiri Te Kanawa, Frederica von Stade, Cecilia Bartoli, Barbara Bonney… He taught us to listen for colour and tone, for style, to study how the singers used their breath – those were very formative years. I know my love for lieder and art song began then. In terms of career, the best advice I ever received was from my friend Frederic Alden, who is a businessman. He told me to “look at what everyone else is doing and do something different.”

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Producing my brand-new album ‘The Wild Song’ on my own has been particularly challenging. Several people told me to give the recording to a label and let them produce it, but I had invested so much of myself in its creation that I thought it would be better to produce the album myself. I wanted to make a very beautiful object, and I knew that record labels didn’t do that anymore. I’m thrilled the album has been so well received.


Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

I’m very proud of ‘The Wild Song’. I set out to make a recording that was very different from anything I had ever heard. I wanted to mix classical art song with spoken poetry and electronic music. Although I feared that an album like ‘The Wild Song’, which is rather non-traditional, would be rejected by the classical community, I have been delighted by the classical community’s embrace of it. To me, that means our community is evolving, which I think is very necessary in our intensely connected and computerised world. The biggest musical challenge in the project was ensuring the transitions between the different genres felt organic, and I think Mychael Danna’s electronic interludes work very effectively as bridges between Britten’s songs and W B Yeats’ poems.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I have been a champion of women composers for a very long time, far before it was fashionable. Historically, there are so many who have not been given the attention they rightly deserve. I particularly love to sing Mel Bonis’ mélodies and Barbara Strozzi’s vocal music. However, Clara Schumann composed my favourite lieder, and I would say my favourite song of all is Liebst du um Schönheit. I love Rückert’s poem about loving for love’s sake. When it comes down to it, the only thing that truly matters, is love.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

I love words. My repertoire choices are always made based on the poetry. If I can’t relate to the words or the poem, I can’t sing the song. Music always has to come from the heart, so I have to be able to relate to the poetry.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

My dream is to perform ‘The Wild Song’ at the Disney Hall in Los Angeles. Somehow it would be going full circle— taking a dream I created in Europe back home with me.

Who are your favourite musicians?

My favourite living singers are Barbara Bonney and Thomas Hampson. I absolutely adore Barbara Bonney’s voice, both for its purity and force, and I find it very sad that she is not performing anymore. What fascinates me with Thomas Hampson is that he is able to create a very strong connection with the audience from the moment he sings the first note of a recital. I’ve never seen anyone else do that. It usually takes other singers an entire song or two. He is truly a master recitalist. As for singers ‘of old,’ I am a huge fan of Rita Streich. I don’t think there has ever been a more fabulous Zerbinetta. As for pianists of the “new generation,” I love listening to Víkingur Ólafsson. I’m also a big fan of Igor Levit.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

I once gave a recital in the Royal Chapel in the Château de Versailles. It was such a glorious place to sing. Not only were acoustics incredible but the chapel itself is so incredibly beautiful. I very much like to sing in places with centuries of history; I like the idea of being part of that history.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

Success is being able to do the next project that is blossoming in my imagination.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

I think the main thing is to never give up. That’s obviously challenging on a hard day, or during a hard year, but it’s really important. My yogi friends often use a hashtag that says #practiceandalliscoming. We musicians should use the same hashtag. Practice. Don’t give up. Trust your instinct.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I think we all carry perfect happiness inside ourselves all of the time. The challenge is being able to tap into it. Unfortunately, I believe most people never learn to tap into their true selves and never experience this. My yoga practice has taught me that peace and happiness are always available to us. I have a deep sense of contentment.

The Wild Song is available now

Review of The Wild Song

American by birth and Parisian by inclination, Marci Meth has been celebrated for her performances “imbued with charm and elegance” (Classica magazine). Nominated for the most promising recording by a young classical singer at the Orphées d’Or in Paris in 2009, her performances have been lauded by audiences at the Château de Versailles, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, St. James Piccadilly, as well as at venues in Paris, Stockholm, Brussels, Tokyo and Osaka. 

The creation of The Wild Song has occupied Marci for the past three years and has included the creation of a new record label, Modern Poetics. The Wild Song brings together Marci’s interests in poetry, music and film and is her vision of what the 19th century song recital looks and sounds like in the 21st century. 

Marci Meth earned her Postgraduate Diploma at the Royal College of Music in London and was awarded the Century Fund Prize for Early Music. She has studied singing with Ryland Davies, Jennifer Smith, Christine Barbaux and Marie-Claude Solanet. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Art History from Stanford University. 


Guest post by Marci Meth

The prominent French intellectual property attorney looked me straight in the eye and told me it would be impossible. I liked the idea of trying to do the impossible, so when I walked out of her office, I decided I would try to create my own record label and produce its first album.

I did go down quite a few rabbit holes while producing The Wild Song, but the quest for digital distribution proved sheer madness.

In terms of digital distribution for an “indie artist,” the main options are TuneCore and CDBaby. There are actually many others, and if you are interested in a complete list, you can consult Ari Herstand’s comparative digital distribution chart here.

I decided to work with TuneCore because TuneCore is one of the rare distributors that will deliver a digital booklet to iTunes. My friend Patrick Guérin and I spent months translating all of Britten’s songs and Yeats’ poetry on the album into French for the booklet, and Sanni Sorma also spent months designing it. I couldn’t let all of that work go to waste. TuneCore it was.

One of the first things TuneCore asks you to do is put your album in a category. I scanned the categories, but I couldn’t find “classical.” That’s odd, I thought. I did a Google search and found out TuneCore does not distribute classical music. I couldn’t believe it. One of the two biggest digital distributors won’t deliver a classical album to iTunes or any other digital platform. I knew there were very few classical artists who produced and distributed their own work, but I was shocked to learn why. The system doesn’t allow it.

I had to find a solution, so I studied the other album categories. The Wild Song alternates between Britten’s folksong arrangements, poetry by Yeats recited by Simon Russell Beale, and electronic music by the Oscar-winning composer Mychael Danna. It didn’t fit into any of their proposed categories. Since 90% of the album is either spoken or sung, I decided upon “vocal.” That seemed like the best compromise.

I uploaded all of the “metadata” for the album into TuneCore’s system. This includes the music itself, which must be uploaded in a specified compressed format, but also includes information about the music and performers on each track. I spent an entire day doing it. When all of the data was uploaded, TuneCore asks you to select the platforms where the album will be distributed. I clicked on iTunes and after a week of waiting, The Wild Song was approved for distribution to iTunes and was set for pre-order. What a relief, I thought.

I also wanted the album to be distributed to Amazon Digital Download, but I learned that when TuneCore delivers an album to Amazon Music, the album is automatically included in Amazon’s streaming service. I didn’t want the album on any streaming service (more about that here: https://bit.ly/2RIDr3r), so that meant I couldn’t use TuneCore to distribute the album to Amazon. I needed another distributor…

CD Baby, on the other hand, will deliver an album to Amazon Digital Download without sending it to Amazon’s streaming service. They will also distribute a “classical” album. Fabulous, I thought. I will send The Wild Song to Amazon via CD Baby. I uploaded all of the metadata to CD Baby’s site (another two days of work—CD Baby’s system is much slower than TuneCore’s…) and chose Amazon Digital Download as the only platform for delivery. Thus began the conversation with the Cheshire Cat of digital distributors.

“We cannot deliver your album to Amazon in the Classical category,” they told me. “You cannot have a lyricist on a classical album.”

“Why not?” I said. “Mozart had a lyricist.” I persisted: “The physical album is already on Amazon in the classical category. I have a physical distributor.”

“Physical distribution is different,” said CD Baby. “They don’t have the same data restrictions. Change the genre of your album to folk and resubmit it for distribution. That will solve the problem.”

The Wild Song is not a folk album, but I could see I wasn’t going to get anywhere in this land of illusion by arguing for logic. I changed the genre to folk and resubmitted the album to the CD Baby inspection team. It was refused.

“You will have to change the cover art on your album if you want it to be accepted in the folk genre,” they said. Your name must be bigger than Benjamin Britten’s and Mychael Danna’s.”

I laughed. “I’m sorry. That’s impossible,” I said. “That would be like making my name bigger than Mozart’s on an album cover. It shows a lack of respect for the composers.”

After spending a total of about five hours on the phone with CD Baby over the course of several conversations, a very kind man named Colson began to lobby the powers that be at CD Baby on my behalf. Colson convinced the distribution committee to accept The Wild Song in the classical genre and allow me to keep the original cover art. They required that I list WB Yeats as a composer on the tracks with his poetry.

“I will do that because you are asking me to do so,” I said. “But please know that WB Yeats was a great Irish poet and not a composer.”

A few days later, thanks to Colson, the album was sent to Amazon as a digital download in the classical category. CD Baby clarified that they would never be able to send The Wild Song to any other digital platform in the future. The exception that was made was uniquely for Amazon.

The current digital distribution system was designed for the needs of indie pop musicians. The metadata for classical music requires more specific formatting and the system we have now cannot accommodate it. There are new streaming sites for classical music which obviously have systems that can accommodate the metadata classical music requires. However, independent classical musicians need a distributor which can deliver our metadata to these platforms. When will we have a digital distributor for independent classical musicians?

Alice is waiting for it.


GetAttachmentThumbnailMarci Meth, soprano & creative, producer of The Wild Song

Music by Benjamin Britten & Mychael Danna, poetry by WB Yeats. Marci Meth (soprano), Anna Tilbrook (piano), Simon Russell Beale (reader)


The Wild Song is available here: smarturl.it/modern-poetics

For more information about metadata and classical music: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/23/business/media/stream-classical-music-spotify.html

Review of The Wild Song



thumbnail_IMG_3393The beautiful packaging and handwritten note from the artist, embellished with pressed flowers, hinted at what was contained inside. For several days I didn’t want to open the package, it was so pretty, but when I did, I found something equally lovely, and intriguing too: an album of music, songs and poetry which reminded me of childhood holidays in Suffolk – by the sea at Aldeburgh or walking through the marshes and reed beds around Snape and Iken – and my parents listening to music by Benjamin Britten on their record player. And it is the music of Benjamin Britten which forms the basis of ‘The Wild Song’ – a musical and literary collaboration between soprano Marci Meth, pianist Anna Tilbrook, actor Simon Russell Beale and composer Mychael Danna.

marci_coverBritten was greatly influenced by the natural world, and specifically the coastal landscape of Aldeburgh and the windy, open marshes around the village of Snape where he lived and where he established the Aldeburgh Festival. One only has to listen to the Sea Interludes from ‘Peter Grimes’ to hear how much the sounds of the shoreline and the turbulent North Sea, the wind in the reed beds and birdsong infuse his music. His folksong arrangements are also rooted in the Suffolk landscape which he knew and loved so much, and 31 of them feature on ‘The Wild Song’, sung by Marci Meth with pianist Anna Tilbrook.

The songs alternate with poems by W B Yeats, read by actor Simon Russell Beale and selected by Marci, chosen because they complement the folksongs on a similar theme and their language resonates naturally with the lyrics of the songs. In addition, musical interludes by Oscar-winning film composer Mychael Danna are interspersed between the songs and poems. Each of Danna’s interludes contains a quote from the piano part of Britten’s folksongs – but slowed down, stretched and/or looped, so these become Danna’s own transcriptions of Britten’s.

Marci’s voice is elegant and sweet, perfect for Britten’s naïve song arrangements, and sensitively accompanied by Anna Tilbrook, whose piano sound is equally elegant, and both singer and pianist are alert to the shifting moods and charaters of these songs; there is plenty of wit, humour and robustness in the more lively songs. The poetry provides moments to pause and reflect – there is something very comforting about being read to and Simon Russell Beale surely has one of the most pleasing speaking voices – while Mychael Danna’s interludes act almost as a soundtrack, evoking Britten’s Suffolk. The entire album is very atmospheric. It is also beautifully produced with great care and attention to detail, including a generous booklet with all the song texts and poems. Appropriately, the album was recorded at the Britten Studio in Snape Maltings, Suffolk, where Britten lived and worked.


Order The Wild Song

Reed beds and river Alde near Snape Maltings, Suffolk