Moving Classical Music into the Modern World

Rozanna Madylus

Thanks in part to one of The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity’s interest-free education loans, Classical Mezzo-Soprano vocalist Rozanna Madylus had the opportunity to make the most of her time at the Royal Academy of Music.

It’s been an incredible journey since, with Rozanna going on to work with a number of renowned names in addition to releasing an album earlier this year with the operatic great, Sir John Tomlinson. However, Rozanna’s latest project is one that comes straight from the heart as she looks to bring classical music into the modern era and showcase to a new audience just why she – and many others – continue to be inspired, moved and captivated by the genre.

The Alma Mahler Animation Project is a Crowdfunder project that aims to offer a new and exciting way of experiencing classical music.

“The project’s aim is to produce an animated classical music video for one of Alma Mahler’s songs,” explained Rozanna. “Alma was married to the Austro-Bohemian Romantic composer, Gustav Mahler, but the sad situation at the time was that, if she wanted to marry him, she would have to give up her composing. I feel this is a great opportunity to promote her work a little bit more and to offer something a little different to the classical music world.”

“Music videos have long formed an integral part of Pop Music Culture” continued Rozanna. “In the classical music world, that’s not the case. However, especially in this brave new world we find ourselves in, I think it’s a great time to offer something new and exciting, which is relevant to all age groups not just for the grey-haired brigade, which is often the association with classical music.”

The term ‘passion project’ is often used when describing work undertaken that involves a deeply-rooted enthusiasm for the subject – and The Alma Mahler Animation Project is certainly that for Rozanna. However, the end goal is not one of self-gratification; it’s one that is intended to share the joy that Rozanna has experienced through classical music over the course of her life and young career.

“I was inspired by the artist and theatre designer, Simon Bejer, who I had the great pleasure of working with before. At the start of lockdown, he began to publish some beautiful, surrealist sketches on social media. Alongside this, I couldn’t get the lyrics to Alma’s song Einsamer Gang (Lonely Walk) out of my head and they feel strikingly fitting for the times we’re living in. From that, the Alma Mahler Animation Project was born, so to speak.”

In preparing the project, Rozanna has approached Leicester-based animator and Sir Thomas White Loan Charity ambassador, Steff Lee, to animate the video; with Simon Bejer also agreeing to come on board.

All that is required now is the funding for the video. To fund the animation and sketches, the Crowdfunder project is aiming to raise a target of £9,000 – and all contributions are gratefully accepted.

“I believe that classical music is something that can help to promote good mental health and relieve stress. One of the most important forces of mental health therapy is human connection. Finding other people who are going through the same things as you is one of the most effective ways to get over any mental health challenge. Sad music validates our own emotions of sorrow, grief or loneliness. It helps us feel connected to all those who have suffered the same emotions, which can be enormously comforting.” said Rozanna. “Especially this song, which was written by Alma whilst she was experiencing a period of great loneliness, something I’m sure many people can resonate with at present. Music is universal. Classical music especially promotes this universality through emotive instrumentals. Even if the piece does involve a foreign language, the instrumentals work to convey the feeling of the song on perhaps a more cerebral and spiritual level than other genres of music can.”

“For anybody that feels that classic music isn’t for them, I’m sure that at some point in that person’s life, whether it be through the medium of film, theatre, TV dramas, even advertising, there has been some element of its soundtrack that has been inspired by classical music. It’s incredibly emotive, and I know I am biased, but I think that everyone can connect and be inspired by it if they’re willing to give it a chance.”

For more information on the Alma Mahler Project or to make a contribution, please click here.