Mirusia Louwerse is a 25 year old Aussie soprano who was born and raised in Brisbane.
She is currently working with world renowned violinist Andre Rieu, and took some time out to help us get to know her a little better in the lead up to the release of her first solo album “Always & Forever”.
Mirusia will be touring nationally in May 2011:
How early did you start vocal training?
I started training singing Country and Pop music when I was 12. I was doing Ju-Jitsu and my dad gave me a choice, Ju-Jitsu or singing lessons.
When he suggested singing lessons I got butterflies in my stomach and straight away couldn’t think of anything else. Ju-Jitsu didn’t matter to me anymore! The first song I ever sang in the singing lessons was “The Greatest Love of All”. I still have the recording…
I imagine it would have been quite intensive training, how did that impact on your adolescence?
Every Tuesday I would have a singing lesson for an hour and during the week I would practise the songs I was given so I could perform them off by heart and make a recording on a tape to show my parents when I came home. All I wanted to do was become a singer, and a lot of kids used to tease me that I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough to ever make it as a singer.
I don’t think being pretty has anything to do with it and never really listened to what they had to say. Now they all want to be my friends on Facebook! I followed my dream and always believed in myself.
Born and raised in Brisbane, which is advertised as one of the most beautiful spots in Australia, how does it measure up to some of the places you’ve visited on tour?
Brisbane is my home and has a special place in my heart, and actually there is no place on Earth like Brisbane. The people are laid back, the weather is beautiful almost everyday, it is warm and we have the best of the coast and the rainforest /bush.
I couldn’t ask for any better place. I have now performed in some pretty spectacular cities and countries around the world including Berlin, Las Vegas, Vienna, London, New York, Punta Cana (Dominican Republic), Paris, Rome, Amsterdam… but there is no place like home!
What do you miss the most about Brisbane being away from home so much?
Of course I miss my family and friends, but also I miss the sunshine and the friendliness of the people. I don’t think that there are many places in the world where people are so friendly. And the sunshine is something I really miss in the wintertime in The Netherlands (which lasts from about October till April), it can be incredibly depressing because people are unhappy.
The sunshine makes you so happy and makes you feel so good, it’s something I really took for granted when I was living in Australia.
For someone so young you have achieved a great deal in your career, what would be your favourite moment up until now?
There are so many moments I could tell you about, I think one of the best moments was Andre telling me he wanted to make an album with me in 2007, and following the release of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ in 2008 it went to number one on the Pop Charts in Australia and it also went Platinum!
This was the hugest deal for me and is one of the moments in my career which I will never forget.
Your musical experience has been quite diverse, can you tell us a bit about how you can start singing country music and end up a star soprano?
I think for me personally it was a progression through various music styles to end up at a style where my voice could fly and I really feel my voice shines with opera and musical theatre.
I can also sing the other styles and I really like to sometimes belt out a good jazz number, but I know that when I sing opera it seems as though my voice was made to sing it. And it makes me feel really great.
How did you come to be working with Andre Rieu?
My Aunt (in the Netherlands) and my Mother joined forces to send emails and my demo CD out to all sorts of artists and TV shows around Australia and TV. My Aunt sent an email to Andre Rieu Productions with a link to my website and within an hour there was a phone call at my house in Brisbane. My Dad answered the phone and told me there was a man on the phone who claimed to be Andre Rieu.
I took the phone and the man said “Hi, I’m Andre Rieu, I love your voice. Would you like to tour with me around the world?” and I seriously thought that it was a prank phone call. After about five minutes I started to really believe it was him.
His office sent me an e-ticket and I flew to the Netherlands 2 days later to meet and audition for Andre and his wife Marjorie. The next day I returned to Australia with a contract in hand, and packed up my belongings and moved to Maastricht, in the Netherlands.
How would you describe your album for those of us who haven’t listened yet?
My album is a story in 14 songs of my time with Andre Rieu so far. It comprises my favourite songs /moments in song that I have shared with Andre and the orchestra. For example the album starts off with ‘Ave Maria’ from Schubert, a song I get so many requests for on my fan page.
Everyday I will have an email from someone around the world asking me for a recording of this song, so it is actually this song that formed the creation of the album. I suggested to Andre to release ‘Ave Maria’ as a single for the people wanting it, but he said it would be even better for me to have an album of my own.
And that’s how ‘Always and Forever’ came about. It is a collection of some of the worlds favourite operatic and musical pieces and of course my favourites. Every song on this album has a meaning for me and for so many other people. Each song will touch a different person in a different way.
Some will listen to a song and remember their wedding day, or remember loved ones far away or not with us anymore. Music touches the soul and I want to be able to illustrate that each of the songs on this album will last ‘Always and Forever’ in people’s hearts.
They are songs that are popular in this era and heard at many occasions in ones life. And with each of the songs I have a story to tell, which I tell with my voice.
Have you got a favourite memory attached to any of the songs on your album?
Singing ‘Send in the Clowns’ and ‘Plasir D’Amour’ with Carmen Monarcha was amazing. When I first saw a DVD of Andre Rieu it was in 2006 and suddenly Carmen came up and sang ‘VIlia’ from ‘The Merry Widow’. The way she sang and performed reminded me of the way I sing and perform.
I give my all and feel the music right to my core, nothing else exists in the time I am singing, it’s as if I am in a bubble and no-one can burst it. And when I watched Carmen I saw there was someone else performing and singing just like I do! Almost a year later we were working together and our connection was instant, we both are the same when we are on stage and we are best friends off stage.
We started working on repertoire together and performed our first duet together in 2009 in the Semper Oper in Dresden. When we finished the song and ran offstage we were screaming and crying and it felt so incredible to know there is someone else just like me.
We are also both only children so we are almost like sisters, so I’m really glad to be able to feature her on my album.
What did you feel the first time you saw your CD on the shelves?
I just remember thinking – wow is this for real?? Did someone just put it there for me to see and take away later? It’s pretty amazing to have worked towards something your whole life and suddenly see it just sitting there. I’m extremely proud of my product and really hope that everyone else will enjoy it too.
You have a national tour coming up this month, how much of the country are you playing for, how many cities?
Actually the tour has been postponed till May due to Andre being ill, but we are looking forward to coming back to play in Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Adelaide, Brisbane and also Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand.
What can we expect from the concert experience if we come to see one of your shows?
The shows comprise of a lot of music that has been shelved away over time, especially waltzes, and we bring it back out. So many people enjoy the music because it’s something they may remember for the past or may never even have heard before.
Not only do we play waltzes but we like to revamp new music too and put it in the concerts. I don’t think you’ll ever have seen such a colourful and happy orchestra.
Where do you hope to go from here, what comes next in your career?
I hope to follow in Andre’s footsteps. I see Andre as a mentor. He has taught me so much about music and performing, but also about life.
I would love to follow in his footsteps and bring beautiful music to audiences all over the world. I just love standing on stage and performing to a public who I can see are enjoying the music and are moved by my voice. It is so special to be able to share something I love with so many people, and I really want to keep sharing my passion for music, just like Andre does.
I also hope to inspire other young artists to follow their dreams, no-one can hold you back!
What does being a woman mean to you?
It means I can sing very high and wear high heels and be proud of it!
I’m proud of being a woman and being able to travel the world and sing for thousands of people every night in a gorgeous sparkly dress.