Guitarist Karin Schaupp spent the first 15 years of her career almost exclusively as a solo or concerto performer. More recently, although she continues in this more conventional vein, she's been involved in collaborative projects some of which might be considered unusual for a classical guitarist. She trained at the National Institute of Dramatic Art and the Australian Acting Academy, toured in the play Lotte's Gift – written for her by David Williamson – and has also recorded and performed with, among others, recorder player Genevieve Lacy and cellist Umberto Clerici. She will soon be acting and performing with pianist and writer Anna Goldsworthy in a new work.
"I do enjoy collaboration," Schaupp says.
One of her most rewarding ongoing musical partnerships has been recording and touring with singer Katie Noonan. She says they have evolved both as musicians and as people over the years of their collaboration.
"It's really, really special to me."
They've recorded three albums together – Songs of the British Isles (2010), Songs of the Southern Skies (2012) and this year's Songs of the Latin Skies – and have been touring to showcase music from the new release in arrangements for guitar and voice. They'll be performing at the Street Theatre on June 9 and 10.
The album Songs of the Latin Skies features arrangements by composers Richard Charlton, Doug de Vries, Ken Murray and Gerardo de Vries of Latin American classical and jazz pieces by Heitor Villa-Lobos, Astor Piazzolla, Luis Bonfá, Antonio Lauro and Antônio Carlos Jobim, among others.
"We also worked with Carlos Barbosa-Lima, an absolute master of Brazilian style, and on his suggestion we included a Jobim song we didn't know, Canta Mais, one of Jobim's own favourite songs."
One of Schaupp's favourite selections is another Jobim number, Wave, which has been recorded by many artists including Frank Sinatra.
On the tour, obviously, it will just be Noonan singing and Schaupp accompanying her, as has been the case for many years.
"There's so much trust and closeness," Schaupp says, while also praising Noonan's talent and versatility as a singer.
It's a relationship that's developed since conductor Tognetti paired them at the Huntington Music Festival 12 years ago to perform English folk songs. This led to their EP and tour of Songs of the British Isles and then two tours of Australia and New Zealand for the full album Songs of the Southern Skies, where the music ranged wider, from folk to classical to pop to jazz.
There are always more songs on the long lists than can be recorded, and Schaupp says for their next collaboration she and Noonan are discussing whether to record French songs or to revisit the repertoire of Australia and New Zealand.
Asked if she has ever sung, Schaupp says, "Oh, God, no! No one wants to hear me sing, I can assure you. The guitar really is my voice."
With it, she says, she can make the sound she really wants to make.
The only time she's ever sung professionally was in a children's show, Ole!, at the Sydney Opera House in 2013, and that wasn't a solo performance.
"We sang with the children."