Eve Stafford is a multi-award-winning vocalist from Limerick. Picture: Dolf Patijn: ilovelimerick.
Eve is a very versatile vocalist who performs many genres, from modern classics and jazz
Eve Stafford is a professional singer from Limerick and has been performing at wedding ceremonies, concerts and corporate events all across Munster for over a decade. Eve is a classically trained soprano and holds a Licentiate and Diploma in Classical Music Performance with the London College of Music and has studied voice with Olive Cowpar and Owen Gilhooly. Though her musical training began in classical music, Eve is a very versatile vocalist and loves performing many genres including modern classics and jazz and appeared in Liam O’Brien’s ‘Crooning at Christmas’ at Dolan’s Warehouse, 2021.
As a multi-award-winning vocalist, Eve Stafford has won all the main awards at Féile Luimnigh including ‘Voice of the Féile’ 2013. Equally at Feis Maitiú Corcaigh Eve was awarded first place for all major competitions including Operatic Solo, Oratorio and Early Music. Eve was a member of the vocal committee of Féile Luimnigh from 2017 – 2019. Eve has given recitals at The World Academy, Mary I College Chapel and St. Mary’s Cathedral and has performed for several “Opera Delights” concerts as part of Culture Night in association with UCH. Eve has performed regularly with Opera Workshop since its inception in 2017 and was part of the cast involved with the devising of ‘Off Tuskar’ with composer Fiona Linnane performed at the Sailor’s Home. In November 2019, Eve appeared as the soprano soloist with the MIC Choral Union for their performance of Mozart’s Coronation Mass in C major, K.317 at the Redemptorist Church, Limerick. In March 2021, Eve Stafford was a soloist for the inaugural Limerick Early Music Festival, due to restrictions at the time the closing concert was filmed at St. Mary’s Cathedral and broadcast online.
In recent times Eve Stafford was delighted to win the ‘Creative Professional’ Category in the Limerick Branch of Network Ireland for their Women in Business Awards 2022 and will go on to compete in the national awards in the Autumn. Eve is also a proud member of the National Concert Hall’s new Health and Harmony outreach healthcare program 2022-2023.
What was your childhood like and where did you grow up?
I grew up in Fedamore, Co. Limerick and had an ideal childhood in the countryside. I was a shy quiet young girl so country life suited me just fine as I was quite introverted and liked to keep to myself. I spent a lot of my time either drawing in my sketchbook, creating art projects and playing the piano or the violin. I was very fortunate to have parents and a fantastic big sister, Jane (who was like a second mum to me) who nurtured my love for the creative arts. My parents really valued creativity and I was lucky to attend many art and music camps during school holidays which I adored.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I love strong independent creative women who are fearless and not afraid to try new things. I’ve always adored world renowned Mezzo Soprano, Joyce diDonato. I love how open and honest she is in her vlogs about the challenges of the opera world and the sacrifices she makes in personal life for her art. Her masterclasses are so inspiring and her teaching style is just incredible. I love how brave she is with her creativity and talent and she’s not afraid to try new things vocally and ‘break the mould’ as such. I had the pleasure of seeing her concert ‘War and Peace’ at the National Concert Hall in 2017 and she was just remarkable!
When did you know you wanted to become a professional Soprano?
A little over a decade ago I began vocal studies with the wonderful Olive Cowpar and it completely changed my life. Olive was recommended to me by a friend of a friend and from the first lesson, I just adored working with her. Olive is so passionate and knowledgeable about classical music and would always give me music that I would just fall in love with. I worked very hard from the very beginning and when I won my first competition at Féile Luimnigh back in 2011 I knew that this would be my new career path.
What challenges did you face when starting your career as a Soprano?
I was a little late to classical training, beginning my studies when I was 24, after a career change as a graphic designer. We all have to start at the bottom and a career in the creative arts can be unpredictable, to say the least. I had a part-time retail job for years until I built up enough business over time to sustain myself full-time with music. Hard work and study were the easy part, giving it time and patience is always the challenge and keeping faith that it will all work out in the end.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into music?
Make sure you have a solid foundation with good training. However on a practical note I would say organistion, hard work and patience are essential. I think talent and creativity are not enough to be successful in the music industry. You need to have a business mindset also, this may not come naturally to you but a life coach would be a good starting point to help you on your way. Always have a backup plan work-wise as diversity is key. You will have your busy times and your quiet times; get comfortable with both. Adopt a professional mindset when you are busy by being grateful for the work and respectful of it by minding yourself physically and mentally with rest and self-care. During your quiet times be product and patient, use this time wisely by planning new projects, honing your craft etc. There is no quick fix to becoming busy overnight and ‘getting your name out there’ as such. My advice is to be realistic and prepared to put the work in.
Tell us about the National Concert Hall’s new Health and Harmony outreach healthcare program that you’re a part of.
Myself and pianist Fiona Linnane applied together for this initiative last summer and we were delighted to be chosen from many applicants nationwide along with several other duos from across Ireland. We had training at NCH in Springtime with a member of the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre and existing Health & Harmony musicians. The programmes aims to bring music to dementia care centres across Ireland. Performers are paired with a centre for 1 year to make regular bi-monthly visits and perform for their residents. It is incredibly enjoyable and a very rewarding project to be a part of.
What has been your biggest achievement?
My biggest singing achievement was singing the soprano solo for the ‘Mozart Coronation Mass’ with the Mary Immaculate College Choir and orchestra at the Redemptorist Church, Limerick conducted by Dr. Michael Murphy in November, 2019. I always wanted to delve into the world of oratorio and this was a fantastic starting point. I performed with three other soloists who I have worked with many times over the years for concerts in Limerick with Opera Workshop. It was such a thrilling experience singing beautiful music with such wonderful musical peers, a full orchestra and choir. I was really excited to explore this repertoire more but unfortunately, the pandemic hit the world shortly afterwards.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I see myself working and living in Limerick. I am a proud Limerick lady at heart and happily married to a lovely Limerick businessman. I love working with talented Limerick professionals and want to grow my music network locally. This town has a lot to offer culture-wise and I really want to work with other local artists. I would love to focus more on corporate work in the future and projects with Opera Workshop. While I’m classically trained, I love so many different styles especially jazz which I really want to explore further. A big dream of mine is to one day record a CD of my favourite songs with a classical twist.
Have you anything exciting coming up?
As you know I am a very busy wedding singer, this summer is more hectic than ever with postponement pandemic weddings finally getting to happen. I will be performing French songs at the Limerick Milk Market next Sunday 11-12 pm as part of the Limerick Bastille Day Wild Geese Festival 2022. Corporate work is returning to it’s pre-pandemic glory in the Autumn and there are some exciting projects with Opera WorkShop are in the pipeline. I have a very exciting festive performance with two other incredible Limerick Sopranos but that’s all the details I can give away right now! Watch this space!
What is your favourite thing about limerick?
This is really hard to answer! There are so many positive things about our city; the people, the river walks, the Medieval and Georgian quarter, Peoples Park….I just adore Limerick so much. I am always so impressed by our creative arts. Limerick is a city so full of diverse culture and talent. There is often a show, musical or art exhibition to go to every night of the week. There is so much happening in the city that I often find myself in a position where there are two amazing events on in one night and I want to attend both, which is a really good complaint to have! We have incredible venues like UCH, Limetree, Belltable, Hunt Museum and Saint Mary’s Cathedral all on our doorstep. We really are so spoilt for choice culturally.
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