Sometimes the strangest of bedfellows can lead to something truly magical. Theatricality, drama, intensity, bombast and startling emotional depth…although seemingly located an entirely different ends of the musical spectrum, the world of classical music and classic rock share so many characteristics that when they collide, as they do with scintillating results on Rock Diva, the debut album from the UK’s newest vocal sensations Elysium III, the results transcend all scepticism and genre boundaries.
Three classically-trained singers, united by a love for both their roots as classical performers and for the grit and power of the greatest classic rock anthems, Elysium III look certain to take their inspired blend of the two genres to a huge worldwide audience.
Alumni of the Royal College Of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, Ceri Ann Gregory, Annalise Whittlesea and Amelia Whiteman originally joined forces with an ambition to perform new and uniquely accessible interpretations of legendary and timeless orchestral pieces, using their remarkable vocal talents and gift for seamless harmonies to re-imagine the great works of Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Chopin and to present these operatic standards to a mainstream audience.
“We took the traditional arias and we arranged them ourselves in our style, as three-part harmonies, which was a little bit lighter than traditional opera,” explains Ceri. “We wanted to blend the voices and make it more accessible.”
With countless live shows under their collective belt, Elysium III swiftly recorded their self-financed debut album, Beloved Symphony, and were poised to make a huge impact when, incredibly, the powers-that-be at the UK’s official Classical Music Charts decreed that the girls’ music did not qualify as classical music and duly banned them from the chart. Devastated by this decision, Ceri, Annalise and Amelia started to consider that their career as a trio was to come to an untimely end. However, one night while driving home from a live performance, they heard Rainbow’s Since You’ve Been Gone blasting from the car radio and immediately hatched a fresh master plan. With the beautiful symbiosis of their three voices, the lavish and explosive bombast of a full orchestra and the undeniable power and soul of classic rock, Elysium III were reborn as rock’n'roll divas par excellence.
“We heard Since You’ve Been Gone, and we just knew that it would work,” states Annalise. “It was obvious that it would work with an absolutely massive orchestral accompaniment. Those songs have that theatrical edge”
“We all have a passion for these songs,” adds Amelia. “Doing this is like bringing two extremes together and it’s really exciting.”
With the recent ubiquity and commercial dominance of rock anthems like Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, there has never been a better time for an album like Rock Diva. A sumptuous and exhilarating collection of timeless songs, ranging from Bad Company’s strident Feel Like Makin’ Love and the unmistakable pathos and punch of Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again through to the more reflective likes of Elbow’s One Day Like This and David Bowie’s ageless Life On Mars, Elysium III have breathed new life into these songs. The girls’ sincere enthusiasm and affinity for both rock and opera shines through every gloriously extravagant and exquisitely melodic second of these eleven immaculate tracks, resulting in a breathtaking and utterly fresh musical experience. With grand plans to present Rock Diva in the live arena, Elysium III look certain to establish themselves as an unassailable musical force in 2011.
“We joke about this album being like Glee for grown-ups!” laughs Ceri. “But we’re still singing with classical tones and the arrangements are orchestral. We’ve always wanted to bring this music to a new audience. So many of these songs are perfect for classical voices. We can’t wait for people to hear them.”