Christmas Album goes to Number One on iTunes Vocal Album Charts and Number Two on iTunes Top Album Charts
Sandra is thrilled to announce that shortly after release, her Christmas Album, NOEL, went to Number One on the iTunes Vocal Album Charts and even more excitingly, Number Two on the Top Album Charts, ahead of international acts Emilie Sande, Bruno Mars, Little Mix and Leonard Cohen! It's a Very Merry Christmas!
Sandra's new album to be launched on November 15th!
Sandra is very excited to announce the launch of her brand new Christmas album, Noel, at a concert in the John Field Room of the National Concert Hall, Dublin, on Tuesday, November 15th at 8pm. Ten beautiful tracks arranged by David Wray for strings, accordion, percussion, backing vocals, celeste and piano, and performed in Sandra's inimitable style, include Christmas favourites, Silent Night, Wexford Carol etc., alongside French carols and songs, and even a Joni Mitchell song! The launch concert promises to be a very exciting event, with some VERY SPECIAL GUESTS appearing. Watch this space for further information on who it (or they!) might be!!!! (Sandra's CD will be available on this website, in all good record stores and online at iTunes)
Sandra Oman is married to her singing teacher Conor Farren. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Singing teacher Conor Farren goes to the Feis Ceoil every year, but when he saw soprano Sandra Oman perform one year, he was particularly impressed with what he heard and saw. She was 22 and he was 26 when they met eventually at a mutual friend's birthday party.
"I didn't know Conor but he sat down and started talking to me," recalls Sandra. "I was unsure about my singing at that point, so I asked his opinion. He actually critiqued me and gave me feedback, which I thought was very interesting. He also happened to have two tickets to Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky's concert, so he invited me and we kind of started dating from there."
Sandra grew up in Blackpitts in the heart of the Liberties, as the elder of Dolores and Terry Oman's two children. She sang from an early age, and while at school at Presentation Secondary School, Warrenmount, her music teacher, Catherine Hamill, recommended that she should have her voice trained. She was accepted to what is now the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama when she was 15, and trained with Edith Forrest and Alison Young.
Sandra worked as a librarian assistant and then clerical officer with Dublin City Council, and took singing lessons first thing in the morning before work. She entered a lot of competitions and did well in them, and after she met Conor her career path took a different route.
"I thought he was very handsome, charming and articulate, and he knew a lot about music and singing," she says. "We're opposites though, because I'm chatty and outgoing, whereas Conor is very quiet and a good listener. I think that most performers would say that they're attracted to stability, so we like people who are calm and cool as they can keep us on an even keel when all the madness is going on."
Conor grew up in Blackrock and is the youngest of Patrick and the late Nuala's three sons. He began piano lessons at eight, but got more into athletics for a time - he was the all-Ireland discus champion at one point. He got his voice trained in his late teenage years as he was always singing, but eventually found that his talents lay more in the direction of teaching. Conor also worked at servicing and repairing musical equipment, and then began teaching at the Abbey School of Music & Drama in 2002. He has now taught a lot of very high-profile people, including Damien Dempsey, Anthony Kearns and John Molloy.
"Someone once said that I'm a great mender of voices, and my gift is to teach them," he says. "Some students get so caught up in technique that they actually make it harder for themselves, so I try to simplify it all and make it more naturalistic. When I met Sandra, I was extremely attracted to her as a person, and I loved that she was a great performer because that wasn't my forte. Sandra is bubbly and bright, whereas I'm more laid-back and easygoing, but as they say, opposites attract."
As well as dating, Sandra also began studying singing with Conor, and he completely changed the way she sings. "He helped me access parts of my voice that were previously sleeping," she says. "I completely trusted him and Conor is a very relaxed individual so he explains things terribly well. I began getting professional contracts and had to take an awful lot of time off work, but it got to the point where I couldn't sustain both careers so I gave up the day job."
Sandra was the 2004 recipient of the Margaret Burke Sheridan Memorial Award for her contribution to opera in Ireland. Having won major awards at all the national festivals, she has performed extensively in opera and concert all over the world. She is very much looking forward to her forthcoming roles in Nessun Dorma, The Life & Music of Luciano Pavarotti, and Mario Lanza, The Loveliest Night of the Year.
Sandra and Conor got married in the Newman University Church, St Stephen's Green, and held their reception at the Conrad Hotel. They now live in Clonskeagh and have a seven-year-old daughter, Emily, whom they say is the best thing that ever happened to them. Emily loves opera, and also plays the violin and sings.
Conor was very heavily involved in the production of Sandra's successful debut album, Liberty, and also in her forthcoming Christmas album, Noel. She and Conor say that the challenges in their relationship include when Sandra was away touring for up to eight weeks at a time, as they found those periods of time spent apart lonely. Since Emily came along, Sandra has confined her career to Ireland.
Outside of music, Conor and Sandra recently started ballroom dancing classes, and they both enjoy classic movies. It all sounds perfect, but there must be something that drives them mad about one another? Well Sandra worries too much about things for Conor's liking, he admits, while the calmness that Sandra likes about her husband can also have a flip side. "Conor can be so laid-back, he may as well be dead," she laughs.
Sandra Oman will star in Nessun Dorma, The Life & Music of Luciano Pavarotti with tenor Alexander James Edwards at the National Concert Hall, Dublin on September 24. She will also star in Mario Lanza, The Loveliest Night of the Year, with tenor Sean Costello in Cork Opera House on October 20, UCH, Limerick on October 22, and NCH on October 23.
This much I know: Sandra Oman, musician
IRISH EXAMINER, Saturday, August 20, 2016
In Conversation with Hilary Fennell
"The best advice I ever got is to try to live in the moment. The past is gone, we can’t get it back."
I don’t ever remember not singing.
When I was about two or three, I used to pull the wires out of the back of the television and sing into the plugs, pretending they were microphones.
I can truly lose myself in the music. I love telling a story through song, having the opportunity to express a wide gamut of emotions, feelings that I perhaps don’t feel as comfortable expressing in real life.
I adore live performance and I suspect that I enjoy the adrenalin rush of nerves too. Let’s face it, anyone who gets up on stage is a bit of a daredevil anyhow!
After I left school, I worked in Dublin City Council and did a degree at UCD in Italian and French, while simultaneously continuing with my singing studies.
I began to take on professional singing jobs and eventually it came to the point where I had to make a decision about giving up the day job. I took the scary leap and thank god, it was a decision I have never regretted for one minute.
My husband Conor has been my singing teacher/coach for the last 20 odd years.
Of course it’s not always easy. That’s why people don’t like having their husbands teach them to drive and so on, but he truly is an exceptional teacher.
I may not always like what he has to say but I am a reasonable person insofar as I am very good at taking advice on board and giving it my full consideration. And he’s pretty much always right!
When it comes to my work, I am very disciplined. I make lists every day and try to achieve everything on them.
When I’m learning a role or new music, I set time aside every day to work on it. I’m not so disciplined however when it comes to things like housework.
The best advice I ever got is to try to live in the moment. The past is gone, we can’t get it back. Tomorrow does not yet exist, it may never come and there is little point in worrying about it.
All we have is this moment, today, right now. Live it to your capacity.
My main fault is that I am a compulsive worrier.
I know it’s very clichéd but you attempt, as best you can, to compartmentalise and say ‘I’m going to spend the next two or three hours looking at my music and then I’ll bring my daughter out for the afternoon or to the park or sit and watch a Disney movie together.
I attempt to be as present as possible in the time I spend with her. It’s not easy because show business is not 9 to 5.
If I could be reborn as someone else for a day I’d be Audrey Hepburn. She epitomised beauty both internally and externally. She was a wonderful actress and her work for Unicef was exemplary.
If I could change one thing in Irish society, I’d wish that a greater appreciation of the arts would be reflected in government policy.
I wish that there were more monies set aside by central government for the arts, which would facilitate the running of a full-time Irish opera company. As far as I am aware, we are the only capital city in Europe that does not have an opera house.
The most useful invention is the telephone
I am unquestionably an owl person. I am most productive late at night, which is disastrous really because it makes falling asleep much more difficult.
My mind is still going 90 to the minute when I get into bed. But I’m truly hopeless in the mornings, it takes me a long time to get my act together and get into the mood to do anything at all.
My biggest challenge in life so far has been dealing with my own failings, overcoming performance nerves, learning to be more assertive and less dependent.
So far life has taught me to expect the unexpected.
n On September 24 soprano Sandra Oman will star in ‘Nessun Dorma, The Life and Music of Luciano Pavarotti’ with internationally acclaimed tenor Alexander James Edwards at The National Concert Hall. Tickets from €25 are on sale now.
And on October 20 Sandra Oman will star in ‘Mario Lanza, The Loveliest Night of the Year’ with tenor Sean Costello in Cork Opera House, October 22 in Limerick and October 23 at the National Concert Hall.
Meeting the stars! - the cast of Lismore Opera Festival's Cosi meet Oscar winner Jeremy Irons
The cast of Lismore Opera Festival's 2016 production, Cosi Fan Tutte were elated to hear that Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons and his wife, the wonderful actress Sinead Cusack were in the audience of their final performance. Little did they know that afterwards, they would spend time with the theatrical couple and Sandra was thrilled when Jeremy Irons took time to discuss and praise her performance with her. It was a night none of the cast would forget!!
Fab Review for Lismore Opera Festival's Cosi Fan Tutte
1916 Celebrations with Sandra's Alma Mater
Sandra was honoured to perform Padraig Pearse/T.C. Kelly's The Mother at a 1916 Commemorative Event, remembering the children who died during the 1916 Rebellion. The event was held in the historical St. Catherine's Church on Thomas Street, in the heart of The Liberties and appropriately children from 7 Secondary Schools in The Liberties participated in the project. RTE's Joe Duffy was the guest speaker. Sandra was particularly delighted to be involved as her Alma Mater, Presentation College Warrenmount, was one of the participating schools.
LIBERTY goes to NUMBER ONE in iTunes Vocal Chart
Sandra is absolutely thrilled to announce that her album has gone to Number One in the iTunes Vocal Album Download Charts. Not only that, and most unusually for a classical artist, it has gone to Number Four in the Top Album Charts, only preceded by Adele, Justin Bieber and One Direction! Celebrations all round!!
LIBERTY to go on sale in HMV stores nationwide
Sandra is thrilled to announce that her CD, LIBERTY, will be going on sale in HMV stores throughout Ireland from October 30th, 2015. Her CD is currently on sale in Tower Records, Dawson Street and Eason's O'Connell Street and in The Music Box, National Concert Hall, Earlsfort Terrace. LIBERTY is also available on all digital music platforms, i.e. iTunes, Spotify, XBoxMusic etc. and in hard copy from our SHOP page on this website.
IRELAND AM appearance, November 26th, 2015
Sandra appeared on TV3's IRELANDam at 9.45am on November 26th, 2015 to speak about her debut solo album, LIBERTY, growing up in the heart of The Liberties, Dublin and her life as an opera singer and mother, and perform the Christmas song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
November 26th, 2016
Sandra had the great honour of performing at Aras an Uachtarain in the presence of His Excellency, President Higgins and Mrs. Higgins, at a private function, by invitation of the President.
O Holy Night Christmas Concert with Red Hurley, December 3rd, 2015
Last night, Sandra appeared once again with showband legend Red Hurley on his Christmas Concert entitled O Holy Night in the Church of the Guardian Angels, Blackrock. The performance was met with a standing ovation. It is the first of two performances where Sandra is appearing with Red, the next being in Newcastle West, Limerick, on Sunday, December 6th, 2015. In 2013/14, Sandra toured with Red in his inspirational hits concert, How Great Thou Art.
Lighting of the Christmas Lights, Templeogue Village
Sandra was invited to be part of the lighting the Christmas Lights for Santa's arrival in Templeogue Village on Sunday November 29th, alongside actors Bryan Murray (Irish RM, Fair City) and Una Crawford O'Brien (Fair City). Festive Fun all round!!