A native of Berlin, Sarah van der Kemp began her musical education in musicology and piano studies at the Hochschule der Künste Berlin. Before graduating, she decided to pursue a career in singing and commenced her vocal studies at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule für Musik in Berlin with Julia Varady (as featured on the DVD, “Masterclass with Julia Varady”, 2007), who has been accompanying her as a mentor ever since. During this time she received a scholarship from the Richard-Wagner-Association. In the field of song interpretation, she has been particularly influenced by the work with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau while attending his master classes.
Throughout the course of her engagements at the Deutsche Oper Berlin (2005-07) and the Staatstheater Schwerin (2007-2010) she developed a broad repertoire. She performed roles such as Judith (Duke Bluebeard’s Castle), the composer (Ariadne on Naxos), Preziosilla (Forza del destino), Rosina (Barbiere di Siviglia), Hansel (Hansel and Gretel), Sesto (Cesare), Mercédès and Carmen, Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen), Ross White (Valkyrie), the 2nd Lady (The Magic Flute), Flora (La Traviata), Infermiera (Suor Angelica), and Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi). After her tenure, she continued working for both houses as a freelance vocalist.
Increasingly, she has been focusing on dramatic roles. For example, she gave her debut as Sieglinde (Valkyrie) and Venus (Tannhäuser) with the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra in Hong Kong, at the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern as Eboli (Don Carlos) and Laura (La Gioconda). In the Cathédrale des Invalides in Paris she took on the alto part in Verdi’s Requiem.
Other engagements have taken her to the Dresdener Philharmonie (Hansel and 9th Symphony of Beethoven), the Staatsoper Berlin (Lulu), Festival Avignon and the Teatro Comunale di Ferrara (Impromptus by Sasha Walz), Festival de Radio France in Montpellier, Orchestre symphonique de Mulhouse, Philarmonie Baden-Baden, Südwestdeutsches Kammerorchester Pforzheim, Brandenburger Symphoniker, and Thüringen Philharmonie Gotha. She collaborated with conductors such as Donald Runnicles, Sebastian Weigle, Yves Abel, Michael Gielen, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Stefano Ranzani, Philippe Auguin, and Matthias Foremny.
In the concert area she has a particular passion for the interpretation of the orchestral Lied. Her repertoire includes songs by Mahler (songs of a traveling journeyman, Rückert and the boy’s Wunderhorn songs, songs on the death of children), Wagner (Wesendonck songs), Berlioz (Nuits d’été), de Falla (Siete canciones populares españolas), as well more unknown songs, such as a selection of Duparc songs, Alban Berg’s concert aria The Wine or the first recording of the Love Song by Panufnik (Konzerthausorchester Berlin).
Together with the conductor Aurélien Bello, she develops programs for orchestra and mezzo-soprano with selected songs. Their debut concert with works by Liszt and Wagner was performed in 2017 at the Havelländische Festspiele and received enthusiastic applause.
HOYER: Premier Luther oratory
“Sarah van der Kemp was one of the top-class performers that Ralf Hoyer could inspire for his Luther Oratorio.”
LISZT and WAGNER: Song arrangements for orchestra and mezzosoprano
“A voice with charisma and warmth” Sarah van der Kemp shaped the concert as the vocal soloist (…) her singing was inspiring.”
“Sarah van der Kemp (…) sings the mezzo soprano, skilfully holds this song to the ground, preserving it from kitsch and a height that might sound too jubilant.”
VERDI: La Forza del destino – Preziosilla
“Most fascinating, however, where the parts of the second row. […] Sarah van der Kemp as the Gypsy Preziosilla was an eye-catcher and her voice glowed with incredible brilliance up to the crystal clear highest notes.”
“Sarah van der Kemp is a self-confident Preziosilla with a lusty mezzo.”
“Vocally the supporting roles are the most convincing: Sarah van der Kemp puts on a great performance as gypsy Preziosilla and moves competently between all registers.”
“Sarah van der Kemp as the alluring Preziosilla was also convincing in every way.”
VERDI: Eboli (excerpts, Don Carlo) – Festival Mecklenburg Vorpommern
“The great revelations of the concert were the appearances of Sarah van der Kemp (…) Her commitment, her present, impressive voice, and her charisma were scintillating for the audience.”
HUMPERDINCK: Hänsel and Gretel – Hänsel
“Sarah van der Kemp as Hänsel and (…) Gretel presented themselves with equal enthusiasm. Not only were the young ladies’ resonant vocal timbres a perfect fit, they also knew how to completley exhaust the emotional states and nuances of these children’s roles.”
[DRESDENER NEUSTE NACHRICHTEN]
“Above all, however, it is Sarah van der Kemp who convinces the onlooker. Her acting is excellent (…) and her mezzo is ideal for the role of Hänsel: very evenly flowing, beautifully coloured, voluminous and evenly balanced in all registers. This voice alone pays for the journey to Schwerin.”
“Sarah van der Kemp sang the breeches role of Hänsel (…) with devotion and bravura.”
BERG and DUPARC: The Vine, songs
“Ms Sarah van der Kemp projected Alban Berg’s concert aria “Der Wein”, a work of atonal glamour, with a voice of great expression. She also possesses just the right seductive and sensual timbre for the three opulent settings by Henri Duparc.”
BEETHOVEN: 9th Symphony – Alto
“Alto Sarah van der Kemp and Bass Robert Holl performed with powerful voices.”
BARTóK: Duke Bluebeard’s Castle – Judith
“Sarah van the Kemp identifies herself with a bright, soundful Mezzosoprano and an intensive and most impressive representation in the role of Judith.”
“… Sarah van der Kemp at first seeks with her bright, radiant Mezzo to bring light into darkness; then her gradually cooling love is vocally transformed into a metallic upper range of huge projection and emotional turmoil…”
“Sarah van der Kemp suggested physically, but primarily with an imposing and vocally flexible presence, the role of Judith as The Lover; who, through her love for Bluebeard, offers the challenge to gaze deep into his psyche, and open each hidden, forbidden door – ultimately, falling into eternal damnation.”
FLOTOW: Martha – Nancy
“As the maid Nancy, Sarah van der Kemp possesses a bigger voice and has with her sleek, mobile Mezzo voice more room for manoeuvre. She controls the dramatic pace and also has a talent for comedy.”
BIZET: Carmen – Mercédès
“Strikingly, the highpoints of the evening are not found in Carmen’s famous Habanera and Seguidilla arias, but in the appearance of Ulrike Maria Maier (Micaela), and Katrin HÃ¼bner and Sarah van der Kemp as Carmen’s friends.”
STRAUSS: Ariadne on Naxos – Composer
“We should note the name of Sarah van der Kemp, who was the greatest surprise of the performance Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss, giving not only the musical authenticity, but also the desperation and conflict of the Composer.”
“Sarah van der Kemp sings the trouser-role of The Composer with arresting vocal powers.”