Sarah van der Kemp was born in Berlin and began her musical studies there, in the fields of piano and musicology at the Hochschule der Künste Berlin. Subsequent vocal studies at the at the “Hanns Eisler” Hochschule für Musik Berlin, where she was a student of Julia Varady (as featured on a DVD, “Masterclass with Julia Varady”, 2007). During this time she received a scholarship from the Wagner Society. She also participated in masterclasses with Rudolf Piernay, Thomas Quasthoff, Reiner Goldberg and Peter Konwitschny. In the field of song-interpretation she was strongly influenced by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Berlin, Stuttgart, Schwarzenberg).
Before she finished her studies, she made her debut at the Staatsoper Berlin in the role of Kunstgewerblerin in Berg’s Lulu under the direction of Michael Gielen, and Flora in Verdis La Traviata at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, where she held a scholarship for the following seasons 2005-07. Among others she sang Hänsel / Hänsel and Gretel, Lucienne / Die tote Stadt, 2nd Lady / Zauberflöte, Roßweiße / Die Walküre, Mercédès / Carmen, Alt / Matthäuspassion, Infermiera /Suor Angelica.
She had been ensemble-member of the Staatstheater Schwerin (2007-2010), where she was able to perform many significant roles including Judith / Bluebeard’s Castle, Preziosilla / La Forza del destino, Rosina / Barbiere di Siviglia, Sesto / Cesare, Hänsel / Hänsel and Gretel.
Mezzo- Soprano Sarah van der Kemp has been working freelance since 2010-11 season. In addition to engagements at the Staatstheater Schwerin (Judith / Bluebeard’s Castle; amongst others), engagements have taken her to Peru, Bolivia, Italy, Switzerland and France(Orchestre Symphonique Mulhouse; Festival Avignon and Festival Radio France in Montpellier). Conductors included Donald Runnicles, Sebastian Weigle, Yves Abel, Michael Gielen, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Matthias Foremny.
She performed Hänsel / Hänsel and Gretel under Sebastian Weigle with the Dresdener Philharmonie, as well as 9th Symphonie of Beethoven with Raphael Frübeg de Burgos. The Deutsche Oper Berlin engaged her for the role of Jane/Germania, and in China (Shenzhen SSO – concert performance) she made her debut in the role of Sieglinde / Walküre, and was invited back to sing Carmen.Other roles have included Composer / Ariadne auf Naxos, Eboli / Don Carlo and Laura / La Gioconda (Concert tour), Concepción / L’heure Espagnole, Sesto / La Clemneza di Tito.
As a concert-singer Sarah has particularly focussed on the orchestral Lied. She sang for example the Love-Song of Panufnik (Konzerthausorchestra Berlin), Nuits d’été of Berlioz (Philharmonie Baden Baden), Wagners Wesendoncklieder (Kammerorchestra Pforzheim). Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer (China and the Philharmonie Berlin), the alto solos in Song of Lamentation, and the Rückert-Songs as well as Duparc orchestral songs, and the concert aria The Wine of Alban Berg. In Paris (Chatédrale des Invalides) she gave her debut performance in the Verdi’s Requiem.
HOYER: World premier Luther oratorio
“Sarah van der Kemp was one of the top-class performers who inspired Ralf Hoyer for his Luther Oratorio.“
LISZT and WAGNER: Song arrangements for orchestra and mezzosoprano
“A voice with charisma and warmth – Sarah van der Kemp coined the concert as vocal soloist (…) she enthused with her singing.“
“Sarah van der Kemp (…) sings the mezzo-soprano, skillfully keeping this song on the ground, preserving it from kitsch and a height that sounds too jubilant.“
VERDI: La Forza del destino – Preziosilla
“Sängerisch am meisten überzeugen können die Nebenfiguren: Sarah van der Kemp legt als Zigeunerin Preziosilla einen großen Auftritt hin und reitet souverän durch alle Lagen.”
“Am meisten jedoch faszinierten die Rollen in der zweiten Reihe. (…) Sarah van der Kemp als Zigeunerin Preziosilla für die Augen ein Hingucker, und ihre Stimme strahlte mit unglaublicher Brillanz bis hinauf in die glasklar sitzenden Spitzentöne.”
“Sarah van der Kemp als die verführerische Marketenderin Preziosilla überzeugte rundweg.”
“Sarah van der Kemp ist eine selbstbewusste Preziosilla mit kernigem Mezzo.”
VERDI: Eboli (Auszüge, 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
“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.”
“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]
BERG and DUPARC: Der Wein, 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: 9. 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 – Mercedes
“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 Hübner and Sarah van der Kemp as Carmen’s friends.”
STRAUSS: Ariadne on Naxos – Composer
“Sarah van der Kemp sings the trouser-role of the Composer with arresting vocal powers.”
“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.”