Hailed as a "rare talent" with a "beautifully refined voice" (The Oxford Review), Jennifer Cearns is much in demand as a soprano both in the UK and abroad. Alongside work with many of the world's finest consorts, she can regularly be heard in concert and oratorio work, in radio and television broadcasts, and in recitals of lieder and song across Europe and the USA.
Her singing career began at the age of 15 upon gaining a place at the Royal Northern College of Music Junior School to study Voice and Piano. Whilst there, she was a principal soloist in the RNCM Junior Opera, with roles including Carmen (Bizet), Dido (Purcell), Sheherezade (Ravel), and Filipyevna (Tchaikovsky).
Five years followed on a Choral Scholarship at Merton College, Oxford, with whom she went on five international tours, recorded five CDs, appeared as a soloist on a live BBC R3 broadcast, and performed in numerous world premieres, including Gabriel Jackson’s ‘Passion’ with the choir of Trinity Church, Wall St in New York. She also appeared on numerous BBC television programmes, including David Starkey's recent series 'Music and Monarchy'.
Recent performances include Handel’s Messiah in Spain (Instruments of Time and Truth, dir. Edward Higginbottom), Bach’s St John Passion at St John's Smith Square (Polyphony/ OAE, dir. Stephen Layton), Mozart's Great Mass in C Minor at St-Martin-in-the-Fields (Academy of St Martin's, dir. Andrew Earis), Monteverdi's Vespers in Ripon Cathedral, Bach's Mass in B Minor with Oxford Camerata, and Beethoven's Mass in C at St Bride's Church (EC4, dir. Tim Crosley). In 2017 she sang in a production of Vivaldi’s opera Teuzzone in Venice with Grammy-award winning ensemble La Sereníssima (dir. Adrian Chandler).
Other recent highlights include tours of Italy, Norway and Switzerland with Tenebrae, Polyphony, and the London Philharmonia respectively, and a tour of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater in the U.S.A. She recently featured as a soloist on a BBC R4 broadcast by St Martin's Voices (St Martin-in-the-Fields).
She also works with Seraphic Fire (U.S.A), St Martin's Voices, Ex Cathedra, Musica Ficta (Denmark), Chappelle du Roi, Oxford Consort of Voices, Philharmonia Voices, and EXAUDI, amongst others, and sings regularly with St Paul's Cathedral Consort.
My research so far has all been in Latin America (Brazil, Cuba, Guyana, Panamá, Mexico, and the Cuban diaspora in the U.S.A.). My work has typically followed material/ digital things to look at how they're appropriated in different contexts to express elements of social identity (like gender, class, race, and nationality).
My current work is about the flows of material (and digital) things back and forth between Havana in Cuba and the diaspora in Miami. I explore how the movements of things conveys relationships of kinship, identity, gender, and class (amongst other things) back and forth across a highly reified geopolitical border, and between capitalism and socialism. As part of this, I followed smugglers (mulas) and specific items and traced their trajectories between families, communities and nations across porous but patrolled borders to try to understand how people in contexts of exile and separation continue to 'construct' themselves and their life stories from afar, through material things.
I am currently completing my PhD at University College London under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Miller and Dr Mette Berg, alongside teaching undergraduate modules in material, visual and digital culture. In 2017-2018 I was Visiting Scholar at the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University, and I was previously a Stipendiary Lecturer in Portuguese at the University of Oxford.
Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain & Ireland
Economic & Social Research Council
Santander Academic Prize
University of Oxford
2019: Packaging Cuban Media: communities of digital sharing in Cuba and its diaspora, Journal of Cuban Studies, 47(1)
2019: Connecting (to) Cuba: Transnational Digital Flows between Havana and the Cuban Diaspora, Journal of Cuban Studies, 47(1)
2019: “The Mula Ring’: Networks of Material Circulation and Exchange through the Cuban World’. Journal for Latin American & Caribbean Anthropology.
2019: ‘Le circuit de Mula: réseaux de circulation matérielle et d'échange à travers le monde cubain’, Problème d'Amérique Latine.
2014: The Ventriloquist Behind the Shattered Mirror: A Study of Pessoa’s Bilingual Oeuvre’, Pessoa Plural, Brown University, Issue 6
2020: “A Una Cuba Alternativa’: Digital Millennials, Social Influencing and Cuentapropismo in Havana’, in Cuba 2.0: How the Digital Revolution is Remaking the Cuban Revolution (University of Florida Press), ed. Ted A. Henken & Sara García
DEAD IN THE WATER
Masts jut over the grey wall;
a scorched forest against early red.
black as slag and water
stares up, deathlike, at warehouses, the rotten, the decay.
A muffled echo along the quay
with the returning flood. City nightlight penetrates
through ashen white skin like electricity;
chafes the steamer resting in the dock.
Dust, fruits, paper in a thick layer,
and excrement bursts out from its pipes.
White dance dress is floating on oily sheen,
a naked throat and lead-white face.
The corpse wallows. The dress swells,
billows; a white ship tossed in gusts of wind.
Dead eyes staring widely, blindly to
Heaven. To pink clouds on high.
Purple water quivers in little waves:
- a water rat tracks this white human raft.
It pushes off, full grey head and black fur, launches.
But the corpse sails blithely on, torn by wind and
flood. Her fat belly bulges over the water's surface;
a vacuous socket almost gnawed to pieces,
a cavern booming from the bites.
She drifts out to sea; Neptune saluting her from a wreck
as she devours the water.
Inwards, down to green depths,
to rest in the arms of a plunging sea monster.
[TRANSLATED FROM GERMAN,
WINNER, STEPHEN SPENDER PRIZE, 2009
PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES]
Our generation never got to see the sea for the first time.
It was always within us, gleaming, our other half
We beg, beg the nights to darken once more
but when our prayers are answered
it’s just a dimwit delusion, a sea-shimmer to the eyes and
the sea seethes deep inside, a rock-crunching beast.
We were born flailing whales
poor little demons drowning in this semblance of light
and the longing is so stingily slight
We just want to see the fucking sea
for the first time.
[TRANSLATED FROM PORTUGUESE
PUBLISHED IN LITRO #129]
In my soul there is a swing
Which is constantly teetering---
Rocking over the verge of a well,
So tricky to ride...
--- And a little boy in a bib
Always playing on it...
If one day the rope breaks
(And, being frayed, it will)-
once upon a time it was a real rollercoaster of a ride-
So the child will die, drowned...
--- For myself I won’t change the rope,
It would be such a faff...
If the brat is so intent upon dying, let him...
Better to die in a bib
Than a tail-coat... Leave him
Swaying while he feels alive...
--- Altering the rope was so easy ...
I never had such an idea.
Mário de Sá-Carneiro
[TRANSLATED FROM PORTUGUESE]