Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Happy (early) Birthday to Me!

My birthday isn't for more than a month, but I'm writing this brief post from my gift from my wonderful husband -- a LAPTOP!!!!!!! I'm so excited! :)

Monday, July 25, 2005

food for thought

Beth, at something else for you to read, posted some thought-provoking musings on intent vs. action. To paraphrase: "we always wish to be judged by the intent behind our actions, but instead we are judged by the actions themselves, and how they are perceived by others." I'm struck by how directly this applies to musical performances. As a performer, I try to examine every facet of a song or role, to be sure of what my intent is at each moment, but it's not until I have an audience that can provide feed back that I know whether that intent has been translated to the listener. Now that I've written it out, it sounds obvious, but I don't think I've thought about performing in quite that way before. Hmmmm.....

Sunday, July 24, 2005

as if on cue....

On Friday, I returned to camp from the coffee shop (where I had been posting here and checking my email) to a pile of mail which had arrived for me that afternoon. After 3 weeks of hardly thinking about singing, the contents of my mail were:
  1. The latest copy of Opera News
  2. Scores for the Baroque opera scenes, which look great
  3. Music for one of the benefits I'm doing in the next couple weeks
  4. a dvd and photo cd from a recent opera performance

I felt exhilerated and elated. It was as though the universe were reminding me that real life and wonderful opportunities are waiting for me when I go home later today. I can't wait!

Friday, July 22, 2005

almost done!

Tomorrow is the last day of camp. I have to say, I am definitely ready to go home. Alec will be staying for another week, and I will miss him, but I'll come back on Saturday for the concert, and in the mean time I have lots to do to keep me busy. I finally received the opera scenes I'll be doing in the baroque opera workshop I'm participating in next month. I'll be singing the parts of Penelope in Monteverdi's Ulisse and Aurora in Landi's Orfeo. I have to admit, I don't know a lot about either one of those operas, but I'm looking forward to learning more! My mail (and hence, the scores to the scenes) is taking a while, as I'm having it all forwarded to camp, but hopefully it will arrive today. A couple other small gigs have come my way in the last week or so. I'll be doing another Mozart Requiem solo in September with a chorus and orchestra in Oregon, and a couple of benefit recitals in Seattle in August -- one for Northwest Harvest and one for a public school music program, which I'm always thrilled to support in any way I can. I also have a demo recording to make next month, and a couple of auditions, and it's time to start filling out applications for apprentice programs next summer, so I'm anxious to get back to real life. Oh! I also get to go to Ikea next week and spend a lot of money (well, not a lot, but plenty by our standards) on some new furniture! Yay!!!

I'm still enjoying camp, but I'm getting very anxious for it to be over. I finally caught the cold that's been circulating around the staff, and although I escaped with a very light case (thanks to Zicam and EmergenC!), it has still put a damper on my spirits. Also, it's been quite a rainy summer. It was supposed to be sunny all week, but early this morning (around 2:00 a.m.) it started pouring rain, and our tent, which has been great so far, decided to start leaking in about 10 different places. Not enough for us to get soaked, but enough that there was nowhere we could put the air mattress so that we weren't getting dripped on at least a little. Annoying. Luckily, the sun is back out now, and the rain promises to hold off at least through tomorrow, so hopefully we won't have to relive the moving fiasco of last weekend (see the post below).

On a brighter note, my vocal ensemble is fantastic this week, and has some boys with changed voices, strengthened by a couple male staff members, so we've been singing some of my favorite music, South African folk songs. I've spent a little time in South Africa, and I have to say that their folk music touches my soul in a more direct way than any other music I've ever heard. In fact, it was in South Africa that I first was encouraged to follow singing as a career path, so it definitely holds a special place in my heart. Also, the band I'm working with is playing Clare Grundman's transcription of Bernstein's Overture to Candide this week, which is such a fun piece. It also pushes me almost to the limit of my flute-playing ability, so it's been nice to have a challenge. I'm looking forward to the concert tomorrow, and then to getting home to my own bed!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

When it rains on Saturdays....

Normally at camp, our concerts are held in a lovely, rustic outdoor amphitheatre:

However, yesterday during breakfast, at around 9:00 am, it started raining, and the decision was made to move the concert inside. The only place indoors at camp big enough to hold all the campers and their parents is the upper lodge, which is where we eat all our meals. Within 20 minutes of finishing breakfast, we (the staff at the camp) had cleared all the breakfast dishes, swept the floor, moved all 36 tables outside, arranged the benches to make a place for the audience, and moved 80 folding chairs and a lot of percussion equipment up the hill from the amphitheatre to the lodge to make a "stage" for the bands and orchestra to play on:

We were all set to have the concert inside. It's not an ideal situation, because the lodge is extremely live accoustically, and the bands are really loud! Also, it gets incredibly crowded, hot, and sweaty with 500+ people crammed in to the space. But, it's better than getting wet. Luckily, by 10:20, 5 minutes before the concert was scheduled to start, the sky looked like this:

In 5 minutes, we had moved all the folding chairs and percussion instruments back down to the stage, set them up for the first band, and the concert started outside and on schedule! Hooray!

Needless to say, when some of us went out for Mexican food after the concert had ended, we were all ready for a couple of these:

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

non-camp details

First, we closed on our new condo yesterday! We are now officially first-time home owners. Luckily, both banks where we have accounts have branches here on the island, as we had a lot of last-minute details to take care of this week. Now, the fun begins. While Alec is still working at camp during the last week in July, I will get to buy the new furniture we will need, and pick out paint colors! I hate white walls, so we are planning a painting party the week before we move in. I can't wait!

The other detail (much less life-changing, but still fun), is that I've joined a blog-ring of opera blogs (see the bottom of my site for a link). I know, I haven't been writing much about opera lately, but once camp is over and I'm back to real life, it will become much more prominent. :)

Saturday, July 9, 2005

one down, two to go!

The first week of kids are gone, and the next batch arrives tomorrow. The staff gets about 23 hours off between the end of the concert on Saturday and the meeting on Sunday morning. We used part of this time to go do the walk-through on our condo, which we're closing on in just a few days (yay!).

The concert went very well -- the kids did a great job, and the parents were all touched and impressed by what their children had accomplished in six days. The concerts all take place in a great outdoor amphitheatre, which I promise to post pictures of next week sometime. The performance lasts about 90 minutes, and includes two bands, a string orchestra, a full orchestra, and the all-camp choir. As always, it is hard to say goodbye to the kids who touched my heart this week, but I know there will be more in the two weeks to come. In the mean time, I'm enjoying a little time off. I'll even get some time to practice tomorrow morning hopefully, and get some real work in on the roles I have to learn. So far I've been having to squeeze in 10 minutes here and there, which is fine for things I'm already familiar with, but not so good for things I'm trying to learn from scratch. I'll be grateful for a little quality time.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

shock and grief

One downside to being at camp is that we are basically isolated from the rest of the world while we are there. Newspapers, internet access, radio, and television are rarely seen there, and we rely on word from friends to keep us informed. As a result, while we were all aware that there was "something" going on in London this morning, I had to wait until now (almost 4:00 p.m.) until I could come up to my parents' house, check the web and get some details on the terrible tragedy that struck London's citizens this morning. Somehow, it makes the quote to the left seem somewhat trivial, yet at the same time all the more important and full of truth. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

music geeks.

I am a music geek. Now, I am extremely proud to call myself one, and I have a large network of other music geeks that I spend time with and call colleagues and friends. When I was in school, however, there were very few to be found. As a pianist, I didn't often get the chance to play music with other kids, and even when I started playing flute, most of the kids in the band were not serious about music the way I was, so it was a bit lonely at times. It wasn't until I was well in to high school that I really found a niche, and not until I was in university that I really felt accepted as the music geek I am.

All this is to say that it is wonderful to see the kids at camp, all music geeks in their own ways, all getting along, making music together, and finding a network of support and friendship among people who share their passion for music. Some of them don't even find this in their own families, and live most of their lives as "black sheep." At camp, there are no black sheep, which is another part of what makes it such a wonderful place.

Also, on a side note, my little vocal ensemble, which generally has about 5-6 girls in it during the first two weeks of camp every year, has 11 girls, 2 boys with lovely soprano voices, and 2 other staff members in it this week, for a grand total of sixteen including me! So far, we've looked at folksongs this week from Spain, England, Croatia, Japan, the United States, and the Hopi indian nation. There are few things more lovely than young voices singing a cappella in harmony. It's good for the soul.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

We made it!

We are all settled in at camp on the island. Luckily, my parents live just up the street, so I can come up here and post. Believe it or not, the camp still has only dial-up internet, and you can imagine the wait to get on the one, slow computer, not to mention the pain of trying to upload photos, etc. I'm lucky. :)

We have been here since Thursday night, but today is the first day that kids arrive. In these first few days, there has been new staff training, rehearsals of this year's music, and general bonding and fun time. There will be time later to post about all the magical things that happen with the kids at camp, but I wanted to take a few minutes to list some of the things I love about these first days.

  1. Seeing all our old friends. Every year there are lots of new staff members to get to know (that is particularly true this year -- there are 59 staff, and I would say about 40 of them are in their first or second years here!). However, there is also a core group of us who have been here for a long time. We don't generally see a lot of one another outside of camp -- we live in different places, and have our own busy lives, and outside of an occasional wedding, holiday, or other special event, our lives are pretty separate. But there's a special bond that happens when you spend 3 or 4 weeks with people in an intense setting, year after year.
  2. Playing my flute -- even though my lips are somewhat chapped after the 5 hours of rehearsals we had yesterday (that's a lot for any wind player, but especially one who hasn't touched her instrument for almost 2 years!), I love getting out my old friend and playing in a band. It's a totally different musical experience than playing piano or singing, even in a choir, and it's great to have this change of pace for a few weeks -- definitely a new perspective.
  3. Our tent! I love sleeping outside, especially when we can do it in the relative luxury of our home away from home (see photo below), and it's been fun settling in for another summer.
  4. The views -- again, see the photos below!
  5. Getting to see new sides of people. One of the wonderful things about camp is how it can stretch your personal limits and encourage you to try things you wouldn't. For example, camp is the place I first got up my courage to sing, alone, in front of people. Ane look where I am now! Also, we all get to use our talents in ways that people don't normally get to see. For example, Alec is a teacher and conductor. I know he's great at it, because I hear his groups during the year at performances. However, yesterday I got to see him teaching first hand, and even got to play in a group that he was conducting, so I saw his amazing talents and skills from a totally new angle.

There will be more posts and photos as the three weeks go on, but I thought you might enjoy seeing some pictures:

home sweet home!

home sweet home!, originally uploaded by mlisap.

The tarp comes off when there's no rain in the forecast, and the top of the tent just mesh, so we can look up at the stars. Inside is a queen-size air mattress with a memory foam pad, down pillows and comforter, and plenty of room to store all our stuff. Next to it is a pavilion where all of us "tenters" gather. This year, we've run an extension cord out, so we have christmas lights, a fridge, and a stereo system. Not exactly roughing it, I know.

The view from our tent

The view from our tent, originally uploaded by mlisap.

It's great to wake up to this every morning. We can walk down a path to the rocky beach, and often have bon fires on nights when there are no kids in camp.

Retreat Center

Retreat Center, originally uploaded by mlisap.

Sorry it's a little blurry! This is where staff who are not assigned to a cabin of kids sleep -- there are several small buildings filled with bunks, a living area with a common room, bathrooms, and a kitchen, and a big deck off the back with a gorgeous view. Our little tent community is set up behind it.

The lodge

The lodge, originally uploaded by mlisap.

This is where we go for staff meetings, some rehearsals, and to eat all our meals.

The view from the lodge

The view from the lodge, originally uploaded by mlisap.

Not bad, eh? You can see why I keep coming back. :)