Tuesday, August 30, 2005

it's back!

My website is finally back up. When we moved, we changed internet providers, and the new provider wouldn't let me link my domain name to my site. I ended up having to find web hosting elsewhere, which had its own complications. In any case, I figured it all out, with a little help, so take a look!

My latest favorite i-pod quirk

A while back I was amused when my recording of Hansel and Gretel showed up under "easy listening" in my i-tunes library. Today, I was scrolling through the artists on my i-pod, looking for my recording of Hindemith's Six Chansons, one of my favorite sets of choral pieces. I had to giggle when I saw it: "Westmoinster Choir." Tee hee! :)

Monday, August 22, 2005

never boring

One of the things that really drew me to singing is the necessity of a multi-faceted learning approach. There are voice lessons and coachings, of course, but in the course of learning to sing, I've also had the opportunity to study poetry, languages, conducting, dance, yoga, acting, movement, history,... you get the idea. It definitely keeps things from becoming monotonous.

What has really struck me this week is the resulting web of interconnectedness (interconnectivity? I think I'm making up words). Everything I study helps me in ways beyond what I would have originally imagined. For example, a couple summers ago I took an intensive Italian class at the University of Washington. Suddenly, really knowing the language, especially where accents are placed in words, changed the way I was approaching some high notes in an aria I was working on. Last week, in the Baroque opera workshop, I learned some period dances which totally affected the way I think about moving onstage, even outside of the Baroque realm.

This phenomenon happened again yesterday. I had the opportunity to take an embodiment workshop from the wonderful New York-based actor and teacher, Rob O'Neill. It dealt mainly with staying totally "in your body, in the moment," onstage, and with tools useful in developing the physicality of characters. I took it mainly because Hansel will be my first trouser role (when a female singer, usually a mezzo like me, plays a boy), and I wanted some tips on how to be believable physically. It was a fantastic workshop, and I came away with lots of great material to use, both with Hansel and in general. However, a funny thing happened. When I walked in to the room, my friend and colleague Molly (who runs the acting studio which hosted Rob), introduced me, and Rob said, "Oh, I've heard about you!" Molly replied," yes, she's not your average opera singer -- she can really move!" I was surprised -- at the time that Molly and I last worked together, I had no dance training whatsoever, and relatively little stage experience. Sure enough, when the class started, both Rob and his assistant commented that I moved beautifully, and that they would love to see me onstage. I was incredibly flattered. I think the Baroque dance last week helped some, but I realized later that it was probably due mainly to the fact that I play for ballet classes every week! I've never been a dancer, but I've spent countless hours watching dancers, from pre-school through professional level, be trained in how to move and carry their bodies. I must have picked something up along the way.

Another way this interconnected web works its magic is by inspiring me with new things to study. Learning new ways my body was capable of moving made me want to take more movement and yoga classes to improve my flexibility and open up even more opportunities. Singing all that Monteverdi and Landi recitative last week made me want to study more Italian and develop a new level of fluency with that beautiful language. I love having a job where I will never be bored!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

walking on a cloud

I'm literally (well, not literally, but....) walking on a cloud in one of my two Baroque opera scenes. I'm playing Aurora, goddess of the dawn, awakened by my three breezes to cause the sun to rise on Orfeo's birthday. But I also feel like I've been floating in a daze all week for different reasons. I've been falling in love....... (sigh)......

...... with Baroque opera. Yes, I've listened to Monteverdi, attended Baroque and Renaissance operas and concerts, but I've never had the opportunity to perform any of this incredible music, or to get to know any of these masterpieces in an intimate way. I can't quite put it all in to words, but I can say that it has changed the way I think about opera, music, and acting. It's been a challenging, rewarding, frantic (and too short) week, and I think the performance tomorrow night will be beautiful. However, I will take everything I've learned this week far beyond the performance tomorrow night, and hold it in my heart like the memories of a brief, cherished love affair.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

....by the skin of my teeth!

I have often bragged about being able to learn music extremely quickly. My background in piano and my knowledge of languages gives me an advantage in that regard, and I've always been able to take on difficult music and projects on short notice. So I've always said..... That has been put to the test this week!

In addition to moving and starting my new on-line job, I've been putting off learning an ever-growing pile of music. Today, I had my first run-through for the production of Hansel and Gretel I'll be in this fall, and as of Wednesday, I only had about have the role in my voice. Luckily, we're doing it in English, so the language is not an issue there. This evening, I had a gig with a lovely soprano and a woodwind octet: a fundraiser for a local school music program. I performed in 4 pieces (two arias and two duets), three of which I'd never sung before, two of which were soprano pieces that I really wasn't familiar with at all, and one of which was in a dialect of French that I could make absolutely no sense of. It all went great, though I was still memorizing music in the car on the way to the gig! (On the bright side, I think I've found an aria that I'll be adding to my audition repertoire as a result, so I'm really excited about that.) Tomorrow, I start the Baroque opera workshop, and I still need to memorize both of my scenes tonight. YIKES! I think it will be ok, though it will definitely be a late night!

Lesson learned -- don't forget to take non-musical things going on in my life in to account before committing myself to so many projects. It's all really fun stuff, though, so its worth it. Ok, back to work.....

Monday, August 8, 2005

my new studio

In our old house, there was a large dining room, with space for a table for 8, the piano, and all my cds and scores. Our new condo has a dining area which is about 6'x6' -- hardly big enough for a small table for 4, and certainly not big enough for the piano! Luckily, there is an extra bedroom, which I have now set up as my studio. It's bright and sunny, with a west-facing window and a nice, big Madrona tree ouside that blocks the view of the grocery store next door. I painted the walls a beautiful, buttery yellow, and even got a big new bookshelf which holds all my scores and music-related books. Today, the piano movers brought my piano (a bit of a nightmare move, as they forgot to bring a furniture dolly with them, but that's a story for another time!), and it fits perfectly against one of the walls. So, now I have my own space, with all the materials I might need to practice or work, and there's even a closet where I can hang my performance clothes and keep my filing cabinet. There are still several boxes waiting to be unpacked, and I haven't set up my desk yet, but I can already tell that it's going to change the way I work. The room is a lovely place to be, and I will look forward to retreating there every day. It's very easy to focus when I can close the door behind me and be in my own little world. It's a real luxury, especially in a smaller home like ours, to be able to have a space which I can decorate however I want and fill with things which will inspire and aid me in my work everyday, and I'm very thankful.

Friday, August 5, 2005

real life interfering

The lack of posting lately is due to several things. First, tomorrow is the big moving day. Our house is full of boxes, garbage bags waiting to be taken to the dump, donations for Salvation Army, and all those other fun moving-related things. There's still a lot to do. It's almost 90 degrees in Seattle today, which is far too hot for most of us Pacific Northwest weather-whimps. I hate packing with a passion that I cannot put in to words. But, tomorrow it will all be over. We have until Thursday to get any leftover stuff out of the house and in to storage or the new condo. Our landlady is hiring someone to come in and clean, which takes care of one of my other least-favorite things in life, and we're hiring movers for the first time in our lives, so at least we won't be schlepping things up to our second-story unit in the heat tomorrow. So, it could be worse. Still, I hate packing. Also, I hate packing. And have I mentioned that I hate packing?

Another thing that has kept me from posting is that I have a new job. I am going to be editing on-line components of math textbooks. I hope it will be a perfect job for me -- it's very part time, with flexible hours, and believe it or not I really enjoy math. It's a good opportunity to learn more about programming and HTML. Plus, it's all working from home (or wherever I happen to be), and the pay is great. I can fit it in around all my musical jobs, and it should give me the freedom to be a little more selective about which music jobs I take. However, right now, it's like learning a new language. I'm sure I will catch on fairly quickly, but I hate the feeling of not really knowing what I'm doing. Combined with the move, this adds up to a little more upheaval in my life than I'm comfortable with.

I have a gigantic stack of music to learn that has been put off with everything else that has been going on. Next week I'll be able to dive in, and I should have lots to write about.