Saturday, July 26, 2008


Last night was the final rehearsal for the recital. This was the first time I'd actually heard Caleb (the violinist) play by himself, having only heard him in ensemble situations, and since I'll be hanging out "backstage" while he's playing tomorrow, this was really my only chance to hear him. His first piece is from one of the Bach unaccompanied Partitas, and it very well suited for the church we're performing in. The building itself is wonderful for music and especially for voices, and the Bach and "The trees on the mountains" sound really nice in there. Yesterday was also the first time we had rehearsed "Si mantiene il mio amor" with any of the strings. Caleb's sister, who is playing the second violin part in it, wasn't there, so tomorrow will be the first time we'll have run it with everyone. I'm sure it will be fine though. I'll be sure to post how it all goes, and if I can get some video or sound clips, I might post those as well, only if I can figure out how to do that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Edu-world madness

Rehearsal today with Dale (my accompanist) went very well. We're all doing a dress rehearsal on Friday, which means...I get to get out of class early! Only two more sessions of this class remain, and I couldn't be happier. My last paper for this class is one of the most ridiculous projects I've ever had to do in my life, involving 5 genres of writing...basically making a research project a creative writing assignment. I could go into the details of the insanity of this assignment, but it's just too frustrating. Let's just say it all involves bad scholarship, or no scholarship at all, all because my hippie prof thinks people need to stick it to The Man.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Can't think of a title

8 days until the recital...
Nearly everything is ready. Next week everyone involved will have a "dress rehearsal" of sorts so that we know where we'll be entering from, where the piano will be, and matters along those lines. There's only one piece that everyone is involved in, and I don't anticipate that many problems will arise with that (I hope not, as we haven't had the time to rehearse it!). The piece, "Si mantiene il mio amor" is really a bizarre piece to end a recital with. The text translates to "My love is nourished by grief, anxiety, and pain, so much that I cannot think about my beloved without being unhappy. I love, even thought I do not hope." Kind of a downer, you know? But it's a beautiful piece, and it will sound very nice with the two violins. I still need to finish the program notes and the actual program. Except for the English pieces, I printed all the texts and translations. Not being computer savvy, I had a heck of a time figuring out how to line up the original text and the translation, and finally came up with a method that isn't great, but worked. However, the Rachmaninoff text isn't side-by-side with the translation. Just couldn't pull that off.

This week, it's Cat Pic Saturday

Friday, July 11, 2008

On the vocal highwire

Sometimes, my voice surprises me.
After Alice made the comment that I might be a coloratura Rossini mezzo, I decided to take a closer look at Rosina's aria "Una voce poco fa" from The Barber of Seville. And, as anyone who has ever heard the aria knows, the repeated sections of the aria often include variations and ornaments. None of these are "officially" written in, but most singers who sing this aria put them in. I FINALLY got my hands on these variations and tried them out. Although some of the specific variations seemed to be aimed for sopranos (don't get me started on the topic of sopranos singing Rosina and other Rossini heroines. They just shouldn't and that's that. Maria Callas could, but she could have sung Figaro, Rosina, and Almaviva at the same time if she wanted to), but surprisingly, they fit in my voice. I won't be doing the high D# however; it's there, but it really doesn't like to be. Obviously, it's nowhere near being polished yet, but I know it can be. And that makes me happy.
My Russian education is continuing this summer, with a great deal of help. About a month ago, my dad had to do a funeral at a neighboring church because their pastor was in Germany visiting his daughter. The funeral was for a local farmer that many people knew, but no one had ever mentioned (to me at least) that his wife was Russian. During the preparations for the funeral, my dad talked to her several times, and mentioned that I was taking Russian and also that I'm a musician. So she told him to have me call her, saying that she would be happy to help me with my Russian. I've gone over to her house twice and have learned quite a bit! Who would have thought that in little Adams County, with our 30,000 people (lordy more people go to my university than live in my county), that there would be someone within 10 miles of me who speaks Russian! Funny story; she saw Dmitri Hvorostovsky sing in Moscow about 20 years ago before he really was anybody, and said that he was the only good singer in the whole show and that the chorus was especially bad. She also asked me where I work, and when I told her I work at a pizza place she shuddered and said, "No. No, don't work there. You protect voice, work on that." But I've enjoyed having someone to speak the language with and learn more of it myself. Fluency is my eventual goal, but if that ever happens, it won't be for years. But I've gained some new vocabulary and know some more complicated grammar structures.

Cat Pic Friday. Tacy's newest bad habit. Now we have to make sure the lids are down.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Cat Pic Friday!

Salem and Tacy on the kitchen stool.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mozart is my man.

It's always good to know that my education is worth it. Mom and I drove down to Bloomington yesterday. My teacher spends most of her summers in Florida taking care of her elderly mother, but is usually in Bloomington for a week or so. Three of her students have recitals this week, so this was her week to come back to Indiana. I had the day off, so Mom and I took a mini-roadtrip to Bloomington to see my teacher. I wanted her to hear a few of the pieces I'm doing on my recital at the end of this month, especially some of the new pieces I'm working on. My main focus was "Parto, ma tu ben mio" from Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito, a mezzo showpiece aria. Being the dork that I am, I've wanted to sing this aria since I heard a recording of Cecilia Bartoli singing it when I was 14. Mr. Norris, my teacher at Interlochen, and Donna (the diction coach who had worked at the Lyric Opera of Chicago) both recommended that I work on this aria, saying that it would fit well in my voice. I looked at it here and there, but the coloratura always scared me off a little. But, at my last lesson this past semester, I asked Alice, my current teacher, if I could work on it, and got the ok.

So, I've been working my butt of this summer getting it learned and conquering the coloratura. It's one of the most difficult pieces I've done, perhaps with the exception of "The trees on the mountains" from Susannah (yeah I know that's a soprano aria and I'm not a soprano, but I can sing it-- so there), but I felt satisfied with my work.

I sang "Parto" for Alice, and I was very pleased with the result. The coloratura, to my surprise, fell into place; the bass of the accompaniment helped keep the momentum going. The whole aria felt free and natural, making it one of the best times I've sung it. Alice was also very pleased with my hard work in learning this aria, commenting that the coloratura was very good and that I might be a coloratura Rossini mezzo. Insert good freak out. Coloratura mezzo? omg what? I've been told over the years that I may end up being a Verdi or Wagner mezzo, or even a dramatic soprano, but I never really considered Rossini and his pals as much. This is a bit nutty on my part, since Mr. Norris and Alice both recommended "Una voce poco fa" from The Barber of Seville for me. You bet your life I'm going to be looking at it a lot more now.

Besides the Mozart, we also looked at a few of the other pieces I'm doing on the recital: "Somewhere" from West Side Story, Rachmaninoff's "In the silence of the secret night", and Cesti's "Si mantiene il mio amor", which I'm performing with the violinist that's sharing my recital.

Afterwords, Mom and I had dinner with my friend Loralee. She's staying in Bloomington for the summer due to her parents moving from Virginia to Oregon. There were a few living complications with the apartment she's subletting, namely, her roommate going to Spain and having a guy unknown to both of them living in her place. So, Loralee's living on a friend's couch until this girl comes back from Spain and the guy moves out. Apparently he turned out to be a nice enough guy, but she's uncomfortable living with him, especially if there's only her and him. If I was in this situation, I'd be furious and showing it, but Loralee has the ability to be calm and collected. I have no idea how she does it.

But now I feel more comfortable singing the Mozart aria for the recital, knowing that I've successfully learned it. Naturally there's still a lot of work to be done on it, but it feels ready. =)