Musings on m
y life as a busy opera singer, voice teacher, photographer and mom - not necessarily in that order! I consider myself immensely fortunate to have carved out a way of doing all of these things which mean so much to me - it may sometimes get a little crazy, but it's always worth it. Welcome to the madhouse!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

That felt GOOD!

I love the philosophy of song recitals: just you, your accompanist and the composer fusing to come together as (one hopes!) a coherent, expressive and trascendent musical whole. "Pure" music, without the trappings of costume, the multitude of musical opinions in the orchestra as many strive to become one... it's in many ways the apogee of singing to express at such a simple and heartfelt level.

Achieving this, however, has proved elusive. My last few recitals of the recent years have often seemed to be a triumph of will over circumstances, battling everything from externally-imposed repertoire restrictions to less rehearsal than I would have liked to unexpected traffic delays to inadequate pianos, perhaps culminating in the one where I passed out halfway through the performance, scheduling an impromptu intermission! (I'd been struck by a respiratory bug two weeks before and, while my voice was 100% fine and I was for sure fit to sing, somehow the exertion of the substantial vocalism in the program against still-sensitive sinuses was more taxing than I could have imagined and I fainted for the first and only time in my life... although thankfully I made it off the stage before I hit the floor!)

Yesterday, however, seemed touched by magic. Everything ran smoothly logistically (rare in our lives!) and we arrived in ample time, un-rushed, fed and ready to roll. The venue was organised and prepared for us. The piano was in tune (not always something you can rely on!). We had a brief but uneventful and entirely adequate warmup rehearsal. There was a competent page turner (my husband was playing for me - a rare chance for us to perform as a team onstage! - and was very grateful to have another pianist for the job since his recent experience with page turners has been poor) and every practical detail was exactly as one would have requested it to be.

And, for once, absolutely everything came together in front of the audience too, even better than in our rehearsals. No unexepcted little vocal glitches to be managed (the tiniest bit of extra phlegm - or a drying environment - can wreak havoc on a singer so it's rare not to have to do some kind of "crisis management" in performance, if only to find a place to clear your throat or swallow!), the tempi felt just right, and the music - as SHOULD be the case - flew along of its own accord, telling us what to do rather than the other way around.

A beyond satisfying afternoon that has restored my enthusiasm to do more of this "pure music" again; I think the key is perhaps to ensure that the banal logstics and mechanics are in place so that they don't take up too much mental bytage on the day, distracting from the musical concentration. Then again, that might be philosophy triumphing over reality again - we'll see how easily that can actually be implemented!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Was winter always like this?

Yes, I know - it's January. It's supposed to be cold. But in the 10 years I've lived in this state, I don't ever remember it being THIS cold THIS consistently for THIS long. Not much snow, just day after day of sub-freezing temperatures and a hefty windchill. Brrrr!

But life goes on, however chillily (is that a word?!). The colleges start back next week, so we'll be resuming our routine - I can't say we always like the imposition of an external schedule but by the same token it does gives some structure to our generally hectic lives, and that's not such a bad thing.

Now, would somebody please turn the solar heat up and give us a few days of pale sunshine to get ready for the inevitable ice storms of February?!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


It feels like the entire world is "on hold" just now. Even the ground is frozen solid as subzero temperatures sweep across the Northern Hemisphere (thankfully, we're merely in the teens rather than below zero, but it's still jolly cold for this part of the world!). The economy is caught in its mudlocked matrix which shows no signs of moving terribly quickly, and the rest of the world is responding to that with a profound wave of... wait and see. Call us again after the election/the holidays/the stock market report/the weather storm/the inaugration/fill in the blank. Oh, it's understandable, but for somebody like me who likes to go and DO things and take action this societally-imposed straightjacket is starting to feel mighty restrictive.

Then again, we're still on hiatus from the colleges, and without the imposed deadlines of a semester schedule, we always tend to curl up and hibernate during this particular break. The holidays are over, but there's still a couple of clear weeks to catch up, or more importantly, slow down. Read a book. Play a game. Watch a movie.

And so, the waiting game continues. I'll be interested to see who moves first.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Poor little blog...

I think it's feeling neglected.

Between the holidays, getting back to school, starting to prep some (small) forthcoming projects, and becoming completely and totally immersed in picture-taking (what can I say? I'm hooked), I've fallen badly behind. More substantial musings to come, Little Blog, I promise!

In the meantime, a project I've started for myself, namely the Photo a Day gallery, which can be found here. It may offer glimpses of my life at the moment, although many of them are simply studies as I wrap my head around the technical side of picture-taking. Enjoy!


I recently found several comments which hadn't been published - my apologies to those who responded! I've posted them now.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

In 2008 I....

  • Started this blog
  • Not only survived, but ENJOYED a substantial and entirely successful home remodel ... even on a (very) tight budget!
  • Enjoyed a full performing calendar, including singing opposite the most famous living exponent of my own voice type in a stupendously received concert - it was a year where I was truly "living the dream"
  • Had it reinforced once again that I am blessed by truly wonderful colleagues who are not only a pleasure to work with and know, but who also inspire
  • Watched my first roses bloom in their first year
  • Discovered a passion for photography that has always lurked in the background but thanks to the digital age I can now indulge and take further... even achieving some (small) recognition along the way
  • Went camping (albeit reluctantly) and lived to tell the tale
  • Elected a new president
  • Watched my local opera company declare bankruptcy, leaving large holes not only in the local arts landscape, but my own pocket and calendar.
  • Was warmed by the response of at least one colleague to do what was in his power to help me fill one of those gaps
I've never known "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times" to so accurately describe the year - it started with such joy, growth and satisfaction and finished in a maelstrom of uncertainty as the world responded to global events, some hitting all too close to home.

But, as a friend said to me, always hope. And there IS always hope, and never more than at the turn of the year with it all metaphorically (perhaps even literally) spread out in front of us.

Here's to a brighter 2009 than any of us can imagine.