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!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Inspiration is a funny thing. I've written several times about taking it where you find it - however unlikely the source - and, in general, I've been lucky in that way. I've always felt motivated to go above and beyond just because something, somewhere, made me think about how I could go further and how I could use that thing which inspired me in my own artistic efforts; a kind of "paying it forward". Whether it was a new interpretation of a poem or character, a director's vision, an exciting "catches fire" performance, some kind of extraordinary musicmaking, a colleague's commitment, or just the music itself, there's always been something out there to feed my artistic imagination and keep me coming back refreshed and motivated for more.

Hardly surprisingly, last year was too destructive to leave much room for being inspired. Sure, a flicker here and there, but I guess the comparative lack of performing opportunities and my own gloomy state of mind made me immune to the good stuff and I didn't have too many of those magic moments where I thought, "Yup. THAT'S why I perform! Bring. It. On.".

I'm thrilled to say that a holiday period spent watching some really excellent film and TV productions and letting myself rediscover being an ordinary "fan" has acted as a kind of a reboot. Combined with preparations for a couple of concert performances coming up where I'll have the chance to tackle music I've had on the back-burner for many years, I've had a good reminder of my passion for performing, which is a wonderful way to start the new year.

It's exciting to be preparing this music in particular, some of it not attempted since I was a student. The really exciting part is getting to revisit it now that I am technically developed enough to finally put the ideas I had about it into some kind of practice! By "technique" I don't only mean vocal, although that is of course a huge part of it - phrases which were once almost insurmountable now simply need focused practice to get them physically into the voice, and greater vocal experience and security means I know exactly how to approach the nuts-and-bolts to make them work consistently (well, I think I do - I guess the proof of that will be in the performance!). But dramatic/expressive technique, too (which, while absolutely based on emotion, also has a technical component to ensuring that the emotions we wish to convey travel to the audience. We have to "express" it rather than "feel" it, and that can often be a surprisingly technical process!). Once upon a time, I used to sacrifice the vocal technique for the dramatic impetus - sheer force of will and emotional intensity meant that I got away with it as far as most people were concerned, but I knew there were technical holes in the fabric, so the pendulum swung the other way as I let technique dominate. The drama was always there but (if I'm honest) it was sometimes taking a more "paint by numbers" approach as my mental bytage was focused on larynxes, soft palates, and breathing mechanisms. At last I feel ready to try for "and" rather than "either/or" with this music.

It's always a balancing act between the icy technical mind and a fired-up musico-dramatic passion, and it's exciting to revisit this long-shelved music to try and fuse them the way I always imagined they NEED to be fused.

Bring it on!

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