Monthly Archives: December 2011

First semester ends, my first Messiah comes ’round

A few quick updates: the masterclass with Elio Boncompagni was cancelled (boo).  I sang in the Palm Springs Opera Guild Competition but did not advance (darn).  Kevin Ames’ concert went well, and I also got to sing a little soprano solo in the Baroque cantata, Ad manus, by Buxtehude (yay).  Here‘s the Margaretha Consort & Choir performing in The Netherlands.  Ad manus is part of the cycle Membra Jesu Nostri which is really quite beautiful and gripping.  Each of the seven cantatas focuses on a different part of Christ’s body after the crucifixion: feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and head.  The trio in Ad cor is beautiful, and so is the trio in Ad faciem.  Actually, just go listen to the whole cycle.

My first semester is winding down.  We just closed our school production of Le nozze di Figaro (I was in the chorus), and there are just a few days of class left before finals officially start.  I only had one written final, which I took early because a group of us are leaving during finals to make the 12-hour drive up to Salt Lake City to audition for a summer program.  We’ll come back just in time to sing our juries, and then I’m headed to San Diego to be a soloist for the Messiah Sing with La Jolla Symphony & Chorus!  Thank goodness I learned one of Cleopatra’s arias from Handel’s Giulio Cesare in the first half of the semester, because it turned out to be good training in Handelian runs: I learned the notes for “Rejoice” in about 3 days.  And when I say learned, I mean learned and able to sing the runs comfortably, which – for me – are two very different things.  So this 3 day thing is kind of a big deal… and I think I have “Da tempeste” to thank.  This 3 day turn-around isn’t happening with every new piece I pick up, but I think the time-delay between learning the notes and getting the notes in my voice is shrinking.  It used to take months, and now I think I’m down to weeks (and apparently, on occasion, days if it’s the right song).

Just two years ago, I was singing in the chorus of the Messiah Sing and feeling a mixture of admiration and envy as I listened to the soloists.  The soprano soloist had been a chorister in San Diego Opera’s Madama Butterfly when I’d been a supernumerary – we’d talked a few times during rehearsal and she gave me some names when I was looking for a voice teacher.  The alto soloist I recognized from other concerts, and the bass soloist was one of my former teachers at UCSD.  I wanted so badly to be up there too.  What did I need to do to make that happen?  How was I going to make that happen?  At that point in time, I had started taking voice lessons again but I had a lot of vocal dusting off to do.  Soloing and grad school were still quite far off in terms of plausibility.  I hadn’t even started studying with Enrique yet! I left the concert feeling a little empty despite the cheerful high and energy of the crowd.

And then two years later, I get an amazing email with a thrilling invitation.  Me?  Yes, I’ll do it!  It was a spirit-lifting affirmation that I’m making progress, an out-of-the-blue reminder to give myself a little credit in between beating myself up in the practice room.

I sang with La Jolla Symphony & Chorus when I was an undergrad at UCSD.  It was the first music ensemble I joined after I decided to return to singing and to pursue music professionally.  I remember singing Marguerite’s “Jewel Song” for my re-audition, and I wonder what it sounded like (because I had only been singing for 1 month after a 1.5 year hiatus).  The choral director, Dr. David Chase, believed in me and encouraged me.  I wouldn’t be where I am now without him.  In a week, I will be reunited with this big-hearted, fearless group.  Making the trip in two days, sandwiched in between two singing finals, is completely worth it!

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