Reflecting After the Recital

Shall We Gather, my first New York City recital, was a success! My heartfelt thanks go to all those who made it possible – Holyrood Church for the use of their beautiful acoustics and space, The Washington Heights Musical Society and Alexandra Dunbar for having me as part of their concert series, Baritone Boy for being my constant support, Bill Lewis for being my teacher as well as my pianist, and all my friends who were in attendance and those who wished me good luck from afar. Funds from the free-will donation will be used towards housing/travel expenses for Astoria Music Festival, and a significant portion was donated to Holyrood Church.

Holyrood interior.jpg

Sunlight streaming in at Holyrood Church. NYC, 2014.

It was an intimate gathering, which made each face in the audience that much more dear to me. It was incredible and so touching to have friends from work, friends from San Diego, recently-made friends from New York, and even two friends from junior high whom I have not seen in about ten years there on such short notice, on such a beautiful Sunday evening, in a city where there are so many entertainment options to choose from.


Dante sniffs my recital rose, a gift from Laura, whom I had not seen in about ten years! NYC, 2014.

Although it wasn’t a flawless performance (but those are very rare so I won’t hold it against myself), it was absolutely successful in respect to my reasons and goals for putting the recital together. It was the set of conditions I needed to experience and the performance I needed to give in order to take another mental step forward in believing in myself and having confidence in my evolved technique.

Even under pressure, my technique stayed in place and I did not revert to old habits. Even with my raging cough that forced me to break recital etiquette to drink water between every song, I was still able to get through each piece (except for the last, which I had to restart because a cough managed to get caught in my throat during the recit). Even with the time crunch, learning new music the week of the recital, and not being able to practice much because I’d been sick, I still got up and sang. And according to my friends and mentors in the audience, I sang confidently and convincingly — what a relief! If I could get through it under those circumstances, I can get through the 15-20 minutes allotted at Musical Merit.

There’s more detailing and polishing to do, but by challenging myself to give the recital I pushed myself to establish a good baseline of preparation. Over the next five days I will be reviewing not just the notes and words, but I’ll also plot out in more detail the dramatic/character developments of each piece and how I want to use my voice, face, arms, hands, and posture to embody that.

In less than a week I’ll be back in sunny San Diego. Just thinking about this trip fills me with excitement and nervousness. It will be a lovely little vacation with opportunities to see old friends, but of course the main reason I bought this plane ticket out is to sing in Musical Merit.

I just have to keep reminding myself of the progress I’ve made, evidenced by the rep I’m able to sing now and the ease and comfort with which I’m singing it. No one can diminish that or take it away, whether they’re judges with their opinions or other singers with their fabulous voices and skills. I truly feel I’m singing better than ever, and that knowledge adds an extra sparkle of joy to every note I sing these days.

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Beautiful architectural details at the entrance to Holyrood. NYC, 2014.



10 responses to “Reflecting After the Recital

  1. Pingback: Astoria 2014: Singing | SINGING life

  2. Pingback: California Girl at Heart | SINGING life

  3. You ARE singing better than ever and must never forget it!

    • Thank you! You are my eyes and ears 🙂 It’s been a surreal year of rep and technique… can’t wait take what I’ve learned to Astoria this summer.

  4. that sounds great joyce! i am so happy that at least some of us are going pro haha. did you manage to get your nerves under control? i read the previous post about you getting more nerves after changing technique. coincidentally, my teacher was using alexander technique on me and i sing entirely differently now from before. (i can actually vocalize up to a high E now, which has never been the case.) but i sang in a recital recently and maybe just cos there was so much more to keep track of, i was nervous to the point that my arms were numb from anxiety. that had never happen to me before. it was sort of crazy an surprising. ugh!

    • Hi Sangyu!

      Thank you for reading and commenting – it is so great to hear from you and also about your singing! Wow, high E’s now? That’s fantastic! What rep are you singing these days?

      I don’t consider myself “pro” yet, but I’m going to pursue that for at least a few years before committing to another career path 🙂 Yes, I was able to keep my nerves and my technique in line! I’ve had numb arms and hands before, and even knees that were literally shaking – not fun! I suppose this is why we practice so much, with the goal of getting everything so ingrained in our muscle memory that no amount of pressure or distraction can get to us!

      • yeah you’re right. practice practice practice…

        i’m still mostly singing the french people at the turn of the 20th century. so debussy poulenc etc.. this term mostly did debussy because i was slogging through the ariettes oubliees, which is a fun but time-consuming cycle. i’ve got to hand it to verlaine. he’s very talented. sexy poems. i might have to pause while i try to graduate from my actual program though. haha. will probs resume after that. instruments are instruments and require honing.

        i definitely remember your voice improving a tonne during your final year. i’m sure you are even more betterer now! 😀 go joyce!!!

      • Ariettes oubliées is a ton of fun, which makes it even trickier because the fun masks how hard those songs are 🙂 best of luck with your “actual program” too – it’s really soul-satisfying to keep singing as part of your life even while working on other things! Good for you!!

  5. pinustorreyana

    We’re glad your recital at Holyrood went so well, Joyce. Congratulations and thanks for your reflections. Bill and Ida

    • It was a fantastic experience, and has given my confidence a good boost. I look forward to bringing this rep to San Diego next week! Thank you for reading and for your kind words, Bill and Ida!

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