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.
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.