Category Archives: Travel

Traveling, singing, sight-seeing, and making friends – the hope of every soprano.

A Washington DC Weekend

Being a singer is a huge part of my identity, something I work on and think about daily, but I was reminded this Thanksgiving that life is — and should be — more than singing. To remind myself of that, I’m looking back on happy moments from this past year that were not centered around being a singer.

In July, my brother, who lives in California, was in Washington, DC, for a work conference. The distance between us was going from 2,900 miles down to 226, so there was no way we were going to miss this opportunity to see each other. As a bonus, his birthday fell right in the middle of the trip and I wanted to be there to celebrate with him.

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Outside the James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress. DC, 2014.

It was my first visit to DC since the 1st grade. The weather was good. And I hadn’t seen my brother in about six months. We walked until our feet were about to fall off, took pictures until the batteries ran out, and enjoyed being tourists. Continue reading

Competition and Contemplation

I had a lot to be grateful for this year, developments and opportunities I was eager to share, but I deliberated for a while before deciding to share some of my very private thoughts about singing in this year’s Musical Merit. It would have been easier to say nothing about my experience, but as this blog is about life and not just the best and most amazing parts of being a singer, I felt it was important not to sweep it under the rug.

So what happened? I was nervous in the hours leading up to my time slot, but once the music started, most of the nerves melted away. I started with “At the Well,” and the judges asked for “Silver Aria,” Presentation of the Rose, and “Green.” Everything went just fine. Nothing terrible happened. Perhaps if something had gone horribly wrong, I would have been able to come up with a clear cause-and-effect — I made Debussy roll over in his grave with my intonation and horrible French diction, therefore I did not place. 

There were a few things I wish I’d done differently (hmmm that C# could have been narrower and taller), but overall, I was happy with how I sang. I left the room in a great mood and ready to enjoy the rest of my mini-vacation:

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Feeling pretty good after the semi. San Diego, 2014.

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Astoria 2014: Singing

One of the many aspects of the Vocal Apprentice program I adored this year was the plethora of performance opportunities we took part in. While Così fan tutte was the culmination of our efforts and our growth as performers, the other singing we did was just as important in our self-discovery and learning.

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Despina rocking the apron look. Astoria, 2014.

Through a series of Apprentice concerts held at various venues around town, we had the opportunity to share our repertoire with others and put into practice ideas from masterclasses, lessons, and coachings. I mentioned last time that the amount of talent in Astoria was astounding, and I can, without hesitation, include the abilities of the Apprentices in this statement as well. Over the course of the Festival I got to hear beautiful singing from my peers, and they introduced me to new repertoire as well as different interpretations of music I was already familiar with. It’s no wonder we had a group of regular attendees at our concerts!

Many of the pieces I used for these concerts I had performed fairly recently at my recital, and I was surprised at how differently some of them felt just a month later. I am very, very thankful for the coaches and teachers who guided me through these developments: Gustavo Castro and Karen Esquivel, Paul Floyd, Allan Glassman, Marie Plette, Mark Robson, and Richard Zeller.

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Astoria Music Festival 2014: Friends and Music

Astoria, OR was just as quiet and friendly as I remembered it, and the Festival was as inspiring and satisfying as I could have hoped. We packed an impressive amount of singing into a short amount of time, and I came away with suggestions that made an immediate impact, ideas that I’m still working through, and words of encouragement that I’ll hold dear to my heart for a long, long time. Just yesterday I had my first voice lesson back in NYC, and my teacher was very pleased with the adjustments I’ve been making.

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The historic Liberty Theater. Astoria, 2014.

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California Girl at Heart

I’m back in NYC after an amazing 2.5 weeks at the Astoria Music Festival. But before I dive into that, my post-San Diego post is overdue! So here it is:

It’s almost my one year anniversary of moving to New York, but part of me never left California. In New York, everyone is rushing to be somewhere, do something, be someone. The past few months have been a bit of a blur thanks to Le nozze di Figaro, a recital, and Così fan tutte, and it wasn’t until I landed back in San Diego that I had the chance to hit pause.

It would have been a perfectly-timed pause if I weren’t also stressing about learning Despina, but even so it was much-needed and much-enjoyed. You’ll be pleased to know I got to everything on my San Diego to-do list and then some!

THE OCEAN

I’ll come out and say it: the Pacific is better than the Atlantic…

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Looking down onto Pacific Beach from a grassy knoll. Pacific Beach, 2014.

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A surfer heads into the water. Pacific Beach, 2014.

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Strolling along Pacific Beach after yoga. Pacific Beach, 2014.

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Reframing My Goals for Musical Merit

Over the past few days my nervousness about Musical Merit has increased. I know after giving my recital that my technique will most likely stay intact, but how do I stack up against other singers? I know I’ve improved since last year, but by how much? And is it enough? What if they (the judges) don’t like me or my singing?

Dante helps me pack for my trip to San Deigo. NYC, 2014

Dante helps me pack for my trip to San Diego. NYC, 2014

These questions are common for singers to obsess over, but they’re not doing me any good. So, to combat my rising nervousness and doubt, I’ve decided to shift the focus of this trip from hoping to place in the competition to 1) singing each piece of music with conviction; and 2) treating myself to a mini-vacationContinue reading

Farewell, desert!

I started this blog two years ago as I was preparing to move to Arizona. Now I’m in the midst of another big transition: leaving Arizona to move to New York. My belongings are in a U-Box, traveling across the country via truck, and yesterday I made the 11+ hour drive to the Bay Area so I could drop my car off with my family. I’ll be catching a flight out of San Francisco tomorrow, destination: New York City.

Some of the things I’ll miss:

  • The very supportive environment at ASU. I had wonderful teachers and mentors there and also lovely peers to learn and work with.
  • Arizona Opera. They are going through exciting growth and changes, and their 2013-2014 season is going to rock! I was very lucky to be a study cover in their productions of Le nozze di Figaro and Orfeo ed Euridice, and there are several roles in next season’s line-up that I would have loved to work on.
  • My church job. The music director and choir were some of the nicest and kindest people I’ve ever met, and we sang beautiful music ranging from Renaissance polyphony to contemporary songs.
  • Friends. But they’ll be auditioning in NYC, so I’ll see them soon!
  • The weather. It gets to be really, really, extremely hot in the summer, but the rest of the year is quite nice. The sky was blue more days than not, and the sunsets are gorgeous.
  • My quiet little apartment with its dishwasher, washer and dryer, closets, and storage space.
  • The rent on my apartment.
  • The ability to drive myself places.
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Sun, clouds, and palm trees. Tempe, 2013.

Taking stock of where I am and who I am compared to two years ago:

  • I’m a little bit wiser and a little more experienced after my time in Arizona. I wish I was even wiser and even more experienced, but I’ll just channel that hunger into making the most of my time in New York rather than having regrets.
  • I’m a better performer (at least I hope so). The direction and coaching I received at ASU helped me expand my concept of performing from what the character is feeling at a particular moment to how the past, the environment, and the present circumstances shape a character’s thought process in the moment.
  • I’m more realistic in my personal goals of where and what I sing, and more aware of how hard it is to be a professional singer. I knew there were many steps in the road to becoming a successful singer, but I didn’t realize how each of those steps were comprised of many other smaller steps … nor did I realize over how much time those smaller steps would be spread out. I’m getting a much better sense of that now.
  • I know a little more about the business of singing. I’ve come to see that sheer determination and lots of practicing — as important as they are — aren’t enough.
  • I’m more passionate about education and convinced of its necessity. I think singers should see themselves as performers and educators concurrently, not one before the other, or worse, one and not the other (our education system makes this difficult).

Two years went by so quickly. I wish I could stay another year and be part of more productions, take more German, do more with Arizona Opera, coach more, learn more, strengthen friendships and professional relationships. I almost re-auditioned for the Arizona Opera chorus with the hopes of getting another contract and cover studying a few more roles, but I decided to make a clean break. If I’m going to be serious about making the most of my time in New York, I have to be in New York.

A lot of people ask if I’m excited about moving to NYC. Of course I’m excited to live in a new city, to be with my boyfriend, and not have to fly to auditions anymore. But I’m also nervous, apprehensive, and worried about money, finding a job, being so far from my family, surrounded by pavement and 8 million crazy people, and trying to balance work and singing.

I am very grateful for the opportunities I had in Arizona and appreciative of the people who have helped me grow along the way. I’m very thankful to have graduated with a relatively small amount in student loans to pay back (otherwise my stress level would be 10 times higher). Part of me wishes I could stay in Arizona where I have friends and where I know people, but I have to be brave and bold. My apartment is empty and my keys are turned in. All my library books and CD’s have been surrendered. Who knows when I’ll be back … my secret (well it’s not so secret now that I’m confessing to it) hope is that the next time I’m back in Arizona it will be because I’m singing in some fabulous concert or because I’ve been hired to sing a role or invited to give a talk about what it takes to make it as a singer.

Everything happens for a reason. Every step leads you to the next. So, farewell, desert! You have been good to me, but now it’s time for the next challenge.

Astoria Music Festival 2013

Just got back from a great experience as an apprentice at the Astoria Music Festival in Astoria, Oregon. What a great 2.5 weeks! I’ve got less than a week to finish packing for my move to NYC, but I hope to post in more detail in the next few days.

For now, some highlights!

Astoria, land of beautiful sunsets:

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Sun shining through shifting clouds as seen from a pier along the Columbia

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Sunset as we drive across Youngs Bay

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Setting sun reflected in windows along the Columbia River

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Low tide sunset along Astoria Riverwalk

An incredible range of Festival events:

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Masterclass with Ruth Ann Swenson

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My view singing in the Otello chorus at the Verdi concert, featuring Ruth Ann Swenson, Allan Glassman, and Richard Zeller.

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Baroque opera with a Baroque ensemble led by Gwendolyn Toth

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Copland’s Appalachian Spring in the original chamber orchestration performed to a film of Martha Graham dancing her original choreography

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Setting up for the Wagner concert at the historic Liberty Theater

I loved being part of a Festival, working on my own repertoire and role while attending language classes, coachings, rehearsals, workshops, masterclasses, and performances. I made wonderful new friends and got to work with amazingly knowledgeable and generous professionals. I was in the same room as Ruth Ann Swenson and Richard Zeller — which I never in my wildest dreams ever thought would happen — and talked to them and hugged them. I experienced music that made me laugh (Gianni Schicchi) and cry (Dido and Aeneas and Appalachian Spring), singing that made me hold my breath (Ruth Ann’s Desdemona) and made my jaw drop (Allan’s Otello and Richard’s Iago). I knew I would learn a lot from the program, but I came away with so much more than I’d expected. At a time of big changes in my life and in my voice, Astoria Music Festival helped me to appreciate where I am now and gave me hope for the things to come.