Tag Archives: Claude Debussy

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.


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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Shall We Gather: an Evening of Songs and Arias

I’ve made a poster, which means this recital is really happening!

Shall We Gather: An Evening of Songs and Arias
May 18th, 2014
Sunday, 7 PM
Holyrood Church
179th & Fort Washington
New York City, NY
Shall We Gather - Recital Poster 2

Photo by Still in Motion Photography. School of Music*, ASU, 2013.

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Happy Earth Day

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.  Kahlil Gibran

Ireland, 2010.

Sometimes I wake up groggy on Mondays… but not today! Coincidentally, it is Earth Day. A friend shared a great article by Bill McKibben about our earth, our environment, global climate change, and what we can do, which you can read here. McKibben founded the grassroots climate campaign 350.org (350 refers to 350 parts per million, the amount of carbon dioxide that scientists say is safe for the atmosphere to hold — we are nearing 400 parts per million).

McKibben points out that the environmental concerns of the last century are different from the ones we face now. Air and water are cleaner, and more people probably recycle now (I’m certainly a product of reduce, reuse, and recycle). Unfortunately, invisible pollution has gone up, and the next challenge is how to address what is less easy to see. McKibben directs us to look inside ourselves to find the drive to make this world a place where we can continue to live and make beautiful things happen.

That’s where our passion, spirit, creativity, and love come in. We’re being forced, at high speed, to redesign our world; to imagine, and then build, a better future. It’s a test of whether humanity’s big brains were really a good adaptation. But, even more than that, it’s a test of whether we, collectively, have a big enough heart. – Bill McKibben

I’m not a scientist, but I have passion, spirit, creativity, and love. We can make a difference and be part of this epic adventure. Use whatever skills you can to reach whatever audience you can. There’s enough art song about nature to program a recital about the beauty and mystery of the world! Start with Debussy’s Green and end with Wolf’s Kennst du das Land? Just an idea.. and not a bad one!

The (Repertoire) Matrix?

This past week I started looking at some international competitions (which I’ll wait on even though my first response was to check deadlines and jump in) and became just a tad despondent.  If I were to enter these competitions, I would need to learn so much new music to fulfill the requirements; even with all the pieces I’ve learned in the last 12 months, I still don’t have a big enough rep list to pull from.  How far off in the future is the day when I can look at a list of requirements and choose (most) pieces from my existing repertoire?  It’s exhausting and stressful to be polishing new repertoire in the days leading up to the audition or competition.  Yes, there’s always room for deeper exploration of the character; no, I don’t want to give the exact same rendition each time; and yes, I want my pieces to evolve as I challenge myself with new technical or artistic options… but it would be so nice to not feel that I’m racing to learn music just in time all the time.

BASOTI will keep me busy this next month, but I definitely plan on learning at least 3 new pieces before moving to Arizona.  I need an up-beat Italian piece, so I am working on Norina’s “Quel guardo, il cavaliere…So anch’io la virtù magica” from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.  I love it (especially this performance by Leontina Vaduva).  My rep list is heavy on the Romantic and needs more Baroque and Classical pieces, so “Un cenno leggiadretto” from Handel’s Serse is on my list.  That’s another Italian piece, so “Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln” from Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail will balance it out.  Unfortunately, these last two will have to wait because I don’t have the sheet music for them yet.  So I’ll work on some art songs instead!  For a German leid: “Strauss’ Ich wollt ein Sträußlein binden” (this is going to be the tough one).  For a French mélodie: Debussy’s “Green” (which I want to revisit and memorize).  For an American art song: Copland’s floating “Pastorale.”  Three languages, two 20th century, one romantic.  It’s all music I am excited to delve into – getting a little giddy and can’t wait to start tomorrow.

Now I just need to map out a strategy for picking music once I start school in the fall.  It would be fun to devote an entire month to a specific language or time period, but I don’t think that will give me enough variety.  Hm, maybe I’ll make a matrix of time periods and languages and rotate through them:

This may have promise… I’ll try it out at the start of fall to see if it works.  My strategy may need to change once I find out specific requirements for my aria preparation and expression classes.  Plus, I’ll need to tailor my repertoire schedule to whatever competitions I find in Arizona… until then, I’ll work on these three art songs and three arias!

Overdosing on youtube videos (like this one and this one) and staying up to ungodly hours looking through scores,