Tag Archives: Dante

Enjoying Fall in NYC

If there’s one season I’ve consistently written off, it’s Fall. With its dull browns and gloomy grays, Fall is unremarkable and pales in comparison to the two seasons it is awkwardly sandwiched between, seasons that are a lot more fun.

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Dante in one of his sweaters. Fort Tryon Park. NYC, 2014.

At least that was the opinion I had before I moved to NYC, before I experienced the humid stuffiness of Summer and the biting, slippery danger of Winter. Now my eyes are opened and I celebrate this fantastic opportunity to wear boots and sweaters (and to dress Dante up) without my fingers and toes freezing off. The change in weather seemed to happen overnight — one day we were strolling along in short-sleeves and sandals, and the next morning the sidewalks were filled with hats, scarves, and long coats. Continue reading

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The Holds-Everything, Goes-With-Everything Fall Satchel for Singers

Being a singer is hard work. One of my biggest peeves about singing is the amount of stuff we have to lug around. Whenever I see someone strolling around with a cute little purse, I get a bit envious. Singers rarely, if ever, get to indulge in small handbags. At minimum, we need water and our music – neither of which would fit into a clutch or cross-body. I’ll bring out the old backpack on occasion, but most days I prefer an easy-to-use and easy-on-the-eyes handbag. Here’s my Fall discovery, a satchel that has become my go-to:

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Hanging out at the Lincoln Center Atrium. NYC, 2014.

The structure and detailing give this satchel a dressed-up feeling, but the black and brown color combination – versatile and classic – keeps it from getting stuffy. Continue reading

Reading Dante, His Life and Poetry

Pubic libraries are magical. You walk in and pick books, scores, DVDs, and CDs off the shelf and take them home for free. My latest find was this gem, Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity by Prue Shaw:

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Color-coordinated and reading in the park. Bryant Park, 2014.

As you know, Baritone Boy and I named our puppy after this genius. Every time I come across the name Dante in this book, this is the face I picture:

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Dante the Puppy hanging out at home. Washington Heights, 2014.

Moving through a series of seven themes — Friendship, Power, Life, Love, Time, Numbers, and Words — Shaw weaves together biographical information and commentary on Divine Comedy to lead us through a journey of Dante’s life, principles, literary works, and aspirations. With this kind of introduction, I can’t wait to pick up a more traditional biography and also read the full poem, all 99 cantos.

These 99 cantos are divided into three canticles, each corresponding to a different leg of Dante’s pilgrimage through Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. He began writing in 1307 (or 1308) but set the journey in the year 1300. This allowed the characters of Divine Comedy to be able to accurately forecast and allude to events of the “future,” which in the real world had already occurred. Mind-blowing.

I am so used to conceptualizing Italian words as part of music that it is startlingly impactful just to read it as poetry.

Continue reading

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Stop and smell the heather

Dante and I went on a long walk, trekking all the way up to Fort Tryon Park and The Cloisters on a beautiful day. I love New York City’s parks. They are little pockets of peace and color, reminding us that there’s more to life that squeezing onto a crowded subway car or waiting in line for morning coffee. Stop and smell the heather, the roses, the lilacs and lilies! Spring has arrived.

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Heather garden at Fort Tryon Park. NYC, 2014.

iPad Mini: my new best friend

In addition to La Sonnambula at The Met and dinner at French restaurant Le Relais de Venise, my birthday also included a very special gift: my first iPad mini.

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Dante observes the iPad mini carefully. NYC, 2014.

I’ve avoided the iPad bandwagon for years and even considered purchasing a Microsoft Surface Pro for a while. Yet here I am. A convert. Deliriously happy and in love with my mini.

It’s no secret that an iPad are great for playing Candy Crush and watching videos/movies, but in a very short amount of time I’ve learned that it can be a singer’s best friend:

  • Music. Music and Apple products have been inseparable since the iPod, so throw your favorite recordings and playlists on there and listen away! There are also radio-like apps and websites that stream music. I recently discovered Opera Music Broadcast, which streams music 24/7. Their name says opera, but they also include art song, oratorio, choral pieces, motets, and more — a very respectable range spanning many time periods and styles.
  • PDFs. Load PDFs of your favorite scores and score study anywhere. I even know musicians who have foregone sheets of music all together and pianists who play directly from tablets. A tip: check out IMSLP for free access to the world’s public domain music. Download and enjoy to your heart’s content. 
  • Combine the two above points and you can listen to a recording and follow along in the score without having to juggle multiple items. This is one of my favorite things to do, and the iPad mini makes it all that much easier. The screen is smaller than most scores, but this has not been a problem for me. The regular iPad is slightly larger, though, for those who would like more screen-space. 
  • Piano apps. Learning new rep and need to pick out your notes or hear the harmony underneath you? Want to do some warm-ups? There are plenty of piano apps to pick from.
  • Research. The convenient size, wi-fi/data plan capabilities, and variety of apps in the App Store make the iPad mini a fabulous research tool. I can read just about anything and everything, from history books to biographies to reviews, to industry news. I am currently reading The Letters of Mozart and His Family, translated by Emily Anderson, which I downloaded for free from a public library. Research also includes watching video clips and movies. For this, YouTube is an absolute treasure trove. I love the interviews, the concert clips, the amateur and the professional productions, and especially the full-length operas in HD.

If anyone has other tips or tricks for getting the most out of the iPad’s capabilities, or apps that I should try out, please leave a comment and let me know!

Before I moved to NYC, I naively imagined how productive I could be while riding the subway – learning music, writing in IPA/translations, reading, blogging. Then I experienced the subway system first-hand and had my naiveté remedied by the watch-out-or-get-trampled reality of taking public transportation. Lugging around a score was not only cumbersome (those hardcover Bärenreiters are like 12 lbs!), but 85% of the time I couldn’t even use it once I got in the subway car. Holding the score open, following along, and flipping pages is impossible when there isn’t an open seat, you’re crammed in between three stranger, or holding on for dear life as you stop-and-started your way down the track.

But now I have a versatile, lightweight piece of technology that doesn’t smack other riders in the face, that I can easily hold with one hand and flip pages with a flick of a finger. I spend approximately two hours traveling each day, and now those two hours are infinitely more productive and enjoyable.

For a girl who’s short on time, this slightly expensive splurge investment is already paying off!

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Multi-tasking with the iPad mini – listening and following along in the score. NYC, 2014.