Tag Archives: George Frideric Handel

Baroque Concert for the New Year

With some quick organizing, enthusiastic musicians, and good colleagues, the unlikely is not impossible! The early music concert that almost happened a year and a half ago has been re-imagined and resurrected, and it’s taking place this Friday, January 9, in Berkeley, CA..

I almost didn’t bring up the idea with Eugene, but I did on a whim because I remembered how excited we were about the music and the chance to perform together. Ask and you shall receive — what a way to start the year!

Chabot Chamber Society presents a Baroque Concert for the New Year:


The two cantata’s, Bach’s Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten (Wedding Cantata, BWV 202) and Montéclair’s Le Dépit Généreux, were pieces I’d originally learned in 2013, and I’m so pleased to be singing them in less than a week.

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In the works update (October 19, 2014)

IN THE WORKS @ October 19, 2014

A Strauss Celebration: 150 years

  • Monday, November 24th,  7 PM
  • Holyrood Church (179th and Fort Washington), Washington Heights, NYC
  • Lieder and selections from Arabella, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Der Rosenkavalier
  • I’ll be singing “Einkehr” (Op 47) and Sophie in the Der Rosenkavalier selections
  • The launch project of Cantanti PROJECT, a project-based performance group in NYC, for singers and by singers.

Covering the role of Dalinda in Handel’s Ariodante in 2015 with New York Opera Forum

  •  Performance details TBA


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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First semester ends, my first Messiah comes ’round

A few quick updates: the masterclass with Elio Boncompagni was cancelled (boo).  I sang in the Palm Springs Opera Guild Competition but did not advance (darn).  Kevin Ames’ concert went well, and I also got to sing a little soprano solo in the Baroque cantata, Ad manus, by Buxtehude (yay).  Here‘s the Margaretha Consort & Choir performing in The Netherlands.  Ad manus is part of the cycle Membra Jesu Nostri which is really quite beautiful and gripping.  Each of the seven cantatas focuses on a different part of Christ’s body after the crucifixion: feet, knees, hands, side, breast, heart, and head.  The trio in Ad cor is beautiful, and so is the trio in Ad faciem.  Actually, just go listen to the whole cycle.

My first semester is winding down.  We just closed our school production of Le nozze di Figaro (I was in the chorus), and there are just a few days of class left before finals officially start.  I only had one written final, which I took early because a group of us are leaving during finals to make the 12-hour drive up to Salt Lake City to audition for a summer program.  We’ll come back just in time to sing our juries, and then I’m headed to San Diego to be a soloist for the Messiah Sing with La Jolla Symphony & Chorus!  Thank goodness I learned one of Cleopatra’s arias from Handel’s Giulio Cesare in the first half of the semester, because it turned out to be good training in Handelian runs: I learned the notes for “Rejoice” in about 3 days.  And when I say learned, I mean learned and able to sing the runs comfortably, which – for me – are two very different things.  So this 3 day thing is kind of a big deal… and I think I have “Da tempeste” to thank.  This 3 day turn-around isn’t happening with every new piece I pick up, but I think the time-delay between learning the notes and getting the notes in my voice is shrinking.  It used to take months, and now I think I’m down to weeks (and apparently, on occasion, days if it’s the right song).

Just two years ago, I was singing in the chorus of the Messiah Sing and feeling a mixture of admiration and envy as I listened to the soloists.  The soprano soloist had been a chorister in San Diego Opera’s Madama Butterfly when I’d been a supernumerary – we’d talked a few times during rehearsal and she gave me some names when I was looking for a voice teacher.  The alto soloist I recognized from other concerts, and the bass soloist was one of my former teachers at UCSD.  I wanted so badly to be up there too.  What did I need to do to make that happen?  How was I going to make that happen?  At that point in time, I had started taking voice lessons again but I had a lot of vocal dusting off to do.  Soloing and grad school were still quite far off in terms of plausibility.  I hadn’t even started studying with Enrique yet! I left the concert feeling a little empty despite the cheerful high and energy of the crowd.

And then two years later, I get an amazing email with a thrilling invitation.  Me?  Yes, I’ll do it!  It was a spirit-lifting affirmation that I’m making progress, an out-of-the-blue reminder to give myself a little credit in between beating myself up in the practice room.

I sang with La Jolla Symphony & Chorus when I was an undergrad at UCSD.  It was the first music ensemble I joined after I decided to return to singing and to pursue music professionally.  I remember singing Marguerite’s “Jewel Song” for my re-audition, and I wonder what it sounded like (because I had only been singing for 1 month after a 1.5 year hiatus).  The choral director, Dr. David Chase, believed in me and encouraged me.  I wouldn’t be where I am now without him.  In a week, I will be reunited with this big-hearted, fearless group.  Making the trip in two days, sandwiched in between two singing finals, is completely worth it!

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,