Tag Archives: Musical Merit

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:


Feeling pretty good after the semi. San Diego, 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!


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


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


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


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

Reflecting After the Recital

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.

Holyrood interior.jpg

Sunlight streaming in at Holyrood Church. NYC, 2014.

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. Continue reading

In the works update (March 22, 2014)

IN THE WORKS @ March 22, 2014

I am absolutely thrilled to be singing the role of Echo in Ariadne auf Naxos this summer in New York.

  • Conducted by Lloyd Arriola
  • Celebrating Strauss @ 150
  • Our first rehearsal/meeting is next Saturday!
  • Further details TBA

Prepping to do some recording since I don’t have anything recent:

  • Presentation of the rose from Der Rosenkavalier
  • “Da tempeste” from Giulio Cesare

I also made the decision to travel across the country to sing in Musical Merit again. The plane ticket was expensive, and it’s a lot of rep to put together – but I know myself, and I know I would regret not giving it a shot. So without any expectations, instead, with a focus on preparing my music with as much passion as possible and using what I’ve learned in the last 8 months, here I go:

  • “Solitudini amiche … Zeffiretti lusinghieri” from Idomeneo
  • Presentation of the rose from Der Rosenkavalier
  • “Silver Aria” from The Ballad of Baby Doe
  • “Phöbus eilt mit schnellen Pferden” from Cantata 202 (Bach)
  • Green (Debussy)
  • Breit’ über mein Haupt (Strauss)
  • At the Well (Hageman)
  • Zion’s Walls (Copland)

Since I love biting off more than is smart to bite off, I’m also hoping to have other announcements in the next few months. But no matter how things play out, it’s going to be an incredible summer. I know I’ve made some progress out here, and I will keep moving forward, keep getting stronger, and keep stretching that extension. Thank you to everyone who has been cheering me along – my family, Baritone Boy, my teacher, my coach, and my friends. Thank you, thank you!

In the works update (April 22, 2013)

IN THE WORKS @ April 22, 2013

And Open to All with MusicaNova Orchestra, April 2013

  • Zerlina in Act 1 Finale of Don Giovanni
  • Allerseelen (R. Strauss) … with orchestra!
  • concert details here

Shakespeare in the Desert with  Arizona Pro Arte and Solis Camerata, April 2013

  • “V’adoro, pupille” from Giulio Cesare
  • concert details here

Opera Scenes, April 2013

  • La fée in Act 3 of Cendrillon (Massenet)

Vocal Duets Repertoire Class Concert, April 2013

  • Pastorale, soprano-baritone (Saint-Saëns)
  • Sub tuum praesidium, soprano-soprano duet (Mozart)
  • Mother Comfort, soprano-mezzo (Britten)
  • Die Schwestern, soprano-mezzo (Brahms)
  • Abschiedslied der Zugvögel, soprano-mezzo (Mendelssohn)

Shakespeare’s Circle of Love with Solis Camerata, April 2013

  • Where the bee sucks (Robert Johnson)
  • Cleopatra in “Ritorni omai nel nostro core” from Giulio Cesare

Opus with Society of Composers, Inc. and Classical Revolution Phoenix at the Phoenix Art Museum, May 2013

  • Dreams (Bethany Brown, world premiere)

Musical Merit Audition, May 2013

  • “Douce enfant” from Cendrillon (Massenet)
  • “Piangerò la sorte mia” from Giulio Cesare
  • Laurie’s Song from The Tender Land (Copland)
  • Morgen! (R. Strauss)
  • something in Russian (hopefully)
  • “Ich will dir mein Herze schenken” from Matthäus-Passion
  • Last rose of summer (Britten)
  • Pastorale (Copland)

Astoria Music Festival (Astoria, Oregon), June 2013

  • Belinda in Dido and Aeneas
  • Lauretta (study cover) in Gianni Schicchi

11 months later

It’s been just over 11 months since I embarked on my singing journey, moving out of San Diego, first to San Francisco for the summer and then Arizona for school.  I’ve been back in San Diego a few times, but every “visit” had a rushed feeling to it.  The first visit was really just a pit-stop as I drove from San Jose to Phoenix (my brother and I decided to break up the 12-hour by spending a night in San Diego before heading East into the desert).  The next two trips were for singing: one for the Messiah (the weekend after my jury and before the rest of my finals, yikes!) and the other for the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus Young Artist Competition (3rd place, yay!).  Both were weekend marathons of driving, rehearsing, singing, and then driving back.  It wasn’t until this past weekend when I went to San Diego for my friend and fellow-soprano Jen’s senior recital that I relaxed and relished in the things I missed so much about the area.  Of course, I couldn’t stop myself from making this a working vacation by scheduling a rehearsal with the pianist I’m working with for the Musical Merit audition… but I got that out of the way early on – driving 6 hours, warming up and practicing at my alma mater, then jumping right into an hour-long rehearsal to run all 8 pieces of music – so I could spend the next 1.5 days enjoying the things I had to say goodbye to 11 months ago.


Managed to see an impressive number of friends in one visit, including former roommates, co-workers, a cousin, and my teacher-turned-mentor.  Catching-up, revelations, reassurances, reminiscing, planning…


Maybe I have the wrong impression about the food scene in Phoenix because I seem to go to the same 3 places repeatedly and in rotation, but food in San Diego seems more interesting and more delicious. Also, there are more Asian tea shops with much more satisfying and crave-worthy teas.

Pistachio crusted salmon

Tried a new restaurant with Enrique: Finch’s Wine Bar and Bistro in downtown La Jolla. This is their pistachio crusted salmon.

fruity and refreshing

Strawberry and passion fruit teas at Tea Garden. Not pictured: the amazing milk green tea and fried tofu Kristina treated me to at Tea n’ More.


Natasha still teaches on Saturday mornings, so I indulged myself and surprised her by showing up for her class.  She was my first yoga teacher and remains one of the most positive and powerful souls I know.  Walking over to the gym, rolling out my mat, and hearing her voice – it was like I’d never left.  The class was superb – we went through the primary series – and I came out sweaty, flexible, and full of joy.


Phoenix has its charm, and I’m getting used to the heat, but I miss having the water a few miles away.  After brunch, my cousin, his girlfriend, and I walked down to Scripps Park in La Jolla so I could get my ocean-fix.

Headed toward the water.

Looking down the coast in La Jolla. Didn’t have time to go into the water, but having the wind in my hair was good.

La Jolla. The horizon is that much more mysterious when it’s floating along the waves.

Jen’s recital went well, and I loved the repertoire she presented.  In particular, the English and French pieces stood out.  She sounded great, and the new concert hall (which wasn’t there when I was going to school) is shiny and lovely.  I’d love a chance to sing in there someday!

In less than 2 weeks I’ll be back on San Diego for Musical Merit.  We’ve already made plans to go salsa dancing the Wednesday I’m in town, but the rest of the week will likely be less adventurous: I’ll need to stay focused on the audition. The fun can come right after!

Surreal and Satisfying

You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction. – George Horace Lorimer

I did it.  In the last weeks before leaving this city and this singing scene, I sang in the Musical Merit Foundation auditions and ROCKED my repertoire.  There was something in those 15 minuets … an inspiring and freeing combination of light and space in that beautifully calm chapel, the gentle silence before the piano started, the sense that this moment was waiting for me to unleash all I had to say.  The thoughts flew from my head and I simply inhaled and let the breath flow (my teacher will be happy to hear that).

It was the easiest and most enjoyable singing experience I’ve had so far; there was no physical pressure in the sound production and no distracting mental dialogue prior to or during the set.  I really couldn’t tell you what I did technically because I don’t remember (which is driving the analytical and technique-obsessed side of my brain crazy), but it felt so smooth and each phrase felt so true – both in accuracy of notes and in expression of intent and meaning.  I remember the space being filled with sound and wanting to give more and more.

A year ago, after singing in this audition the first time and not making the final cut, a fiery determination descended upon me.  I was riled up.  I made an impassioned declaration to my teacher and accompanist (I was pretty worked up, and they probably saw a crazy look in my eyes) that I would show the Foundation what I was capable of.

With the organized frenzy of applications, auditions, and other competitions, I began learning repertoire for Musical Merit much later than originally hoped.  Six completely new pieces in less than two months.  Yes, there was a moment of sheer panic when I looked at a calendar and looked at all the music I had to prepare.  My boyfriend can attest to the frantic nature of my nerves as I practiced in the weeks leading up to the audition date.  I thank him for believing in me even when I wasn’t feeling confident, for walking with me from the parking lot to the check-in table, and for listening even though he’s heard this music a hundred times at home.

Sunday night was the awards concert, in which winners perform and receive their prizes.  My name was in the program.  I was there, on stage, alongside instrumentalists and vocalists who wowed me.  With less than two weeks before I move to San Francisco, I did it.