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Remember that.

1 Jul

By the time this post publishes, I will probably be running around a yet-known Philadelphia train station with two large suitcases in tow, attempting to figure out how to get onto the right train to take me to New Jersey. Regular SEPTA patrons, I ask that you treat me with compassion and kindness, as I am inevitably bound to look like a COMPLETE AND TOTAL IDIOT. Just smile and nod and pretend like you agree that navigating the transportation system is hard. I’m a Girl Scout, y’all, and I can tell you how to get back from the middle of nowhere with nothing but your fingers and a stick, but… put me in front of a train schedule and my eyes go sort of go wonky and I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. Let me give you a little glimpse into what I’ll look like:

…I’ll figure it out. Anyway.

New Jersey. My first summer program.

I’m pretty much totally alone, horribly excited, and a little bit terrified, but, ready or not, I begin tomorrow and here I come. I could write in depth about the myriad feelings I’ve got, being away from my voice teacher, my mom, my friends, my cat, my school, my safe comfortable musical womb, etc. I’ll spare you that and let you know that I’ve got to remember:

“The youngest you can ever be is when you can sing and enjoy it.” – Leontyne Price

“I want to sing like birds sing: not wondering who is listening and what they think.” – Rumi

“He who sings scares away his woes.” – Miguel Cervantes

“Singing is a form of admitting I am alive.” – Alfredo Kraus

“Why are you stingy with yourselves? Why are holding back? What are you saving for–for another time? There are no other times. There is only now. Right now.” – George Balanchine

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” – Miles Davis

And, perhaps most of all:

Time for an adventure. Here we go. Wish me luck.

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Vittoria!

7 Jun

For little baby sopranos like yours truly, singing in TOSCA is a pretty far away dream. However, thanks to the magic of university (and a very ambitious vocal coaching graduate student, Corie Melaugh), I was lucky enough to get a taste of what performing this masterpiece will be like when I’m ready. I had the immense pleasure of singing as the soprano chorister for Ms. Melaugh’s vocal coaching project–Act II of TOSCA.

This is a staged reading–thus why you see scores! We put this together in an incredibly short amount of time, mind you. I don’t think we had the full cast and orchestra together until the day of the dress rehearsal.

In case you were in the mood for a little opera today, check out what our Scarpia (baritone Kasey Yeargain) uploaded to YouTube:

It’s great to be able to learn from the work of your peers. I hope you’ll take some time to enjoy the work of Kasey Yeagain (baritone, Scarpia), Phena Hackett (soprano, Floria Tosca), Matthew Brooks (tenor, Mario Cavaradossi), Joshua Hughes (baritone, Sciarrone), Christopher Layton (tenor, Spoletta), and the lovely cantata chorus of which I was a part (myself, Bridget Skaggs, Kathryne Overturf, Tevyn Hill, and Erick Rivera). Thanks to Corie for the opportunity.. and the sweet TOSCA score!

You don’t get to see me (I’m in the balcony, y’all!), but tune in for some high B action and just a glimpse of one of Puccini’s masterpieces.

Enjoy!

Who knows where the time goes?

2 Jun

Well, y’all, 2012 is half over and I haven’t written a single post. I’m three-fourths done with college, I did a recital, I was in a show, I said goodbye to some of my best friends, I’m getting ready to apply to grad school, I’m going to a summer program.. I’d say an update is in order.

JANUARY:

I DONE GAVE A RECITAL, Y’ALL.

I gave my junior vocal performance recital on January 27th, 2012 with my one of my best girl friends and studio mates, Nicole Leigh Hood. I’d say that we gave our audience its money’s worth.. but it was free. It is worthy to know that my recital was broadcast LIVE VIA THE INTERWEBS and in addition to every live body sitting in Petree Recital Hall, I had 27 unique people watching me across the country. It meant so much to me that my friends in Oregon, New York, Tennessee, and Kansas could hear (and sort of see) me sing, but it meant the most to have my grandmother, uncle, and cousin watch from her hospital room in Rockford, Illinois. Technology is pretty cool sometimes, huh?

I also found out that I was cast in THE MOTHER OF US ALL at school!

FEBRUARY:

February is a weird month. It always feels like it isn’t really there, but I promise you guys, it totally is. Highlights of February include:

– Seeing Sarah Coburn perform Great Moments of Opera with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic
– Beginning rehearsals for THE MOTHER OF US ALL

MARCH:

I found out I was accepted as a Young Artist at the CoOPERAtive program of Westminster Choir College for July! I was more than thrilled. I’ve been wanting to attend a summer program since I began my undergraduate degree. It was tough giving up camp for the summer, but I know I made the right decision.

I also had the time of my life portraying Gertrude Stein in Virgil Thomsson’s opera THE MOTHER OF US ALL.

It’s Constance Fletcher and Gertrude Stein!

March also marks the beginning of recital season.. and if you know anything about me, you know I was at almost every one of them. And at most of them, I was a puddle.

Told you.

APRIL:

As soon as the opera was over, I was in Full On Coast Mode. There was no pressure to learn a certain number of pieces for a repertoire requirement.. thank you, recital jury. That being said, I began work on a few new arias and some really amazing art songs, so let it be known I COULD HAVE TOTALLY DONE A “REAL” JURY AND BEEN JUST FINE. Basically, I’m a music magician.

All coasting side, I was a busy girl. Recital season was in full swing, and you could see me in Puddle Position at any number of junior recitals. Weeping. Ugly crying. I was (and am) so proud of my peers and can’t believe I get to say I go to school with such forward-thinking, spontaneous, honest, passionate performers.

Later in the month, I had the most amazing opportunity. John Bucchino, musical theater composer, came to OCU and gave a masterclass.. and I got to sing. Though I’m pursuing opera, I have loved and will always love musical theater. All singing is communicating and I do not consider myself solely an opera singer. What’s even greater is that as part of the masterclass, we were asked to sing one of Mr. Bucchino’s songs.. no pressure, y’all. Just sing one of the composer’s pieces. Needless to say, it was humbling and awe-inspiring. I sang “Sweet Dreams,” one of my favorite Bucchino songs. I learned so much from both Mr. Bucchino and my fellow masterclass participants. Imagine my surprise when Mr. Bucchino sat down at the piano and played his song for the second time around:

DAT’S ME

MAY:

In university, May is the time of goodbyes. We’re only there for about a week and a half, so everyone tries to cram in as many “goodbye” events as possible. I have never been one for goodbyes (I’m sentimental as enough as it is,  I don’t need to invite more sentiment into my existence), so I avoided them like the plague. Some of them were inevitable, though:

My big sister, Bonnie, and my best girl, Alyssa, the day of Baccalaureate!

I don’t have any siblings, but I do have a big sister. Her name is Bonnie and she’s been my role model and guiding star since I came to OCU in 2009. She’s been my good friend since I moved to Little Rock. I know that she’s gotta be a big bird and fly away, but I’m going to miss her more than anything. Thank goodness that you don’t stop being a sister when college is over.

And then.. junior year was over. All of a sudden, I have only one more year left at OCU. T-minus 28 days until I head to Princeton, NJ for my summer program. I plan to update FREQUENTLY, so.. get prepared, y’all. Now you’re all caught up, so I have no excuse.

Who knows where the time goes?

And Knowing is Half the Battle

4 Aug

If you ask me, “Opera and music theater. Huh. How’d you get into that?” (as so many people have, usually when referring to classical music [which, for some reason, is inherently more Zany and Weird than MT]), I will give you an answer. I will tell you. And I’ll look something like this:

except not dr. sue, sex therapist

Because the truth is, I don’t know. I’m pretty upfront about that. It differentiates me from the millions of other performers who have some half-true, half-dreamed story usually involving a childhood experience at the theater that uncovered a hidden, smoldering flame for stardom. You know, the ones where a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed kid is sitting in the worn down, plush seats of your Hometown Theater, probably watching the 39th non-equity tour of CATS, when it suddenly just.. strikes the child (in a paranormal, emotional bolt of lightening not at all related to the chocolate-covered nuts this child consumed at intermission) that this is what he/she is made to do.

oh, brother

I don’t doubt the validity of 90% of these claims. I think the other 10% is embellished, perhaps for good “about me” pages and performance biography material.

But as for me, I don’t have a story like that. Well, let me rephrase. I do have lots of childhood stories of sitting in plush seats, watching THE KING AND I, GODSPELL, or any number of other musicals. I was one of those kids, wide-eyed and gape-mouthed at the lights, the scenery, the dancing, the costumes. Ask me about what my mom and I did on the weekends and I will tell you that she’d put the A CHORUS LINE cast recording on our turntable and sing “At the Ballet.” I loved the theater. My entire life I’ve been surrounded by music. (Thanks, Mom!)

And yet? Here I am, almost twenty-one years old, halfway done with my undergraduate degree in vocal performance. I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. Now how’d that happen?

Four years ago, I was a junior in high school, applying to college. I attended a well-regarded arts magnet school and singing was a Big Deal to me. All-Region, All-State, solo festival–those were the true markers of success. Those numbers mattered. Still, other numbers mattered, too, and even in my zeal for singing, I couldn’t help but be moderately obsessed with my other grades, too. Okay, maybe completely obsessed. I was an overachiever, okay? There is a difference between 99% and 100%.

I applied to college initially thinking I would triple major in literature, political science, and some sort of cultural studies major–preferably third world studies. I was going to be a human rights lawyer.

But something was missing. In the back of my mind, I wanted to sing. Nothing else mattered but singing, truly. Politics was a passion, and changing the world a goal, but I knew that I wasn’t meant to accomplish change through civil service. I was meant to change the world through art. What stopped me from doing it? Honestly? Bear with me here.

Fear. I mean, come on, it’s not like theater (in any form, classical music or MT), for all its acceptance and tolerance, is the easiest world to make a name in.

You’re probably in the throes of lizlemoneyeroll.gif face right now, and I can’t say that I blame you.

you mean to tell me that she "just knew"?

It’s contrived but totally true. At some point, I had to give up the safety and security of a stable career and admit to myself that I wanted to be on stage. And that it didn’t matter whether or not I was good enough, but that I was doing it. When I did, it was like a Carnegie Hall Sized Weight was taken off of my shoulders. I had always known that this was what I wanted to do. Singing was natural for me. From listening to “At the Ballet” with my mom to watching the ballet Coppelia, I have always, somehow, known, that this was for me. This is for me, it is me, it will be me two days from now and two centuries from now.

How’d I get into opera and musical theatre? Well, for all my “not knowing”–

I just knew.

Shots Fired

3 Aug

Every so often, a change comes along that forces a perfectly good singer with a perfectly good headshot to have to get new ones done. That change, for me, came in May of this year when I decided to go brunette. Even after a good four months of living life with darker hair, I can’t help but double-take when I look at myself in the mirror.

I was lucky enough to get shot (hee hee) by Nelson Chenault. What do you think?