Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Life as it stands...

What a whirlwind. I have a day job - in fact I have three! I am teaching music! Teaching is interesting. I love the kids, but man... they have a LOT of energy. More than me... and I have a lot of energy...

Naturally, I am keeping myself extra busy. Not only do I teach at two different elementary schools, but I am going to be leading Music Together classes starting in December! I love Music Together's program and am so excited to be able to work with families in this way. The program really helps parents connect with their child musically, so that children can grow up to appreciate and love music, not only as a school subject or on the radio, but as an exciting and wonderful time to bond with parents.

Drew couldn't cut the mustard in California and decided to return to Pennsylvania to pursue his own dreams. We have called off our engagement and parted ways. I am incredibly relieved. The lives we want are both too similar and too different. I no longer feel the need to try and mold myself into a person I couldn't be. I haven't felt as good as I do now in quite some time. I feel that I have really taken a lot of steps to grow up and mature since moving to New Jersey, and now I can really embrace my independence and try things I didn't have the chance to try before. Music has always been my life-blood, and I am happy to have the chance to focus on it.

As the Christmas season approaches, my kids and I are singing all over the place. Expect to see me all over the Bay Area, in my bustles, hoop skirts, and brand new bonnet, singing your favorite Christmas songs with Piccola Carolers. My choir kids will be singing in their school production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, as well as participating in the Thanksgiving and Christmas Chapel programs. I look forward to a month of beautiful music making.

I'm lucky enough to teach with an SF State colleague, Adrian Borcea, with whom I will present a recital on March 15th at Church of the Advent Christ the King in San Francisco (261 Fell St, San Francisco, CA 94102) this coming March as part of their Sunday concert series. We will put together a collection of favorites from the standard repertoire. Most likely, you will hear some Mozart, Strauss, and maybe a little Debussy.

I will be singing the role of Galatea in My Fair Galatea with Donald Pippin's Pocket Opera this spring. I'm very excited. The role is charming and fun. Quite a lot of fun music, as well. Von Suppe's operetta features a little of everything. May 31st, June 7th, and June 14th at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco and the Hillside Club in Berkeley.

Thank you to those of you staying tuned with my life. Without the amazing, supportive people in my life, I could never survive any of this. XO

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Graduation and wishful thinking!

WE GRADUATED! First of all, let me just say how incredibly relieved I am to have finished my Master of Music. I am still thinking about pursuing that doctorate in another year or two, but for now I have a lot to think about...

Drew and I are still "jobless" in the traditional sense... He's fortunate enough to have made his professional debut with Opera Philadelphia at their special Organ Day concert at Kimmel Center.

While he was there, I was busy at the Music Together Teacher Training Workshop. What a great way to get families to make music with their children! I had a lot of fun with these other prospective teachers. What I expected to be a room full of musicians, was actually a warm welcoming environment of a large mix of people of many different backgrounds - education, theater, some music, many who work in a preschool setting - all of whom are eager to bring music into parents' and children's lives. I am glad to have been part of this class and am hoping to find opportunities to teach some family classes soon!

While at the teacher training, I received an e-mail invitation (from one of my most beloved professors) to sing at the NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) Conference in Boston. I will be participating in a masterclass with Margot Garrett, a coach from Julliard. This invitation was a huge surprise, as I had applied quite a while ago and assumed I had been rejected. I really needed the ego boost - I have received quite a few rejections this year for unknown reasons (for those of you unfamiliar with the Young Artist Audition Process: it's considered "rude" or "inappropriate" to request feedback from audition panels unless it is specifically set up as a "feedback audition" - which those, by the way, costs about $50-100 and very rarely grants roles or monetary rewards). So, in doubting my talent, my acting ability, my technique, I think I was ready to pursue that law degree my father so "tactfully" suggested (you know, because I "love to argue" - but only with him).

Not only do I have this great upcoming opportunity to sing in a masterclass, but Drew and I will also take part in the training with Sean McCarther for his presentation on "Body, Mind, and Voice" at the conference – and Westminster Choir College is making sure all of the participants of this presentation go for free! Drew and I get hotel, registration fees, and parking (in Boston) covered by our alma mater, so long as we work the Westminster booth when we aren't in conference sessions. What a great chance to learn, meet other musicians, and see some great lectures and masterclasses on teaching voice!

Even though I still have to hunt for a "day job" to support my singing, I have lots of fun things to look forward to this summer. I can't wait to share my experiences with everyone!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

One week until Commencement!

This semester has come to an end. The two years of graduate school that sometimes felt grueling, but were highly rewarding, are now done, and I will be celebrating commencement with my classmates one week from Saturday.

This semester taught me a lot about myself and growing up. I had to tackle the challenges of graduate school, I have adjusted to living alone with just me and my fiance - our housemate from Ireland left in late March, and figured out the puzzle of the American Healthcare system! Figuring out which health insurance plan to buy was probably the hardest part of adjusting to true "adulthood." I've taken necessary steps to take as much control of my life as possible, trying to ready myself for the many challenging paths ahead.

I enjoyed putting together my graduate recital, a collection of music inspired by the life and works of William Shakespeare (whose 450th Birthday we celebrated last April!). I collaborated with the dynamic Rachelle Jonck for this presentation. It was a blast and some of the hardest music I've ever put together. Why did I choose so many difficult pieces for this concert??? I guess I like a challenge!

I began the harrowing task of wedding planning... Although I am overjoyed to be sharing my life with the wonderful Drew, I am terrified of looking at all the price-tags on everything necessary for this once-in-a-lifetime celebration. We set our date for summer of 2015, so we have some time to save, plan, and get creative!

Drew and I are both neck-deep in the job hunt. We would both love to find something near Philadelphia so we can maintain some connection with performing. I have hunted for everything for choruses to marketing work to teaching pre-schoolers and will keep plugging along until the right one appears. The most exciting was my second interview with a "marketing" company that required employees to drive over the better part of the state of New Jersey and convince business owners to change their energy supplier. Having doors slammed in your face by said business owners really takes away any kind of work-place satisfaction.

I am looking toward the future in hopes that Drew and I will find the perfect balance in our lives of teaching, making music, and building our lives together as a couple.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hitting the ground running

Since November... WOW! I have been a little MIA!

December I had a very successful performance of the Impresario with Westminster Players. I got through audition season alive, but broke and with nothing to show for it. I will admit, I did not fully think through the repertoire in my package this year, not to mention I really spread out these applications to different activities. (Also, I refused to audition for any program that required tuition. It is too difficult to raise the money for a pay-to-sing, when student loans are going to be wanting repayment in a few more months). For next year, my aria choices will, ideally, be more congruent with one fach (voice type). As usual, my feedback is centered around the idea that I'm really not reflecting any one type of soprano. Sadly, I do not have anything on the books for this Summer or Fall, and I'm very okay with that. I have a wedding to plan, permanent work to begin looking for, and hopefully I can really dig in and apply to doctoral programs for 2015.

On a more positive note - two weeks ago I returned to my Alma Mater, San Francisco State University, to perform in an alumni concert for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Frank V. deBellis Collection at the J. Paul Leonard Library at SFSU. This collection houses rare musical artifacts bridging Italian Culture with the Bay Area. In the collection is a wonderful oratorio manuscript by Alessandro Scarlatti. This oratorio features six soloists: Cain, Abel, God, the Devil, and Adam and Eve. I played Abel in the story of the First Homicide, opposite the lovely and talented Buffy Baggot ( Other members of the cast included Erin Neff as the Voice of God, Jose Hernandez and Angela Cadelago as Adam and Eve, and the gracious Paul Thompson stepped in the night before the show to sing the ominous Lucifer.  The show featured all CSU Alumni in the orchestra, mostly members of the American Bach Soloists, as well as historical instruments such as the theorbo (a large lute with the neck extended to carry several long bass strings, used for accompaniment in 17th- and early 18th-century music) and naturally, the harpsichord - played by John Chen, an old friend I hadn't seen in maybe 8 years...

The incredibly welcoming museum staff gave my dad and me a private tour of the collection the next day. When I found out my flight was delayed for several hours, I decided it was an opportunity to go see what exactly I had been singing for. Getting to see the original manuscript in the handwriting of the composer right after singing it is a pretty cool experience.

Now for my headline - Hitting the ground running:
Made it back to Princeton, giving me exactly 10 days to prepare and memorize the remaining music for my graduate recital (nothing was completely new, but had not really been the focus of my time)! Thinking this was plenty of time to prepare, I naturally didn't account for the exhaustion and dehydration of jet lag, the concerts that Drew had planned on attending that week, nor the amount of homework I needed to catch up with, since I underestimated my schedule. Despite all this, the recital work was finished and I passed my recital hearing with no significant issues. Now on to performing this thing.

Mark your calendars for April 6th. I hope that I will be able to live-stream or at least record this performance for the public and all my friends and family back in California who can't make it to New Jersey. My performance will be a celebration of the life of Shakespeare, as this year marks his 450th Birthday. I will include compositions of Henry Purcell, Camille Saint-Saƫns, Richard Strauss, David Ashley White, and Bellini, to name a few. The music is centered around the 19th century revivals of Shakespeare's work - the re-tellings of his plays through opera, the French fascination with Ophelia and feminine death - as well as 20th century interpretations including musical theater, and the setting of English Madrigal texts to contemporary song, by composer David Ashley White of Moore's School of Music in Houston, TX.

Please check back for all the juicy details after my dress rehearsal and recital!

A Busy Singer is a Happy Singer

The days tick on, and although it's January, Springtime is rolling in! Not just green trees and wild flowers, but the spring opera seaso...

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