Friday, October 31, 2008

Why polish your "look"?

Every once in a while something comes along to get me all excited. Last week I read about Liz Parker launching her new public relations website and business and thought "cool". Then an onslaught of great facebook reminders, blog stuff, and messages started to bounce around the vitural world and voila, I was hooked by the PR buzz and all excited about October 31, the day of the launch.

Well, here it is: The website is everything it promised to be and more. Check out the stylings of soprano Laura Whalen (more to come on her soon!) and mezzo Lynne McMurtry. Not just about pictures, but writing a great bio, pulling the right press quotes and ultimately showing "who you are" to an audition panel or promoter. This is a shout out to all you singers - GET GLOSSED! It really is important.

Laura Whalen below, looks like the joyful person and singer that she is!

PR the Canadian way - congratulations Liz!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2009 NATS Intern Program for Young Teachers of Singing

Cynthia Vaughn reminded me this week that The National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) is currently accepting application for their NATS intern program.

"The NATS Intern Program is an exciting and innovative venture that seeks to pair experienced and recognized master teachers of voice with talented young members of NATS. Within a format designed to promote the dynamic exchange of ideas and techniques, the goal is to improve substantially the studio teaching skills of these promising young teachers."
When? June 9-19, 2009
Where? Shorter College, Rome, GA

Get the application here.

I would love to hear from former NATS Interns - what was your experience like and how has it changed your teaching?
September 1 update: As of March last year, I was the first alternate for this program but told that I probably wouldn't have the opportunity to attend. Then on June 8 (the day before it started), I got a call that someone had to pull out at the last minute and could I attend? Alas, I was unable to get on a flight to Georgia that night(is there a song in that?) ...just goes to show you that YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN!

A NEW Young Artist Training Program is Launched in Canada

When one joins a department of music at the university level, one is subject to a great number of marketing materials. Most of the program information that comes through my university mail box is not appropriate for the undergraduate level singer. However, once in a while I find something interesting.

The Canadian Operatic Arts Academy sent me an incredible brochure and application first through my email as a NATS member then through my university snail mail. I love slick marketing materials and this was fabulous! Then I noticed that the content was equal to their gloss.

Started by the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario, the COAA promised to provide:

...the participants with invaluable insight into the multifaceted world of opera
– its preparation, performance, and business. Topics include role preparation, performance practice, dramatic exercises and study, audition training, promotion, management, and vocal and physical health. Primary focus will be placed on stage technique: character development, stage deportment, and character interaction. Participants also have the opportunity to engage in a wide array of forums with leading professionals in the operatic field. The workshop culminates in a public performance through which participants will have the opportunity to delve deeply into the experience of role preparation, both its musical and dramatic considerations. Participants completing the Canadian Operatic Arts Academy will leave better prepared for obtaining, realizing, and sustaining a prolific and rewarding career in the operatic profession.

Thanks UWO and Dr. Sophie Roland for putting together this great program...I would love to hear reports from singers that participate this summer!

Canadian Chamber Choir takes on Saskatoon

A choir of soloists seems to be an oxymoron. As choral conductors and singing teachers continue to battle for supreme authority on the voice of each of their students, along comes a choir that celebrates, supports and understands the solo voice. The Canadian Chamber Choir, led by Dr. Julie Davids recently wrapped their Saskatoon residency and looks forward a trip to Nova Scotia in the winter. Their website states that the CCC is
a national choral ensemble that provides a professional choral environment for Canadian singers, conductors and composers. The CCC has a mandate to perform new and existing Canadian choral works, apprentice choral conductors, and facilitate workshops in all sizes of Canadian communities.
How do 17 singers from all over the country come together?
The CCC organizes short 'projects' in different locations around the country. Usually 7-10 days in length, the choir will convene in the province of choice and spend 3-4 days in rehearsal; singers will have received their music in the mail and learned it prior to arrival. During the rehearsal period, a local school, choir, or community group will host the CCC's residency, and in turn the CCC gives workshops to local choirs in the community. The CCC then hits the road on a mini-tour, giving a combination of concerts and workshops throughout the province.
For me, I get excited by a leader that is a singer and understands the voice - when to round the lips to unify the sound, when to allow the full range of vocal colours to show and how to keep singers healthy.

I know these comments can open a whole can of worms....what are your thoughts? What have been your choral experiences? How are all of us supporting our singers as soloists and members of an ensemble?

Monday, October 27, 2008

YAP Tracker takes care of the details

Finally a website to keep us all organized! Yap Tracker is:
the ultimate resource for young artists and emerging professionals. Your online audition manager will keep you up-to-date and in-the-know about programs, competitions, workshops and main stage auditions to help you get ahead in the ever competitive classical performance market. Our sophisticated tracking system will keep you apprised of upcoming applications and auditions so you will never again miss a deadline or opportunities.
I have been using it for less than a month and have found numerous auditions, competitions and grant listings that are great not just for my personal career but that of my students.
Leave me a comment with your email to get a $5 off voucher on your $50 US membership!
Happy Yapping!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The REAL life of a working singer/teacher/mom

I haven't shared much personal information on this blog however; today I am going to change that!

Being a working musician is a challenging and fulfilling life. I am fortunate to have people in my life who are completely supportive, encouraging and willing to step in to help at any given moment to help. That support network is imperative and I include my husband, my parents, my siblings and their families and my close friends. There are days that are easy...and then there are days like today where real life wakes one up from the dream of being a musician.

Right now there are a cacophony of sounds and happenings in my house (where I work most days) including:
- a piano being tuned
- my youngest child throwing up in the toilet
- my husband discussing our finances
- fabric waiting to be turned into Halloween costumes for the school party TONIGHT
- my husband's many office projects that I still manage
...and then the normal house stuff including laundry, dishes, groceries, dusting, cleaning, gardening, and bills to be paid.

This is real life and the person that chooses family and singing is one that must build their support network, learn prioritizing skills and ultimately be as in-love with their family as they are with their singing.

Classical Singer Magazine did a great job of looking at being a parent and working singer in their March 2008 issue. There are also a number of great websites including OperaMom which is the definitive source of information and support for singing professionals with children.

How do you manage your career and family? Is it different for men than women (and there is a whole NEW can of worms :-) If you are just starting out, what choices have you made and where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Canadian Works for Voice and Piano

In the age of social conscious purchasing (think buying locally owned and from field to table programs) how many of us singers out there have applied this to our vocal repertoire? As teachers it is sometimes difficult to find the time (and, lets be honest, the energy!) to source new and local music that is appropriate for our students. As performers are we performing new works? Are we collaborating beyond our pianist with composers? Librettists? Music stores? Music organizations? to find new, interesting, local and socially relevant material?

Recently I discovered a great number of composers doing just that - collaborating and marketing their music directly to US the singing teacher/performer. The Toronto chapter of ORMTA held a composers forum last Sunday, October 19 at the Music Gallery. For those of us fortunate to have stumbled into the theatre, there was much to be found!

Find #1: Martha Hill Duncan

Kingston composer Martha Hill Duncan is an expat-Texan living in Kingston teaching piano and composing all sorts of interesting and relevant material. She has published 2 volumes of songs for voice and piano entitled "Singing in the Northlands". Volume 1 is a collection of songs appropriate for the beginning singer (think Royal Conservatory Grades 2-5). Volume 2 is more advanced with songs that challenge rhythm (think 4/4 over a 12/8 accompaniment) and tonality while remaining romantic in nature and very lyrical!

Find #2: Maria Molinari

Toronto composer Maria Molinari presented her compositions with a bang! She played a recording of an incredible song cycle to poetry by William Blake. Soaring, lyrical and challenging for the undergraduate singer, I was blown away! A graduate of the University of Toronto in composition and the University of Southern California (USC) in Film Scoring, one can "hear the picture" in her vocal works. My favourite piece is a prizewinner from the 2002 Stratford Festival Song Competition Contest for Young Composers winner "Willow Song". Simple, direct and middle voice tessitura, this song challenges the dramatic instinct of a singer in delivering a Shakespearean text.

Both composers have their music available on their websites and through the Canadian Music Centre. I encourage you to check them out.

Share your favourite Canadian composer so we can continue the dialogue!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Celebrating Canadian Baritone Russell Braun

With a stream of accolades, it is difficult to say something new about Canadian baritone Russell Braun. Currently receiving rave reviews as Prince Andrei Bolkonsky in the Canadian Opera Company's new production of War and Peace, Russell is a baritone that creates a light attack and an incredibly smooth legato while maintaining a big, round baritone sound.

In addition to his busy performing schedule, he is serving on the faculty of the University of Toronto with his wife pianist Carolyn Maule. Their long affiliation with the faculty there first as students and now as teachers and mentors, has touched many young Canadian singers.

Recently Russell and Carolyn joined forces with Micheal Schade in a recital at Roy Thompson Hall in their hometown of Toronto. CBC radio is providing it streamed here.

Finally, check out his incredible delivery of Mercutio's aria from Romeo et Juliette from the 2008 Salzburg Festival:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Music Schools for Undergraduate and Graduate level study

I recently received information from the Eastman School of Music about their upcoming annual College Music Fair for the region of Upstate New York. The event takes place on Wednesday, October 22 in the evening and will host over 70 music schools from across the US and Canada. Those in attendance will have the opportunity to audit various Eastman student rehearsal and attend a Wind Ensemble concert.

Check out the link here for more information. This site includes a list of all the schools attending with links to their webpages.

Singers of the Future - Operalia 2008

Operalia 2008 was a fantastic survey of up and coming singers on the world stage. Have a listen to the concert that was broadcast live by CBC Radio 2 from Montreal, Quebec last week. You can stream the finals here.

You can read more about the competition here.

Notice that we had a Canadian in the finals - bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus. Stephen holds a Master of Music in Opera from the University of Toronto. He is a member of Atelier lyrique de l'Opéra de Montréal and has pursued further studies at the Banff Centre, the Britten-Pears Programme in Aldeburgh, England, and at the Centre for Opera in Sulmona, Italy. The 2008 recipient of the Herbert Cohen award for second place at the 32nd annual Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Solo Competition hosted by the Oratorio Society of New York, Stephen will make his Carnegie Hall debut in 2009 singing Bach’s Mass in B-minor with the Oratorio Society of New York.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

More Canadian Culture with the Wrecking Ball

Artists have an incredible way of mobilizing and uniting.

"This October 6, the Wrecking Ball goes NATIONAL. That means there will be live events in major cities across Canada: All at Once, All on the Same Day, All Political, All New, All Written Expressly FOR the Federal Election. All thrown up by 100% Canadian actors, writers, directors and technicians in their gala niches from coast to coast."

Check out what Wajdi Mouawad had to say at a political rally in Ottawa on September 24:

"Today, our duty is to speak together, as one, to make ourselves heard. Not to defend grants, but to stand up for what we believe in, not only for ourselves but for everyone."

And that ladies and gentlemen, says it all.

Canadian Arts and Culture Week: Celebrating Tenor Micheal Schade

I have to admit that Michael Schade is one of my favourite tenors. Not just because he is Canadian, has an incredible voice and loves hockey, but mostly because he is a great supporter of young singers.

Michael was Idomeneo in the 2001 Canadian opera Company production where I made my last minute debut as Elettra. I wasn’t supposed to sing it at all only understudy the role. But one thing led to another and I ended up on stage, 8 months pregnant doing the full run. What a ride for a young singer and how frustrating for the regular cast (read a review here). Despite the chaos that surrounded that production, Michael was fantastic. One night he found me in the big rehearsal hall vocalizing before a performance and his advice was “don’t leave it in the practice room”. Clear, concise and to the point – just like his voice.

Michael is one of Canada’s true operatic superstars. The go-to tenor for Mozart all over the world he is now imparting his years of experience and wisdom to young singers as the Co-Director, along with Barbara Bonney, of the new Salzburg Young Artists Project.

You can hear Michael this season in the Met HD broadcast of a new production of Thais with Renee Fleming and Thomas Hampson on December 20th and then back at home in Toronto with the Canadian Opera Company singing the Prince in Rusalka.

Have a listen to a 1999 production of Don Giovanni with Michael singing “Il mio tesoro”:

Up next, baritone Russell Braun.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Vote for Canadian Culture

Cast your vote for Canadian Culture today! Visit I VOTE FOR CULTURE today to let your voice be heard.

From the voice of....