Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Things that make you go HMMM...

For those of you who read The Collaborative Piano Blog by Chris Foley, you will have not doubt seen his posting yesterday of French-Canadian Rufus Wainwright singing Berlioz' La Spectre de la Rose from the song cycle Les Nuits D'Ete.

Now, Rufus has a lovely tenor voice and comes from a line of musicians (his mother is Kate McGarrigle) and was recently awarded an opera commission from the MET (then later, it was taken away and the drama continues), BUT why would bother with Berlioz?

So, to counter the sounds of Rufus, I present Dame Janet Baker singing the same song with orchestra. What I adore about Dame Janet is her seamless breathing, the light attacks and the depth of her sound. Something else that is interesting for us pedagogy nerds is her use of her upper lip to dampen her sound particularly at the end of the song.

What do you think of this cross-genre theme? Have we gone too far?

Open your closed eyelid
Which is gently brushed by a virginal dream!
I am the ghost of the rose
That you wore last night at the ball.
You took me when I was still sprinkled with pearls
Of silvery tears from the watering-can,
And, among the sparkling festivities,
You carried me the entire night.
O you, who caused my death:
Without the power to chase it away,
You will be visited every night by my ghost,
Which will dance at your bedside.
But fear nothing; I demand
Neither Mass nor De Profundis;
This mild perfume is my soul,
And I've come from Paradise.
My destiny is worthy of envy;
And to have a fate so fine,
More than one would give his life
For on your breast I have my tomb,
And on the alabaster where I rest,
A poet with a kiss
Wrote: "Here lies a rose,
Of which all kings may be jealous."

Translation by
Emily Ezust

Monday, November 24, 2008

Queen's University School of Music goes LIVE!

Check out the new website for the School of Music at Queen's University. More information, easier to browse and way better design! Way to go Queens!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Beethoven Symohony #9 and more!

Calling all readers in Kingston! This weekend the Kingston Symphony performs Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at the Kingston Gospel Temple. Featuring the Kingston Choral Society and the Queens University Choral with mezzo Janice Cole, tenor Micheal Colvin, baritone Daniel Hambly and yours truly this should be a weekend of JOY!

Here is Claudio Abbado conducting the Berlin Philharmonic with Karita Mattila, Violeta Urmana,Thomas Moser & Eike Wilm Schulte and the Swedish Radio Choir and the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ontario Student NATS Competition

If you are in the Kitchener-Waterloo area and are looking for something to do this weekend, check out the Ontario Chapter of NATS Student Auditions on Saturday, November 22 at the John Aird Center and Maureen Forrester Recital Hall of Wilfrid Laurier University.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

All Diva all the time!

In the true spirit of Canada Music Week I thought I would keep us laughing and poke a little fun at myself. At the School of Music we only have one photocopy machine for staff and faculty. The other day I found myself in a mad rush to get something copied and ran into a collegue and theorist friend...actually I jumped the the photocopy line as he was sorting his papers. Here is part of his hilarious response on how to deal with a diva!

hmmm, just a second - I'm thumbing through my grad school survival guide, which had a section devoted to dealing with sopranos... Ah, here we go:

step 1: "when dealing with a soprano make sure to validate her need to be the centre of the universe"

Hail mighty diva of song, I, a lowly theorist, am humbled in your presence.

step 2: "acknowledge her inherent right to appropriate any communal resource"

It is with a sense of humility that I relinquish any right to use of the photocopier.

step 3: "every so gently try to encourage the soprano to entertain the notion that, while any communal resource is hers to use at all times, it would make her look magnanimous and add to her appeal as a singing luminary if she were to share the
resource with others"

People throughout the School of Music, while dazzled with the dulcet tones of your voice are even more in awe of your exeeding generosity as you share the photocopier with an inconsequential theorist.

step 4: "be prepared for the soprano to initially refuse this request (if she were to give in too quickly she might appear agreeable, which does not help sustain the mystique of the diva; however, after repeated attempts - a dozen is typical - she will eventually acquiesce because there is usually another shiny object that has tickled her fancy. Notwithstanding, ensure to lie prostrate and pledge your undying devotion whenever she comes to the photocopy room."

Hail mighty diva of song, thank you for allowing me, a miniscule theorist, to be allowed the highest privilege of being in your presence and sharing the photocopier. Unworthy as I am of such graces, I pledge my fealty to you and your golden voice. Hail might diva of song!"

It's a good thing I kept this guide and highlighted it - I have a feeling I will need it for years to come!

Friday, November 14, 2008

All I ever needed to know about the RING I learned from Anna Russell


Part One:

Part Two (listen to her Hojotoho's in chest voice at the 48 sec point):

Part Three (if you got this far, you might as well finish it!):

Who was Anna Russell you ask? Why she was the queen of opera parody. Today, we have Mary Lou Fallis! More on her later....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kingston Kiwanis offers big prize money

In case you haven't heard, the Kingston Kiwanis Music Festival has introduced
new senior competitive scholarship classes this year that will award $1000 in
prize money in each of the areas of voice, piano, strings and winds/brass/percussion. The prize winners will be announced immediately following the competitive class. To find out more information about these classes, please go to the festival's website and download their syllabus.

Important Music Festival Dates:
Entry Deadline December 12, 2008
Festival Runs Feb 25 - Mar 6, 2009
Highlights Concert March 11, 2009


Special Senior Competitive Scholarships
Voice – Class 3618
Piano – Class 1507
Winds and Percussion – Class 0705
Strings – Class 0204
Prizes: 1st - $500 2nd - $300 3rd - $200

Monday, November 10, 2008

Canadians at the MET

As you may have read, there is much excitement at the MET over Canadian director Robert Lapage's new production of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust. Known in the opera circles for his Erwartung/Bluebeard's Castle double bill, Lepage is "practicing" for Wagner's Ring at the MET in 2011-2012.

Not to be overlooked is another great Canadian - bass baritone John Relyea singing the role of Méphistophélès opposite Susan Graham's Marguerite.

Relevant articles:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Keyboard Skills for Singers

I recently had a student who was having some difficulty practicing because she has poor piano skills. I doubt that I am the first teacher to encounter this issue (nor will I be the last!). Despite our best efforts, it is sometimes difficult to convey the importance of keyboard skills to young singers. Spending time in the lesson to improve practice habits is necessary but giving piano lessons on top of the voice lesson just doesn't seem practical.

Here is a tool that could be helpful for that beginning student in learning the piano via the internet (imagine!). LA based singer and teacher Ariella Vaccarino has created a number of products for singers but the most exciting (and free) product is her explanation of broken and solid chords and how to "warm up" at the piano.

Lesson 1 is the longest and outlines major chords:

Lesson 2 adds the octave:

Lesson 3 is an overview of 5 finger patterns:

Lesson 4 combines everything:

From the voice of....