Thursday, March 12, 2009

Notes from a Recital

Recently my colleague and I, baritone Gregory Brookes were joined by collaborative pianist Allison Gagnon to perform a joint faculty recital at Queens University. The program, England and the New World, featured the music of Vaughn Williams, Purcell (arranged by Britten), John Harbison and Canadian composers John Greer, John Burge, Martha Hill Duncan and a new commission by Kingston composer David Colwell. It was an interesting program and well received by a relatively full house!

In the tough times of today's global market, stepping on stage to perform seemed like the ultimate luxury but no matter how many times I do it, I still learn things that make me want to slap my head and say "doh" a-la-Homer-Simpson.

Here are a few observations:
  1. Unless you are Renee Fleming you will be sweeping floors: Our arrival to the "concert hall" (it is normally a lecture hall that happens to have a Steinway A in the closet) found us looking at a house full of used newspapers, old coffee cups, spilled pop and dirt everywhere! I spent the first 20 minutes of our warm up picking up and sweeping the floor - somehow my gown still managed to get filthy by the end of the performance!
  2. Even if you are singing in English for an English speaking crowd, you need to print the texts: After the performance, one of my friends asked me about a line I sang. They heard "making love with a dog with a knitting needle" (what kind of mind pulls that one out??) but what I actually sang was "making love with the Dark One and eating little" (Harbison's Mirabai Songs)!!!
  3. Memorize, memorize, memorize: Even if you have sung your songs to your dog, your memory can slip in the heat of the moment. I made mistakes that made me gasp internally! How could I be so careless? How could I have messed that up? How could I....and the beatings continue.
  4. Record, record, record: We hired a former CBC producer to record our performance. Totally worth it even if we can never use it for auditions or our websites...just to have a record of your singing in that moment is invaluable.
  5. Always have your family in the house: My parents and my husband are my most fervent supporters but this time I was lucky to have my auntie and uncle drive in and some very good friends from home...what wonderful opportunity to really "feel the love".

I would love to hear your thoughts on things you are learned or experienced during recital-ing. Come April, undergrads everywhere will be doing juries and degree recitals - lets give them some things to think about BEFORE they step on stage!

1 comment:

Greg Brookes said...

This was definately a fun recital. What was so cool about it for me was that everyone who commented to me afterwards seemed to have a different favorite. It also reinforced the fact that there is great Canadian music out there and we need to keep performing it as much as possible.

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