Monday, June 28, 2010

Countdown to the 51st NATS National Conference

Only four more days until the start of the 51st NATS National Conference in Salt Lake City!  I am thrilled to be attending and will be blogging daily from various events.  If you can not get to Salt Lake City but would like to hear what is being said, let me know! I will do my best to attend as many events as possible and report back.

Check the Conference Program Schedule for a list of events and the Program Sessions for details and then leave a comment with your wish list.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

E-Gre Competition: Voice 2011

I just received this from the E-Gré  competition - a competition that has afforded some excellent musicians the opportunity to travel the country presenting recitals of contemporary repertoire!

Established 33 years ago as a tribute to composer and pianist/violinist Sonia Eckhardt-Gramatté, the E-Gré Competition promotes the performance of Canadian and contemporary music and the careers of emerging young Canadian artists. It is open only to Canadian citizens or permanent residents between the ages of 18 & 35. The Competition is held annually at the Brandon University School of Music in Brandon, Manitoba and alternates between Voice (2011), Strings (2012), and Piano (2013).
The 1st prize is a cash award of $5,000, a Canada-wide recital tour (which provides another $5,000), and the ARIAS Jean A. Chalmers Award of $5,000. The 2nd and 3rd prizewinners receive $3,000 and $2,000, and a special prize of $1,000 is also awarded for the best performance of the commissioned work. In addition, a prize of $500 is awarded to the best collaborative pianist.
The Rules and Application form can be found on our website at The deadline for applications is November 15th, 2010.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Singing in a nutshell

This past spring I spent about three weeks on the road adjudicating various festivals and had the privilege of meeting some amazing colleagues!  Sometimes after a long day, we would get a little punchy and start trading stories and "lines" that we use to get a point across.  I thought I would share a few of them with you today...

"Put the voice in the nose but not the nose in the voice"

"Open your mouth for pitch and power"

"It's not the marks but the re-marks that matter"

Rest assured that none of us believe that you can teach a student with one-liners but sometimes, a little memory hook can be helpful!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Maureen Forrester - One of Canada's Greatest

We have lost one our greatest singing treasures - let the legacy of Maureen Forrester live on.

(Glenn Gould conducts Forrester in Mahler's Urlicht)

Read More:
Globe and Mail Tribute
Canadian Press Article
Wikipedia entry

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Toronto Reviews Prima Donna at Luminato

Colin Eatock wrote in yesterday's Globe and Mail about Rufus Wainwright's new opera Prima Donna:’s not hard to build a critical case against Wainwright: his opera falters when faced with big, weighty questions. Is it truly a work of our time? (No.) Does it point out a new way forward for the art form of opera? (Certainly not.) But if we ask a question that’s both smaller and more to the point – Is Prima Donna a musically and dramatically effective work? – the answer is a resounding yes. Wainwright has deftly made a virtue of his outsider status in the world of contemporary opera. Indeed, Prima Donna’s nostalgic atmosphere seems to be inextricably connected to Wainwright’s own fascination with opera’s Golden Age.
But all things considered, at the end of the night the score was Wainwright 1, Metropolitan opera 0. The Met missed the boat on this one.
John Coulbourn writes in the Toronto Sun

In short, it’s the kind of work that, should one stumble across it in an out-of-the-way theatre on a good night, might generate a certain enthusiasm as a promissory note on future brilliance.
But on the stage of the Elgin, in the full glare of the massive attention focused on its admittedly self-obsessed composer, it emerges as something a little too close to a vanity project.
And frankly, both Wainwright and Prima Donna are a little better than that.

And before the curtain even went up, John Terauds blogs on Sound Mind:
Over the past five years, my greatest pleasure has come from meeting and talking to singers, conductors, instrumentalists and composers -- the bulk of whom are not only deeply engaged in their personal journeys, but also deeply attuned to the people and dynamics around them.
Absolutely nothing in the world of opera (or music, or theatre, or publishing) happens in isolation. The finished product that we consume has been carefully crafted, often over many years, by many pairs of hands.
Prima Donna, the opera, is no different. Except that Wainwright appears to think that it is all about him. Oh, his poor, tortured soul. Oh, the inability of other people to relate to his vision. Oh, the beauty of putting all of one's personal suffering into song.
 And in review for the Toronto Star on Monday he writes:

But, for now, just like the TV series Lost, this opera leaves us wondering about the point of this extravagant exercise.

Sounds like this will continue to be a rocky path for Prima Donna and Rufus Wainwright....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Patsy Rodenburg on the Circles of Energy

My previous post featured acting coach and author Patsy Rodenburg speaking about why she does what she does. In this clip, which is a continuation of the previous clip, she discusses the three circles of energy as written in her book The Second Circle.

While she is speaking to actors, this is completely applicable not only to operatic situations but also to the song recital platform.  Within the concept of circles of energy she talks about first circle as being in the past, or completely inward.  The opposite spectrum is third circle which is generalized energy that is pushed out and is of the future.  The second circle is the circle of being present, being aware, being an active listener.

I recently performed a recital where one particular set, that of the music of Samuel Barber, was very well received which I had found surprising.  I had managed to mangle some of the words (which were in English with the text in the program!) but after listening to this clip, I realized that I was completely engaged with the energy of the music - I don't even remember counting or thinking (probably why I forgot the words) but just allowed the sound to flow.  This is second circle and this is what engages your audience.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Healing our times

  I am an avid reader of many blogs including the thrilling American mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato's blog called Yankee Diva.  Joyce is a really inspired singer and writer and seems to be able to articulate her experiences for her audience in the written word equally as well as she sings.  Yesterday she wrote about the TRUTH in her singing and linked a lecture clip of acting coach and writer Patsey Rodenburg.  I first came across Patsy Rodenburg as an undergraduate student with speaking issues (not singing!).  My teacher recommended I read "The Right to Speak" and it started me on a journey of vocal discovery that was very different but completely linked to my singing progress.  I have now started to recommend this book to my own students as it is still timely and completely truthful about how we use our speaking voices everyday!

The clip is is titled "Why I do theatre" and it could be subtitled "artists are the healers of our times....because we witness the truth".  Enjoy!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

This month in Halifax: Trudeau!

This looks and sounds very exciting - if you are on the east coast this month, check it out and report back!
vocalypse Productions


Trudeau: Long March / Shining Path

An exciting opportunity to experience a world premiere opera
by our very own Governor General’s Award winning poet George Elliott Clarke and Juno Award winning composer D.D. Jackson.

Come hear a multi talented Nova Scotian cast performing exhilarating music: a mix of Cuban, Chinese, and contemporary themes fused with jazz.

Cast of 6 includes:
John Lindsay-Botten
Ross Thompson
Janice Jackson
Troy Adams
Karen Myatt
Megan Johnson

Wednesday, June 16, through Sunday, June 20, at 8PM
Matinee Sunday, June 20, at 2PM
Sir James Dunn Theatre

Reserve tickets at (902) 429-1797

Friday, June 4, 2010

What's on this weekend: Giulio Cesare in London

The Orchestra London and Canadian Operatic Arts Academyy put up their first production of opera this weekend!  Handel's Giulio Cesare is "not your average opera" and looks to be the start of something great in Western Ontario!

What: Handel's opera Giulio Cesare, presented by Orchestra London and the Canadian Operatic Arts Academy at UWO's Don Wright music faculty. Timothy Vernon conducts, Timothy Nelson directs. Cast includes Drew Minter (Giulio Cesare), Christopher Dunham (Curio), Sophie Roland (Cornelia), Rosanne van Sandwijk (Sesto), Mark Gough (Achilla), Lucia Cesaroni (Cleopatra), Christy Derksen (Nireno), Ian Howell (Tolomeo).
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 7:30 p.m, Sunday, 2 p.m.
Where: Grand Theatre, 471 Richmond St.
Details: Adults, $49 to $129, students $20 with valid student ID, plus applicable charges. Visit or call 519-679-8778.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Job Posting: Professor of Voice at Cambrian College

Employment Opportunity
Cambrian College
Sudbury ● Ontario
Professor —
Music Program (Voice)
School of Music
Competition #10-F-02
Cambrian College’s School of Music requires a full-time Professor to teach in the Music program, beginning August 2010. 
The successful applicant will teach basic music theory, voice majors and minors, performance, and voice pedagogy, as well as direct the Cambrian College Choir.
The position requires a dynamic individual who has a Master’s degree in Music, or equivalent. Previous teaching experience and experience performing as a soloist are necessary. Operatic training and performance and experience performing in national competitions are considered definite assets. Piano accompaniment skills would also be considered an asset.
The incumbent must be a team player who will collaborate with faculty members to teach, perform at recitals, recruit and retain students in the music area, and help build and expand the Music program at Cambrian College. Excellent interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills, along with the ability to be an effective role model in the classroom, are also required. In addition, the incumbent must possess good organizational skills and be able to function in a busy environment.
Candidates selected for an interview will be required to perform a short recital, to demonstrate teaching ability through a mini-instructional session, and to conduct a pre-determined choral selection.  
Interested individuals may apply, by email only, with a covering letter, quoting the competition number, and a résumé, detailing education and experience, to:
Human Resources Department
Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology
1400 Barrydowne Road, Sudbury, Ontario, P3A 3V8
Closing Date: Friday, June 11, 2010, at 4 p.m.
While all responses are appreciated, only those applicants who will be invited for an interview will be contacted.
Committed to education and employment equity. Applications from qualified members
of designated groups are encouraged. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back at it...

Where have you been?

A question I have heard over and over lately!  Well...after being on the road for almost three weeks adjudicating some fantastic festivals and singers, my husband and I slipped away on a vacation to CUBA.  I'm back at it after some sun and sand and mojitos!

Look for my top ten list of bad singing moments coming up this week!

From the voice of....