Summer Reading

June 5, 2015
It is a sure sign of summer when the stack of books, bought with excitement and waiting on one's desk for time to read them, moves into the active reading environment.  My first one completed is Sharon Mabry's excellent The Performing Life published in 2012.  In her preface she said that that she did not want to write a "dry, academic book that would sit on the shelf", and indeed she did not do that.  It is a useful book filled with anecdotes and good advice.  I think I'm going to order a couple of copies for my young professionals who are putting toes into the chilly waters of the performing life. 

Her advice covers all the areas in which all voice teachers advise their students.  Prepare thoroughly for a performance; don't walk into a rehearsal expecting anyone to teach you your notes; languages other than English are far more important than most young singers think, and good English diction is equally important.  In addition her advice includes ways to think about finding what you're good at and doing that rather than chasing ideal sounds, lives, and so forth.  Learning when to open one's mouth and when to keep it firmly shut. Developing your support team -- on beyond your wonderful accompanist and most trusted voice teacher.  Balancing your life so that you actually can live it.  What to do if you find success.  All of these are topics that will arise in singers' lives.  Sharon Mabry's advice is both sound and fun to read. 

This is a terrific book.  Those of us who are old will be cheering "yes, yes, yes" while reading it.  Younger singers will be saying, "Oh, that's probably good advice!"  Here's hoping they all put it into practice.
 

Continuing Education

July 21, 2014

Sometimes things just fall into place.  I’ve mentioned before that I have been slowly working my way through Richard Taruskin’s Oxford History of Western Music over the past few years.  I’m sort of in Volume 5, Music in the Late Twentieth Century.  “Sort of” because back when I was trying to read and keep up with my music history classes, I had to skip bits of volumes two and three that I will get to eventually.

So here I am reading about Elvis and the Beatles as assessed by Taru...


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Taruskin, the Cold War, and Latin America

May 6, 2014

Some of you know that I’ve been working on the five volumes of Richard Taruskin’s Oxford History of Western Music for some years now.  I’ve made it to Volume 5, Music in the Late 20th Century, and, as usual, Dr. Taruskin has grabbed my attention with thought-provoking ideas that may or may not match up with what other musicologists think, but that certainly make a lot of sense to me.  He started out with the premise that he could only write about the history of the literate genres of ...


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Attention Choir Directors: Good New Anthems

February 9, 2014

Ray and I went to hear the Georgia Young Composers Festival concert by the DeKalb Choral Guild last night.  There were six finalists this year, and six good new choral works.  My favorite was Silent Night? by Uzbekistan-born Liliya Ugay, who is working on a piano performance degree at Columbus State.  She won the undergraduate prize.  All of the works had very nice choral parts, but hers also had an accompaniment that would require a pianist with skills.  It was both beautiful and interesti...


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Happy Birthday, Inge Manski Lundeen

December 18, 2013
Today is my old teacher's birthday.  She's gone now, but she would have been in her 90's -- I don't know exactly where in her 90's.  One of the many fascinating things about Inge's life growing up with Mdm. Manski was that when they came to the US in the 1920's -- Mdm. Manski having figured out that Germany was no place for a nice Polish girl even if she sang Isolde's and Sieglinde's at Bayreuth and Berlin -- Mdm. Manski lied about Inge's age, making her a year younger than she actually was. ...
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The Choral Director and The Singing Teacher Can Be Friends

October 29, 2013
(Sung to the tune of "The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends")

Well, I've been to Heaven.  I sat through a session this morning by Dr. Alan Zabriskie of The University of Central Missouri and then went straight to the Pepper booth in the exhibit hall to buy his book.  It's called Foundations of Choral Tone:  A Proactive and Healthy Approach to Vocal Technique and Choral Blend".  Dr. Z's bright idea is that rather than basing his choir's sound on the least skilled members' abilities, perha...
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NAfME National Convention in Nashville

October 29, 2013
So why am I in Nashville again?  I came up to experience the national convention of the National Association for Music Education (formerly MENC).  When my daughter and I get to go to the Georgia version, held every year in Savannah in January, we always have more sessions that we want to do than we can stuff into the available hours.  The choices are fewer here, at least for me, but they are good ones, and the shopping in the exhibit hall is good, too. 

Monday I went to an excellent session o...
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The Grand Ol' Opry

October 29, 2013
The last time I was in Nashville, I got to hear Earl Scruggs at the Ryman Auditorium, longtime home of the Opry, and it was terrific.  The Ryman reminds me of Pearce Auditorium on the Brenau campus; both are 100+ years old and have their issues.  So this time I thought I'd hike over to the new Opry House and see what's new.

It's a lovely theater with all the bells and whistles, and I'm sure that all the folks who deal with the realities of performing love it.  The young performers that I heard...
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Tosca and Urinetown in the Same Week

October 20, 2013
    It really sounds like from the sublime to the ridiculous, doesn’t it? Actually it was two interesting and engaging works each beautifully performed. The Atlanta Opera has really taken a step forward with their recent Tosca. It was beautifully directed by their new general manager Tomer Zvulun, who had directed some of their most visually interesting past shows, and who did not feel called upon to make a 10-minute curtain speech beforehand.

   
The voices were wonderful. Soprano Kara Shay...
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Singing Schumann

February 15, 2013
More years ago than I care to mention I began an exploration of the song cycles of Robert Schumann with my long-time friend and collaborative pianist George Mann.  We've been able to perform Dichterliebe a number of times, Liederkreis Op. 39 several times and Myrten two or three times.  Yesterday we finally got around to adding Frauenliebe und -Leben to the list.  George remains as always, but over these many years I've developed a standard wobble for my age.  Even in spite of my deficiency, ...
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