Sunday, July 29, 2007

Catching up with things

Lots of things happened this week! My French friend had her third daughter, mom and baby are both well. I made two little hats for Baby V. (again, you might say) from the itty-bitty hats in white and pink. For the first time I added little labels, care instructions, etc. as I won't be seeing my friends any time soon, I thought it might be safer to include these bits of information.

I have finished my first Monkey sock. I thought I was the last person on this planet who hadn't knitted one. Well, as it turned out, I wasn't! G started to knit one after me - but I must say she finished her pair of socks already!

I read the last Harry Potter book... and this will be all I say. My friend J hasn't finished the book yet, and has threatened to kill everyone who will tell her how it ends. She avoided newspapers and television all week, not to have the end spoiled. Since she might read this I will just say that G and I have been reading it to each other (so the other one could knit :-). Although I'm convinced that Steven Fry is a zillion times better at reading this book than me, it was huge fun.

I went to my first Proms concert this year. It had the world premier of Peter Wiegold's work 'He is armoured with' commissioned by the BBC. G, T and I were standing in the gallery of the Albert Hall and had a perfect view. My friend K and I have been working on PW's song cycle 'Les Roses' for some time now (we have played it to him once and I WAS really nervous!) and have built a recital around it, featuring all sorts of flower songs. Naturally, I was curious to listen to the new work, which was according to K nothing like Les Roses.

To say it straight away I found it quite scary. Starting from the huge amount of brass, the Telegraph advertised it as the 100 trumpet piece, that included Fanfare Trumpets of the Band of the Coldstream Guards standing at the rear of the arena (must have been warm under those hats) Uzbeks playing traditional instruments, the karnay trumpet (six foot long valveless instruments) and timpani war drums. There was a ring of trumpets in the gallery (one lot about 5m away from us), 16 tubas in the arena, 24 trombones under the organ, two brass bands in the stalls and a solo trumpet and solo trombone in the middle of the arena in what looked like a boxing ring.
And yes, before anyone asks, it was loud! It was quite colorful too, the Uzbeks were wearing traditional costumes in blue and gold, the Guards had their uniforms and the res
t of the musicians 'normal' concert clothes. Due to the different positions of the musicians I felt surrounded with music. It added a sort of chasing/hunt effect. I quite liked it, but writing about it doesn't do this piece much justice as visual and acoustic senses had so much input, it feels like talking someone through a delicious meal. It's not the same, you have to experience it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sockapalooza sock finished

I finished my sockapalooza sock - actually I finished it last week I just couldn't take pictures. Here they are now hanging in my 'money tree' in my little garden. The wool was Zenzi from Wollmeise - fun to knit with. I hope my sock pal will enjoy them!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Searching for like-minded enthusiasts

Really not easy, this up and down of the singing profession that M. wrote about. Apart from the investment of hard work (that is common to anyone who wants to be good at anything in life or attempt to do justice to a work of art), lots of time, sweat, self-critique, contemplation, research, interpretation, love, discovery, and some more work.... And then of course there is having to deal with success or rejection and the quick interchange of the two. Which voices do you listen to? Any but your own? The critic? The fan? Your family and friends? A teacher or fellow musician? This is not even touching on the financial impact of people's changing opinions on your every-day-life. So why on earth do we subject ourselves to this?
There is the sheer overwhelming joy of making music - a very good reason for starters. The possibility of having something very special to give to those listening and participating in the moment, and those re-living the moment through recordings. And then there is a certain conviction of something like vocation, being most definitely yourself when you do what you were made to do: sing, perform, live!!
Such grand words from such an idiot like me. Oh, well. I have been wondering for a while, though, if there are some like-minded people out there... We are not all divas, and although I draw my hat (the imaginary one) to star performers such as Anna Netrebko, Juan Diego Florez, Rolando Villazón or Natalie Dessay, I do at times wonder whether there are others like me out there....
.... musicians who lack that diva-gene (i.e. the gene that makes you sleep with a knife under your pillow and look out for opportunities to trick the competition or else lets you realise you are the best and there is no competition), who love making music with others, but are soloists at heart and don't really want to loose their distinctive sound in a big choir/orchestra, but create something new and exciting in their music making.
Chamber musicians (if there is such a category for singers...)
They would be thrilled at the idea of building singer and musician colleagues up. They haven't given up on hard work and quality (no "it's-the-job-and-no-one-notices-my-mistakes-anyway-screw-taking-care-of-a-musical-performance" attitude), haven't become bitter, and are looking for like-minded others to find a market-niche together. Oh, and then, if I can add one more thing to my wish-list, they would not want to produce a 'white' early music sound (no offense, but there is already so much of that around), but want to range through many colours up to a full-blooded grown-up tone....
If you are out there - lets make some music together!!!!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Life, lifelines?

I had planned to write about my FOs and post pictures from my blanket and the successful elongation of my old turquoise jumper (in order to fit today's style) when I read the post about lifeline in the concert's blog about the attempted suicide of U.S. tenor Jerry Hadley. After the first shock of reading this, I started thinking about the singing profession life in- and outside of it.
What happens if your life doesn't take the turn that you wanted it to? How desperate must one be to end one's life rather than being able to face the problems? I can't say why Mr. Hadley wanted his to end. I know I considered such a step when my life had been cut down to wondering whether I would be able to make it from my bed to the bathroom. During that time the German opera magazine Das Opernglas was my only contact with the singing world, or more the world outside of my room, and I read about his debut in Hamburg. I don't know the pains and worries that finally led to this attempted suicide. However, it seems that financial worries and a declining carreer were contributing factors.
Mr. Hadley is unfortunately not alone with these pressing worries. I can think of lots of other singers who after performing in major houses, winning Emmys, doing recordings - then disappeared. I can name several young singers who were supposed to be THE new star 5 years ago and now noone hears from them anymore. What happened? What shocks me is the fact that we all seem to be disposable, easy to replace - there doesn't seem to be much loyalty around.
It brings home how blessed I have been to have a lifeline. Lifelines in my experience are not huge big cords - more fine threads. In my case my family who was always there for me, my cousin C, and my good friend G. I know I can call them anytime if I'm sad or happy. And it is because of those lovely people that I'm here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Five days of holiday

Last Wednesday I was looking at this! I have been in Catalunya for five days and this is the view from the terrace. The sea is slightly to the right of this picture, I know, not very geographical! We found a great way to walk to the beach. It took me about 1 hour and that was only one way (plus this way goes down the hill and in the heat of the afternoon), but I managed. One needs to remind oneself of the essentials and I made it both ways, otherwise I couldn't sit here and write about it. There's no WIFI on this little hill...
I wish I could go out for a coffee like the one on this picture, but no, I have to work. (I took this picture especially for Laurie, good coffee now makes me think of her!) in the square of Palafrugell.