Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Elysium in Ordo Virtutum

By some wonderful coincidence all the members of Elysium were hired to sing in a repeat production of Hildegard von Bingen's "Ordo Virtutum" with musical director Stefan Morent. Stage director Enrico Masseroli was also part of it as well as most of the singers that took part last time. 2 singers joined us, Rebecca Bain as Anima, who I've performed with before in Sequentia's production of OV and Katherine Ross, who I'd never met before, but who made a wonderful Humilitas. Amy was hired to replace one of the singers who couldn't do it and so it was like a big, happy family reunion! We performed as part of the concert series "Vocal music along the Romanesque Road" (Vokalmusik entlang der Romanischen Strasse) during the summer festival in Rhineland-Palatine (Kultursommer Rheinland-Pfalz). We were in a beautiful romanesque church in a place about as far out in the boondocks as you can get in western Germany - Offenbach-Hundheim. A tiny village where the shops are hardly ever open and almost never when we had time to go in them and which had only 3 restaurants. But it was a pleasant enough 4 days. We were busy anyway!

We managed to put the whole thing together after having last performed this version of it 4 years ago in San Diego. It was hard work, but the end result was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself! I think Enrico has an amazing eye for space and movement (not surprising since he's a dancer), but he prefers to do everything on the spot and try things out first. We didn't really have enough time to do that method justice, so it was a bit nerve wracking. I was doubly nervous - I don't know how it happened but I had a ton of spoken text which I had to deliver memorized (since it was staged). And that's not one of my fortes! However, by the grace of God, I didn't forget anything, and feel like I did a pretty good job! Magnus came to the performance and was moved. He thought that the staging was beautiful, using the space (around the altar) wonderfully. He likes Hildegard's music too.

After the concert, we took Anna with us and returned to Oftersheim (home). We flew to Italy the next day! More in another post.

Cistercian Elysium

OK, now that my busy performing period is over I'm just as busy as I was before! Don't ask me what I'm doing - it doesn't seem like much. Teaching and travelling that's it basically.

However, I will attempt to catch up on the last few gigs and interesting things that have been happening lately.

Elysium had a concert in early September in Heiligengrabe again. (Allegra, Amy and I had performed there without Anna in May) We performed the same program but this time we had Anna with us, which is much better, plus the rest of us had done the program once already, so it was that much more together. We had a few days of rehearsals in which we integrated Anna and added a new piece. The concert was part of a bigger event this time - the opening of the museum on the convent premises. The church was full - full of politicians and cultural ambassadors. Before our performance there were 5 (!) speeches by various important people. It was nice to perform for a big audience but I could have lived without sitting in the back of the cold church for 45 minutes before beginning! Oh well. The performance went really well and I really enjoy that program. I think we might expand it into a full-length program for us. We performed with an organist in Heiligengrabe and only had to have about 30 minutes of music for ourselves.

After the performance there was a reception where we met several interesting people from various cultural offices. One man was particularly keen on having us record the program at the convent to sell there as a promotional thing for the convent. I'm not sure what's going on with that now, I hope it comes to fruition!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Bad Blogger!

OK, it's been a million years since I posted to my own blog! Since the last post in March I've been pretty wrapped up in moving and getting settled in my new life.

Magnus and I moved to a small town near Heidelberg mid-March. However, by mid-May I had only spent all of 8 days in the new apartment! I had a few concerts (Telemann - St. Luke's Passion, Hildegard with the Schola from Dillenburg, Lady Chapel Singers in Frankfurt and Rome 2x, Monteverdi and Sch├╝tz in Wiesbaden), we went to Bussolengo for Easter and to Rome as well, I went to Canterbury, England with a group from church. Plus, I began my new teaching schedule, which is to teach two days a week in Frankfurt. Ideally, I would go up on Tuesday morning and come back on Wednesday night. However, that has rarely been the case. I still do quite a few things in Frankfurt (church, Prosperity, book club) and those activities have brought me to Frankfurt to stay longer than just the planned 2 days!

Since mid-May I've had a concert outside of Berlin with Elysium (minus Anna), moved out of my apartment in Frankfurt officially and began teaching at the Christ the King. I am on the Search Committee for a new Director of Music at the church and a few weeks ago we were really busy with meetings and auditions which unfortunately weren't successful. We have to start the whole process over again! Sigh.

Now I have a quiet period until September when all hell breaks loose! Magnus left for a 7 week stint in the US and Canada on July 9, so home will be kind of empty. But once he gets back then I have another concert outside of Berlin with Elysium (this time with Anna), we will be going to a friend's wedding in Puglia in Italy with a bit of vacation before hand, and the Ordo Virtutum with Stefan Morent is being revived for a concert at the Festival Kultursommer Rheinland-Pfalz. October takes me back to Dillenburg for a concert of a Mass put together of parts by various Bachs.

That's all for now!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

USA Trip Part 1 - Wisconsin/Iowa

What a whirlwind!

I've been in the US for most of the past 4 weeks, visiting
family, singing, singing and singing. Now that I'm back in
Germany I've been singing (!) and moving house. More
about that in a subsequent post - first things first!

I flew first to Philadelphia and spent only a night there.
The Lady Chapel Singers graciously covers my travel
expenses, but only to Philadelphia. I flew on to Madison,
using frequent flyer miles, the next morning.

I had one of the most embarrassing things ever happen
to me that night in Philadelphia. I was staying in the
guest apartment in Lisa and Charles building (as usual)
and I went up and went to bed pretty early, I guess
around 10pm). I set my alarm for 6:30 because my flight
was early and I was to have breakfast with Lisa. I got up
when it rang, took a shower, got everything packed up
again, and went down to their apartment. I knocked and
knocked, no answer. Finally, Charles came to the door,
which was the final clue that something was amiss,
because he should have been gone to work already. It
turned out that I'd forgotten to change the time on my
alarm and it was only 1:00 am! Omigod! I was mortified.
Needless to say, I went back upstairs, set my alarm to
the correct time, got back into bed and slept another 5
hours!

In Wisconsin it was business as usual, I called all my
friends to see who had time to spend with me. I saw
Naomi, my longes friend, she came over for dinner. I
went to Julie and Mike's for dinner (who had nearly
forgotten me!) and spent some time with their 3 beautiful
little girls. Mom and I spent a day together. We heard a
recital given by a voice faculty candidate at the UW and
afterwards we went to the Union for coffee with my
favorite music history professor and now friend Charlie
Dill. We went to Ward Brodt Music House where I
bought a new metronome (thank you Tom and Barb!) and
we went to see the move Ray at the 2nd run theater. We
had a great time. I had a fabulous homemade breakfast
at Kathy the Mezzo's, catching up with her. I never did
speak with Wendy personally :-( Next time I hope.

My dad and I took two days and drove to Ruthven and
Spencer, Iowa (north western Iowa) to visit my
grandmother. Recently, following some bad spells with
her health, she'd been moved to a nursing home in the
town she's lived in most of her life, Ruthven. It's just like
a hospital, and she can't really do anything independently
anymore which is just awful for my Gram. But she
looked pretty well, if a lot thinner than I last saw her. She
was in pretty good spirits but it seemed like a terrible
effort for her to even just speak. She says she sleeps a
lot. Not as much as her roommate (who I guess is
always sleeping) but still a lot. She just seems worn out,
but not as depressed as usual. She still has her feisty
streak, which is good to see, but she's gotten much more
cuddly.

Next installment:
USA Trip Part 2 - Philadelphia part 1 and NYC

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Sad Hotel No. 5

I haven't been singing much in public lately, but have
been pretty busy nonetheless. I've been preparing for my
upcoming trip to the USA and for the concert I have
immediately following that in March. But more about
those later.

Barbara W., Jens and I performed "Sad Hotel" - the Anne
Sexton project - again end of January. This time in the
Ruhrgebiet, a highly industrialized, densely populated
area of Germany north-west of Frankfurt. The town we
played in is called Moers and is just west of Duisburg.
They boast that with its 100,000 inhabitants it is either the
smallest city or the largest town in Germany. They have
a State Theater there, which is a bit odd, but it is suitably
small considering the importance, or lack thereof, of the
city. We performed in a little hall which held about 40
audience members and we sold it out!

It had a very strange acustic which swallowed all the bass
frequencies so we decided to amplify both me and
Barbara (instead of just Barbara) and to add some reverb
to round out the sound. That helped a little bit. However,
Jens said afterwards, that he was bothered by it since it
seemed to fade in and out. Oh well.

The weather was extremely cold and they'd been heating
like mad all day, which unfortunately played havoc with
the baby grand piano's tuning. They had just had it tuned
and in the couldn't hold it because of the change in
temperature. We had intended to record the program the
next day, but decided against it because of the tuning
problem. An out of tune piano (if it's not too bad) is OK
for a concert, but inacceptable for a recording unless it's
intentional. Sigh. Hopefully, we'll get it recorded
sometime.

We were well taken care of. These were colleagues of
Barbara's and she does other projects there as well. I
just heard from her today that they'd like us to do a
repeat performance sometime soon. They suggested
March 12 but I already have a concert on that weekend
and have rehearsal all day on the 12th. Oh well, another
time, hopefully in April.

More on upcoming events later!