Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Date Confirmed

OK, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself here, but Paul just wrote to say that our preferred date for the performance of his work "Endurance" has been confirmed. So, if it happens, it'll be on 24 March 2007. However, the financial bit has yet to be submitted to the sponsors so I suppose there could be some hang-up, but I don't foresee that happening. So, Yea!!!! If you can make it to Fort William, Scotland on March 24th then I'll see you there!

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Answer is Yes

So, the answer to the question I posed in my last post, "Do people in the music biz actually end up working together, meeting each other in real life, or is this [MySpace] purely virtual?" is YES! I now have my first official gig in the UK and all thanks to MySpace! As of yet there is no confirmed date, but it will likely be toward the end of March. I will be performing the premier of Paul Moxon's work entitled "Endurance". The piece is 5, 10 minute episodes for orchestra and soprano. The subject, which is programmatic in nature, since I'll have no text to sing, is Shackelton's ill-fated expedition in 1914 to Antartica.
The occasion is the exhibition of photography, by Frank Hurley, salvaged from that expedition which will be on display at the Lime Tree Gallery in Fort William, Scotland from February 16 - March 24, 2007. I'm really excited about this project!!! I'll keep you posted...

In the meantime, check out my MySpace:


Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Ok, I know this is old news, but not so much for me! I heard about MySpace in mid-September on a train to Paris, where Magnus and I met to musicians (popular music). We had an interesting conversation and Angèle told me about MySpace. I signed up shortly after we got home. They were right, it's very addicting. You can spend a lot of time, especially browsing other people's Spaces. But that is the way to network. I've "met" several interesting people, mostly composers (because that's all I've had time to search), and there's a possibility of a collaboration with one of them early next year! If it works out, I will be very excited! At this point I'm not sure how virtual all of this is. Do people in the music biz actually end up working together, meeting each other in real life, or is this purely virtual? I guess I'll find out. I've only been active on it for about 2 months. We'll see

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sad Hotel #6

Just got back from Germany where I performed "Sad Hotel" again with Barbara Wachendorff and Jens Peter. In case you don't remember, Sad Hotel is the program on poetry by Anne Sexton. Jens plays the piano and composed the songs I sing, and Barbara recites other poems with Jens quasi-improvising accompaniment. It's a very powerful program and we always get good feed-back. Thursdays performance wasn't any different. The audience was made up mostly of psycho-therapists, I think, since the concert was sponsored by the IGST-Forum and part of their seminar on Fear. They appreciated the choice of poems and the program itself. It was recorded this time by the technician on the premises. I hope it turns out good. However, a terrible thing happened on my first note: The technician had forgotten to turn the volume down and at the last minute I had decided to stand directly behind the microphone, albeit a good distance back, because he said the recording was only through those microphones. No ambient mics. Anyway, the first note is good and solid and scared me half to death! So much so that my voice cracked and I jumped away from the mic. I wish I had stopped and started again, but oh well. I'm quite satisfied with the rest and am glad to have made a recording if only for posterity's sake. We agreed that I would try to sell the program in England, which would mean Barbara reciting everything in English. She'll do a wonderful job, I'm sure.

Ten days in the States

I'm just about to end my tour of the US.  Just kidding, I was only in Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York City. I had a concert with the Voices Found Singers (formerly known as the Lady Chapel Singers) at Bryn Mawr college in Pennsylvania yesterday.  It went extremely well, especially given that it was a completely new program.  But it's a wonderful program, full of fun music from all over the Americas - Cuba, Mexico, Canada, the US (folk songs, spirituals and modern compositions). I had a great time.

Last Tuesday Lisa Thomas and I gave a presentation on Voices Found and a bit about Hildegard von Bingen at Rowan College. Another member of VFS, Lourin Plant, teaches voice there and is co-teaching a class entitled "Songs of Protest, Songs of Praise", for which we gave the presentation.

From there I went to New York City for lessons with Cornelius Reid.  He looked well, but complained a bit about disintegrating - he turns 96 later this month!!!! My lessons were great and restored my confidence greatly.  I also went to Patelson's Music Store and bought the last remaining book of Cornelius', his Dictionary of Vocal Terminology. Now my collection is complete!

While in NYC I spent a lot of time with Anna Levenstein, a member of Elysium. We had some stuff to do to prepare for our concert in Salem, OR in March.  It was lovely to spend time with her. I also took advantage of Tower Records' closing sale and bought several DVDs ("Good Night and Good Luck", "The Big Sleep" and Peter Sellars' opera production "Cosi fan tutte") and CDs ("The Magic Flute", Mozart; "Don Pasquale", Donizetti and "The Cries of London").

So, that was that.


Monday, October 23, 2006

World Nuclear Association Gala Dinner

OK, this is pretty old news now, for me at least! But since I haven't posted it here, it's possible no ones heard anything about it!

Magnus and I left the next day (Sept. 9) on our honeymoon and continued to travel nearly non-stop for the next few weeks, so no time to blog, even though I made a resolution to blog on a weekly basis!

Anyway, on September 8, 2006 I performed a program of English songs about London (in the greater sense) for the World Nuclear Association. It was at the Grosvenor Hotel where the WNA held their Gala Dinner at the end of their yearly symposium. It was the weirdest thing, the idea of singing for a bunch of "nuclear nerds" as the General Director John Ritch put it, was strangely daunting. I wanted to impress John, since he had hired me to entertain them without ever hearing me sing!

I found an excellent accompanist, Nigel Foster, who was recommended to me by Paul Martyn-West. We worked very well together. We performed:

If Music Be the Food of Love, Henry Purcell arr. Benjamin Britten
On the Brow of Richmond Hill, Henry Purcell
Bedlam, Traditional arr. Cecil P. Sharp
Sweet Polly Oliver, Traditional arr. Benjamin Britten
The Bells of the Cheap, Charles Ancliffe
No. 6 Rhyme, from "A Song for my Lord Mayor's Table", William Walton

The program was 15 minutes long and I spoke a few words about each piece to give a bit of context. Since the theme of the evening was London (according to the administrator the people who come to this symposium don't have much time to explore London, so he wanted to give them a bit at the Dinner), I chose songs which each mention London or a part of London. Except for the first one, of course, which I thought was a good opener the audience having just finished dinner!

It was a great success! Just the right length and I didn't make a fool out of myself speaking between songs! In fact, people said they really appreciated the guidance. Also, the person I wanted to impress, John Ritch, was duly pleased! I'm very happy with the way the performance went, and would welcome such performing opportunities in the future!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Greetings from Vienna - the wedding saga continues

It's almost all completely behind me! In a couple of days I'll be flying back to London to "resume" my "normal" life... We are in Vienna this week - Magnus is at a conference here.

Hmmm. Where did I leave off? Ah yes, my mother arrived in London on Wednesday. We spent about 2 days at home, she rested and Magnus and continued getting ready for the wedding. Namely, we had the program to make. Mom helped me get ready for the WNA gala dinner performance by accompanying me on my piano. I wanted to memorize the songs, but memorizing text has never been my forte!

My brother, Tom and his wife, Barbara arrived on Friday. I let them fend for themselves getting to the Tooting train station on their own. They made it! They settled in a bit and then we all went out to have a drink and dinner at a pub in town. Magnus met us there. Tom, Barb and my mom loved it. I'd forgotten it was Friday and so it was VERY lively at the pub, with the clientel spilling out onto the street of course.

Saturday Tom and Barb went sight-seeing and were out carousing for a very long time! They met some real characters in their pub trawlings - a lesbian bachlorette (hen) party and a local man at a pub near Tooting Broadway Tube station named Bill. Magnus and I managed to finish the programs and started printing them. We ordered Indian and ate in - yum!

Sunday we managed to get our act together and get downtown to St. Paul's Cathedral and to the Eucharist. It's the 2nd time I've been there and the Cathedral Choir hasn't sung either time. The music was great though! We had lunch in a local pub and Tom and Barb went off again on their own. We had a steak and potato dinner which T & B had conceived.

They left at about 4am to catch their plane to Pisa. I couldn't fall back asleep of course, because we had to get up only an hour or so later to catch our own plane to Brescia with Mom.

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

It's getting serious!

OK, so we have almost everything organized - EXCEPT the program booklet! And now, even I am starting to get nervous about it!!

My mother is arriving this afternoon. Poor thing her flight is delayed 3 1/2 hours! I'll go there to pick her up. She called very early this morning to tell us that she'd be later than expected. She said it was something with the plane, nothing to do with the recent terrorist scare, so that's a good thing!

Magnus' mother and Manon are busy stressing out about how to organize the wedding day with all the appointments for doing hair and make-up and what-not. It seems to be especially difficult because Magnus and I shouldn't see eachother at any point after we've started getting ready! At any rate, it seems like my mom, Barb and I will go to the hairdresser and make-up lady as a group and Manon, Franca and Magnus as another group.

So, here we go! 9 days and counting!

Rehearsal for the Gala Dinner

I finally had a rehearsal with the accompanist for the WNA Gala Dinner I'll be performing at on Sept. 8. His name is Nigel Foster and he seems to be a pretty well-known accompanist. Paul Martyn-West recommended him and since then I've seen his advertisment in a few places. It was very synchronistic because on the day I asked Paul if he could recommend anyone, I was at his house and he'd given me Nigel's phone numbers and we'd moved on to other things and the phone rang - it was Nigel Foster! So I spoke with him right then and there and he agreed to do it!

I went to his house in Wimbledon and we went through all the songs. They all went well except the Warlock song "The Cricketers of Hambledon" so we tossed it. It didn't go so well in the program and the key doesn't suit my voice very well. Oh well! We decided to do another Purcell song - If Music be the Food of Love, First Version in the arrangement by Benjamin Britten. It goes well with the rest of the program and is a link to the other Britten song we're doing. This is the program:

1. If Music be the Food of Love, H. Purcell, arr. Britten
2. On the Brow of Richmond Hill, H. Purcell
3. Sweet Polly Oliver, arr. Britten
4. Bedlam, arr. Cecil Sharp
5. The Bells of the Chepe (from Old Ludgate), Charles Ancliff
6. Rhyme (from A Song for the Lord Mayor's Table), William Walton

My mother is going to help me memorize the text to these songs. If we can just repeat them over and over, I think that will help a lot! Memorizing strophs is not my forte. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Final Countdown

I suppose you could say we're on the home stretch to our wedding day - September 1st, 2006. We made our final trip to Italy this last weekend in order to make "final" pre-preparations. On Wednesday I traveled to Frankfurt mostly for play and Prosperity. I taught about 8 lessons as well. Thursday evening, with a mysterious air, Pamela took me out. She said I should dress as though I were going out for a night on the town in London. So, basically I dressed up. She took me to my favorite restaurant that serves Frankfurter Kueche (Frankfurt Cuisine) and we were joined by Caroline, Kelly, Sue, Sabine, Andrea and Alison. It was a Bachelorette Party!!!! Thank you, Pamela, for organizing thatgirliey night out! It was fabulous! And girls, thank you all for coming to celebrate with me! I felt very loved and honored! And I had tons of fun! I just love the "outfit" you got me for my wedding night! I got some lovely items to go with it while I was in Italy. :-)

Friday evening Pamela, Caroline and I had a Prosperity session. It was really good, way too long since the last time. I don't want to even think about the time I might have to stop coming. :-( Pamela and Caroline brought jewelry and stoles for me to try with my dress as things old/new/borrowed/blue.

Saturday, in the middle of the night, I flew to Italy. Magnus' father came to pick me up in Bergamo because Magnus was still sleeping off his Stag night! I went to the Bridal shop with Manon and Magnus' mother for the "final" fitting. There are still adjustments which have to be made. Unfortunately none of the jewelry Pam and Caroline gave me goes with the dress. But I do now have something borrowed, blue and old to carry with me (Pamela's handkerchief). And I think I will keep Caroline's pink stole in case it is cold!

Later we went to the Castello di Bevilacqua (www.castellodibevilacqua.com) to meet with the florist and work out what and where and how we want the flowers arranged. I don't even want to think about how much it's going to cost! But the florist seemed very competent and down to earth and willing to do whatever we (Franca!) wanted.

That evening we went to dinner in La Bortegha (I think) at the restaurant San Marco. There we had the most spectacular pasta I've ever had!!!! Tortellini, which were so delicate and Tortelli alla Zucca (with Pumpkin filling) which was sweet and flavorful. Mmmmmmmh. Magnus' mother presented me with a gift to go with my wedding dress - a pearl and silver choker and small pearl earrings to go with it! I was speechless. I didn't know what to say to thank them for such a precious gift.

Sunday we went for a bike ride and visited Aunt Rita. She lives in the old family farm complex. All the farmland was sold off long ago, though. I must take my mom there to see what a typical Italian farm house looks like. Later, Magnus and I took the MG convertible out with Simone and Claudia for an aperitive and dinner. Anna L. joined us for dinner and we went to a restaurant she had tried to take us to another time but it had been closed. The food was good, but pretty expensive. And compared to San Marco the cost/value ratio wasn't nearly as good! We made it home just before the heavens opened up and a deluge came.

Monday, Manon and I went to a lingerie store to exchange something for her and to find some nice undies for me. We found something just perfect!

Later we flew back to London. With all the turmoil around flying to/from London it wasn't too bad. They were letting people take small bags onto the airplane (I was allowed to take my purse, but had to pack my keys and my London Oyster card!). Our flight was delayed slightly, and we arrived in London just fine. We waited forever for our bags though, which is abnormal. It was around 8pm when we arrived home.

17 days and counting!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Civil Ceremony

Magnus and I got married in a civil ceremony on Saturday, May 27! We had stepped up our plans to do that considerably in order to facilitate getting my visa for the UK. We had thought the ceremony would be very brief, especially since we weren't exchanging rings or anything, but it ended up being almost an hour and quite lovely as a result of a few things. First, my friend Pamela came to Bussolengo from Frankfurt to be my witness. Since she speaks no Italian at all, we needed a translator. Manon, Magnus' sister, served as Interpreter. She did a great job, but it made the whole thing twice as long. Second, the man who married us read a poem, on married couples, by Khalil Gibran from his book The Prophet (the English version was then read by Manon). It's a beautiful poem and I'll try to post it here soon. He then gave a little sermon of sorts (translated by Manon), sharing his thoughts on the meaning of the poem. It was lovely.

Oops! I got a little ahead of myself! The day started at the crack of dawn - Magnus and I, Manon and M's mother, Franca had an appointment at the hairdresser's at 7:30! It was a struggle, but we weren't too late. And the place was already full, basically!!! We were there till almost 10:30! I got a color rinse, got my hair cut and styled and it looked great - quite cute with an up-flip. We raced home and got dressed - the ceremony was at 11:30!!! Pam came over and we took a few quiet minutes where she presented me with what my Prosperity girls (she, Sandra and Caroline) had prepared for me on my wedding day: They had made a collection of many things old, and or blue (which were, of course, borrowed) and Pamela had bought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers (which served as the thing "new") from all of them! It was so sweet and really touched my heart. It was the perfect thing in the hecticness of the morning.

I'm not positive, but I believe we actually made it to the city hall on time, Magnus and I. And believe it or not, it was Magnus' father who we waited for! In addition to Magnus, Pamela and I in attendance were: Franca and Luigino (M's mom and dad), Manon (sister), Magnus' nonna Gina (grandmother), Magnus' witness, boyhood friend Raffaele and his wife Anna. I wish my family could have been there.

After the wedding we drove to Villa Amistà,which is a 5 Star hotel and spa near Bussolengo in the Valpolicella wine region. As you'll see, it is incredibly beautiful. Recently restored and decorated with modern art and design furnishings. It's a stunning combination.

Normally the restaurant isn't open at lunchtime on Saturdays, however, Magnus' mother told them I was a famous singer, wanting to celebrate somewhere where I could go incognito! Isn't that a hoot?!? Unfortunately, I didn't know until we'd been there about a half hour or I would have played it up a bit! LOL! As it was, I noticed the staff looking at me kind of intently, but chalked it up to them being solicitous to the bridal couple! But they were too discreet and and no one asked for an autograph. Darn. :-)

Here's a link (copy it into your browser) to a of Magnus and I at the Villa:


The meal was spectacular! At the dessert Magnus and I cut it together as if it were a wedding cake, but before we did that, Magnus presented me with a new "engagement" ring! He'd bought a beautiful, classically set diamond ring while he was in Hong Kong. I was completely surprised and very moved. He had asked me what my ring size was while he was there, but then dissembled by saying they hadn't had anything he liked in my size! I can't really be upset with him for being such a bald-faced liar!!!

We got a tour of the hotel facilities, and saw a few of the fancier rooms. They are so colorfully and fancifully decorated it seemed as though you were in a child's playroom - delightful!

Later on that evening Manon had arranged for some friends and cousins to meet for Prosecco at a place near Lake Garda. After that, we went to a Disco, which was fun. We (and everyone else) sang and danced to Italian hits. We got home around 4 am! Pamela had to be at the airport at around 6:45, so we got about 2 hours of shut-eye before taking her there. Even though it was short, I'm so glad she was there.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Monthly Teaching

Once a month I'm going back to Germany to teach over the weekend. I'm so blessed by dedicated students! They seemed genuinely devastated when I told them I was moving to the UK and then genuinely eager that I come back to teach them periodically. I won't be doing this forever, but it's a good thing to do to maintain ties and perhaps I'll be able to do some singing every once in a while!

So far, it's worked very well, that I've come on Thursday, taught on Friday and Saturday and again on Monday and Tuesday. The church of Christ the King (CtK), in Frankfurt - the church I've attended since arriving in Frankfurt in 1997 - generously gives me space to teach on these long weekends. Generally, I give each of my pupils 2 lessons over the course of the 4 days. It's like a mini-seminar for them.

While I'm in Frankfurt (Ffm) I stay with friends. I still have lots of them here and it's great fun to see them and spend time with them. Usually, my Prosperity group meets for a few hours of meditation and energy work. It's also great that I'm in Ffm over the weekend so that I get to go to CtK and sing with the choir, my buddies. I've been around so often since I moved though (almost more often than after I moved to Oftersheim), that they haven't really had a chance to miss me!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Moved to London

Yes, I've moved to London and everything is topsy turvy here... Well, life has been a bit turbulent, what with moving, going back and forth now to Germany to teach monthly, organizing the wedding(s) etc. I haven't had much time to worry about a career here in London, so I don't have much in that respect to write about.

I did, however find a good teacher, one I can collaborate with on the improvement and training of my voice as well as getting me up to par for auditioning here.

Magnus and I will be getting married in a civil ceremony on May 27 (and later on Sept. 1 in church) and after that, I will hopefully have time and mental space to get the ball rolling.