Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Liberated Voice - Carol Baggott-Forte

Last week I flew to Lyon, France for a couple of lessons with Carol Baggott-Forte. She is Cornelius' successor and she is just a fabulous voice teacher. I was only able to stay for 2 days and take 2 lessons, but they were very worth it. I wish I could've had more...The level of singing at this seminar was very high. There were several teachers from the Centre de la Voix (Center for the Voice) where the seminar was held. And I think she might have been able to "convert" a couple of them over to functional voice training. I also saw my old friend and fellow Academy Alumna Imma in Lyon. It was wonderful to see her again and spend some time with her. Meeting Thomas Maxeiner, a tenor from Hamburg and getting to know Ignacio Jarquin, the organiser of the seminars in Lyon, Paris and Brighton were other highlights of the trip.

At the seminar in Brighton in February I met another student of Carol's who lives in London - Sarah. She had asked if I teach as well and we made tentative plans for her to come by for a lesson. For whatever reason, we didn't manage until yesterday!!! But, it went very well, I think we will work well together, and that I can help her become more comfortable with her powerful singing voice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nothing Much

So, now I've been back from traveling for a while. After Brussels we went to Vienna which was lovely - the highlights being lunch on one day and a special Fugu (Japanese Blowfish) dinner at our favorite restaurant "Kokoro" and seeing the Magic Flute at the Volksoper for M's birthday. From Vienna we went to Bussolengo and visited family for a long weekend. Friends of M came for lunch with their kids on Saturday, which we had at a great country restaurant. It was quiet (we were also the only ones there!) and there is a large field where the children could roam. M and I were home for about 4 days, but first he was ill and then I was a couple of days later with some strange stomach bug or food poisoning. We headed back to Italy for a long weekend, stayed with friends in Milan for a night and then headed to Turin where M had business on Monday. We stayed with Michele and Eva and their 3 young children. It was very lively! We ate way too much fantastic food over the course of the weekend. We skipped a couple meals even, but should have skipped more! I flew home and M stayed on traveling around Italy doing business and giving lectures in Turin, Genua, Pisa and Rome.

That's all folks!

Monday, September 17, 2007


This is off-topic, meaning it has nothing to do with my career, but I thought you might enjoy hearing about my travels anyway.

Thursday, M and I flew to Brussels for the weekend. We stayed in the swank hotel Crowne Plaza for a night and then stayed with friends, Andrea C and his girlfriend, Silvia. Andrea picked us up at the hotel on Thursday night, where we had a drink - my first Kriek (bier fermented with cherries) of the weekend! Andrea took us to a Lebanese restaurant which was quite tasty.

M had a business meeting on Friday (which was the main purpose of our visit) and I wandered around the heart of Brussels. I took the subway to Centraal and visited the beautiful cathedral nearby. There is a spectacular oak pulpit which depicts events from the fall of Adam and Eve to the Redemption. It was the highlight, in my opinion. I then walked into town, following my nose, more than anything. I had nothing particular in mind to see, since I've been in Brussels several times already, but it was a nice day, so I walked past all the familiar sites. I found a table at a cafe where I had a long lingering lunch with my book (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein) and was entertained by a tap dancer as well. Unfortunately, lunch was nothing to write home about. I continued to explore, this time with the vague objective of finding a "drug store". I found millions of Pharmacies and a few so-called "Bandagistes" (whatever that is!), but no pharmacies... Shrug. I did find a popular cafe with tables outside in the sun and I sat there for what seemed like ages while I waited for M to get out of his meeting and meet me in town. Made good headway on my book though! :-)

When M arrived we went to view the Mannekin Pis - the fountain of a little boy peeing into a large shell. I have always found it a bit disappointing - there are statues sold around town which are bigger than the real thing. But it's a symbol of the city. We wandered around some more, having a look at a medieval tower, St. Catherine's Church and the Begijnhof and eventually made our way back to the hotel where Andrea was to pick us up. We went back to Andrea and Silvia's place and had a lovely Porcini Risotto!

The next day we had a lazy breakfast and then went into town. Eventually we went to the Rubens exhibition at the Musee des Beaux Arts. It was very well done. I actually prefer many of the sketches and models he made before the actual painting was executed, often by others working in his studio. Ice cream afterwards was divine - a special banana split with Dark Chocolate, Speculatius and Honey/Ginger flavored ice cream. AFter that we passed by a Chocolaterie, where we bought some designer chocolate. Dinner that night was a the Spanish Center, where we met several of their friends, some of whom we'd met in Paris last year. We waited an eternity for the tapas, but it was wonderful. And Jose had brought a tray of baclavá(or whatever the Moroccans call it) for dessert. It was fun, but the place was unbelievably smoky and loud. Really makes me appreciate the smoking bans in the 3 places I spend most of my time (UK, US and Italy)!

Sunday saw us sleeping in and going to Patisserie Pierre for a breakfast of Tartes. Then we went to the Musical Instruments Museum, which is fabulous. If memory serves me, I had been there many years ago, when it was housed in a different building. Now it's in a beautiful Art Deco building called, of all things, "Old England". We had lunch with Andrea at another Tarte cafe, this time savory AND sweet. I don't know what was wrong that day but in both Tarte cafes the service was TERRIBLE. But we did eat eventually.

Our flight to Vienna was uneventful and I'll be going on a boat cruise on the Danube shortly!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Nothing much

Frustratingly, I have nothing much exciting to write about here. Haven't been doing much singing here, unfortunately. However, I have been busy trying to get Elysium concerts and our recordings out to the public and things like that. There is, of course, a huge lag time involved in securing a concert in a series or at a festival. If I manage to get us performances here in the UK it won't be until 2009 most likely! Ugh! But look for our recordings to be available on, an online distribution service similar to Magnatune. I'm still waiting to hear from those guys!

Good news is that I have a concert on the horizon! I'll most likely be performing Sad Hotel again in Heidelberg in November. Hopefully, we'll get a good recording out of it and I'll be able to put us up on MySpace. That might help things along on that front!

Also, I'm planning on attending Carol Baggott-Forte's voice seminar in Paris:

Monday, August 20, 2007


Poscimur sang in Chester on August 10/11.  
M came along, and we took the train up on Friday evening.  We had a nice meal at a pub along a canal and had a stroll through the center of town.  The town is full of cute half-timbered houses and they have the most fantastic shopping streets.  The shops are on two tiers, one is street level and another up a short flight of stairs to a covered gallery walkway, great for rainy England I'm sure!  We had fantastic weather though.  On Saturday we took a walk along the medieval walls, which go right around the center of town.  Beautiful vistas all around. I had to rehearse and sing in the afternoon, so Magnus went on a 2-hour guided walking tour of Secret Chester.  They were shown places which your average Joe doesn't have access to. The choir was singing wonderful music this weekend - Faire is the Heaven, by Harris; The Te Deum by Stanford; The Tomkins Responses; Mags and Nuncs by John Ireland and Stanford; the Mass setting by Harwood; Cantate Domino by Pitoni; My soul, There is a Country by Parry; Never weather beaten sail by Campion; Turn thy face from my sin by Attwood and A Litany by William Walton.  After the Evensong on Saturday we ate at a fantastic Grill restaurant and had an early night.  Sunday morning I was busy singing, but we met for lunch and went to a new Italian shop and restaurant. The food was good and Magnus stocked up on some pasta, wine and cheese!  Then more singing and off back to London...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Floods and Church Music

So, this was an interesting weekend. It didn't turn out at all like I thought it would. The choir Poscimur was meant to sing at Tewkesbury Abbey on Saturday and Sunday, so M and I made plans to travel to Gloucester (nearby), do some sight-seeing and meet some friends who live nearby. We rented a car from 6pm. The first inkling of trouble was when it took us 2 hours to get out of London. The traffic was horrific! Then we decided to stop at the first service area once we got on the motorway and it was closed due to flooding! Continuing on our merry way, we ran into more traffic on the way to Gloucester because of flooding. It had rained buckets earlier in the day, but wasn't raining any longer. A few weeks ago there was flooding in Northern England and there had been a lot of rain the last 2 weeks, but I didn't realize it was so bad! M was incredulous, he just couldn't believe it. After more than 6 hours on the road, we finally arrived at our hotel only to realize that we'd left our suitcase standing in front of the car rental office! Luckily I had my robes for the choir, but no music! oops!

The next morning, we were having breakfast, and I get a call from a choir member saying that due to the flooding the choir wouldn't be singing in Tewkesbury. Gracious! The Abbey was surrounded by water, but largely not flooded. The whole town was cut off from civilization! There is a photo

It's really too bad, I was supposed to sing a duet with one of the veteran members because the other soprano who normally sings the part couldn't make it.

So, we decided to stay in the area and do more sight-seeing than we'd anticipated, have dinner with those friends. We went shopping for supplies, some clothes and toiletries and some other stuff we needed(we got the shopping bug and they were having sales!). We had lunch (Gloucestershire Chicken - chicken topped with bacon and smothered in cheese and baked in the oven -mmmm) in the Dick Wittington pub. We went to the tourist office to find out what we could do, but it really wasn't much! The area is very beautiful (the Cotswolds are nearby) and anything outdoorsy really wasn't an option. Unfortunately, we saw just about everything there was to see in Gloucester by late afternoon. The historic docks were nice and the cathedral is gorgeous, but that's about it.

We drove to Cheltenham and thought about staying there overnight, but it sort of reminded us of Baden Baden, kind of a rich and boring spa town. I got a text message from a church music director in London asking if I could sing for him on Sunday (the next day) and that prompted us to head home!

All went well until shortly before Oxford, at Eynsham, where the road was flooded out. We tried an alternate route, but everything around the village was flooded. We tried a more significant detour only to discover that the bridge over the river was under water. So we turned around and were considering an even larger detour when we found ourselves in Witney, which was just experiencing major flooding. So we talked to a policewoman, who gave us a number to call, so we could find out if there were any roads NOT flooded that would take us back to London. They told us the road by Eynsham was no longer listed as closed, so we decided to check it out. Indeed, the traffic was no longer backed up, but the road was still covered in water! The crazy thing is that there were vehicles crossing the road, driving very slowly, but crossing! And not just trucks and 4x4's! So we decided to risk it. It was pretty scary - the water was flowing across the road at a good clip. I could feel the car lift a bit, when cars passed us going to the opposite way. It was pretty freaky.

We got home around 23:00 and went straight to bed. I had to get up kind of early to go to that church to sing. It went well. I was augmenting the sopranos because they were singing a motet by a Mexican renaissance composer which had 3 soprano parts. The organist asked me to sing again next week. They're doing the Howells Mass and an Anthem by Parry. Should be fun! Thank goodness there is now some movement on the performing front. It's just choral, church stuff at the moment, but better than nothing! And now I'm meeting more people. Exactly what I need!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Silence sold on CD-Baby!!!

Finally, Silence (the CD I sing on with Meinhard Gerlach on baroque lute) is available commercially! If you already have it, please head over to the site and write a review (hopefully a good one!). If you don't have it, head over and have a listen. You can listen to 2 minutes of each song if you click on "Play All Songs", and if you like it, you can buy a digital version (for download) or a hard copy, which they will send you.

Thanks (in advance) for your support!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


So, I joined a choir here in the UK. It's quite a unique choir in that they subsitute for cathedral choirs all over the country. Only a small group of people in London rehearse on a regular basis and the full choir only rehearses together at the venue on the day of the event. My "debut" was this past weekend (the bank holiday weekend) at Ely Cathedral. Magnus and I went together, but I'm afraid it was a bit of a bore for Magnus. The weather was dreadful (cold and rainy) and I was either in rehearsal or singing in a service most of Saturday and Sunday. But the cathedral is gorgeous and the singing was good. The town of Ely is also quite cute, but I didn't get to see much of it. We had a great meal at the Boathouse along the river but due to the weather we couldn't sit outside which would've been much nicer. Unfortunately, there wasn't much time outside of rehearsal and singing to get to know the other choristers. But that will come with time. The one exception was Paul, who sings alto, who was great fun and knows a ton about Early Music. In fact, he studied Medieval Latin with Peter Dronke at Cambridge, who was one of Sequentia's foremost consultants and translator.

The choir sang Evensong on Saturday, Eucharist and another Evensong on Sunday, so it was quite a marathon. Good for me though! We sang a number of things unfamiliar to me. Only the Gibbons Short service was something I had sung before.

My next gig with them will be in Tewkesbury (in Gloucestershire) and I'll be singing the duet from Mendelssohn's "I waited for the Lord" with one of the other sopranos and the choir.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Elysium in Berlin

Elysium just finished its second performance stint in Berlin. We sang the program "Know Thyself" to great success. We performed at the Domäne Dahlem, which is a farm/museum actually. We performed in the Herrenhaus, the museum part of the complex. We were surrounded by ancient coffee makers and portable cook sets and the like. We were able to use the furniture from the cafe to create a living room-like atmosphere next to a fireplace. it was really cute! On Sunday we sang in the Osterkirche (Easter Church) in Wedding. Also, an interesting atmosphere with the fabulous accoustics of a romanesque church. The Osterkirche had requested an intermission, which we weren't accustomed to doing in this program, so we rearranged the sets, added some material and generally tweaked the program. It turned out to be a blessing, as the program really benefitted from the changes. It gets better every time we do it! We made a recording and a video, so hopefully there will be some material from that we can use for promotions.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ugh. I'm sick!

Well, actually, I'm getting over it already. After over a year of wellness, I've had the flu and now a weird cold cum sinus infection/laryngitis. All within just a few weeks. Couldn't happen at a worse time either. Just when I'm preparing for Elysium's concerts in Oregon and getting things going here in London. I'm sure everything will be OK, but it sure is aggravating now!

Members of my former church choir from Christ the King in Frankfurt, Germany met up here in London last Saturday and Sunday. Our former director, Kathy Bird was here to visit and was really the catalyst. It was great fun to see people again. We also attended the Eucharist at St. Paul's Cathedral and heard Christopher Sladdin sing with the choir. I hope we can do it again sometime!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Elysium in High Gear

As per usual, a month before our performance in Oregon, we are moving into high gear and I'm getting upwards of 20 emails a day sometimes!! We've had a slight hiccup, but a good one. After Anna and I both booked our flights, we found out that Medford wants us to perform there after all! Anna had given up on them last summer when they didn't reply again after she proposed our fee. But she got an email asking if we were still planning on coming! They've accepted our fees and terms and although it's a little tight with rehearsals, we're going perform in Medford, Oregon, on Friday, March 2 giving a Question and Answer session afterwards. Now we just have to figure out how we are going to get there in good time and maximize the time we have for rehearsal.

More on that later!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Drat! I *did* get ahead of myself!

I'm really disappointed about this, but I'm trying to stay positive! The gig in Scotland singing the premier of Paul Moxon's piece "Endurance" has fallen through. Apparently, one of the sponsors back out and now there are not enough funds to put it on. Sigh. The plight of classical music.

Paul is still confident that it will be performed some day. His agent is trying to place it and is also looking at getting it used for a television piece by the BBC on Shackleton's expedition on the Endurance. That would mean recording it. Paul has assured me that he will hire me to sing the soprano part if and when it is performed or recorded. So there's that.

Friday, January 19, 2007

On My Way!

This was a really good week for me! I saw Neil Mackie on Tuesday at the Royal College of Music. I was a little nervous, but not too bad, really! But none-the-less I don't think I really put my best foot forward. My mistake was wanting to see him sooner rather than later, and so I didn't really have much time to prepare. My voice has been a little cranky since I got home, so I was careful instead of just laying it on the line. Sigh. When will I learn? But I am happy I wasn't shaking - that helps! But Neil is a very vibrant, little Scotsman and we worked for a good hour after I sang him my first two pieces. It was fun, different than what I've gotten used to over the years, and certainly more aggressive than Paul (which is good!). He was pretty completmentary, saying that my voice is very fresh and has a beautiful, clear tone, which just needs a bit more depth. There are some things I felt like I had to translate into Cornelius terminology, but I think I can get past that. At any rate, I believe that he can really whip me into shape. He gave me several good tips and encouragement too. He said that getting an agent in London is very difficult. Agents generally show up at college concerts or other concerts, but don't hold auditions. He said I should just contact the directors of choral societies and ask if I could come and sing for them some time. He also said I should contact the BBC Singers and the Monteverdi Choir (John Elliot Gardiner, conductor) to find out when they hold auditions for vacancies. He said he thought I would have no problem getting a job in a school, with my experience teaching. I don't know if I really want to do that, but it's good to know that it's an option, especially since I have no certification.

He also told me about a concert by Andrew Lawrence King at Southwark Cathedral. Andrew was one of my teachers in Bremen and we had actually done the Play of Daniel, which is what he was doing here in London, while I was there! I decided it would be a very good idea to go to the concert and reintroduce myself to him afterwards. To my surprise there were some other people in the production that I knew - Susanne Ansorg on medieval Fiddle, Ian Harrison on Fiddle, shawm and tenor and Michael Metzler on percussion. I know them all from Germany, so it was nice to see them here. I hope that they will put in a good word for me, after all, Andrew only knows me as a student!

Susanne asked us if we would join them in the pub afterwards and so we followed some of the singers to a pub, had a lovely conversation with them only to discover that Susanne and the rest were at a different pub! So we went over there. I had a chance to chat with Andrew, catching up on what he's been up to over the past 10 years since I left Bremen (Omigod! has it been that long?!?).

So, the very next day, I wrote Andrew an email, and sent him the important bits of my CV. I also contacted the BBC Singers and the Monteverdi Choir about auditioning.

Today I have a cold. Ugh.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Post Christmas plans

I returned from 2+ weeks at home in Madison, Wisconsin and Bancroft, Iowa and am raring to go!

First off, I have a consultation/lesson next week with Niel Mackie who is the acting Chairman of the Voice Department at the Royal College of Music here in London. I'll sing 3 pieces for him and then we'll discuss what the best way forward is for me. Every singer should continue to work on their voice and have outside help to do it with. Neil Mackie was recommended to me by my colleague Margaret Peckham from Frankfurt. I also need advice and help regarding auditioning for and getting work here in England. And who knows? Perhaps I'll decide to go back to school and work on a Masters Degree (or whatever the equivalent is here!)!

Next, will be a performance by Elysium on March 4, 2007. We'll be performing in Salem, Oregon, USA at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. We'll begin with Evensong (encorporating lots of chant!) and continue with our program of medieval Italian songs, "Piety and Passion". For more information visit . Have a look at Elysium's website: and our MySpace Music space:

After that will likely be a premier performance in Fort William, Scotland of the work "Endurance" by Paul Moxon. Have a little listen:

Elysium will be performing again in May, this time in Berlin. More details will be forth-coming so watch this space!