Thursday, June 18, 2009

New York Trip Day 7


It rained all day long today. It kind of messes up our voices a little bit; the changing weather can cause our vocal chords to swell just a little, putting unneeded weight on the voice.

Well, I was able to sleep in this morning, which was nice since we were all almost exhausted. Unfortunately I wasn't able to meet Tiger Woods, mainly because I wasn't at the US Open, however he texted me this morning to tell me not to come out in the rain, so I wouldn't get pneumonia and therefore sacrifice my voice, so I wished him good luck and apologized because my dad is rooting for Phil Mickelson. Dad, don't worry, he didn't tell Stevie.

Ok, so seriously, I had a coaching with Steve Crawford, Conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. We really cleaned up some things in my Mozart piece, and we went through the Stravinsky piece very methodically. One thing that Maestro Crawford does that I appreciate so much is that he has a rationale for what he does. It isn't that something just intrinsically sounds better or worse, there is a reason for everything, which I very much needed to hear because I have people with all kinds of crazy ideas about the Stravinsky yelling down my throat and then telling me it's the perfect piece for me. Very confusing no doubt. But we went through the piece and he had some very good ideas, a very very talented man. I ironed several things out and now I can say, "No" to people who want me to slaughter Stravinsky with their savage ideas, because I have the final word from the Met conductor on what to do. Unfortunately that doesn't mean anything, and if a conductor wants something different I will have to do that, but at least I feel somewhat vindicated.

I went through the Stravinsky piece with Gerry Hecht and that was fun for both of us and I talked to some of the other faculty here throughout the day as well. I am very excited and very happy with the connections and friendships I have gained over the past week. I have one more day of rehearsing before our concert but I very much appreciate everyone involved with this Institute. Opera is not a large industry so we all are very close, and now I am very pleased to know these people personally; they are no different than the people in Kansas, just straight down-to-earth type people, very happy and caring and I very much appreciate that.

This evening we had a master class with Maestro John DiConstanzo. It mainly focused on the Italian language but there was a little bit of German and French thrown in as well. There are so many intricacies to language that it is so important for singers to maintain a high level of proficiency for musicality's sake. The composer is only bound to language, so there is a natural flow and feel that every language has that we have to replicate through the music, especially if the composer is competent. French is very even, German needs emphatic consonants, Italian has a flow of vowels, voiced consonants, and silence, English requires a "chewiness" with its many diphthongs, and Russian, well Russian is just weird. But I love listening to these singers sing phrases concentrating on these intricacies, because it brings so much of the feeling out to the audience. Sometimes we singers love the music so much that we hoard all the good feelings for ourselves, and not give anything to the audience for them to feel what we are feeling. I have also earned a new love for Mozart. I can see now that we can be so simplistic and so expressive with his writing. It all needs boundaries, but that is what makes it so special and so real.

Music is just art with sound as its medium and time as its structure, but it goes even further. Mozart has boundaries of phrasing and emphasis, language has boundaries of silence and aspiration, my voice has a boundary of color and size, so it is all about how these can coordinate into a mass of organized expression that we really understand and feel what is intended. Music goes so much further than whether if it is pleasant or pretty or incredibly difficult or fun to dance to, it is expression of something we can not really express at all, we are trying to replicate what we actually feel in another medium that others can also achieve. So, the next time you listen to music - pop, country, rock, classical, jazz - try to think of it differently, think of what is trying to be expressed. A piece of pottery on display at an art museum can be used as a soup bowl or be seen as someones expression through pottery. It's all what you make of it. Music doesn't have to be deep or emotional, it can be fun and joking, or anything else, but we have to try to understand and learn more. That's the beauty of art; we learn, try, think, make, and express all that is who we are.

Ok, the lecture is almost over, but please support the arts. It's not an activity, like sports, it's not entertainment, like the movies, it shouldn't be treated like that. It teaches us to understand ourselves and one another. Some "don't get it", some "don't care", some "don't understand it" but being ignorant doesn't make you smarter. So, encourage people and your community and support the arts; you won't regret it.

Tomorrow's Schedule - Friday 6/19

Lesson with Sherry Overholt - NYU Faculty - 11:20

Staging - 2:50

Master Class with Maestro Willie Waters - Conductor at Connecticut Opera - 6:45-9


  1. Good morning from Salina. We saw a little of the Open yesterday and the rain was pouring down and they were puching it off the greens. Too bad for Tiger but then he will rebound.

    I'm probably in the "Don't understand" group but it is important to support the arts if only in the "I appreciate it, enjoy it, but don't always understand it" category. We are so glad you are having such a "learning" time because that is the area in which we both think is important. Your week is coming to an end and it sounds like it has been absolutely wonderful. Enjoy these last couple of days and travel safely back to Kansas.

    love, grandma

  2. When I teach grammar in my English classes, I write about my family in the sentence they will deconstruct. It is almost always about you and Dusti. The students didn't understand what I meant when I said,"Bryan is an opera singer," so I pulled up one of the video's from Facebook where you were in a contest. Needless to say, my students were incredibly impressed with your ability to sing. I'd like to think that even if they don't understand, they can still appreciate it on some level.

    On another note, I have really enjoyed reading about your adventures in New York. Have a wonderful time and a safe trip home.

  3. Thanks Sonny, I know people can appreciate it without really knowing what it is, but I was mainly talking about the people in the world who are trying to shut it out of schools or the parents of the kids who go to SCI that want their kids to do football instead of sing. Artists will always be artists, we will always do what we love, I just don't want people to be excluded from all of this, or any opportunities to experience it because of the people who don't find it important.

  4. Yeah, I knew what you meant. :) Sometimes I feel like I'm a window for the kids to learn about so much more than just English. By the way, they thought it was really sweet the way you proposed.


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