Monday, September 27, 2010

What A Week!

What a week it was! Since last Monday it seems like a lot has happened. I guess every week is that way. But on Tuesday last week I was asked to sing on a masterclass which was held today at UMKC. But, before I get to that, I have to say that I loved seeing all the folks at UUMC in Salina last Thursday. Unfortunately, it was not under the circumstances that we all would have wished for, but I felt we all honored Joan Pierson in a great way. I will definitely miss her; she was one of my biggest supporters, and I was honored to sing at her memorial service. When I visit UUMC this weekend, I will still see her sitting near the window smiling a giant smile like she always did.

I was also thankful to see my parents and puppy Kiah as well last Thursday, but I had to get back to Kansas City for classes on Friday and rest before the very eventful gameday on Saturday in Manhattan. If you don't already know, Dusti and I have season football tickets for K-State football, but this game was really interesting. An enormous storm rolled in only 8 plays into the game.


The game was halted because of lightning and Dusti and I snook in to the Club Level and watched the rotating clouds blow by with 60 mph winds and a torrential rain.  Oddly enough, the old adage about Kansas is true, wait 15 minutes and the weather will change, because about 5 minutes after I got back into my seat after the storm, there was sunshine and clear blue sky with a slight breeze from the North.  K-State ended up winning with a dramatic fourth quarter comeback to beat UCF.  The game-winning touchdown came with only 24 seconds left on the clock!  It was really exciting!

On Sunday, Dusti and I went to the Plaza Art Fair.  It was a great way to spend our Sunday.  The weather was beautiful and there were so many amazing artists displaying their paintings, photos, sculptures, etc.  However, the highlight for me was my lunch (as always)!  We ate a Blanc Burger, which is a swanky and semi-fancy burger place in the Plaza district.  They served some of the craziest burgers - and crazy expensive too - but my favorite part were the truffle fries.  They are fries fried in truffle butter oil.  And, it may have been the most unhealthy thing I have ever eaten, but I somehow convinced myself to eat it.  They were easily the most incredible fries I have ever eaten.  I am excited to go back!

Then today, I sang on a masterclass taught by a vocal coach George Darden who was the assistant conductor of the Metropolitan Opera for 21 years.  He retired in 2006, but he was a great guy.  I was asked to give him three options to pick from, which is somewhat rare for a masterclass.  I had him pick from Questa o quella from Rigoletto, Lenski's Aria from Eugene Onegin, and an art song called Nebbie.  He selected Lenski's Aria and I had a great time working with him.  I was not very consistent, and a little careless on some of the skips past the passagio, but all-in-all it was ok.  He seemed to enjoy it and gave me a lot of tips on musicality, which he said at the end that he didn't mind if I forgot everything he said - they were just his ideas, and I did like some of them.  I find a lot of Americans like to overact this aria, but it is mostly intimate and inward angst, nothing to shout out to high heaven about.  I very much appreciated that he cared for this and even enjoyed a more strict approach to singing it without much rubato.  In other words, he wanted me to sing exactly what was written on the page and not get too carried away with my musicality.  I did have a tendency to become too involved at the climax of the piece, but what the heck, it's Russian music. I can't feel too bad about having too much passion!  My favorite quote of his was when he was describing opera saying: "It's the Olympics of music."  Now he's talking my language!

Anyway, I had a great time listening to the other three singers.  All of them were amazing.  I am looking forward to coming to Salina this weekend and giving out CDs of many of the solos I have sang while I was at UUMC.  They will be free, but I will also ask for a free will donation.  Everything that is raised will be used as a scholarship in UUMC's name to provide one or several children here in Kansas City with free private music lessons as part of KCVI.  And on October 1, the Kansas City Vocal Institute will give its October update at the KCVI Magazine blog.

Upcoming concerts:
September 27, 2010 - Masterclass with George Darden - White Recital Hall - 4pm
October 3, 2010 - University United Methodist Church - Salina, KS - 1st & 2nd Services
October 3, 2010 - Choir Concert - White Recital Hall - 5pm
October 17, 2010 - Solo Performance of English Art Song - (will update as soon as I get the info)
October 19, 2010 - Choir Concert - White Recital Hall - 7:30
October 30, 2010 - KSU Alumni Choir Concert - St. Thomas Moore Church - Manhattan, KS - 2pm
November 10, 2010 - Singing Der Lindenbaum on John Mueter Presentation - Grant Hall 122 - 3pm
November 18-21, 2010 - The Dialogues of the Carmelites by Poulenc - Chevalier de la Force (cover) - White Recital Hall
November 30, 2010 - Choir Concert - Atonement Lutheran Church
December 7, 2010 - Monteverdi Vespers (400th Anniversary Concert) - Visitation Catholic Church (I will be auditioning for the tenor soloist)
March 17-20, 2011 - Don Giovanni by Mozart - Don Ottavio - White Recital Hall
April 23, 2011 - Gloria by Poulenc - White Recital Hall

Monday, September 20, 2010

Routine

I am finally in a routine. School is going furiously, thankfully with minimal homework. I am singing a lot of great repertoire. I have been submitting applications for auditions for apprentice programs. Those auditions will generally be November-January. I also have several more concerts that I have included at the bottom of this post. KCVI is going very well after just finishing a strong scholarship drive, and I am anxious to announce other events and programs about to begin.

I realize most of the people who read this are music geeks. So, I have decided to give you some listening/critiquing opportunities - musicians LOVE to critique other musicians (especially the most famous ones).

I have links to recordings of some of the pieces that I'm working on. I love to listen to recordings and find out how other musicians perform these pieces. The more you learn about them (history, poetry, the composer, etc.) the more enjoyable the music becomes. It's kind of like sports. I don't know very much about cricket, so I don't appreciate it very much simply because I don't know how to appreciate it (what does it look like to watch a good cricket match?) But, I do know the rules, strategies, and position responsibilities for soccer, football, baseball, basketball, and golf. Some probably aren't any more exciting than cricket, but I would definitely enjoy them much more because I know a lot more about them. The more you learn, the more exciting it will become.

So, I hope you enjoy some of these! I certainly do.

Art Songs I'm working on:
"Air Grave" by Poulenc performed by Nicolai Gedda
"Nebbie" by Respighi performed by Luciano Pavarotti (perhaps his pianos are too piano?)
"Der Lindenbaum" from Winterreise by Schubert performed by Peter Schreier

Arias I'm working on:
"Dalla sua pace" from Don Giovanni by Mozart performed by Piotr Beczala
"Il mio tesoro" from Don Giovanni by Mozart performed by Fritz Wunderlich

Choral pieces I'm working on (with a choir of course):
Alma redemptoris mater by Palestrina
Rytmus by Ivan Hrusovsky (what do you think of the background?)
By the Bivouac's Fitful Flame from A Procession Winding Around Me by Jeffrey Van
Beat! Beat! Drums! from A Procession Winding Around Me by Jeffrey Van
Sleep by Eric Whitacre
Lauda Jerusalem from Vespers by Monteverdi

And one of my favorites (keep watching there's two arias here)
"Je marche sur tous...Obeissons" from Manon by Massenet performed by Renee Fleming

Finally, congratulations to Kyle and Tracy Baack and their new boy Landon!

Upcoming concerts:
October 3, 2010 - University United Methodist Church - Salina, KS - 1st & 2nd Services
October 3, 2010 - Choir Concert - White Recital Hall - 5pm
October 19, 2010 - Choir Concert - White Recital Hall - 7:30
October 30, 2010 - Choir Concert - Hyatt Crown Center - ?
November 6, 2010 - Recital - details to come
November 18-21, 2010 - The Dialogues of the Carmelites by Poulenc - Chevalier de la Force (cover) - White Recital Hall
November 30, 2010 - Choir Concert - Atonement Lutheran Church
December 7, 2010 - Monteverdi Vespers (400th Anniversary Concert) - Visitation Catholic Church (I will be auditioning for the tenor soloist)
March 17-20, 2011 - Don Giovanni by Mozart - Don Ottavio - White Recital Hall
April 23, 2011 - Gloria by Poulenc - White Recital Hall

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday Night Football

Sorry Cleveland, I bought a Kansas City Chiefs shirt at Sears today - because I'm going to the Monday Night Football game against the Chargers tonight! One of my students, who's a good friend as well, invited me to go, and I am really excited. I have never been to an NFL game. I'm afraid though that I will be allergic to the Chiefs shirt and wake up with rashes and hives because I wore it...okay, maybe not, but I will secretly be cheering for Darren Sproles to rush for 300 yards.

This last week has been a lot of fun. Dusti and I went to Manhattan to watch another K-State win in football. An incredible thing happened at the game when Dusti turned around and sitting just two rows behind us were my grandparents! Out of 52,000 seats, we just happened to sit in front of them - someone please figure the odds on that. On the business side, KCVI is gearing up to start Loud and Proud classes and the scholarship deadline for Kansas City area high school students is this week. So, I am very excited for those major milestones.

Several others have contributed to scholarships as well - too many to talk about right now - but I will be releasing press releases and information on our website about all the major contributors.

The following is my concert schedule for the time being - everything is subject to change (but it is unlikely)

October 17, 2010 - Choir Concert - Village Presbyterian Church
November 18-21, 2010 - The Dialogues of the Carmelites by Poulenc - Chevalier de la Force (cover) - White Recital Hall
November 30, 2010 - Choir Concert - Atonement Lutheran Church
December 7, 2010 - Monteverdi Vespers (400th Anniversary Concert) - Visitation Catholic Church (I will be auditioning for the tenor soloist)
March 17-20, 2011 - Don Giovanni by Mozart - Don Ottavio - White Recital Hall
April 23, 2011 - Gloria by Poulenc - White Recital Hall

Others: I will be applying for professional auditions for summer opera programs. I will also be applying to participate in several competitions. It is likely that I will be singing in several masterclasses, and perhaps in another orchestra concert singing a piece by Vaughan Williams. I will keep updating my schedule every Monday here on my blog.

Have a great week everyone and I want to send a special "thank you" to all my supporters, friends, and family. And to my remarkable wife, who puts up with my quirkiness and craziness. Love you babe! And finally, congratulations to the Drs. Yu-Oppenheim on their new baby boy Noah!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Don Giovanni!

Well, the callbacks went well. I sang much better than the initial audition. They let me sing through Lenski's aria entirely, and Dies Bildniss right after. I have been changing a few things with the forwardness of my vowels a la Fritz Wunderlich. I am continuing to try to brighten past the passagio to give it a more brilliant color - and most importantly, to make it easier.

The results were posted and I will be playing Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni by Mozart in March and will also be covering for the Chevalier de la Force in Dialogues of the Carmelites by Poulenc in November. The lead in that production is Ben Gulley - who if you haven't heard, is amazing!

Don Ottavio is fun for tenors because of two arias Dalla sua pace and Il mio tesoro. I am so excited and honored to get the role and sing with these amazing singers.

And as for the weekly update for KCVI, enrollment has been down since the beginning of school, but we're still going strong on advertising and raising scholarships. For the music buffs out there, you may have heard that I have been talking with composer Eric Whitacre as he is interested in donating to benefit our scholarships. Also, several award winning artists have donated artwork to be auctioned. Marilyn Horne has donated items to be auctioned and most exciting to me is that Indian Conductor Zubin Mehta who was the director of several of the most prestigious orchestras in the world (New York Phil, LA Phil, Bavarian State Orchestra)is donating to help and in addition, he is signing a baton he has used in performance to be auctioned. Our auction will likely be an online auction and we are shooting to begin sometime in November. I am excited for some of our classes beginning in just a few days. Also, several scholarship deadlines are coming up next week as well!

If you haven't checked out all these links, there's some pretty awesome music. Also, this Monday I will post my concert schedule coming up. I would love to see you there.