Monday, October 25, 2010

Big Apple

I love surprises, especially big ones.  That has to make my wife crazy, because I am pretty good at keeping a secret.  Last week I received an invitation to audition for Chautauqua Opera in December in New York City.  I also discovered that my alma mater is ranked #3 in the pre-season basketball rankings and they are likely to play #1 Duke in a tournament in Kansas City the week before the auditions.  So, I had to buy tickets to the game and when I found out about the audition, I decided that this would be a great surprise for my wife.  She has never been to New York and has always talked about wanting to go.  So, I casually mentioned the basketball tickets waiting for dinner at In-gre-di-ent and she was so excited because she loves basketball.  Then I mentioned that I got the audition and that I'm taking her to New York!  She was pretty pumped, and it was really exciting to give that surprise to her.  That was a great day.  After dinner, we saw "The Social Network" at the movie theater (and it was great, albeit a little embarrassing because I am similarly eccentric - but my wife assures me that is ok).

Hopefully, she will be able to have the New York experience she's always wanted, and hopefully I will get another audition or two for that week as well.  I still have several auditions that I am waiting to hear back from.

On the other hand, I received word that I did not get an audition with Santa Fe Opera this year.  For that application, singers do not send in a recording, they just take the information that is submitted and perhaps their notes from previous auditions and make their decision.  Well, I guess they did not enjoy my audition last year in Chicago.  But, that is ok.  That is how the business works.  I also was not invited to the Wolf Trap auditions.  Nevertheless, it is quite an exciting experience to be able to travel around the country to the ones I do get invited to.  I have traveled just under 60,000 miles in the last year and half!

Wow, I have never thought about that before, but that's a lot of miles.

Anyway, I will keep you all updated on any new information.

This last week we had a very successful choir concert for the Conservatory Singers.  My wife was a life saver!  I brought the wrong tux coat and she fortunately was able to get me the one with tails, just in time for the concert.  Thanks babe!

This week, I will be participating in the Missouri NATS contest.  I have won the NATS West Regional before and this is an entirely new region for me at UMKC.  So, I am excited to see how it goes.  I will be singing Lenski's Aria by Tchaikovsky from Eugene Onegin, Nebbie by Respighi, The Lamb by Hoiby, and Thou Shalt Break Them from Messiah by Handel.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to be a part of the Kansas State University Choir Advisory Council, which I was invited to be a part of this year since I am now an alumnus.  I will continue to be part of their activities but I was notified too late to clear my schedule for their fall meeting.  I am very honored for the invitation.

Looking ahead to the Monteverdi concert in December, I promised you another weird and ancient instrument.  This week:  the Hurdy Gurdy



Current Audition Info
Santa Fe Opera - applied 9/16 - not invited 10/22
Chautauqua Opera (New York) - applied 10/5 - invited 10/22
Wolf Trap Opera (Washington D.C.) - applied 10/8 - not invited 10/18
National Opera Association Competition (San Antonio) - applied 10/12
Crested Butte Opera (Colorado) - applied 10/12
Sugar Creek Symphony and Song (near Chicago) - applied 10/12
Shreveport Opera Competition - applied 10/12
Symphony in the Valley (Colorado) - applied 10/13
Ash Lawn Opera (near Washington D.C.) - applied 10/13

Upcoming concerts:
October 29, 2010 - Missouri State NATS competition - Central Missouri University - TBA
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 2, 2010 - Chautauqua Opera Auditions - New York City, NY
December 7, 2010 - Featured Soloist - Monteverdi Vespers (400th Anniversary Concert) - Visitation Catholic Church -  Kansas City, MO - 7:30pm
December 12, 2010 - Tenor Soloist - Messiah by Handel - Centennial United Methodist Church - Kansas City, MO - 4:00pm
March 17-20, 2011 - Don Giovanni by Mozart - Don Ottavio - White Recital Hall
April 23, 2011 - Gloria by Poulenc - White Recital Hall


Monday, October 18, 2010

Night's Nimbus Floods

I cannot thank you all enough for your support.  It's very exciting for me to wake up every Monday and write this.  I have an immense passion for music as an art, among many other passions.  Thank you for letting me share my life with you!  This blog is only 16 months old, and I received a random email from Wikio that this blog is in the top 100 visited blogs on the Internet for Classical Music.  They gave me a little counter to put on my blog.  I believe that it will update every month, but I am not sure of that.  I'm also not sure of the legitimacy of the ranking, but I will be proud of whatever the number is on the right.  However, it does look a little odd to only have 4 followers, one being myself, all the while having somewhere over 2,000 readers every month. But, thank you all again for your support.  You help make my life so much fun!


Shortly after my last post, I received an invitation to be the Tenor Soloist for a production of Messiah by Handel at Centennial United Methodist Church in Kansas City, MO.  It will start at 4:00pm on Sunday, December 12.  This will be very exciting because I will also be singing with a couple of other opera singers, Roberta Gumbel and Jennifer Powell, and a choir.  If you don't already know, Messiah is most famous for the Hallelujah Chorus.  As for the tenor solos, I have a couple of recordings on YouTube of myself singing several of the tenor arias:  Every Valley and Thou Shalt Break Them.  This invitation was a great surprise and I am very excited to sing.  It should be a lot of fun.

This also brings up a very important topic: Correct Speech.  When you advertise this to all your friends and family (which you should), please do not say "the Messiah".  This is not the title. "Messiah" is the title. The only exceptions to this are when referring to the German translation "Der Messias" or any other translation in a language using an article to notate gender.  If it feels awkward to say, "Dude, Messiah is so epic!" or "Messiah has crazy-awesome trumpet solos, but the librettist totally mistranslated Luther's Bible.  A posaune is a trombone, duh!" or "I can't wait for Messiah's rockin' Part the Third!", don't worry, you are not alone.  Many people feel naked and lost if they do not include the "the".  Instead of "the Messiah" say "Handel's Messiah".  Musicians cringe, stomachs churning with indigestion, like ferocious tsunamis of dejection, when people incessantly say the title of history's most important and most famous oratorio incorrectly.

Now, if this new lifestyle that I am asking you to immediately acquire is too obscene and highbrow, please prepare yourself for next year's wedding season, when I will surely expound upon the harmonic intricacies of Pachlbel's Canon.


Facetiousness aside, I am very excited for that and a production of the Monteverdi Vespers that will be held several days before Messiah.  If you would like to see a concert that I am in this semester, I would really encourage you to come to the Vespers.  It is the 400th anniversary of the piece, and I will be the featured soloist.  The music was written so long ago, that there are many ornaments and unusual things that I will be singing.  Many parts are virtuosic and it should be a fun evening with a choir of operatic singers and an orchestra of period instruments.  I will be ending each of these blog entries giving you a little information about a period instrument that was around in Monteverdi's time, so you can become accustomed to them.


I sang on a concert at Northwest Missouri State University with several other opera singers from the Conservatory all from Dale Morehouse's studio.  It was very fun to sing on a concert that I was not graded on!  All the songs were British songs except for the final set.  For the final set, we sang our favorites.  I picked to sing Lenski's aria from Eugene Onegin.  I had a fun time and I am excited for several more concerts coming up, including a choir concert on Tuesday, October 19.  Come hear the Conservatory Singers at UMKC if you are in the area.  We will be singing songs based on "the morning" and several liturgical Latin pieces.  My favorite set is based on civil war poetry by Walt Whitman.  The only accompaniment is acoustic guitar.  The texture is very modern, but still tonal - not random noise.  My favorite movement is Look Down, Fair Moon.  Click here to listen to a recording of it.  The poetry describes the battle field after a battle.  He is so captured by the vast fields of the dead, that he pleads for the moon's light to cleanse their sin of war.  The composer wrote this in a way that almost weeps the pain of the 
poetry.


"Look down, fair moon, and bathe this scene;
Pour softly down night's nimbus floods, on faces ghastly, swollen, purple;
On the dead, on their backs, with their arms toss'd wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon."

by Walt Whitman




This Week's Ancient Instrument - The Serpent



Current Audition Info
Santa Fe Opera - applied 9/16
Chautauqua Opera (New York) - applied 10/5
Wolf Trap Opera (Washington D.C.) - applied 10/8 - denied 10/18
National Opera Association Competition (San Antonio) - applied 10/12
Crested Butte Opera (Colorado) - applied 10/12
Sugar Creek Symphony and Song (near Chicago) - applied 10/12
Shreveport Opera Competition - applied 10/12
Symphony in the Valley (Colorado) - applied 10/13
Ash Lawn Opera (near Washington D.C.) - applied 10/13

Upcoming concerts:
October 19, 2010 - Choir Concert - White Recital Hall - 7:30
October 29, 2010 - Missouri State NATS competition - Central Missouri University - TBA
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 - Featured Soloist - Monteverdi Vespers (400th Anniversary Concert) - Visitation Catholic Church -  Kansas City, MO - 7:30pm
December 12, 2010 - Tenor Soloist - Messiah by Handel - Centennial United Methodist Church - Kansas City, MO - 4:00pm
March 17-20, 2011 - Don Giovanni by Mozart - Don Ottavio - White Recital Hall
April 23, 2011 - Gloria by Poulenc - White Recital Hall


Monday, October 11, 2010

Magical Mr. Mistoffelees

I was sitting in the front office of Meineke at 75th and Metcalf this morning, furious about my wife's car breaking down for the second time in a week, thinking about how I usually handle situations like this.  I usually go through every possible scenario in my head - what if this would happen? or that? what would I do? what would I say? - shaking up the proverbial Pop Bottle of Angst.  All the while, a little baby cat, which the auto workers found hiding in their shop last Sunday, jumps up towards my hand dangling from the end of the arm of the lobby couch.   She attacks it, stabbing my hand with her little baby razor claws, only to walk up on my shoulder towards my face.  She licks my nose then jumps down into my lap and buries herself in between my leg and the crack between two seat cushions.  I pet her and she began to purr and eventually fell asleep even amidst the noise of Divorce Court on the shop's satellite TV, which was breaking up into static because of the continuous rainfall throughout the morning, Led Zeppelin blasting in the shop garage, with revving engines, the buzz of a giant industrial fan, and intermittent bangs from the shop's side door that lost its recoil spring.

I guess we all find peace in our own stressful worlds.

And, in the end, it can always be more stressful - the shop might find a stray dog!

This week was full of ups and downs.  I had some serious sinus problems earlier in the week, which made singing dangerously difficult - not to mention breathing and staying alive difficult as well!

As I wrote before, I am covering the tenor lead for an opera called the Dialogues of the Carmelites by Poulenc.  These rehearsals are underway, and this is the first time that I have covered a role.  Essentially, I have no assurance that I will ever perform it, but in case someone becomes sick or has to leave for some reason, I will be the back-up.  Hopefully for my sake, everyone will be healthy and conflict free - if not for their sake as well.

I visited Manhattan a couple of times last week.  I went to the last K-State vs. Nebraska football game (unfortunately this did not go very well).  If you haven't heard, Nebraska is headed to the Big Ten Conference next year, so this was the last meeting between one of K-State's biggest rivals.  The game was sold out and very loud.  However, one of the craziest things happened to me.

I went to the game with my friend Evan and our seats were right next to the Nebraska marching band.  All around us were other Cornhusker fans except for the couple next to us who were obviously cheering for K-State.  If you didn't get to see the game...good!  If you did, you would know that we were pummeled with 80 yard rushing play after 80 yard rushing play.  About half-way through the game, the couple barged past us - the guy apologizing profusely because of his girlfriend's nose bleed.  I was thinking of several sly remarks like, "there's no need to get that upset, at least we're not KU" and "shouldn't she be bleeding purple?" and "if that was their first date, what a great way to get past the awkwardness".  As these thoughts were slipping past my frontal lobe, I casually looked at my arm only to see a streak of red blood running right down the middle of it.

A K-State fan nose-bled on my arm!

Evan wouldn't let me wipe it off on his shirt, and I didn't want to miss the game, still holding on to the hope of a fourth quarter 35 point comeback.  So, I only had two options: (1) pick off the stadium floor, the slightly soggy popcorn leftovers that missed their target, and wipe off the blood, popped kernel by popped kernel or (2) wipe it off on my brand new black shirt.  I chose the latter.

This will rank up at the top as one of the more awkward moments of my life, not excluding the time a white bengal tiger peed on me in Salina or the time that NFL star Darren Sproles accidentally tackled me in a hallway squirt gun fight, in my boxers, in the middle of the night, in Haymaker Hall.

Besides that, I had a meeting to begin planning SCI, Summer Choral Institute, for next year with Dr. Yu and Oppenheim, and I was able to see their new baby boy, Noah.  I finalized the business incorporating and banking stuff for KCVI.  And, I went to see the K-State choir concert - which was fantastic.  I was so impressed by their musicality.  I was struck by the thought that I love to perform so much, that I cannot separate that from being an audience member.  Perhaps only performers understand this, but musicality is so personal, I feel I can never fully appreciate the expression unless I am expressing it myself - like the feeling of singing to the radio, or in the shower.  It's always better than just listening.  It was so difficult to be an audience member, precisely because I enjoyed it so much!

On Sunday, my wife's parents, sister, her boyfriend, and I all went to get pumpkins.  We carved them into typical Halloween figures - mine was a skull - and I baked the pumpkin seeds for a nice little snack. If you are wondering, they were ok - it's more of a novelty than anything.  Then I went with some of my friends to see a stand up comedian in the beautiful Midland Theatre in downtown Kansas City.  It was hilarious!

Like most of the week, the ups were followed by abrupt downs, and Monday appeared to be a big fall down.  We did however get the car repaired and the auto mechanic's kitten magically changed my day for the better.  I had a recording session that went very well, and I found out that I will be the tenor soloist for the 400th Anniversary of the Monteverdi Vespers.  The concert information is below, but it will be sung by the Conservatory Singers and with a symphony of period instruments - including everyone's favorite, the Sackbut!

Have a splendid week.  Hopefully Divorce Court and Led Zeppelin won't keep you from living peacefully!

Oh! Well I never! Was there ever
A cat so clever as magical Mr. Mistoffelees!
T.S. Elliot

(all the musicians have probably and wrongly assumed that I was talking about the song from "Cats" by Andrew Lloyd Webber - I wanted to spare the world the torture - but if your curious, here you go)

Current Audition Info
Santa Fe Opera - applied - 9/16
Chautauqua Opera (New York) - applied - 10/5
Wolf Trap Opera (Washington D.C.) - applied - 10/8

Upcoming concerts:
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 29, 2010 - Missouri State NATS competition - Central Missouri University - TBA
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 - Tenor Soloist - Monteverdi Vespers (400th Anniversary Concert) - Visitation Catholic Church -  Kansas City, MO - 7:30pm
March 17-20, 2011 - Don Giovanni by Mozart - Don Ottavio - White Recital Hall
April 23, 2011 - Gloria by Poulenc - White Recital Hall

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Where's Waldo?

Well, I am very sorry about the late posting.  Unfortunately, Dusti and I had some car trouble yesterday and we didn't make it home until about 1 a.m. this morning!

Dusti and I went to see Carmen last night.  It was a beautiful production - one of the best that I have seen at the Kansas City Lyric Opera.  Micaela was my favorite - but Carmen was amazing and Don Jose got better as the night went on.  Of course, everyone knows the music, and if you don't think you do, you're wrong.  Overture to Carmen, Habanera, and the Toreador Song are very very famous.  If you haven't heard these before, you probably can't hear - they are THAT famous.  Here are three other parts of the opera that are some of my favorites:  The Flower Song, The Gypsy Song, and the Sequidilla. There is also a dance with castanets called "Je vais danser..." and I'm not posting a link because many of the videos are pretty risqué - but it is gorgeous if you want to look for that on your own. Anyway, It was a very a fun and tragic evening.

After the opera was over, we went to the car and started driving away.  We didn't get but 3 blocks and the car died in the middle of the intersection of 13th and Central in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.  I called the non-emergency police number and it took them almost an hour to respond!  We had to get the car towed and it is in the shop as we speak.  Apparently, the alternator failed...so hopefully we can get that fixed quickly and Dusti can be back in her car.  That means, for the moment, I'm the chauffeur...yay (read sarcastically).

Besides that, Dusti and I had a great week.  I was able to visit my dad and grandparents in Salina this weekend. I sang for the folks at UUMC and gave them all a CD of some of the music I have performed while I worked there, as a thank you gift.  They are some of the most generous people I know.  Thank you so much for your warm welcomes, big hugs, and for being our "extended" family.  The people at UUMC donated over $700 to build a scholarship for the Kansas City Vocal Institute.  This will give several underprivileged children free music lessons here in Kansas City.  Thank you so much for your generosity.

After singing there, I had to rush (and I mean rush) back to Kansas City to make a choir concert.  We sang for several area high schools as part of a choir clinic day called "Cantate".  Unfortunately, when I was running up to the Performing Arts Center from my car, my white bow tie fell and I lost it, so I had to fake-it and be the bozo standing up there without a white tie.  Fortunately, all the men had white ties and shirts, so if you didn't know that I didn't have mine on, it was difficult to spot - like a choir version of Where's Waldo.

This week, I will be going to Manhattan to have a few meetings about SCI (Summer Choral Institute) and then go to the K-State vs. Nebraska game.  SCI is a voice and choir camp that meets in the summer.  It is completely free for the high school kids who are accepted, and is paid for by the Master Teacher Institute for the Arts.  What a great program for these kids!  I will be the administrator for SCI this summer, as I was last summer.  I am really excited to help.

As far as other upcoming events go, I have already applied to audition for the Santa Fe Opera YAP and yesterday I mailed-in my audition for the Chautauqua Opera YAP in New York.  I will keep you updated as to what auditions I am applying for, when/if I get auditions for them, and I will be posting some of my audition recordings for you to critique.

That's all for now, thank you for your support!

UPDATE! - Sorry, one more update! I just heard from David Cook, and he is donating to start a charity in his name for KCVI.  To refresh your memory, he is from the Kansas City area and won American Idol in 2008.  That's really exciting!

Upcoming concerts:
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