Monday, November 29, 2010

New York, New York

Holy smokes! It's been a busy week and will continue to be. I am so excited for the KCVI Charity Auction that kicked off on Friday. There will be many more items listed today, so please go to www.kcvocalinstitute.com/auction or Click Here to see all the current auctions on eBay.

Also, Dusti and I hosted Thanksgiving, which went very well.  All the food turned out great and we always love company.  I feel bad for my parents because their fridge broke the day before Thanksgiving and they were hosting my Dad's side of the family.  What timing!

Dusti and I are anxious to go to New York this week.  I have three auditions this week, one Thursday, one Friday, and one Saturday.  I will be sure to make daily updates - it might be late at night by the time they're online, but I will be sure to let you know how it goes, so please come back to see what happens.

I also have a concert tomorrow night.  It is the "Harvesters" concert - a Christmas concert of sorts - that the Conservatory Singers will be singing in.  It sounds like it will be a big event, and the information is listed below.  So if you are in the area, please come - and we get to sing carols in a congregation setting! (who doesn't love that?)

I also have some good news too!  In the midst of all the Thanksgiving hoopla, I actually completed a lot of homework.  Thank you, coffee.

And I have some bad news, obviously K-State lost on Tuesday to #1 Duke, but on the good side, I was able to see some friends from Manhattan while they were in town for the game.  I had a great time talking to them and catching up.  Also, Wichita Grand Opera did not cast me in their opera in February.  They gave the role to someone in their own company.  There is a good side to this, in that if they are ever in a pickle, they have my number.

Please don't forget to bid in the charity auction.  All the proceeds will go towards free music education for Kansas City children and families.  These will make great Christmas gifts.  Information on "how to bid" can be found at www.kcvocalinstitute.com/auction.  And a special thank you to my mom - she is the eBay mastermind and helped me out so much with the auction.  Love you mom!

With one week to go until the big Monteverdi concert, this week's weird and ancient instrument is (and I love the name) the Rackett






Current Audition Info & Results
Missouri NATS - October 30-31 - 2nd Place Advanced Division
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 - invited 11/19
Sugar Creek Symphony (Chicago) - applied 10/12 - invited 11/19
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:
November 30, 2010 - Harvesters Christmas Concert - Atonement Lutheran Church
December 2, 2010 - Chautauqua Opera Auditions - New York City, NY
December 3, 2010 - Crested Butte Opera Auditions - New York City, NY
December 4, 2010 - Sugar Creek Symphony and Song 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
December 15, 2010 - Voice Juries - UMKC Conservatory
March 17-20, 2011 - Don Giovanni by Mozart - Don Ottavio - White Recital Hall
April 23, 2011 - Gloria by Poulenc - White Recital Hall

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Autographed Melissa Etheridge Album - KCVI Charity Auction

Autographed Melissa Etheridge DVD "The Awakening Live"

Award winning singer-songwriter, Melissa Etheridge, has graciously donated an autographed copy of her CD/DVD album “The Awakening Live” to be auctioned in support of her scholarship fund through the Kansas City Vocal Institute. Melissa Etheridge has won two Grammy Awards and the 2007 Academy Award for best Original Song.

The Kansas City Vocal Institute provides free and greatly discounted music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area. 100% of the proceeds from this item will benefit her scholarship fund.

Click Here to visit the KCVI Charity Auction Page

www.kcvocalinstitute.com

Autographed William Bolcom Photo - KCVI Charity Auction

Autographed William Bolcom Photo

Pulitzer Prize winning composer, William Bolcom, has graciously donated an autographed photograph to be auctioned in support of his scholarship fund through the Kansas City Vocal Institute. He won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in Music for “12 New Etudes for Piano”, was a recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 2006, and has won two Grammy Awards.

Photo measures approx. 8" x 10".

The Kansas City Vocal Institute provides free and greatly discounted music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area. 100% of the proceeds from this item will benefit his scholarship fund.

Click Here to visit the KCVI Charity Auction Page

www.kcvocalinstitute.com

Autographed Rebecca Stead Novel - KCVI Charity Auction

Autographed Rebecca Stead Novel

Newbery Medal winner, Rebecca Stead, has graciously donated an autographed First Edition copy of her award winning book “When You Reach Me” to be auctioned in support of her scholarship fund through the Kansas City Vocal Institute. She won the 2010 Newbery Medal for her children’s novel “When You Reach Me”. The Newbery Award is annually given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children

The Kansas City Vocal Institute provides free and greatly discounted music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area. 100% of the proceeds from this item will benefit her scholarship fund.

Click Here to visit the KCVI Charity Auction Page

www.kcvocalinstitute.com

Autographed Dalai Lama Photo - KCVI Charity Auction

Autographed Dalai Lama Photo

Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Tenzin Gyatso – the 14th Dalai Lama, has graciously donated a hand-signed autographed photo to be auctioned in support of his scholarship fund through the Kansas City Vocal Institute. Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. He won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for consistently opposing the use of violence in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet by advocating peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.

Photo measures approx. 6.5" x 9.5".

The Kansas City Vocal Institute provides free and greatly discounted music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area. 100% of the proceeds from this item will benefit his scholarship fund.

Click Here to visit the KCVI Charity Auction Page

www.kcvocalinstitute.com

Autographed Marilyn Horne Book - KCVI Charity Auction

Autographed Marilyn Horne Book

World famous opera singer, Marilyn Horne, has graciously donated an autographed copy of her book “Marilyn Horne: The Song Continues” to be auctioned in support of her scholarship fund through the Kansas City Vocal Institute. The Kansas City Vocal Institute provides free and greatly discounted music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area. 100% of the proceeds from this item will benefit her scholarship fund. Marilyn Horne was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1992 and was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 1995.

This volume also contains a CD with rare live recordings of Marilyn Horne singing solo and with other great singers. In addition, there are 118 photos in a special 64-page photographic tribute.

Click Here to visit the KCVI Charity Auction Page

www.kcvocalinstitute.com

Friday, November 26, 2010

Autographed Toy Story 3 Film Score - KCVI Charity Auction

Autographed Toy Story 3 Film Score

Award winning composer, Randy Newman, has graciously donated an autographed copy of a page from the handwritten film score “Toy Story 3” to be auctioned in support of his scholarship fund through the Kansas City Vocal Institute. The Kansas City Vocal Institute provides free and greatly discounted music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area. 100% of the proceeds from this item will benefit his scholarship fund.

The page is an excerpt of the first four measures of the movement entitled “Woody Bails”. “Toy Story 3” was released in 2010 and is currently the fourth highest grossing film in world history. This film score is expected to be nominated for an Academy Award in 2011. Randy Newman won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Original Song, four Grammy Awards, and three Emmy Awards.

Click Here to visit the KCVI Charity Auction Page

www.kcvocalinstitute.com

Autographed Avatar Film Score - KCVI Charity Auction

Autographed Avatar Film Score

Award winning composer, James Horner, has graciously donated an autographed copy of a page from the film score “Avatar” to be auctioned in support of his scholarship fund through the Kansas City Vocal Institute. The Kansas City Vocal Institute provides free and greatly discounted music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area. 100% of the proceeds from this item will benefit his scholarship fund.

This page is an excerpt of the first six measures of the movement entitled “The Battle Begins”. “Avatar” was released in 2009 and is currently the highest grossing film in world history. This film score was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Score in 2009. James Horner has won two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and three Grammy Awards.

Click Here to visit the KCVI Charity Auction Page

www.kcvocalinstitute.com

Autographed Star Wars Film Score - KCVI Charity Auction

Autographed Star Wars Film Score

Award winning composer, John Williams, has graciously donated an autographed copy of the Main Title from the film score “Star Wars” to be auctioned in support of his scholarship fund through the Kansas City Vocal Institute. The Kansas City Vocal Institute provides free and greatly discounted music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area. 100% of the proceeds from this item will benefit his scholarship fund.

This film score is regarded as one of the most important and influential film scores in history. The page is an excerpt of the first four measures of the title theme from the Star Wars suite for orchestra from the first Star Wars film, “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”. This specific excerpt, “Main Title”, was awarded a Grammy Award in 1977 for Best Instrument Composition. The entire film score won four Grammy Awards and both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Score in 1977. John Williams has won five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and 21 Grammy Awards.

Click Here to visit the KCVI Charity Auction Page

www.kcvocalinstitute.com

Yo-Yo Ma Autographed CD - KCVI Charity Auction

Yo-Yo Ma "Solo" Autographed CD

Grammy Award winning cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, has graciously donated an autographed CD “Solo” to be auctioned in support of his scholarship fund through the Kansas City Vocal Institute. The Kansas City Vocal Institute provides free and greatly discounted music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area. 100% of the proceeds from this item will benefit his scholarship fund. Yo-Yo Ma has won 16 Grammy Awards and was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2001.

Click Here to See the KCVI Charity Auction Page

www.kcvocalinstitute.com

Monday, November 22, 2010

Auction!

Well, the stress isn't subsiding, but life is quite exciting right now.  Tonight, Dusti and I will be going to the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City to watch #3 K-State (my alma mater) play #12 Gonzaga.  I will try to hold my excitement in check until the final horn sounds, because I am very excited for the possibility of my team #3 K-State play #1 Duke tomorrow night in the tournament championship.  If K-State wins both of these games, they will likely be the #1 ranked team in the nation - in basketball!  K-State basketball has a great tradition, but it has come miles and miles since I was a little boy.

Sorry to be biased, but it so exciting for me, I just had to mention it.

In opera news, I received a couple more auditions.  They will be in New York next week.  I already was given an audition with Chautauqua Opera on Thursday, December 2, and now I have added Crested Butte Opera
auditions on Friday, December 3, and Sugar Creek Symphony auditions on Saturday, December 4.  Crested Butte is a company in Colorado and Sugar Creek is a company near Chicago.  I am very excited for those and I will give you daily updates when I am in New York.

Last week I mentioned a little bit about Wichita Grand Opera and possibly getting a role with them in a February production.  I heard from them last week again, and they said they would let me know when they have decided, so I just suppose I'll wait.  But, if there is still no response here soon, I will get pretty antsy.

Now, for the most exciting moment of the blog - the announcement of the 2010 Kansas City Vocal Institute Charity Auction.  The auction site is up and running - if it doesn't work on your computer, you will probably need to update your Flash Player - otherwise, go ahead and take a spin. The site is www.kcvocalinstitute.com/auction and all the items are available to look at and read about.  There is a short page explaining how to bid.  The length of each auction will generally be 10 days and it really gets competitive the final day, so keep track of what you are bidding on. The auction will begin on Black Friday - Friday, November 26.  A red "bid now" button will appear next to the item when the auction is live.  Please take time and bid as all the proceeds from the auction will support scholarships for free music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  We are hosting our first Thanksgiving with Dusti's parents, and I am excited for baking pies!  I am so thankful for you all who have taken time to read my blogs and given me encouragement, thankful for my friends and family - I wish I could be with you all for Thanksgiving, thankful for my wife for being so loving and supportive, thankful for the opera companies, teachers, and schools who have shown interest in me and have given me so many great opportunities, thankful for all the teachers, students, and people who have donated to KCVI, and thankful for being able to do what I love to do.  Have a happy thanksgiving.

And in a Thanksgiving themed edition of this week's weird and ancient instrument in preparation for the 40th Anniversary of the Monteverdi Vespers where I will be featured along with the UMKC Conservatory Singers and the Kansas City and St. Louis Symphony Chamber Ensembles, I present music's turkey - the Launeddas

Here is an audio example of a Launeddas.  I suggest fast forwarding to the last half of the video.  Just in case you want to know why he looks really weird, the performer is using a technique called circular breathing where he pumps air into his cheeks and holds it there so he can breathe in through his nose while pushing air out his mouth with his cheek muscles.  You can try this on your own by blowing out through a straw using your cheeks while breathing in through your nose - it's very difficult though.  And on another nerdy note, I had to look up what a group of turkeys was called the other day - a rafter of turkeys - but what is a group of Launeddas(es) or for that matter what is plural of Launeddas?  Anyway, enjoy.



Current Audition Info & Results
Missouri NATS - October 30-31 - 2nd Place Advanced Division
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 - invited 11/19
Sugar Creek Symphony (Chicago) - applied 10/12 - invited 11/19
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:
November 30, 2010 - Choir Concert - Atonement Lutheran Church
December 2, 2010 - Chautauqua Opera Auditions - New York City, NY
December 3, 2010 - Crested Butte Opera Auditions - New York City, NY
December 4, 2010 - Sugar Creek Symphony and Song 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 Hallwww.kcvocalinstitute.com/auction

Monday, November 15, 2010

Almost...maybe

I'm not going to lie, but I am stressed out right now.  I have a lot of school projects that I am working on, especially learning music.  And, there are many plans that are "up in the air".  Hopefully I can have a little more stability by the end of the week.  If there is one thing about my work ethic that always holds true - when I am stressed, I will get things done.  Nevertheless, it takes one thing at a time to do it.

First and most frustrating, was that I was hoping to announce today that I would be singing in a supporting role in a February production of the Merry Widow at Wichita Grand Opera.  Obviously, I am not making that announcement.  But, last Tuesday I received an email that there was an opening for the role of Raoul - a relatively minor role, but a great opportunity to sing with a professional company.  I called first thing on Wednesday morning to WGO and then emailed my information.  I received a phone call later in the day from one of the directors at WGO.  They asked for more information and I emailed that to them.  Then, later that evening I received another email asking for an even more specific set of information.  I was able to give them many different recordings, video, pictures, bio, information about productions and scenes I have been in, awards, people I have worked with, etc.  They seemed very interested and I was very excited that all this attention was going to lead to a role offer.  Well, Thursday went by with no response, then Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and now Monday.  Unfortunately, I probably did not get cast.  Even though it was a relatively minor role, I would have loved to perform with a large company - a great opportunity.  But, this is how this business is I suppose, and unfortunately it requires us all to be rejected many many times.  "Hurry up and wait!"

This is so difficult on my coffee-diet lifestyle.

Nevertheless, I am planning on auditioning for the Kansas City Lyric Opera early next year for their inaugural season in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.  Hopefully there will be some opportunities for me close to home. And, let's not forget the UMKC production of Don Giovanni in March!

The other stress has been centered around homework for my theory class and memorizing loads of music and preparing for some major recitals.  All of this I am very excited for and love every minute of the challenge, but because I am a really active person, I get very anxious.  So, fortunately and unfortunately I have a lot to be anxious about.

I had a small concert on Wednesday that went very well.  I was part of a presentation at the Conservatory of Lieder from Graz, Austria.  It was a wonderful presentation and it was a lot of fun to sing art song for once.  It is a lot more delicate than operatic singing and likewise, the singer is allowed more opportunities to be "musical".  I am also the cover for the Dialogues of the Carmelites production at UMKC.  It will be a wonderful production and I encourage all the opera lovers in the area to attend this production this weekend.  The opera is very very emotional, and ends with a rousing scene where a convent of nuns (the Carmelites) are beheaded one by one as part of the French Revolution.  Each nun walks offstage to their execution screaming their fear of death as a chorus of onlookers witness their fate while the interrupting clap of the guillotine beheads them.

Watch the final scene below - if you have 10 minutes to spare.  It's one of the most emotional scenes in all of opera.  Just imagine the pain of waiting for your own execution....on second thought please don't spend too much time thinking about that.  The last nun was spared by the rest of the convent when she was the only dissenter in a vote for martyrdom, but after witnessing their execution, the spared nun runs on at the very end of the scene, and I'll let you see for yourself what happens.



Also, please check back next Monday as I will launch the auction site for the 2010 KCVI Charity Auction.  Last post I listed several items up for auction - here are some more items up for bid.  These were all donated by these individuals to be auctioned, supporting their individual scholarship funds through KCVI. The Kansas City Vocal Institute provides free and greatly discounted music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area.  100% of the proceeds from these items will benefit their respective scholarships.

Nearly every album of Melissa Etheridge individually autographed
Several items from American Idol winner David Cook
Autographed photo of the Dalai Lama (seriously!)
Autographed photo of Angelina Jolie
Autographed book by opera singer Marilyn Horne
Several items by cellist Yo-Yo Ma
and many other items by Pulitzer Prize winners, Tony Award winners, Grammy Award winners, and several award winning children's books.

The first of these items will go up for auction on Friday, November 26.  Check back next Monday to see the full catalog.

And finally,

In preparation for the 400th Anniversary Concert of the Monteverdi Vespers where I will be a featured soloist with the Kansas City and St. Louis Symphonies Chamber Ensembles and the Conservatory Singers, this week's weird and ancient instrument is the Bladder Pipe.

And in case you are wondering - it's a pig bladder.  Here is a recording of a Bladder Pipe used in a liturgical celebration.




Current Audition Info & Results
Missouri NATS - October 30-31 - 2nd Place Advanced Division
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:
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, November 8, 2010

Going once...

Like I promised before, this week I have exciting news on the KCVI Auction.  The auction will be held online and the items will go up for auction the evening of Friday, November 26 (the day after Thanksgiving) and most should be ending on Monday December 6.  I have debated over this, but for exposure's sake and because of the relative ease of it all, these items will be auctioned on ebay.  I will post links to them on this blog, and you will be able to follow and bid on the items easily through ebay or by using the auction catalog on www.kcvocalinstitute.com.  All the items were donated by these individuals and most include personal comments and other unique traits.  The proceeds will support the individual scholarships created by these individuals. If you have questions about any of these, please email me at bryanpinkall@gmail.com or write a comment on this blog and I will answer your questions. The catalog is not yet online, but I want to give you a sneak peak of the items up for bid.  I will list more next week and the following week you can view the entire auction catalog on the KCVI website.

Here are a few things up for bid:
John Williams Autographed Star Wars Film Score
Tom Watson Autographed Cap
James Horner Autographed Avatar Film Score
Randy Newman Autographed Toy Story 3 Film Score w/ Hand Written Comments
Several Maya Angelou Autographed Poems w/ Hand Written Comments
Eric Whitacre Autographed Music and CD
Betty Buckley's Autographed Law and Order: SVU Script w/ Personal Comments and Markings
Emily McCully Painting "Wonder Horse"
Beth Krommes Engraving "Cats"
Zubin Mehta Autographed Baton
Morten Lauridsen Autographed Music

More to come next week! Remember the auction begins Nov. 26 on this blog and at www.kcvocalinstitute.com

Sorry I take these introspective tangents sometimes, but I want to tell you about my morning.

Today I woke up and got ready for school.  I dressed up in slacks and button-up shirt, took my allergy medicine, stopped at a McDonald's for coffee, and then on to the Interstate.  I drive thirty minutes to school, only to park a mile away in free parking behind a laundromat next to a middle eastern restaurant.  I walk past a coffee shop with three tables of twenty-somethings playing chess outside while smoking and down to the end of the block, cross the street, climb up 132 steps on a giant hill to campus.

At the top I can see all the way to the Nelson Atkins Museum with a giant shuttlecock on the lawn.  I get to my first class; a music history class.  The teacher is from Russia, and like many times before, she somehow manages to discuss the atrocities of the Soviet Union - this time making a connection between Arnold Schoenberg and Dmitri Shostakovitch in a discussion of Hauptstimme.  All the students have their heads buried in their notebooks: a two-week-over-due Russian woman in total misery, an emo rocker girl literally crying next to the window for some unknown reason, a Japanese woman taking notes with her pet terrier sleeping in a reusable grocery bag on her lap with its head resting on her moving and writing arm, and a fashion forward student lugging around a bright yellow guitar and wearing skin tight black jeans, black boots, floral print shirt and a giant purple-sequined Mad Hatter hat.

Of course the day goes on from there, with equally odd things, but that is how today began, and besides varying outfits, it is how every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday begin.  Just a comment, but I love how interesting the day can be.

On another note, I will be singing the National Anthem at the Roos home basketball game on Friday versus the Truman State Bulldogs at the Swinney Recreation Center.  Let me know what the line on this game is...I suspect the Roos will box the bulldogs pretty good.  And I will be performing "Der Lindenbaum" on a presentation of Music in Graz, Austria by my coach, John Mueter on Wednesday at the Conservatory.

I have two ancient and weird instruments this week, highlighting what you can expect at the 400th Anniversary Concert of the Monteverdi Vespers where I will be featured along with the Conservatory Singers and the Kansas City and St. Louis Symphonies Chamber Ensembles:

First, the Sackbutt.  It's not that weird, because it closely resembles the trombone, but the name is pretty funny.  Be careful if you try to Google this word.  Here is an audio example of the sackbutt and other instruments playing the opening movement to Monteverdi's Vespers (which you should come to on December 7).  The solo at the very beginning will be just one of 12 solo parts I will be singing including several duets and a solo movement.  Also, for all the history buffs, can you guess what other work by Monteverdi has this same music?  Try to guess without looking...hint, it's probably the only other Monteverdi thing you can think of.



And lastly, the Crumhorn.  It is a very harsh sounding instrument.

 To get you in the holiday spirit (for the holiday KCVI auction, naturally) I want to leave you with a less-than-professional performance on the Crumhorn of some of your favorite Christmas classics!

Current Audition Info & Results
Missouri NATS - October 30-31 - 2nd Place Advanced Division
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:
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, November 1, 2010

Missouri NATS

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween.  Dusti and I had some friends over for chili and a movie.  We had a great time.

This week has been pretty rigorous, but very constructive for me as a singer.  The big event of the week was the first contest of my audition season, Missouri NATS.  This region is new for me.  I grew up in the NATS West Central Region, winning the graduate division regional contest in 2008.  NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) is a very very fickle competition.  Among singers, we generally loath the competition because it is entirely subjective.  When you get knocked out of the contest, it is difficult many times to understand why you lost to so-and-so, and why whats-its-name won when they screamed the entire thing.  But, it is a great way to practice high-stress situations.  For me, there is nothing more intense than voice competitions.

Missouri NATS, in the grand scheme of things, is not a big contest.  However, this one was much more competitive than what it would appear from the outside looking in.  Of coarse, only Missouri singers were involved, but this involved singers from several conservatories including UMKC.  Among these singers were some incredibly successful singers with nationally renown careers and competition winnings.  There are divisions set up based on experience and age.  My division was the most advanced division, so I was having to compete against the most successful and experienced singers.  I know some of the singers I was competing against and I know what they have accomplished, including Met Audition Finals and graduates from very prestigious schools.  So, I was not expecting to beat everyone; I just wanted to do my best and hopefully that would get me to at least advance to the Semifinals.

So, in the first round, we had ten minutes to sing as many excerpts from our four selections that we submitted to the competition.  I sang Lenski's Aria from Eugene Onegin (which I have won three competitions with in the past), part of Thou Shalt Break Them from Messiah, and part of The Lamb by Hoiby.  I performed pretty averagely this first round.  I have been trying to get more resonance space past my passagio; in other words, a more mature sound way up in my high notes.  Lenski was a little nasal and it was somewhat difficult to transition between the three songs because they are so different.  I was a little too aggressive with Thou Shalt Break Them, and I had many troubles with The Lamb trying to make it delicate enough.  But, The Lamb is a 20th century piece, and weird enough that I don't think it was as noticeable.  It really bothered me though.

After a few hours of waiting, the results were in and I advanced to the Semifinals.  I was very excited and very shocked because I advanced past some INCREDIBLY talented singers.  The Semifinals were the next day, early in the morning, so I woke up early got a big coffee, took my allergy medicine, and drove the hour drive to the University of Central Missouri where the competition was.  As soon as I arrived, I found that I was one of the first to sing.  This was difficult, because singers are not used to singing early in the morning, so I had to do a cram warm-up session and shortly after had to compete.  In the Semifinals we also had 10 minutes to sing and fortunately we were able to sing in a nice recital hall.  Once again I sang Lenski's Aria.  This was very powerful early in the morning, and I felt much more comfortable with it than how I sang in the first round.  They asked to hear Thou Shalt Break Them, which I sang the whole way through.  This was somewhat difficult because it is very virtuosic, and I had just finished a power aria and it was early in the morning.  Nevertheless I finished, and it was about average or maybe a little less.  Then they asked me what I wanted to sing and I selected Nebbie by Respighi.  It is a "Pavarotti favorite" and one of my favorites as well.  It fits my voice well because it is something that is relatively easy for me to sing and is very very difficult for others.  Mainly because most of the crescendos are on descending lines, something I can do very well.  Nebbie went well, and I felt very optimistic of how I performed.

Now, there were many other great singers, and the judges had to pick three to move on to the finals.  So, I did not know what to expect but after another few hours of waiting, the results were posted and they had selected me to advance to the finals.  Again, I was very excited.  Not really because it was Missouri NATS, but because of the singers I was competing against.  I later talked to one of my Semifinal judges who apologized for selecting Thou Shalt Break Them right after Lenski's Aria.  He said, "Sorry, I just had to do it.  I can wake up after sleeping for 10 hours and sing Thou Shalt Break Them without any warm-up, but I could never do Lenski's Aria no matter how hard I worked at it.  I just couldn't resist picking them one right after the other."  No one really ever gives me that kind of remark, so I was very happy to hear that.

I knew the three singers I was competing against in the finals, two sopranos.  Now, I have never competed in a NATS contest that was mixed gender.  Usually they are men only and women only categories.  That is how this contest was except for the top division.  Honestly, it is very difficult to compete against women, because they usually have a much more mature sound than men of the same age.  Women do not have to go through a voice change so they can spend this time developing their voice, when all the boys have to start all over again with a wonky, cracky voice.  So, to be the only male in the final of my division...I was very proud.

For the Finals, we had to sing in a giant concert setting.  All the finalists of all the divisions sang one after the other and all the teachers are able to vote in a giant popularity contest of sorts.  The final round lasted almost four hours and I was the very last person to sing. I had to wait over six hours from the last time I sang.  This was very difficult to manage.  Continually drinking water for six hours is very annoying - especially with all the bathroom breaks. I chose to sing Lenski's Aria which has been my "go to" aria for competitions.  After talking to my teacher and coach, we decided to change it to Nebbie.  It is very impressive, short, and memorable - someone might fall asleep with Lenski and I had to keep it under 5 minutes; I could go over 5 minutes with Lenski.

The other singers in my division were incredible.  I was very honored to sing with them on the final.  When it was my turn to sing, I was pretty nervous and as soon as I sang my first note, I felt the full weight of six hours of waiting.  My voice was very heavy, meaning it had a lot of low resonance.  The first phrase is an ascending octave and a half, booming up to a high note that I nailed.  However, the lighter parts of the aria I had more trouble with because of how heavy my voice was.  There is a second ascending line that was not very good, a little nasal, but still very full.  I rushed a little too much in hindsight, but ended strong with a full low finish.  It is a very unique art song; my only regret was that I should have been a little more lyric.  There is not much I could have done to help that after the long wait.

At the awards ceremony, they invited all three of us up to the front.  3rd place.....not me.  If they didn't call my name next that meant I won.  They called my name.  I placed 2nd.  It is something I am used to, but I always wish I would have won.  Since it was voted on by many people, it is a little more acceptable for me.  But, I started to second guess everything, like "should I have sang Lenski since I've won a lot with it", "I wish I approached the second ascending phrase with a better breath", "I wish I paid more attention to my facial reactions and the performance", etc.  In the end, it's spilled milk, and as formidable as a figure skating contest.  I can only do my best, and make the most logical decisions.  Nebbie is my most impressive piece, and the first ascending phrase I sang was excellent.  I was very proud to have place 2nd among so many amazing singers and to have been the highest ranking guy.

Even though it was a relatively small contest, it was one of the most competitive ones that I have been a part of.  I am very proud.

After the contest, I had to get back to Kansas City to sing at a gala concert for the Conservatory.  We sang Brindisi from La Traviata as a grand finale with orchestra, opera chorus, and even fireworks (literally)!  It was one of the fanciest things I have seen since coming to Kansas City.

This week I have a little time to prepare until I begin a couple months of many concerts and contests.  I launched a new online service through KCVI and we are now available to have private coachings and lessons from anywhere around the world.  Just this week I gave a voice lesson to someone in India!  I will be announcing information about KCVI's online charity auction next week.  We will have items from many famous musicians and many others including Pulitzer Prize winners, Caldecott Medalists, Newbery Medalists, Tony Award Winners, and Academy Award Winners.  Some items include an autographed script from an episode of Law and Order, autographed music from Eric Whitacre, autographed film scores from Star Wars, Avatar, and Toy Story, autographed poetry from Maya Angelou, and autographed baton from world famous conductor Zubin Mehta, and autographed books, pictures, albums, and artwork from many others including American Idol winner David Cook, opera singer Marilyn Horne, and actress Angelina Jolie.  These items were all donated by these individuals and the proceeds will go to their individual scholarships through the Kansas City Vocal Institute providing free or greatly discounted music education for children and families in the Kansas City metro area. I will post information on this next week on this blog and on all the KCVI sites.  The tentative date for the auction will be the last week of November and first week of December.  Hopefully there will be items up for auction that you will want to bid on to give to your music-loving family members or friends for the holidays or to keep for yourself.

And once again, in preparation for the Monteverdi Vespers concert that I will be featured in along with the Conservatory Singers and the Kansas City Symphony and St. Louis Symphony Chamber Ensembles, here's this week's weird and ancient instrument: the crwth.

That's right, the "w" is a vowel.  It rhymes with "truth".



Current Audition Info & Results
Missouri NATS - October 30-31 - 2nd Place Advanced Division
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:
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