Monday, September 26, 2011

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

What a stupendous week it has been! I cannot believe how many people have contacted me through email and phone calls and facebook. Thank you for your comments and well wishes, especially everyone from my hometown of Great Bend, Kansas. I miss you all! It truly has been incredible.

I have to say that my favorite story of the week came from a singer in the Symphony Chorus. He's a tenor and had an amazing story about when he sang with Robert Shaw - the "Father Abraham" of choral conductors. He casually mentioned that he was a singer in Shaw's chorus, the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and won five Grammy awards with them. Then he said that the excitement for the opening of the Kauffman Center was about what he felt when he sang in the Opening Ceremonies of the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. He certainly did not know what that means to me. I literally have the opening ceremonies of the '96 games memorized...the television commentary; the rhythm, tempo, and timbre of Bob Costas describing the excitement of seeing Team USA ascending the ramp into the stadium with the quote "and the reaction" and the immediate fanfare of John Williams' "Summon the Heroes" as the camera shoots quickly toward President Clinton clapping, smiling with his jaw hanging open.

That event 15 years ago kicked my passion in music to a new level. The whole artistic portion of the ceremony was a giant opera about the history of the American South. Anyway, the Kauffman Center Opening truly was Olympic-esque. Here is a video of what was playing outside of the Kauffman Center of Opening Night.

Unfortunately, there isn't video yet from my scene that night, but I did find some great photos online from the final dress rehearsal earlier that day.

This last week was just a whirl-wind.  I have been incredibly busy and unfortunately I have also been suffering one of the worst allergy weeks of my life.  I finally "hit the wall" on Saturday and have been resting over the weekend.  It really puts drag on my practicing regimen with so much to memorize including an opera role.  I hope I will feel better so I can get back to 100%.

When I do, I will be preparing for an opera, Le nozze di Figaro by Mozart (the Marriage of Figaro), and for several other things as well.  As always, you can check my schedule at to see what I have coming up.  Right now, most of the events are all in Kansas City, not surprisingly, but audition season is fast approaching, which will probably take me all over the place.

In the past, I have just given updates on the auditions as they happen, but this year, I have been asked by some singers who are just getting into the field, to go into a little more detail on how I prepare for auditions and what it takes to get a live audition and (if I'm lucky) win a role.  So, starting next week, I will be showing what goes on "behind the scenes" and you will all travel and see with me, how successful this audition season goes.

Lastly, I just wanted to announce that my charity organization, the Kansas City Vocal Institute, is once again planning to have an online auction to raise money for scholarships.  Last year was very successful and we awarded scholarships with donations from people such as: Maya Angelou, David Cook, Melissa Etheridge, Angelina Jolie, Yo-Yo Ma, Stephen Sondheim, Eric Whitacre, John Williams, and many more.  Hopefully, those folks will want to continue their scholarships through KCVI this year, and we are asking even more celebrities to contribute.  I hope that each of the coming weeks, I will be able to announce some celebrities who will be renewing their scholarship funds and will participate in this year's celebrity charity auction.  Last year, we raised $3,141.08 which provided over 100 hours of free or greatly discounted music lessons for kids and families here in Kansas City, however those scholarships quickly ran out, as many in this Great Recession took advantage of the free lessons.  Many more are still waiting, so I hope that this year, we will have a great turnout and that we can provide more with free professional music education.

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