Back on the Road

You might have noticed a lull in the postings on this blog…

For the past five months I’ve been up in a different kind of air: the whirlwind of new parenthood.

Kathryn & Baby ABaby A was born on September 17 in perfect health and he’s a joy, even if he doesn’t like to go to sleep. Right now he’s into playing with his toes and EATING — he loves food and now that he has tasted rice cereal and sweet potatoes he thinks he should get to try everything N and I eat.

Before he was born, I had no idea how long to take off before hitting the road again for performances. Would I be ready for Messiahs in December? Could I keep that awesome opera gig that would happen just 6 weeks postpartum? I’m sure it’s different for every singer, but as it turns out I’m glad I was conservative. When the weekend of that opera rolled around, sad as I was to have cancelled on it, I couldn’t imagine being out singing when I was sleeping only a few hours a night and having trouble carving out time to practice.

Eventually I got a practice routine going — well, depending on the day and nap schedules — and my voice snapped back into shape. I started slow with local performances in December and January, and then last week took off for my first away gig, a thrilling Haydn Lord Nelson Mass with Seraphic Fire. Thanks to dear friends there who hosted us, I was able to bring A and my parents came to watch him while I was at work.

Patrick and orchestraIt was a lovely week. It felt great to be back doing what I do, with great colleagues who are friends too. It was more exhausting than usual since I had to tend to baby at night, and I couldn’t go out after concerts and socialize with my friends, but it was really fun to have A there and nice that I didn’t have to leave him behind for my first trip. The richness that came into my voice last year — whether it was because of pregnancy or a result of the work I’d been doing with my teacher, or both — has remained, and I felt vocally strong. The concerts were a collaboration with the New York-based period orchestra The Sebastians, and all three nights were big successes. We got an excellent review (I got a shout-out for my solos in paragraph 7). And being in Miami in February was not bad either.

MiamiThe main difference in singing for me now is sleep. I used to be so uptight about sleep! If I got only 6 hours before an important performance I would be super grumpy, and try desperately to nap before the concert so that the reduced sleep hours didn’t ruin my performance. After singing that first gig in December on only three hours and discovering that my voice worked just fine, I have a fresh new perspective. The anxiety and hours-of-sleep counting have diminished. I hope that outlook remains once A is sleeping through the night, which I pray is soon, though I’m not counting on it…

This weekend it’s off to Alabama to sing with the Mobile Symphony. It’s a short trip and I am leaving Baby A at home, so wish N luck on his own!

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Life, Balanced by Work

One of the very best perks of my job is getting to combine work travels with visiting friends and family all over the country. If I had to plan them as stand-alone trips, I’d never be able to schedule in all the visits I get every year by staying late or going early to a gig. Even during a gig I can sometimes squeeze in a lunch or coffee date with a long lost cousin or college friend, and it’s special to be able to give comp tickets to loved ones and have them in the audience for performances that are far from home.

Last weekend I combined rehearsals in the Boston area with a family reunion at my Auntie Sue’s house in Connecticut. She used to host these late summer BBQs most years, and her place is perfect for a whole day of visiting and playing.

horseshoes

There are horses and fields, and room for horseshoes, croquet and volleyball, or just running around. As usual, this time there was great food, including veggie burgers on the grill, snappy fresh corn on the cob, and delicious homemade desserts baked by various members of the family.

I haven’t able to attend a summer BBQ in probably ten years, and I didn’t even know until I arrived that this was the first one in five years. Since families have grown and schedules gotten full, it’s been harder to get everyone together at once. Even last weekend not everyone could come, but there was still a large, rowdy crowd, with lots of laughing and teasing and a very competitive, all-afternoon game of horseshoes.

Despite the intermittent rain it was a beautiful day, with people sliding from eating to talking to playing at a leisurely pace, and thoroughly enjoying each others’ company.

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