Diva-tastic

Last weekend I was in Alabama to sing Mozart and Vivaldi with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra. The guest conductor was Patrick Dupré Quigley, the director of Seraphic Fire and a good friend who has given me many musical opportunities over the past 8 years.

I love all the different kinds of gigs I do — soloing with symphonies, choruses and period orchestras, collaborating with early music chamber groups, faculty recitals at ECU, and ensemble singing with some of the best choirs in the country — but for sheer pamper factor you can’t beat a solo appearance with a symphony. Symphonies are set up to host soloists from around the world with nice hotels, arranged rides and organized itineraries. Here are some of the things I encounter on a symphony gig that make me feel like a true diva:

Singing in a nice hall (here the Saenger Theatre in Mobile),

Saenger Theatre

Being put up in style in a fancy hotel,

Riverview Hotel

Ordering pre-performance room service in said fancy hotel,

room service

Having my own dressing room with my name on the door,

dressing room

Wearing a new gown and super-sparkly bling (this fabulous Swarovski set was my Christmas gift from my parents with teamwork selection from N),

bling!

Being asked to sign posters,

posters

And getting beautiful flowers onstage during the curtain call (yup, this was a selfie and I’m not ashamed to say it).

after concert

The Symphony was wonderful to work with and I enjoyed my time in downtown Mobile. And N and baby A and Charlie the dog all survived back at home! It was a great weekend. At the end of it, as always, I was happy to land at RDU and drive home to my family, now expanded by one 18-pound little cutie.

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Lucky in Life

How lucky am I, that I get to have a life of music. That’s what I was thinking Saturday night as I drove home from a second day of fun and successful rehearsals with Les Sirènes.

Whenever I get frustrated by the many challenges of a performing career — the travel, the financial uncertainty of stringing gigs together into a livelihood, the pressure of performance, the danger of slipping into professional envy of another singer’s great gigs — I say to myself, “wait, you are making A LIVING doing the thing you love most.” It may not be an easy living, but since I don’t love anything else as much as I love singing, it sure beats doing anything else.

Les Sirenes performance

One of the things that makes all the pressures easier to handle is my colleagues. It’s hard to describe how wonderful it is to be in rehearsal with others who breath music, sharing knowledge and opinions and laughs, or to take the stage in performance together, the electricity between us radiating out into the audience.

Sometimes in the middle of a rehearsal or performance I look around me, and I can hardly believe that I’ve made it to a point in my career when I get to make music at the highest level with other musicians who are leaders in their field.

Knowing so many professionals comes in handy in a pinch, too.

In 2009 I formed Les Sirènes, a Boston-based baroque chamber music group, with my dear friend Kristen Watson. Freelancers have crazy schedules, and it turned out that Kristen and our harpsichordist Michael Sponseller weren’t available for our concert yesterday in Durham. Our cellist Cora Swenson Lee and I made calls to a soprano and a keyboardist we’d worked with in other groups, and we quickly had two very excellent substitutes lined up for the trip to North Carolina.

In just two days of rehearsing with Clara Rottsolk and Dylan Sauerwald we pulled together a polished and moving concert of French baroque music. We were able to work quickly because we communicated so many ideas on the fly without words, and because we enjoyed each other’s company and musicianship so much. Our concert was two hours of joy for me and I think also for our audience, many of whom were moved to tears by our closing piece, Couperin’s luscious Troisième Leçon de Ténèbres.

Regrettably, I did not get a recording of the concert since I failed to ensure there was space on my recorder’s memory card (and oh, am I grumpy about that). But we have the pictures to prove it, and maybe we’ll get to do it again sometime.

Les Sirenes

Thank you to my gracious and talented colleagues, and to all the people who support my career and the lives of musicians everywhere.