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.

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A Tire Tale

I wasn’t expecting my weeks of teaching at home in NC to generate any travel-related stories for Soprano in the Air. But adventure can happen even on I-264 between Greenville and Raleigh. I offer this post as a cautionary tale:

If your Buick is pulling sharply to the right and shaking like CRAZY, it might be wise not to make the high speed, 80 mile drive home, even if the nice man at the tire store in Greenville checks out your tires and tells you they’re safe to drive on. Because if you do, you just might get stuck on the side of the interstate somewhere west of Wilson due to a blowout like this,

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and you might have to wait an hour for AAA to come and change the tire you can’t change yourself because of your dumb back but thank goodness it’s not too hot and it’s daylight and you have snacks and you used the restroom before you left ECU and you have a smartphone to tell you where you are because honestly you were cruising along listening to NPR and you only know you passed the I-95 interchange, or at least you think you did,

and then you might have to amble on your spare donut down pretty country highways at speeds under 50 mph, heading ever westward in a vain search for a tire place with 70-15 size tires that is still open that time of day because you will never get all the way to Chapel Hill on country roads at under 50 mph (plus you’re not supposed to drive far on a donut) in time for your rehearsal that night,

and so you might have to continue west all the way to your beloved (but closed) regular garage which luckily is east of Raleigh, where you leave the car and keys when your calm husband, having driven exactly the wrong direction from his work to Chapel Hill, picks you up but not before you do something terrible,

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but hey, desperate times…and anyway a biscuit and cole slaw isn’t the very worst vegetarian pre-rehearsal dinner you could consume,

and then you and your husband who btw is the director of the group might get to your 7:15 rehearsal in Chapel Hill miraculously only 15 minutes late, but only because you left an uncharacteristically generous amount of padding time when you first started this journey at 3:00 p.m. in Greenville.

So, check those tires.