“So flexible…

you can pick up a dime”, went the old TV ad for rubber gloves.  Well, this project in North Carolina, An Extra Penny, is showing me that I can be every more flexible every day.  Turns out, it’s not simply a show, it’s a workshop, and one with LOTS of changes every day.  And they are all good!  Not always easy, but the show keeps getting better.

 

The Hansen Family

“The Hansen Family”  with Emma Suzik and Eli Cole in  An Extra Penny

I was invited here to sing an opera.  Then someone said, “no, it’s a musical”.  Fine, I can speak in English.  And then the changes started coming fast and furious.  My favorite line from a colleague: “I thought I had the most recent obsolete script!” Each change brings a better and tighter show.  The producers from NY (Broadway folks) who came to the opening are interested in the project and have given it a green light to go to the next level.  Which means more workshops in the future. But first, our creative dynamo Cindy Lu Mancini will have another week to work it and we will have 4 more performances next weekend.

I’ve never been in a show like this–neither have anyone else in the cast or crew, but we are all into it completely.  The music is gorgeous and the locals could not be more welcoming.

Delete, re-stage, take out dialogue and replace with body language.  I’m having a ball and I’ve found out I’m a quicker study than I thought.  So flexible…

 

Creating a role

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I’m singing a wonderful character* in a brand new musical, An Extra Penny.  I love the music, the story and the chance to work with a whole new group of people.  I’m in North Carolina for the month, rehearsing every day, marking the changes to my script and counting in wild meters.  I will write more as rehearsals go on, but I am thrilled to have completed a week here, near Raleigh, where it is steamy as all get-out and the iced tea is sweet unless you ask for another kind.  And…I have never before been in a musical, always operas or concerts.  It’s really fun to get to SPEAK lines…in English!

*a mother, of course, because altos always play moms.

 

 

End of an era

 

Platinum Singers Concert 5.24.12 026Dungaree Dolls II (1)The “Dungaree Dolls” (Rachel Silva, Judy Jackson and Ann-Marie Pina) perform their original song in May 2012

 

I grew up with the Platinum Singers, as a conductor and a teacher of elders. We founded this group when Obama was inaugurated.  It comes to a end this Wednesday, June 28, from 2:30-3:30 in the Lincoln Room of the Harriet Tubman House, 566 Columbus Ave at Mass Ave.  Free admission, audience sing-alongs, but with more than a touch of sadness.

The Harriet Tubman House has been a place where seniors who still live on their own could get a hot lunch, take excellent exercise classes, learn to live with diabetes, and get help on their home repairs.  And it was a place to sit and chat, on hot days or cool, with other folks.

Sadly, the United South End Settlements is discontinuing ALL senior programming in order to “save the institution”.  And they will put all their efforts into “families”.  So the elders who do not have grandchildren that fit into this category are left without their community center in the South End.  Damn shame. As “45” slashes all sorts of programming and funding for elders (like Meals on Wheels), we are in need of more community organizations to take up the mantle of serving this population.

Silver lining: about half of the Platinums also sing in our Jamaica Plain group, JP Jubilee, where the program is also virtually free and taught by the same wacky woman.  Most of the Platinums have accepted our enthusiastic invitation to come sing with us there.

On another note, my student John is moving to Maine to be nearer to one of his daughters.  He sang “The Silver Swan” at the last student recital, and it was a fitting end to our years of lessons together.  Even as he lost words, he still could sing the melodies and vocalize up to a high C.  He was working as a journalist at the White House during the Nixon era when the Saturday Night Massacre occurred, so we shared a lot about the current political situation while reflecting back on his time as a member of the “enemies list”.  Fare thee well, John!

Not throwing away my shot!

2017s concert jubilee 5 color flat

This is late notice, but hey, it’s good to know at any time that elders can learn to do hip-hop…and I will do a cameo solo in Deborah Henson-Conant’s song about the library, in honor of our return to the newly renovated branch library where we have met since we started in 2013.  Lots of good fun, and short, too!

Bach time is the right time

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Sing and play the sublime arias of JS Bach in this 15 week class at New England Conservatory’s School of Continuing Education.  Explore, rehearse, perform and delve into the beautiful intricacies of Mr. Bach’s chamber music for voice and obbligato instruments (flute, oboe, strings, etc). NEC –(scroll down voice page to Bach class)

Please share!

*Artwork above by David Lance Goines 1973.  I saw this poster on every Bach lovers’ wall during my formative years of singing Bach in the Bay Area…

Starting again

Singing classes which double as performing groups–what’s not to love?  Two groups start this week, plus private lessons in Central Square and Jamaica Plain.

The Platinum Singers at USES meet after an excellent exercise class on Wednesdays…see below for complete list of classes (and can you spot us in the little photo?)

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Red and Green