“Up on the Roof” is a classic Carole King song–or is it? In my Carole King Anthology songbook, published in 1973, she credits “Words and Music by Gerry Goffin and Toni Stern”. So I’ve always given them credit. But now that JP Jubilee is singing my new arrangement of the song on their upcoming concert, a lot of singers have looked up the song and find it attributed to Carole alone. The mystery continues, and it is a GREAT song and a Very Fine Arrangement that fits our SATB group. I’m proud of them and also delight in hearing them rock out on “Love Potion #9” and a fun take on a Mozart round, using the theme of procrastination, rather than scatalogical references to music critics. All performed in less than an hour, with ice cream afterwards at JP Licks…
What a delight to come together with my pals to revisit some delightful 21st century song cycles by Fran Trester and learn some new tunes! Celebrating Scott Woolweaver’s birthday (Mr. Viola to you), John McDonald has written a gorgeous new tune on a poem of Scott’s friend, Cheryl Savageau, called “Equinox”. It’s about a goldfinch, natch, because we are all a bit bird- and nature-crazy in this trio. John plays piano for the rest of the pieces, but this bird song is just contralto and viola and it might rival John’s “The Mockingbird of Mockingbirds”, which was written for a big birthday celebration of mine in 2004.
Here are the details for the two concerts, both at All Newton Music School
321 Chestnut Street West Newton, MA 02465 (617) 527-4553
Sunday March 11, 3:00pm Scott’s birthday bash with nice reception afterwards. Free, lots of good music for viola and I will be part of the 2nd half. Includes “Domestic Affairs” by Francine Trester (10 songs on domestic life, including raccoons in the garbage and a bird named Ruffles) and “Equinox” by John McDonald (premier, described above).
Friday March 23, 11:00am All-Mockingbird Trio in an informal setting, which includes lunch afterward. $30, reservations required. Program includes Howard Frazin’s “A Wren” and “Lullaby”, song cycles about birds by Francine Trester and John McDonald, his new “Equinox” and “The Mockingbird of Mockingbirds”. Some on poetry by Denise Levertov; Fran writes her own fabulous lyrics. Howard Frazin’s Viola Sonata is also featured (premier, also being heard on March 11 concert).
How fun is this? For me, nothing more delightful than singing beautiful 21st century music that was written for me and my pals, on gorgeous texts and getting to play music with them again after a hiatus (John was on sabbatical, after being dept. chair and other grown-up duties).
Mockingbird illustration by Lisa French.
Sing/play Bach arias this semester at NEC–class begins Wednesday February 7, 7:30-8:30pm. Learn how to choose great arias, rehearse them as chamber music, and make a recitative sound like a great story…details: NEC voice classes
Appropriate for singers who can learn this wonderful music on their own and are comfortable singing in German; also welcome: flutes, oboes, strings, keyboard players…please pass this on and questions welcome…
I recently attended a workshop on improvisation*, and one of the interesting topics was practicing. Not just figuring out how to improvise over a jazz standard, although we did some of that as well. Finding new ways into the music, ways to make it more creative and a lot more productive. I was fascinated, because I had already been invited to offer an evening workshop at the New England Conservatory about the very subject. I had a lot of ideas before and now I have even more. The free event, for adults of all persuasions (beginners are encouraged), is coming up soon. Here’s the scoop:
Wednesday January 31, 8-9:30pm, Pierce Hall, New England Conservatory of Music, 241 St Botolph Street, Boston. Free to all, no NEC affiliation necessary. Appropriate for all styles. Bring your questions or even a bit of a song you’d like to ask about…there will be handouts, so if you’re coming, shoot me an email so I know how many to prepare. No one is required to sing, but there will be opportunities for the group to try exercises together.
*it was a weeklong workshop with two master performers/teachers, Rhiannon and Laurence Hobgood. In Hawaii. Poor me. I did, however, suffer through Boston’s Big Chill before earning the right to get warm. There was also an exciting false alert sent to my phone about incoming missiles. Some people have all the fun.
My sweet, fun choir of elders (JP Jubilee) is taking a big step this December, performing with a local community orchestra. We’ve learned the Hallelujah chorus and there are many other sweet holiday pieces on the program, which will be conducted by Geneviève Leclair. I am spitting proud of my “kids”. I have relented in my taboo of women tenors–with 72 members and only 11 men, I wisely chose to let our “lady baritones” have their day. Well, lady tenors. Post-menopausal and rarin’ to sing!
All proceeds of this concert go to support our program, which is a free class and meets at our local library.
There are video and photo montages of the show I sang in North Carolina this past July on this site An Extra Penny.
Scroll down for the video; I appear at about 6:15 and at the end, and on the way you can hear the beautiful music by Mary Lee Taylor Kinosian and view so many of my colleagues.
It’s time to start again–classes, lessons, and the “Birthday of the World”. Come sing, learn, and have fun in Boston and Cambridge. Or travel to Cape Cod for the High Holidays where no one needs a ticket to take a seat…Am HaYam meets in Orleans and I’m cantor, conductor and pianist…
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.
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…
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.