Archives

A concert of hope and remembrance

Newton Public Library 3-2-14Beautiful new songs and favorites from our Mockingbird Trio “archives” including texts by Robert Frost, May Sarton and others.  Songs about animals, nature, awe, and wonder.  We’ve been rehearsing this program and delight in the beauty…as well as a few misty moments.

A view

Beautiful drawing of a mockingbird, nestled in a blooming almond tree, with the words "Mockingbird Trio, Music of the 21st Century below"

Mockingbird Trio logo by Lisa French

We’ll be performing a new work by our esteemed colleague Francine Trester in the coming months.

Here’s how Fran describes it:

“A View from Heartbreak Hill, a cycle of six songs whose themes stem from the events of last year’s Boston Marathon attack.
The songs, scored for contralto, viola, and piano are reflections on the tragedy, a memorial to the victims, and an offering of hope.
“I wrote the words and music to the cycle – more of my work can be found at: www.francinetrester.com.
The performers are the Mockingbird Trio
along with pianist Lois Shapiro and violist Melissa Howe 
I think we have an interesting story to tell.
And we will be presenting it through three performances this year:
  • Berklee College of Music on Thursday February 20 (7:30 pm),
  • Newton Free Library on Sunday March 2 (2:00 pm), and
  • Harvard Business School on Thursday  April 10 (6:00 pm–private concert, limited availability for guests)

All performances are free.  
The March 2 event at the Newton Free Library will be a full concert by The Mockingbird Trio.

More news to come about this special cycle and its premiere.

Autumn Songs

15 singers in white shirts and red choir stoles gathered outdoors at the Boston Common to sing for peace

What the World Needs Now is Love, and other delights by Platinum Singers and Friends, conducted by Yours Truly

Ah, New England in the Fall…

The Platinum Singers sang at the International Day of Peace gathering on Boston Common, September 21, 2013. I conduct/direct this fabulous group, and we had some guest singers from the Singing for Seniors at our neighborhood branch library. There were liturgical dancers, the Raging Grannies and speakers at this beautiful event. Thanks to Ghanda DiFiglia who invited us to sing here.

I learned a lot, and especially about leaning on a portable keyboard–sometimes a drum set starts up at the oddest times! And I am also learning about placing singers in front of microphones. Okay! Some of us are pretty shy about those mics.

Last night I sang at a retirement party for a faculty member at Tufts–John McDonald asked if I’d sing “Death and the Maiden”, a famous Schubert song, before a string quartet played the movement of the same name. What a great, intense and dramatic piece, all rolled into 1 1/2 minutes! I should make a career of these memorable cameos. Very satisfying. Singing about death is nothing new to this contralto. We get the sad songs all the time. Next month, I’ll be singing Bach’s take on welcoming death, Schlummert Ein (from Cantata #82, Ich Habe Genug) at a benefit for MS research. http://singtocurems.org/support/poster11-2013Q.pdf

Moody seascape with three small figures in the lower left corner, including Professor Janet Schmalfeldt, and Weird Al Yankovic

Honoring Janet Schmalfeldt, “the Monk by the Sea” has been joined by Professor S and Weird Al Yankovic

New Beginnings

PlatinumSingers1Happy New Year! I am delighted to be starting a new season with a new studio, a new job, new music written for me, and the return of many beloved students.

I inaugurate my new studio on Monday September 16–I have a good number of folks sign up for weekly lessons and still have room for the “occasional” student who wants a lesson every other week or every so often.  Address:  11A Medford Street, Arlington, at Mass Ave, just between The Regent Theater and The Book Rack.  Easy parking and a Starbucks on the corner.   I continue to see students at my Jamaica Plain studio as well.  Contact me if you’re interested in lessons at either location.

Two classes begin the week of  September 16th. Here are some flyers for the classes for seniors: BPL Fall 2013 flyer

Platinum Singers Fall 2013

At the New England Conservatory, we begin the Handel for Singers and Instrumentalists on September 25.

I am in that happy place of having sung Rosh Hashanah services with the Havurah on the Cape, been hosted and fed exquisite soul food (Challah, honey cake, matzoh balls, chopped liver, yum) and ready to do the even Bigger Sing, Yom Kippur. Cape Cod is a gorgeous place this time of the year, and the congregation is both traditional and modern, as they say, “Cape Coddish”. I sing old melodies and some of Bob Snyder’s from my Sudbury days, a couple of tunes from my students, Rabbi Minna Bromberg and Cantor Elana Rozenfeld, and even one of my own originals, entitled, “Song of the Sea.” It is an appropriate title for a havurah that is called Am HaYam (people of the sea).

I was recently hired to teach a class at the Simon Fireman Communityin Randolph for the Fall–more seniors singing–the best of Creative Aging!

Finally, I just received the score to a new song cycle for our Mockingbird Trio.  Francine Trester has written “A View from Heartbreak Hill,” for contralto, viola and piano.  Fran wrote words and music, and these six short songs are in response to the Marathon bombings of April 2013.  They are not all sad or morose–Fran is more skillful at conveying complicated emotions than just that.  She takes some of the commonly heard lines:  “if you see something, say something” and “look for the helpers” and brings us into the grand and mundane.  We plan to present these songs before the anniversary of the bombings.

Oh, yes, I joined Facebook.  Please “like” me on my page and something good will come of it.

Healing words and melodies

Just yesterday the Platinum Singers performed a concert with the Boston City Singers at the Harriet Tubman House.  I hope to have pics and maybe a video later, but I can tell you, one of the “lunch ladies”, a senior who eats a hot lunch at the settlement house every weekday, announced, “This is exactly what we needed!” I got teary when Winnie Lowery read the first stanza of “Lifeline”, the Harriet Tubman song; others were touched by the Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune “What the world needs now is Love, sweet love”.  All I know is, we chose the program long ago, but it never is in bad taste to sing about love and courage.  Many of the Boston City Singers know the Richard family, as they are based in Dorchester, and Martin’s little sister sings in the youngest group of this chorus.  Great kids, great event.

Tuesday, April 30, something different:

April 30, 2013, 12:30 pm
Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall
Women’s Studies Research Center
Epstein Building, Brandeis University
public lecture
The Green House: A Conversation between Composer, Performer, and Poet
What happens when poetry becomes song? Composer and WSRC Visiting Scholar Dana Maiben invites Cambridge poet Martha Collins and singer Elizabeth Anker to compare notes and queries about Collins’s poems, “The Green House” and their musical settings by Maiben, slated for their world premiere at Brandeis February 3rd.
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And Thursday, May 2, my newest, shiniest singing group/class at the Boston Public Library’s Jamaica Plain branch, will debut in a (very) short program starting at 7:00pm.  What a delight to be able to work with terrific mature singers all around the Boston area and have so much fun doing it.  We will perform show tunes and invite the audience to share in some Everly Brothers harmony.  Free!
Singing for Seniors will also be at the Wake up the Earth parade on Saturday May 4, at 10:30am, singing/cheering on the folks from the JP Library’s entrance in our first outdoor appearance.