Public performances in which I sing or conduct a group of singers

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.

I hesitate to call my elder singers “cute.”  But that keeps coming to mind.  My mom used that word plenty and I’ve used it from everything to describe shoes, food, people and especially animals.   Can’t help it.  But what is NOT cute about:

  • folks who have already proven themselves as capable, competent,  distinguished and all the other adjectives that describe adult behavior AND
  • are willing to be silly and playful in order to find creative expression.

It’s not that we try to act silly in class or onstage.  It’s just that we are willing to let go of those carefully crafted personas we developed as we grew into adulthood.  We let go of having to be in charge and set an example to the kids, the bosses, the clients.

I teach all ages and learn from them all.  That’s the fun of teaching, continuing to learn.  What I notice is how LITTLE my older students complain about what they cannot do or what ails them.  They go on, move forward and keep growing.  It inspires me to be a better conductor and pianist.  So, come to one of the class concerts I’m conducting in the next few weeks.  JP Jubilee is the new name for Singing for Seniors at The Boston Public Library. Our concert will be short, free and full of fun.  Thursday December 5 at 7:30 pm in Jamaica Plain, see full info below.a group of energetic senior singers with their mouths open in song

…And The Platinum Singers are performing at the Harriet Tubman House on Wednesday, December 18 at 2:30 in the afternoon.  An in-house concert of an hour with these sweeties.  We just had a grand pre-Thanksgiving lunch with a terrific group called “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren”.  They sang along with us and told us their stories (if we asked).  Directions to the Tubman House:  www.uses.org  Flyer to follow shortly…

Liz standing in front of the small chorus, all wearing Platinum Singers/USES banners around their necks

So, is there a better word than cute?  Let me know and I’ll try to incorporate it…

in his retirement, Mr. Longy pictured with his rabbits
in his retirement, Mr. Longy pictured with his rabbits

Last week, nine of my private students came and sang a recital in Pickman Hall at the Longy School of Music, where I have taught for 26 years.  It was a bittersweet event, but more sweet than bitter.  The students sang beautifully, we had duets and improvisations in addition to classical solos.  I invited two alumnae of the Longy Continuing Education program to sing, and both singers have  blossomed into a master teachers and performers.

I made a flyer from my favorite picture of Georges Longy, seen here, in his retirement from the Boston Symphony Orchestra (he was principal oboe for many years).  Of course the bunnies theme has predominated a lot of my attention since Fran Trester wrote her wonderful opera for us.  I keep spotting bunnies at dusk, and on the grounds of the Longy school as well.

Our audience included several former students in my classes and private studio, including one woman who was visiting from Cairo!  We all sang the Beatles’ “In My Life” together after Louise Grasmere and I had put our marks on it, as well as some improv and “Bye Bye Love”.  It was a love fest, and it was a terrific way for me to honor the spirit of the school that I enjoyed so much all these years.

COZZOLANI!  This magnificent composer–a 17th century nun–has been a labor of love and delight for my colleagues on the West Coast for many years–stretching back for me to 1999.  I just received my copy of the final CD in the set of her complete works, performed as she heard them, with women’s voices.  I must admit I forgot about some of the chamber works I recorded in 2002 and even some in 2010, shortly before my mom died.  But hearing these again brings me such joy, and I am giving a small sample here.  I’m not on every track, but the funniest part is sometimes I do not recognize myself!  My wife does, though.  “Honey, that’s you.”  Oh yeah.  I was just grooving on the music.

I am also happy to read Warren Stewart’s dedication to Judith Nelson, who died last year.  It was Judy who brought Chiara Margarita Cozzolani to Warren’s attention, and I sang my first concert of her works with Judy; she on top soprano and me on the very bottom of the 8-woman ensemble.  Judy had me over to tea in 1985, before I went to study in Europe, and said to me “Don’t let anybody tell you can’t use your vibrato.  You can quote me.”  A wonderful artist who pioneered early music singing style.

NEW STUDIO!  I have a new teaching studio in Arlington Center, starting in September.  Lessons will be offered on Mondays all day and Thursday evenings.  Of course the Jamaica Plain studio is going strong (Tuesdays and Fridays), as is the New England Conservatory (Wednesdays).  I’m offering an adult education class on Handel this fall at NEC on Wednesday nights.     http://necmusic.edu/ce/voice-opera

If you want to discuss lessons or classes with me for the fall, press the contact button!

Fruits of many seasons continue to ripen.  May yours do the same.

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.
Image
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.

Liz conducts  the Platinum Singers:  In the Mix
In The Mix: An Inter-Generational Concert

The date; Sunday, April 28, 2013
The place: Harriett Tubman House, USES at the corner of Massachusetts Ave and Columbus Aveue in the South End (586 Columbus Ave, half a block from the MBTA orange line Mass Ave Station and many bus lines)
The time: 2:00 pm
The performers: Boston City Singers Cantare under the direction of Josh DeWitte and the United South End Settlements Platinum Singers under the direction of Elizabeth Anker
FREE but RSVP is requested to aedwards@uses.org
For more information, call 617-375-8108 or visit www.uses.org

I have a lot to be thankful for these days.

photo credit (c) Charlotte Fiorito Photography 2012, All Rights Reserved

In no particular order:

I recently sang and taught at an amazing  event in San Jose, CA.  The Tech Awards give innovative folks who are doing great works to benefit humanity  a chance to be seen and heard and to get monetary awards.  I got to give a workshop for these engineers and scientists, to aid them in presenting their projects in public.

From a Distance, video of The Tech Awards ceremony with my new friend Dolores

Bonus: Did you hear the embedded melody in the piano?  Our arrangement.

That weekend I also had a visit with my wonderful 89-year old voice teacher in Berkeley, Lilian Loran.  She gave me the confidence to pursue solo singing and to “sing classical music the way you sing your Carole King songs.”  Well, I now give the same advice to my students.  I met my colleague from long ago, Susie Morris, at Lilian’s, and we sang “Sound the Trumpets” of Purcell for her.  I believe we last sang that duet in 1979, and it was like we had never parted!

Eleanor Cohen and I visited that weekend.  Although she was never my piano nor voice teacher, she was a mentor to me: she told my dad I had one of the few true contralto voices and he should stop bugging me to stop doing music and try for medical school.  She’s “only” 86 and still stands on her head every day.  Thanks, Ellie!

We’ll be recording John McDonald’s The Budbill Seasons in December, Elizabeth Bennett and I.  Elizabeth is a Shakuhashi player, and the poet, David Budbill was a student of hers.   In Winter: Tonight: Sunset, the speaker expresses appreciation:

“…I pause in this moment  at the beginning of my old age and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening…”

www.davidbudbill.com

Once home in Boston, I saw Ann Moss, a delightful colleague who took my graduate level classes once upon a time at Longy.  She is launching her own solo CD project and we were there to encourage her. You can check out her project of new works (and Joni Mitchell songs–I’m glad she learned that lesson well to combine art songs of all genres) at http://annmosssoprano.tumblr.com/currents

Dana Maiben is writing a piece for our Mockingbird Trio, The Green House, to be premiered on February 3 at Brandeis University, and the early drafts look wonderful.  Story by Martha Collins.

We have been awarded another grant to teach Singing to senior citizens–in my home branch of the Boston Public Library.  It will begin on Fridays in March.
Hooray for MetLife and Creative Aging!  Platinum Singers continue as well…

And finally, I’ll be performing a set at the Lily Pad in Cambridge, MA  on Sunday February 24.  Special guests to be announced.  Improvisation and original songs are sure to be part of this mix.

Officer O’Hare is not so sure about Mrs. Ringwald and her bunnies Newsflash!Thursday’s performance of 334 Bunnies January 26, 8:00pm EST will be web streamed from the Longy School.  Go to www.concertwindow.com/longy for details.

There will be a talk-back after both performances.  The entire opera is less than one hour.

Thursday, January 26, 8:00pm at Longy School of Music, Cambridge.
http://www.longy.edu
Saturday, February 4, 4:00pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Jamaica Plain, MA.  http://www.jpconcerts.org

We will also be hopping to Shirley, MA on May 19, 2012 at the Meeting House.