Tag Archive | Dana Maiben

This Gleaming April

The Marathon anniversary has come and past and we’ve performed A View from Heartbreak Hill enough times that I cannot get one of the tunes out of my head.  “This, this gleaming April”, begins the song “Still”, speaks of the beauty all around us –“tulips beautiful”, “stroll to the park”, and then seeing the flags at half mast.  That’s how it is: this year as well as last.  So much beauty and so many reminders, all together.   Sad and wistful and poignant and so much beauty, so much new growth.

This month I’ve sung, taught, had a wonderful Passover Seder with friends and family, walked, rode my bike, gardened, and had terrible allergies.  The week of the last performance I had to cancel teaching in order to save my voice, and hide from the beckoning garden on the day of the concert.  I went swimming instead, letting the chlorine banish the tree pollen from my instrument, or respiratory passages anyway.  After so many years of taking care to avoid colds, not drink or eat certain foods before big concerts (for days or even weeks, in some circumstances), it is a relief to have fewer concerts for which to prepare, and more that simply fit the current me:  less travel on planes near concert dates, pieces that are written for me and that fit me perfectly.  That is a wonderful gift of being a mature singer who has paid my dues–I sang plenty of awkward music in my 20’s,  too high or too soft or uncountable.   I did enough premieres of “just okay” music, and many more of sublime music.

pink flowers in early spring

Today, this gleaming April day, the first flowers on my apricot tree opened.  Apricots bloom early, and often get hit by frost afterwards, but they seem to know what they are doing.  I’ve seen about 2 apricots ripen on that tree over the past 10+ years.  First the aphids and then the birds get them.  But it is a lovely sight, along with the daffodils, hyacinths and all the little green spouts of perennials coming back to life again (“I’m so glad to see you again,” I say to them in the mornings when I make my rounds, “Please remind me of your name.”)

April is also National Poetry Month, and I got a chance to hear Martha Collins read from her new books right down the street in Roslindale, where my JP Jubilee group sang for the seniors last semester.  Martha wrote “The Green House”, which Dana Maiben set so beautifully for me to sing last year.  So I was particularly pleased to hear poems about April–she writes a poem a day for a month and has a book with 6 months covered, all from different years.

April’s more

red than green,

              when I wrote at seven

the busy maple I didn’t know what

the maple was doing,

               but now I’m fixed

on magnolia: rose bullets on one side

of this tree and opening open-

ing open on the other

 

Martha Collins, Day Unto Day, ©2014

 

 

APPRECIATION

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.