Monday, September 24, 2012

The Next Level

I have had writers block lately, and still have it now, but I am going to attempt to write now to get out of it. Here goes. I feel a strong desire to take the next level as a human being and musician. That's scary stuff, because it involves taking risks which get me out of my comfort zone. It really involves putting myself out there both musically and socially. If I isolate in both respects, where does that get me? Well, no where essentially except in the same zone. There's power in me to take the next level of that's if I tap into it. I am an ironed will kind of guy. If I use that iron will properly, great things await. Of course bad things happen, and life isn't one sided. However, I can become a better person and musician throughout my life if I use spiritual power, which is proper use of the will. Now, here's the other side of the coin. There are negative behaviors engrained in me which will keep me on the same level or take me down levels. Smoke me is an even clearer way of putting it. If I continually shame myself, judge myself, tell myself I can't do things, then I'm toast. What I need to do to take the next level is take risks. Perform, take auditions, be more social and what not. Of course I say need objectively, because I am an adult and don't have to do anything. Not doing things which result in positive growth is just a poor choice. Making the right choices which involve risk of criticism is tough because or fear (fuck everything and run). Well ffire(fuck fear in its rear end), and fear (face everything and roar)it's better that way despite the initial fear. How many times do we live? So live.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Giving up Control

It is astounding how we cannot control certain things which are going on around us no matter how hard we try.  The idea of giving up control is a really hard lesson to learn.   I was in traffic galore this morning on US 1.  It was un-bleeping believable.  I got all ticked off because I was late for something very important to me.  The powers that be were fucking me over, dammit!  I had to be there at 930 and left at 8 to go 18 miles.  It took me until 1015, and I was pissed as a lion.  Of course this kind of scenario is annoying, but I didn't successfully control it.  Throwing fits like a toddler in my car didn't work, nor did trying another road.   Trying another road got me lost for five minutes, and making a circle back onto route 1.  Then I started laughing, because I wasted time instead of making up time.      Anyway, my voice lesson was the best fifteen minute lesson I've ever had, because it was the first one I ever had.  I learned a lesson during it which helped my support, so awesome!  My shit fits didn't make the traffic move faster.  Not a big shocker there, right? It is a learned behavior for me to get peaved in traffic.  I hate traffic with a passion.  Anger releases  endorphins, but toxic ones.  I do not honestly know if toxic endorphins is the correct term, but I do know that anger releases endorphins.  These endorphins create a temporary energy, but don't you know it the problem doesn't go away.  Instead energy and precious time are wasted.    Thinking about what is good in my life, and in the world, and listening to good music would have been a better alternative to anger.  There still would have been traffic, but the time would have been used much more wisely.  Anger is ok, I am not saying its not.  I have made this point before, but it is worth driving it home again.  Anger is fine when used properly.  If someone steps on someone's toes, they can say I love you, but I don't like what you did.  Rabbi Abraham Twerski nails this point when he talks about parenting and says that when he did something bad his father would tell him that the act was beneath his dignity.  Having toddler fits in traffic is beneath my dignity, I know that much.  Now, thinking that is much better than beating myself up for wasting time, and yada yada yada.  This is because that was this morning, and that is the past.  Regretting the past is just bleh.   The present is now.  I can react differently right now.  I can't control other people, things, and situations.  I can only control how I react right now.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Arias I Perform and/or Audition With

This is one of the arias I use for auditions and performances. Others include "Vecchia Zimarra" from La Boheme, "La Vendetta" from Le Nozze di Figaro, "Si la Rigueur" from "La Juive", "Bottom's Dream" from Midsummer, "Gremin's Aria" from Eugene Onegin, and Varlaam's song from Boris Godunov. Arias I Perform and/or Audition With

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My Tribute to John Shirley-Quirk

This post is a tribute to the lengendary John Shirley-Quirk, also known as the great hyphen. I just found out that Mr. Shirley-Quirk is retiring from the Peabody faculty. I was fortunate to have the privilege of working with this icon of an artist. He is on well over a hundred recordings and sang repertoire from Bach to Schoenberg, and repertoire in several languages. I remember the beauty and power of both his speaking voice and his singing voice. I have fond memories of his insanely wide range in his singing and speaking voice. He would often say nope in a high pitched voice. He had a great sense of humor as well. I remember complaining that something was too high in his German Lieder class. His response was "get the dime in the butt and sing the damn thing." His repertoire class was a lot of fun to crash when I was pursuing my Masters at Peabody. He was so much fun and supportive to sing for, while he would enjoy his non alcoholic beer. However, on certain days he could really put people in their place. I sang in front of him on one of those days. I was coming down with the flu, and unwisely sang anyway, and he let me have it. That was horrible was said multiple times because I was singing penultimate syllables too long in a recitative. However, first and foremost, he was trying to make me better which he did. Anyway, I am writing this so I can share a little bit about the impressions John Shirley-Quirk left on me. He had a long and very successful singing career, after starting out as a chemist. His voice was extraordinary, like I mentioned. I remember hearing him sing "Wintereisse", "Beethoven 9", songs by Brahms, and the "Mozart Requiem" in remembrance of 9/11. The winner however, was hearing him sing parts of Britten's "War Requiem" in his workshop on the great work by Britten. Mr. Shirley-Quirk premiered several of Britten's works and is on several recordings with Britten conducting his own works, and other works such as "Sea Drift" by Delius. He rode on boats with Britten himself. Swallow that for a second. In this workshop I mentioned above, he sang some of the baritone solos in the "War Requiem" without the score! I have never heard Wilfred Owen's poetry recited with such terror, and bitterness. Everyone in the room realized that something really special was going on. In addition, I have also enjoyed many of his recordings, including his definitive recording of "The Songs of Travel" by Ralph Vaughan Williams. He recorded under practically all the lengendary conductors of the second half of the twentieth century including, Solti, Giulini, Davis, and Monteux to name a few. Like I said, his career was hugely successful, as was his teaching career at Peabody. Despite Mr. Shirley-Quirk's great successes, his life has also been struck by several personal tragedies. I believe he has lost two wives and a daughter. I cannot even comprehend what that must be like, because I have not experienced it. Although, I was glad to be of some support at his daughter's funeral. I admire Mr. Shirley-Quirk's grace during these tragedies. He loved teaching so much that he went right back into it after his daughter's death. When I first interacted with him, I saw him giving a masterclass, and being pretty tough. I was a freshman, so I was intimidated. However, I got to know a great man. I sure was lucky to get to I interact with him as much as I did. His years at Peabody meant a lot to many people.