Find greatness. Hang out with greatness. – Deborah Sobol, Rush Hour Concerts
I spent a summer in Graz, Austria hanging on to every word spoken by Harold Heiberg. He taught at the AIMS summer festival for 34 years and was a fount of knowledge on many topics but especially German Lieder. His scholarly devotion to the genre goes unmatched in my years of education and singing. Sadly, I learned of his passing this evening. I am heartened, though, to know that his legacy lives on in so many voices across the world. He was an excellent mentor and an excellent soul. It is interesting that during our morning session with Deborah Sobol of Rush Hour Concerts she spoke so eloquently about finding mentors of different generations that not only guide you musically but help form your understanding of the human experience.
All the things that feed great art all come from human uncertainty. – Deborah Sobol
As part of the fresh inc festival we had the opportunity to perform today at Preston Bradley Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center overlooking Millennium Park. The concert was a mixture of new and old featuring compositions by Handel and Prokofiev alongside contemporary works such as Garrett Schumann’s “A Five-Note Chord: Seen from the Porch of a Curious Mind” performed by Latitude 49 as well as fresh inc participant composer Grace Xu Schott‘s “The Oak.” I had the sincere pleasure of performing Grace’s piece with her at the piano. If you ever have the opportunity to sing in Preston Bradley Hall, do not pass it up! The acoustics under that Tiffany dome are luxurious.
Live thy Life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Then; and then
All his leaves
Fall’n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough
We also had a session on social media marketing with James Buckhouse, Director of Corporate Design at Twitter. He gave us superb insights into building our personal brands – which is a topic most of you know I love to discuss at-length. He encouraged us to tell our stories via social media using the three-act structure: conflict, development, and resolution (also ultimately transformation.) I found this last addition to be the most compelling part of his talk and in light of tonight’s blog post, the area on which I want to focus. “Why should anyone on earth care about coming to see you perform?” James prodded. I trust that Professor Heiberg was asking us the same question those years ago. It is never, and was never, just about singing the phrases or pronouncing the German correctly. It was about much more and still is today. It is about transformation – not simply a transformation that I ask of my audience – but of my own. A transformation that is shared. A transformation passed from generation to generation.
Ending with a solution isn’t enough. There must be a transformation… If we get a little bit of help we can all come out transformed. – James Buckhouse
I had a curious interaction on the train ride out here for fresh inc festival 2013. I met a young man who had packed his worldly possessions into four bags and jumped on the train to move from Virginia to Washington. He was a very young 20 and showed me the books that he adored and read aloud to me his poetry. Now, I’m not in the business of encouraging young Ayn Rand fanatics, but he seemed sincere and committed to making his way in the wide world. He mentioned to me that his dream in life was to become a high school drama teacher. Without missing a beat, I replied, “well, that’s great. What a wonderfully exciting and fulfilling job. Is that what you’re pursuing?” He informed me that his parents had implied that nobody gets jobs as drama teachers and that would be a ridiculous thing to pursue. To which I protested, “just between you and me kid, a job as a drama teachers seems exceeding logical compared to a life as a singer specializing in new music.” He just grinned.
As the daughter of a high school drama teacher who now works toward furthering speech, drama, and debate activities across his state; I had never questioned the validity of a career in theatre education. To communicate effectively is one of most necessary assets a person can have. There are many daughters in the world that have fathers who are “men of few words.” I certainly cannot claim the same. However, what I can say is that I have a father who never once suggested to me that this extremely niche path in life was impossible to follow. We may discuss the inner working of nonprofit arts management or stage technique, but my choices have never been in question. I am sure that he mulls over those choices on his own. But, he understands the multitude of paths in the arts world and is willing to be supportive while I choose my own. Like all stubborn personalities, we have had our intense discussions and disagreements. In any case, if I am a reflection of him; I am overjoyed.
Please take this Father’s Day to thank those people in your life who have modeled passion in their everyday actions. I am lucky to have been surrounded by people, starting with my own dad, who have made themselves into examples of love, commitment, passion, and respect.
I am a lucky girl.
Happy National Bourbon Day, friends! Now, it has been quite the day here at fresh inc festival 2013. We had a fulfilling rehearsal this morning and some really wonderful composers sessions lead by Stacy Garrop and Dan Visconti. On top of all that, we had a performance at Racine Art Museum.
Performing at the RAM was a wonderful experience. Bruce, Laura, Lisa, and their colleagues welcomed us with open arms and encouraged us to spend time with the collections taking it all in. They have one of the largest collections of craft media and their 21st Century Heirlooms exhibit is quite compelling. It had me considering what 21st century heirlooms I have come into contact with musically. If we framed our performing of new music with this mindset, do you feel the field would be different?
I truly enjoyed performing Christian Carey’s “He Wishes for Cloths of Heaven” with Marta Honer (viola.) In fact, there were many great works performed today. I wish that I had been able to perform and take notes to give a full report, but alas, it was not to be.
Now, I suggest that you raise a glass with me to the first weekend at fresh inc. I think we’ve all earned it.
Francesco Paolo Tosti (1846-1916) “L’alba sepàra dalla luce l’ombra” no. 2. from Quattro canzoni d’Amaranta. (1907)
Performed by Swedish tenor Jussi Björling (5 February 1911 – 9 September 1960)
Texts from The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive L'alba sepàra dalla luce l'ombra, E la mia voluttà dal mio desire. O dolce stelle, è l'ora di morire. Un più divino amor dal ciel vi sgombra. Pupille ardenti, O voi senza ritorno Stelle tristi, spegnetevi incorrotte! Morir debbo. Veder non voglio il giorno, Per amor del mio sogno e della notte. Chiudimi, O Notte, nel tuo sen materno, Mentre la terra pallida s'irrora. Ma che dal sangue mio nasca l'aurora E dal sogno mio breve il sole eterno! - The dawn divides the darkness from the light, And my sensual pleasure from my desire, O sweet stars, the hour of death is now at hand: A love more holy sweeps you from the skies. Gleaming eyes, O you who'll ne'er return, sad stars, snuff out your uncorrupted light! I must die, I do not want to see the day, For love of my own dream and of the night. Envelop me, O Night in your maternal breast, While the pale earth bathes itself in dew; But let the dawn rise from my blood And from my brief dream the eternal sun
More planning, better planning, equals less stress. Anyone who has been to Disney World with children can tell you that’s true. Still, you don’t know what you don’t know. The first time you go to Disney World you may really regret using that five year-old guide-book. None of the tram times are the same. That Disney Princess breakfast you promised your daughter is only held on Tuesdays while Mercury is in retrograde? Yeah, I bet you wish you had planned that better… Some musicians may feel like they’re working with an out-dated guidebook when it comes to the inner-workings of grant writing, crowdfunding, as well as corporate and individual giving. Some throw up their hands in despair, “how can I possible think about all that when I’m just paying the bills as it is?” As we have been absorbing throughout all of our fresh inc festival workshops thus far: serious strategic planning equals less stress and better outcomes.
Some say, ‘Love is worth more than money’… which is to say love is worth more money than money. – Kevin Clark
It was delightful to see a friend of the Sybaritic Singer on the Skype screen this morning. Kevin Clark is both a talented composer and Communications Manager at New Music USA. Whenever I hear the phrase “a high tide raises all ships”, I think of Kevin’s work in the arts. He is extremely committed to helping those making art, connecting those who are interested, and passing on knowledge to his community. I have previously shared Kevin’s three-part series on running successful Kickstarter campaign on the blog so I was extra excited to hear him discuss his philosophies this morning in workshop. One of the most refreshing points to hear from him is his thoughts on cultivating your community.
It’s irresponsible to not build an independent fan base. – Kevin Clark
He stressed on multiple occasions that Kickstarter is not the place to build a community from scratch. “If five percent of your backers are strangers [in your first Kickstarter] that’s huge. Kickstarter is not a place to build a community. It is the place to crystallize your community,” he insisted. When it comes to money, or asking for money, there are many emotional pitfalls. Kevin advocates putting a projected monetary value next to each person’s name in your address book. He admits that this activity is often difficult but necessary to know how to write your plan. Other common mistakes include: forgetting to ask for the money, because humans are afraid of rejection.
Your brain puts a guard dog in front of your most unfounded assumptions and that dog makes it impossible to think objectively. – Kevin Clark
Melissa Snoza also presented on foundation giving, corporate giving, grants, and included individual giving. Both Melissa and Kevin advocated for cultivating a strong group of people who believe in your projects/mission. Having the right people around you that are committed to the work you do will help you meet the right people and pursue the opportunities that most align with your goals. Stacy Garrop and Dan Visconti also joined the conversation to discuss applying for specific grants for commissions with guidelines that composers and performers should understand. I must also include that one of my ensembles here realized that we had a perfect musical addition to this morning workshop. So, we flash-mobbed the fresh inc crew with a rousing performance of David Lang’s “Pay Me Now.”
[In regards to good grant writing advice] Pretend like you’re asking someone on a date. – Tom, Kenosha Community Foundation
In addition to this morning’s flash mob performance, today was a big sing of a day. Eric Snoza (bass) and I teamed up for our first rehearsal on Shawn Jaeger’s “In Old Virginny.” Plus, I joined my ensemble after lunch for another first rehearsal on participant composer Jabez Co’s “The Jabberwock.” In preparation for tomorrow’s performance at the Racine Art Museum, Marta Honer (viola) and I put the finishing touches on Christian Carey’s “He Wishes for Cloths of Heaven.”All of these rehearsals put me in a wonderful frame of mind to join the composer’s afternoon session to talk about writing for the voice. It is a particular joy to work with composers as they find their compositional voice through vocal writing.
Finally, a closing bookend to my David Lang Thursday, Danielle Simandl (violin) and I performed “I had no reason” from the difficulty of crossing a field for the salon recital. If you are in the area, please join us at the Racine Art Museum from 5:30-7:00pm (441 Main St. – Admission $10.) The music being performed at this festival is simply not to be missed!
“Dissonance needs to be even more in tune because the implications of consonance are clear, but the implications of dissonance aren’t always.”
- Dan Visconti
Whew! I’m finally back on track and actually blogging about what happened today! Apparently, there is quite the storm brewing outside tonight but what better reason to get up to date? Our schedules here at fresh inc festival are absolutely stuffed to the gills with rehearsals, workshops, auditions, performances, seminars, and lessons. Today was no different. We began the day with a Rehearsal Coaching Workshop in which we discussed and faculty/participants modeled good techniques for ensembles while rehearsing Stacy Garrop’s “Frammenti” and Beethoven Septet. Have you ever struggled with colleague making sure that you are in tune and/or subdividing in the same manner? Have you ever struggled through unproductive rehearsals because you continue to run the piece without fixing little issues? If so, this was a must-see workshop. Determining which instrument is the “standard for pitch” in your ensemble is just one of the many ways that you can get more out of your time together.
Those rehearsal techniques can be extreme time savers and can even save you money when you consider time spent in a recording studio fixing things that could have been resolved in rehearsal. Recording and record labels were also on the agenda today with a visit from Nancy Bieschke of Cedille Records. Nancy ably provided information to the participants about what to look for in a record label. She stressed working with a label that has a good reputation and puts you in the studio with talented professionals. Obviously, one of the themes of this festival is to follow your own path. Nancy added another level to this with, “the entries to our label are as diverse as the numbers of people on our label.” She also shared a story about a young pianist who sent her some very fine, even fantastic, recordings. “But,” she laments, “was any of it new?[She shook her head.] But, now I keep seeing his name pop up around the Chicago music scene. If he came back with something new, different, unique – I would definitely consider it.” Such to say: it doesn’t necessarily pay to play it safe when you are approaching labels.
You should feel like you have the ability to add to the recorded musical canon. – Nancy Bieschke
My afternoon and evening consisted of a fun headshot session with bassist, photographer, and all-around-nice-guy Eric Snoza. Also, we attended a great review session regarding resumes and bios which all you 29 Days to Diva followers out there know is important to me. Finally, I rounded out my rehearsals of the day with David Lang’s “Pay Me Now” and “I had no reason” as well as Grace Xu Schott’s “Lift Up Your Voice to the Clouds.”
Make sure you check out the official fresh inc 2013 festival blog, if you want more info about our daily activities.
Musical integration in various areas of education is one of the main tenets of the outreach Fifth House does. They are constantly creating lesson plans and activities that they can use during their One Shot! programs as well as their longer term residencies in the Chicago area that illustrate models and concepts across academic subjects. Our morning workshop session today explored various activities and strategies they use in their programs in an effort to have participants think outside of the more traditional models of outreach such as preview concerts, instrument petting-zoos, and children’s choirs. We were given an individual challenge that we will present later this week. What do you think? Can you take on the challenge?
- Create a short activity that teaches “beat” vs “rhythm”
- Use the “Show-Do” model
- Must connect to an academic subject.
After the Education/Outreach Workshop, we took our show on the road. Specifically, we traveled to the Milwaukee Art Museum for the first of our auditioned concerts. From its roots as Milwaukee’s first art gallery in 1888, the Museum has grown to be an art icon for the entire area. The performance took place in Windhover hall under the 90-foot-high glass ceiling located directly below the Burke Brise Soleil. This space was absolutely alive with the music presented by fresh inc participants. Danielle Simandl (violin) and Rita Andrade (viola) began the afternoon performance with Halvorsen’s “Passacaglia for Violin and Viola.” Danielle humorously described the beginning of the piece as sounding like “something that would be used for nightly news show on the BBC.” Composer and bassist, Matt Kline, followed the duet with his own composition “Leap of Faith.” Opening as a meditation between consonant and dissonant intervals including harmonics and scratch tones, Kline then took a timpani mallet in hand which he used near the bridge providing an insistent pulsing growing in intensity. He returned to extended bow techniques, pizzicato, and frenzied finger tips to finish the piece with flair. Rachael Eid-Ries (viola) and Emilyn Johnson (flute) presented exciting new compositions – excerpts from Richard Einhorn’s “Maxwell’s Demon” and Daniel Pesca’s “In memory of Mélisande” respectively. Conversely, Nick Baskin took us back in time playing bassoon transcription of the “Sarabande” from Bach’s Partita in A Minor.
Jennifer Ellis (harp) and Johnathan Hulting-Cohen (saxophone) treated the audience to Joseph Jongen’s “Danse Lent” – originally written for harp and flute, they transcribed it for harp and soprano saxophone. Further illustrating the range of the harp, Jennifer played a self composition which explored a host of extended techniques such as pedal slides, pitch bends using screwdrivers, and thunder. Jabez Co (flute) finished the recital with “Zoom Tube” by Ian Clarke which also puts extended flute techniques like multiphonics, damping, and speaking/singing into the flute on full display.
After a first concert like the one the participants performed at Milwaukee Art Museum, there is no denying that there is serious talent pouring forth from the fresh inc crew. As Melissa Snoza affirmed in our Arts Start-Up Workshop later, the number one thing is that “you have to have the goods.” But, what about going beyond technical skill and musicality? What does it take to make a career out of this dream? Melissa reminded us of JacobTV’s quote from yesterday and encouraged us to envision how we can fulfill a service. Think back to that Venn diagram from $100 Start-Up.
Melissa also shared, “the needs of a community are what pay the bills.” As the music world, and specifically the new music world, changes and grows it will be more important than ever to think strategically about creating the kind of career you want to have. We are not exempt from making the important choices about doing what we want and making a living doing it. Melissa, faculty members, and participants continued to discuss specific business models and their pros versus cons of each.
Truly, there are no secrets to “making it” in the world of classical music. If you continue to hone exceptional skills, the information is out there. People only think there’s a secret because they are usually not ready or willing to do the work it takes. Also, we must take hope — rather than trepidation — that each individual’s path is different.