|The things James does|
Mon, 28 May 2007
Finally, I'm back to having singing lessons with Mark Jowett again! Yay.
Going back to having lessons again is a really good thing as the stresses of work for the past 8 months have been enormous and I thought that taking lessons would not be terribly beneficial given the circumstances.
Well, anyhow, the lesson today was only 35 minutes long and was entirely vocal exercises but this was good. I discovered something that was causing me tension and am now on the way to fixing it. I want to try to get back to where I was last year and this will probably take a few weeks at least.
Way back in November I had an audition for post-graduate study at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Griffith University but back then, I wasn't quite at the standard to gain entrance. I spoke to them after the news and was told that it would be inappropriate for me to go into any of the pre or under-graduate programs and to continue private study and re-audition for mid-year entry.
Well, I had that mid-year audition July 6th having worked quite hard over the past 6 months to improve my technique and it has been going quite well. I sang two pieces for the audition; the aria Every Valley from Händel's Messiah and Spirate, pur spirate, an italian art song by Stefano Donaudy.
The performance component of the audition lasted about 10 minutes and I felt I had given a really good performance, especially when compared to 6 months prior. After I was invited to sit for the usual interview component. The interview during my audition in November lasted about 15 minutes (from memory) and was quite in-depth about what I would like to do, my aspirations and desires as a performer and about my performance history. This time, let by Gregory Massingham, Head of Opera and also Head of the post-graduate programme, I was invited to sit and Greg smiled and congratulated me on my improvement since he had last heard me. I was asked which programme I would prefer to enter and if I had any questions --- That was it! --- then the formalities of thanks and good-bye.
I was amazed, stunned and very excited as I felt very confident after the audition. Well, that night I received an SMS from Margaret Schindler, my teacher congratulating me on a great audition and telling me I had been successful! I had been accepted into a Graduate Certificate of Music (Voice) for the next six months with a view to entering a Graduate Diploma of Voice in first semester next year so that I would be available for the Conservatorium Opera.
I have to say, I was extremely excited and have told virtually everybody I've spoken to since then. On Tuesday evening, I had a phone call from Margaret - I had thought to arrange a hearing of my voice for Joseph Ward who runs the Opera Class as it might have been a little difficult to start in the class mid-year - and it kind-of was. David Bishop, another tenor at the con had fallen ill (and I hope he gets better soon) and was not going to be able to continue in the Opera production of Albert Herring (,) by Benjamin Britten () and Margaret was asking if I was interested and could fit it into my schedule. It transpired that Greg had already recommended me to Joseph for the role (David was playing Mr Upfold, the Mayor in one of the 2 casts) and after picking up the music for the Mayor's main aria on Wednesday morning, I had to prepare it for a "hearing" on Friday. This piece, to describe, might be best likened to a technically difficult and rhythmically complex Gilbert and Sullivan patter song.
Luck must have been with me lately, as I sang for Joseph(, Margaret, Greg and Tania the stage manager) on Friday and Joseph instantly told me I had the role! Tania then whisked me off to the costume maker for a fitting and Greg took me down to the library to get a score. Excitement plus, though, it means that I now have an even more hectic schedule for the next six weeks while learning the role. The performances are September 4, 6, 8 and 10 at the conservatorium theatre. There are two separate casts, so I'm not yet sure when I'm going to be performing.
Wish me luck! It's my first principal role in an opera!
Margaret talks to Barbara about her teaching, the thing that Barbara believes she really does well. There was one comment that really made me smile and understand what I have known for so long but never really believed or understood.
Margaret had been asking Barbara about her teaching and how it was she was able to help people as well as she does. While explaining the differences between all the problems and technical difficulties people face, she identified one key aspect that when all else is said and done, without this, a singer is still very constrained.
She went on to say, "[about how she helps people] ...trying to make them feel happy about who they are.. that's the problem with singing, you see, everybody can sing - it's a matter of getting in touch with your own voice and having the confidence in it and loving yourself enough to know that what you have to say is important to other people"
I think that is something that I should try to remember with my own singing and practice.