How can you accelerate the speed, accuracy, and quality of learning songs for performance situations?

On this blog I share my 'learning adventures' as I continue to improve my performance as a singer.

I share web resources I find helpful, and reflect on my experience using various technologies and ideas.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Popera - Celtic Woman - A New Journey - You Raise Me Up

It seems 'popera' is not a widely-used word. But here is one example, apparently.

I don't see this piece of music compares favorably with the challenge and complexity with the music of Boublil and Schonberg.

Pretty and cute. I prefer Il Divo, and Amici - if what they do could be called 'opera'.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Martin Guerre - A Musical Journey 1/8

Tomorrow is my first rehearsal with my music director and accompanist for my forthcoming performance of "I'm Martin Guerre" at the Arc in the Park concert.

Today I've been refreshing my memory of the song from my performance in the NZ Aria competition last year, culminating in a rehearsal with my singing teacher.

Just before I go to bed, I've been transposing the music from the original key of B flat minor to G minor using Smartscore - to drop the pitch five semitones. I've also enjoyed seeing the multitude of performances of the song on YouTube - from amateur efforts, to the the scintillating performances of several professional productions.

Now, I am starting to follow my curiosity about the production of the first London show. This video (from a series of eight), introduces the composer and writer as they began to conceive the project. The video concludes with the first rehearsal of the orchestra with the chorus and soloists - a SitProb.

Music entrepreneur Cameron Macintosh notes how Boublil and Schonberg have endowed us with a legacy of fusing the modern musical with opera. I totally agree.

What excitement! I look forward to viewing the remaining episodes in the series.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Martin Guerre - UK Tour (snippet from "I'm Martin Guerre")

This YouTube selection shows great video of a the UK stage performance. It presents the last half of the first point in which the song "I'm Martin Guerre" is presented. My earlier posting presents the "reprise" of the song, which is repeated late in the show with different words, and jointly sung by Martin Guerre, and his comrade in arms, Armand.

"Martin Guerre (Reprise)" and "Imposters" from MARTIN GUERRE

I'm reworking my performance of "I'm Martin Guerre" for a performance with "Show West" for the Arc in the Park concert on Friday 12 June.
Boublil and Schoenberg

I deliberately avoided listening to a performance prior to developing my own performance last year. Now I have heard an original production - presented hear from YouTube.

What a fantastic, powerful piece of music! It embraces rejection, love, mistaken identity, jealousy, and religious war... all based on a true story from late 16th century France.

There's a French movie, and a US adaptation of the story, too. The US version is set during the US Civil war, whilst the original French version is based around the religious wars between the French Catholics, and the Hugenout Protestants. Given my Hugenout heritage - we arrived in England from France in 1624 - I'm rather taken by this story.

I learned the song "I'm Martin Guerre" in June last year as part of a project to develop my whakapapa and mihi for a course in Iwi Environmental Management I studied last year at Te Wananga a Aotearoa. I perfmed the song at the NZ Aria Competition, in October 2008.

I'd LOVE to perform this show ... wherever/whenever in the WORLD!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yale Whiffenpoofs - America's oldest collegiate a capella group perform in Auckland

Click on the poster to view a full screen version

America's oldest collegiate a capella group, the Yale Whiffenpoofs, perform in Auckland as guest of the Auckland branch of the American Club.

American Club members, their friends, and the general public are invited to attend a concert by the Yale Whiffenpoofs at Tamaki Yacht Club 4:30, Sunday June 7th, 2009.

Songs to be performed include: Aj Lucka, Lucka, Time After Time, Little Pony, Saving Ourselves for Yale, Bye Bye Blackbird, A Nightingale Sang, in Berkeley Square, Something Like the Blues, Down By the Salley Gardens, Everything, I'll Be Seeing You, Midnight Train to Georgia, Whiffenpoof Song.

The Yale Whiffenpoofs
Every year, fourteen senior men are selected to be in the Yale Whiffenpoofs, the world’s oldest and most famous a cappella group. Founded in 1909, the “Whiffs” began as a senior quintet that met for concerts at Mory’s Temple Bar, the renowned Yale tavern that dates back to 1849. Cole Porter, Yale Class of 1913, highlights the list of noteworthy Whiffenpoof alumni, which also includes Senator Prescott Bush, father of former President George H.W. Bush.

‘‘The Whiffenpoof Song,’’ the group’s signature ballad, gained nationwide recognition when Rudy Vallee (Whiffs of 1927) recorded a solo version in the 1930s. Later, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald (made an honorary Whiffenpoof in 1979), Bing Crosby, and Elvis Presley followed suit with their own recordings.

Today, the group has become one of Yale’s most celebrated and hallowed traditions, carrying on almost a century of musical excellence and professional showmanship at Yale, across America, and around the world.

In recent years, satisfied clients have included hotels, corporations, and the likes of Presidents Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, Mother Theresa, and the Dalai Lama, in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Rose Bowl, and for events such as the World Series, Saturday Night Live, NBC’s Today Show and The West Wing. A cappella arrangements of jazz standards, classic ballads, traditional Yale songs, and recent popular hits continue to delight audiences all over the world.

The Whiffenpoofs maintain a performance schedule of over 200 concerts annually, in addition to recording an album and embarking on a 17-week world tour. The Whiffenpoofs are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that supports a worldwide children’s literacy campaign and educates students about music and a cappella singing.

The Auckland concert
Location: Tamaki Yacht Club, Commodore Lounge, 30 Tamaki Drive, Auckland.

Time: 4:30pm - 6:30 pm, Sunday June 7th, 2009

Adults $20
Concessions $12
Entry payable at door

Entry price includes one welcome drink.

Rsvp/enquiries (09) 336 1666 email: americanclub@xtra.co.nz

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Translation of "Scheidend" (Departing) - Mendelssohn and Voss

Last Wednesday I began to learn Mendelssohn's leider "Scheidend" Opus 9, No. 6.

I intend to sing the song at the next meeting of the Auckland Lieder Group, Sunday 24 June.

Here's the poem, by Johann Heinrich Voss (1751-1826)

Wie so gelinde die Fluth bewegt!
Wie sie so ruhig den Nachen trägt!
Fern liegt das Leben, das Jugendland!
Fern, fern liegt der Schmerz, der dort mich band,
Sanft tragt mich, Fluthen, zum fernen Land!

Droben der Sterne stiller Ort,
Unten der Strom fließt fort und fort.
Wohl warst du reich, mein Jugendland!
Wohl, wohl war es süß, was dort mich band,
Sanft tragt mich, Fluthen, zum fernen Land!


I have had a little difficulty finding a translation of the poem, written by Johnann Heinrich Voss. ("Difficulty" means it has taken me one hour to find the translation. Hasn't the internet made us so impatient!)

The State Library of Western Australia kindly translated the first line ...
"Calmly the waves of ocean roll"


With this first-line clue I typed in that line. That lead me to me to an unpromising history of the Trinity Church, Buffalo, NY. A very, very long web page with no indexing, content list or anything. But... jackpot, I found the translation:

Calmly the waves of ocean roll 
Over my fainting, fleeting soul,
Parting earth's friendships and rending in twain
Hearts that will soon be united again
On heaven's celestial plain.

Swiftly before a purer day,
Fade now yon golden stars away ;
Lo ! realms of brightness now burst on my sight,
Fast I am speeding from regions of night
To heaven's eternal light."

The song was sung at the funeral of Mary Knowlton Mixer. "Miss Underhill, the soprano, gave Mendelssohn's "Song of Parting" the words of which were the last ever sung by Miss Mixer."


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pieta, Signore (Alessandro STRADELLA?)

Performed by Peter MELLALIEU at the Northshore Performing Arts Competitions 55th Annual Festival May, 2009.

Note the careful use of the score as both a text reference, and means through which to conduct the accompanist!

Pianist: Diane HARVEY