Days before dress rehearsal

As you look ahead to your first performance (dress rehearsal), here are a few suggestions to help you enjoy a more productive hour:

1. Get a solid 8 hours of sleep, for at least 2-3 nights before the rehearsal.
2. Good nutrition (protein-rich) each day, and lots of hydration.
3. Find an hour on the day before the rehearsal to quietly perform through the entire program (seated or standing, but not phonating).
4. Write out longhand every word you will sing — even if incorrectly spelled/formatted — to deepen your memory.
5. Enjoy your regular practicing, including with your pianist.
6. On dress rehearsal day, do not attend classes/rehearsals that you can avoid. Obviously, you need to save as much of the day’s energy and voice for your performance. The practice of extended rehearsals on performance days that do seem to work for choirs, is not generally one for the solo artist.
7. Enjoy a generous, 20-30 minute vocalization earlier in the day, then around an hour before the rehearsal, you can sing briefly and be ready.
8. By doing the above, you will build yourself a foundation from which to perform with fresh and dependable energy. The joy that you find in singing will energize you in the hour!

C.S. Lewis Strikes Again

According to C.S. Lewis, “Symbolism exists precisely for the purpose of conveying to the imagination what the intellect is not ready for.”

Herein lies not only the truth about Symbolism in poetry, but the essential nature of art: Art communicates with the imagination/personality/soul/heart in ways that the intellect cannot. This is why meaningful interface with art cannot be based merely on analysis, historical context, or conscious thought. Also, the creation or release of art lives in the same realm; e.g., both the composition and performance of music are dependent on imagination. Granted, technical mastery enables effective work from either side of the equation, but the employment of technique in a creative vacuum is pointless. As the old question goes, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it make sound?

News – UPDATE

[Update: the new CD, Forever Sing, was released on May 7 by Affetto Records (distributed by Naxos), and is available at iTunes, Amazon, and all other download sites.]

​I am relieved, gratified, and excited (don’t forget tired) as we completed all but one of the recording sessions for the upcoming CD – as yet untitled, but devoted to Psalms, with a short final group of Gospel music and hymns, to be captured next month with the help of Donald Dumpson. Last month, we recorded Sowerby, Freed, and MacDermid, with the wonderful organist Noel Werner. This week, my long-time, peerless piano collaborator JJ Penna and I completed Psalm settings of Dvoràk, Honegger, Rubbra, and Laurie Altman. The brilliant Sam Ward engineered the sessions for John Baker’s label, Affetto Records.

I’ll admit to bias, but this project is perhaps the most exciting of all, everything considered. I am so grateful to be in wonderful voice these days, better able than ever before to serve the art and imagination. Singing is surely a joy!

Singing Today

Sensations and levels of awareness must be constantly updated, as they change according to degree of energy/fatigue, emotional attitude, vocal condition, physical health, etc. What does not change are the essential truths of physiology and acoustics. Let your daily warm-up be guided by consistent goals based on those facts, and your most basic engagement of technique – not to over-control and create tensions.

Determine to be aware of how it feels to sing today. You will then be able to coordinate your vocalism based on today’s variables. Over time, you will gain more and more consistency and skill. You will also become a more effective and imaginative artist, less distracted by the struggle of wrongly applied techniques, due to operating on yesterday’s assumptions.