Warning: this post abuses more italics and punctuation than an L.M. Montgomery novel...'cos sometimes, a girl just has to gush.
Last night Tom and I performed our recital program
for the Music Lovers Society.
Some 70 people braved the wilds of East Malvern to come and listen to myself and a flautist called Sari offer up some cultural delectation.
I haven't elaborated hugely on this blog about what's been happening behind the scenes, but there's been something of a voyage of discovery for myself and Tom the Baby Accompanist.
(Actually I probably shouldn't call him that anymore: he's 24 now and very focused indeed, working very hard on being an artist and teacher, quite apart from his being 6 foot 5 and very strong from the yoga junkie thing. But then: when I went round to get him to go to the concert yesterday afternoon he opened the door to me (a) dripping wet and (b) in just a towel; and (c) exclaiming thusly: "oh my god I just shaved
and it feels so weird
- go on, feel, how smooth
is my face
??" Then he had to get dressed in his ratty lucky Bonds singlet (mostly just threads); then his brother Jack arrived unexpectedly to borrow their communal suit
because he (Jack) was off to a 21st. Jack (who is slightly quicker on the uptake than Tom and could therefore read the warning signs of the tightening around my eyes and flaring of my nostrils) settled for some other clothes to borrow....and then, when we finally got going in the car Tom realised he was hungry, so I had to call my Mum and get her to bring sandwiches with her to the venue so he wouldn't fade away between rehearsal and the concert (god forbid). He's very sweet, so mostly I just laugh and am amused, but, you know: wow; and indeed, crikey.)
Ahem: a voyage of discovery
for myself and Tom the Accompanist. Both of us are in sync in terms of goals for the first time in the four years we've been working on-and-off together. And really: ya gotta put in those hours; and decide that you are an artist first and a quivering mass of insecurities second (sometimes the quivering mass wins; sometimes you do, but eventually you win out more and more often) and dig what you can out of the music; and play around with any and every sound and approach; and grab coaching from wherever you can; and perform as much as you can and just.keep.going, regardless. Regardless.
Case in point: we had a biiiiig rehearsal last Sunday and I got a Bit of a Cold the same day and showed up at his house the next day complaining that he had broken his soprano and this did Not Bode Well bitch bitch moan moan. So Tom decreed a Day Where Alexandra Practised 'Marking it' (I'm not very good at singing at half-voice usually, it plays with my muscle memory of the piece); and bugger me, I finally found the right lightness/sparkliness of sound for Let the Bright Seraphim
It's been stuff like that for weeks.
And we've just been having fun (interspersed with teeth-grinding frustration of course, although no slanging matches - or at least not yet!) and remembering why we do this in the first place.
So we came to last night: and our partnership coalesced into something quite real and synergistic and it worked
. Oh yes, not a few moments where his fingers hit the wrong notes (noticeable only if you knew the pieces backwards) or where I wasn't quite prepared for breathing or support and the voice sounded less than optimal (sadly quite noticeable, but what can you do? Just smile and keep singing and not
let that note be the First Gymnast to Fall Off the Balance Beam At The Olympics, ie the beginning of the Cascade of Fail).
But no Cascade - we kept it together and came across as confident and relaxed (phew!) and dedicated to enjoying ourselves in the making of the pretty musickes for the delectation of the audience (who, bless them, were more than happy to come along for the ride).
My theory is that all musicians get a set of musical "gimme"s, which vary from person to person. Tom and I have very different musical profiles (he has perfect pitch, I most emphatically do not; he can count and it's a struggle for me; I have a firmer emotional/imaginative grasp on what I'm doing and he can flail a bit; and so on and so forth); but we do share a couple of qualities: (a) we like the actual process of making music and performing (not as common as you would think); and (b) when we make music, people like to listen
. Listenability is, again, not as common as you would expect. Quite frankly, I can work on my counting and get better at it. But listenability is a "you got it or you don't" sort of deal, and I would like to thank the good fairy who hovered over my cradle and gave me that gift. Oh - and the effortless top notes. Thanks for those. They totally
win against the not being able to sight-sing or count or have an integrated middle voice.
Back to the concert: the first set (five lieder) just passed in a blur. The second and third sets had more meaty stuff in them and that's where my memories are sharper because I had to come off lieder-auto-pilot and be very careful indeed. While simultaneously existing in a place where I was as high as a kite on adrenaline and endorphins and unafraid
of the music I'd chosen. In fact, loving every single piece. Somewhere in the middle of things, with all the crazy preparation and listening obsessively to recordings and realising sort of hazily what is missing in my technique, I took a step forward (and I think Tom came with me).
Talking to the audience afterwards, it seems most people liked different things (which is usual); but every single person loved Let the Bright Seraphim
(leading to my mother to utter the ominous words: "you really should do more Handel". oh noes noes NOES! Am not Handellian soprano. They are all called Annabel and have elaborate frocks and come over all unnecessary if you whiffle the pages of a Verdi score in their vicinity.)
Oliver the Baritone - who I have sung with and whose brother is Tom's partner, small world! - was commendatory of my professional care and attention to this aria. I believe his exact words were: "You were all OVER that aria, like a rash!" Hee. High praise: I haz it.
In summary: Tom and I prodded some serious musical buttock. It wasn't perfect, but it was highly enjoyable and everyone was thoroughly entertained. And now we have been blooded, we begin to prepare in earnest for the rest of the year.
More details as they come to hand.