catchmyfancy: (captain logic is not steering)
LMusA exam yesterday.  Quite frankly: I have NO IDEA.  I think the singing went well. 

I managed to answer almost all of the questions in the viva voce part of the exam.  She thought I was stalling (having asked me a multiple-part question about Schubert) about naming some lieder he had written, so I rattled off an even dozen and that seemed to satisfy her.

Seriously, it is the shittiest thing to give a 40 minute recital** that HAS to be perfect in every respect and slam through 250 years of western musical development and then have to answer questions in a sane and coherent manner, when what you really want to do is get drunk and shag the nearest passing attractive male and/or jog around the suburb a couple of times to blow off the nyaaaaaargh* of it all.

In this respect, Tom the Accompanist earned himself a bloody MEDAL; being calm and supportive; telling me I looked good; giving me a huge hug and telling me I was fabulous and brilliant before we went into the exam; playing insanely well; and then calmly telling me I'd have post-exam "this was good/o god this was TERRIBLE" mood swinging for a couple of days, and suggesting a beer on the way back, and then it turned into two and it turns out he's a bit of a lightweight and we got giggly.  Aw.  And then he got to go and play accompaniment for a grade 5 violin exam.

Whereas I got to go home and be picked up by Kim and Justin (and driven home, woot!)(and just as well because I was at the stage where I couldn't even make a coherent decision on which camisole top to wear) and taken into town to the Paris Cat to go and listen to the very talented Doug de Vries play awesome Brazilian music with his mates and be fed Gs & T.  Then very late pizza.  Kim and Juzzie patiently listened to me go "WHY WHY WHY did i tell everyone i was doing the exam?  what if I fail?  o god o god" and it wound down eventually.  Then I got into bed and crashed and did not dream of music.  Then I woke up and went "uurgh".  So I am taking Kim to brunch.

And Praise be, mateys, it be international Speak Like a Pirate Day!

This means I can change the language setting on Facecrack to "English(Pirate)" and get the giggles for the next week.

*I can't describe it any other way.  other performers will know what I mean.

**Here is the program (for those of you who may be interested):
Rejoice Greatly - Messiah - Handel
Du bist die Ruh - Schubert
Er ist's - Wolf
L'invitation au voyage - DuParc
C'est L'Extase - Debussy
Dove Sono - Marriage of Figaro - Mozart
Pace pace mio Dio - La forza del Destino - Verdi
Als die Alte Mutter - Dvorak
Tell me the truth about love - Cabaret Songs - Britten
Hermit of Green Light; And no bird sings - Edwards

catchmyfancy: (lieder)
My big mantra at work is: with enough lubrication we can do anything STEAL OTHER PEOPLE'S GOOD HABITS.

Tom and I had the BIG DISCUSSION today about being professional and what we are trying to do, and my eternal bugbear: repertoire; and the choosing, care and feeding of same, especially for two very very important programs: namely, the LMusA and then the Lyrebirds recital, which are cheek-by-jowl in September. 

Regular readers of my ramblings may recall that I hate, loathe and despise choosing a program.  I always feel like I'm flailing and madly writing nonsensical lists and none of it works or fits together and will come tumbling down into a big, quivery mess at the slightest tremor.  In short, I feel as though I am attempting to build something solid with bricks cut from jelly. (Bright red jelly for some reason.  It appears catastrophe is strawberry-flavoured in my universe.)

But Tom Put His Foot Down today and gave me lists and homework and I came home and moped.  But, after rolling my eyes in an epic manner, I opened up YouTube to start listening to the first of the possible songs.  And then i thought I would make notes, because I couldn't remember what I had seen where and where could I save the links -

- and flashed on my Dad's repertoire sheet.  Father prides himself on never having successfully used a computer for anything.  So all two hundred pieces in his repertoire are written out on a spreadsheet.  And he makes notes on new ones, deletes ones that his voice change has ruled out and he dutifully fills in where and when he sang each one, so the old dears at Sunnydale Retirement Village don't get the same program three weeks later (I want to point out to him that most of them may not remember yesterday, but he's all about due diligence, and it would be mean, so I don't).

I now has a little repertoire spreadsheet of my own!  With the stuff I need: name of the piece, composer, opus/opera/musical it's from, DURATION  (oh, I cannot tell you how much this helps - this firms up the building blocks to almost lego-like consistency), genre, where and when I've sung it, my comments, and even a column for my favourite youtube link.

So tomorrow I am going to finish off listing all my repertoire and then I should be able to cherry-pick the stuff I want, set my programs, and get learnin' on the new stuff.

I was griping a bit about Tom being a slave-driver/whip-cracker on Facebook and somebody joked: "oh, but you like a good beating don't you?" and I was in such a reflective mood that my response was: "you know, I have no idea".   Huh.
catchmyfancy: (squishy)
Waaay back in 2006, Tom the Baby Accompanist bounded into my singing lesson (and, as per the schmaltzy Merrkan movies, also into my life and my heart) as my teacher thought we would "suit" and it was about time I started taking lieder seriously, by working on them together as a proper singer-and-accompanist duo.

(I love the way musicians are so casual about stuff like this, that whole "send me over two or three of your better singers, yeah?" and some kind of musical-alchemy/mega-stardom/catalyst/perfect storm/life-changing wotsit/the plot of every backstage musical EVER is just part of the fallout.)

It's taken four years, here and there (the number of times I ran into him on a campus that holds about 40,000 students does tend to beggar belief), but we finally got serious about our musickes at about the same time and thus far it's working out okay.

Tom is kinda adorable.  It's very hard not to like someone with such enthusiasm for - well, everything.  He may be something of a yoga-obsessed hippie, who doesn't like things that aren't real (while still breathlessly working out my life-path number via numerology, hee hee) but he really is actually rather genuine.  If he likes you, then he likes you (and if he doesn't: oh, it's horribly amusing what he comes out with...)

I'm not quite sure how to explain our relationship: yes there is a friendship.  I spent a very cosy evening with him recently being a Virtual Flatmate and watching Death in Brunswick with him on DVD while he worked on remembering how to knit a scarf and was amazed that the term "stitch and bitch" did not originate with the book of the same name (is it bad I spend a lot of my time giggling at him?)

But we're also a musical partnership - quite a different breed of cat.  It's both more impersonal and yet it involves our more essential selves, and I fall into that brain-space with him far too easily.  It's snake-and-mongoose stuff.  He works grad ceremonies for me, and so I'll be striding around, doing Officer in Charge things and bending people to my will and then he'll wander up and say: "hey, do you know the Schumann opus 23?  I've been learning it and ohmyGAWD it is brilliant!" and then he will SING PARTS OF IT TO ME IN THE FOYER OF WILSON HALL while the normal pre-ceremony hustle'n'bustle is happening all around us and what is more, I will be listening and wanting to know how it goes.   That's where the twisty-torque in my life comes from, that moment right there.

Anyhoo, Tom the Baby Accompanist (or even Tom the Toddler Accompanist) is no more. 

He is simply Tom the Accompanist now, because if ever he proved that the P-plates could come off it was today, with his final recital for his music degree course. 

He played the Ginastera Sonata no 1, the Schumann Fantasiestucke No 2, and selections from Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin.

Holy CRAP.  Even though I know how hard he worked on these (I was shown a Timetable, with days divided into half-hour-per-piece lots) and had heard most of them off and on during rehearsals...in a concert setting, all presented together - his energy and the way he plunged into these and delivered literally made me breathless.  (The fact that I was holding my breath till he finished navigating each one had nothing at all to do with it.  That was a different breathlessnessness.)  It was exhilarating.

And in front of many of his friends, and his family (got to meet his Dad, who is also 9 feet tall; I am already friendlyish with his brother Jack who is - yup, about 9 feet tall); and his partner Rupert (you guessed it - only he's only about 8 feet tall - sometimes I feel like a squirrel in a forest of ambulatory trees hanging out with that lot); and two very bemused examiners, who went from a candidate who would not have an audience (and literally fell out the door in relief afterwards, poor girl); to one with his very own rent-a-crowd of thirty-five attendees.  Guy from Property & Buildings had to keep going and getting extra chairs.  I'd copied out the program, and had made 25 of them to hand out and thought I was being optimistic.  Hah!  

At the end, Tom got two bows, and oh my, he had earned them (plus I think there was also a slight element of "so you should give him an A, yes you should, examiner-shaped people!" to it). 

It struck me that this was Tom's graduation.  I've been after him to come to the ceremony in August, and he has been spectacularly uninterested.  Now I get why - it wouldn't be as real to him as what happened today - all the elements were there: an audience, protocol, procedure, programs, Tom was in his new suit, there were friends and family there to watch and congratulate, there were photos taken, and the traditional cup of tea afterwards.  Only we got the actual physical manifestation of all his hard work, and were entertained to boot. 

Now I'm going to be on tenterhooks till result release on July 10 - argh!
If he doesn't get a good result, it was because he was ROBBED.
catchmyfancy: (talk of cake)
Doing a Sugar-Free Lent worked for me.  Got focused, lost weight, felt good.

So I'm doing another one. 

I'm not in the slightest bit religious, so the idea of appropriating a religious event for my own purposes amuses me in a  "finally, after 2,000 years: payback!" sort of way.  (Except I'm Australian, so mostly it only vaguely amuses me.  I am worried more about the footy and how badly my tipping is going this year).

Anyways, seeing as I am off to Ajuloide at the end of June with Tom in order for him to compete in the Geoffrey Parsons Award, that puts about a six week time limit on it.  I need to be extremely fabulous in order to maximise Tom's chances, so slimming down some more won't hurt at all.  Sure, the voice is the thing; but presentation is huge too.  (Although here's the thing: if you are stronger and fitter, you can stride around all day in corsets and four-inch heels and not suffer at ALL and people walk past some insipid little girlie-girl to fall at your fabulously-shod feet.  So not, not compromising any values here, not to worry.  Weight-lifting also does wonders for one's decolletage.)

Simultaneously I gotta beef up my middle/lower range and integrate it more with my upper range.

And there's the LMusA and the recital for the Lyrebird peeps. 

And maybe - just maybe - a recording? (Gasp! Has the world ended?) (Apparently not. Phew!) 
catchmyfancy: (talk of cake)
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 by Handel.

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.

catchmyfancy: (Default)

Ahem - introducing the GBA - the Gorgeous Baby Accompanist.

Who is also called "Tom" in conversation.

The GBA is a first year here at the Yewni, but as per all disgustingly talented musical individuals, he's already done some repetiteur work with one of the opera companies, plays the bass trombone and can sing in tune.   (I bet he can count too.  People who can count always make me nervous.)

My teacher has been determined that at this year's liederfest (aka the German Mental Torture Competition) I will have my own accompanist, because it opens one up to more prizes (and a genuinely good musical partnership is not to be sneezed at either...).  So she decided that the GBA was the Go because of the aforementioned talent AND he's still young and silly enough not to charge munney.

The GBA came bounding into my lesson this morning and I admit my mouth dropped open.  He's really rather easy on the eyes and sort of tall and lean and smiley and radiates Niceness vibes.  He has very big hands.

Julia put him through his paces with some Strauss (and me also) and then we launched into some Hugo Wolf.  It's a fiendish accompaniment and after about 30 seconds he said (with a slightly dopey grin) "hey - I've got the hang of it now!" and so he had.  Bugger me.  

Other comments included "hey - you hit that top note really well!" (a little less of the surprise would have been nice) and "yeah - I love accompanying -  so much more social than doing solo stuff."  

*snorfle*   He's like a big friendly puppy with flollopy paws that can play piano.  

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