Friday, April 30, 2010

Can You Do This?

Sorry they are a bit blurry, I was quite far away. I was still amazed, though.




I know I sure can’t! In fact, I don’t believe I ever could in my whole life, having always had disproportionately long legs. I was always jealous of flexible people. And guess what?  I still am. But at least I get to take him home with me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


We like dogs in our house. Well, condo, really. And we like big dogs. Really big dogs. Big dogs come with big requirements, though, and we have learned that the hard way. It was pretty overwhelming for us when we got Luna,  and realized that we can’t just go gallivanting off whenever we feel like it. Fortunately we have wonderful friends who also have a big dog and who really like Luna, and they take care of her for us when we have to go away. Luna is big, but these guys make her look petite.


It can be a source of stress, trying to figure out what you are going to do with your dog. All this notwithstanding, we would really love to have another dog. Not realistic while living in a condo, but we can dream, right? Sometimes we do look at each other and remind ourselves what the first year with Luna was like and then we are happy to wait a little bit more. However, opportunities do come along for additional reflection.

Enter Scout:


Scout belongs to a friend of mine from the chorus who had planned a trip to China and at the last minute the person who was going to keep Scout backed out. So she put out an APB for someone who could keep her for them. It wasn’t very nice of me, but I said we would keep her and then promptly left on a four-day school trip and left my husband alone to deal with two dogs. It’s a good thing he is amazing. Scout is a nice little thing (little=40 lbs.—it’s all relative) and we have enjoyed getting to know her.  She has enjoyed going for walks:


Riding in the car: (we think it’s hilarious that she can actually fit on one seat)


And snuggling with the girls in bed. (Scout is not as picky as I am about where she rests her head!)

Some things we have noticed about having two dogs around:

1. Twice the dogs means twice the poop, hair, barking, and attention seeking behaviors.

2. An extra dog in the house throws a wrench into the dynamic. Everyone needs to be in their place and I always have to be top dog! This is hard.

3. We are having a great time. Two tails wagging is better than one---it’s a lot of happiness.

So hopefully one day we will be a two-dog family. But in the meantime, we’ll take visitors!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Dank Sei Dir Gott

A few months ago I posted that I would be memorizing 204 pages of German fabulousness in three months. I have to say, this has got to be one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. 3rd quarter is generally the time that I am the most out of my mind during the school year, and whenever I did have free time, do you think I wanted to spend it memorizing German? Definitely not. Fortunately in February we had a run through rehearsal so that we could hear what the thing sounded like in person and not on a CD. Helpful, but still, one run through? Puuuuhhhhllleeeaaase.
So the middle of March rolled around and I only had about 1/2 the thing memorized. Amidst major panic I started asking around and sure enough the rest of the chorus was feeling overwhelmed, as well. As one person said, “no problem! I will have it memorized for sure by April 6th!” April 6th, of course, was the day AFTER our last performance. I always feel like this, that if I just had one more concert it would for sure be perfect. On the day of the first performance we were not at all solid, and John Oliver (our director) mentioned that we might just use our scores, and we all cheered. We had absolutely forgotten it was April 1st. In the next breath John said “April Fools!”
John’s jokes usually go over well, but I think our silence expressed how unfunny we thought it was.
Anyway, once you don’t have your score and your cheat sheet (this is only one side)…

…it’s surprising how much you do have memorized. That is not to say that the first night was that great. Well, it was, but there were definite scary moments and one awful moment where I came in on a major entrance with the tenors. I did it again the second night! The third night and at Carnegie Hall I finally got my act together.
Since I was in New York less than twenty four hours, I don’t have many impressions of it, other than that there are lots of tall buildings and an excess of taxis. What did strike me as crazy was going through the flooded out portion of Rhode Island on the train. Sometimes the water was actually on the tracks and we had to slow way down. These are not the best pictures, but I was, after all, on a moving train.
IMG_0635 IMG_0632

The concert at Carnegie was great, what a gorgeous place! While there were a few scary moments due to the really loud organ right behind us that we weren’t expecting, it was a very cool experience. Some people were starting to get sick but there was no way they were skipping the concert after all that memorizing. But after four days in a row we are all pretty vocally exhausted, so perhaps it’s just as well that it was our last performance.  I mentioned that we couldn’t possibly do anything more difficult than this in the chorus, and some of the other ladies just patted me on the back and told me to go on thinking that.
Our New York Times Review (can you find me in the photo?)

Joe Kohen for The New York Times

It was a marvelous experience, but I am not sorry the memorization is at an end. Now I can actually concentrate on something else, like my day job!!!!
Pages Memorized: 204
Pages to go: 0
Dank, sei dir Gott!

Friday, April 02, 2010

OK, You Got Me

I love singing choral music. I loved it in my elementary school chorus, I loved it in junior high, I loved it in high school, I loved it in college, while I was doing graduate work, etc. It’s just so wonderful to make great music with other people. There is really and truly a physical high that you get when it goes really well. My feeling was who needs drugs when you have choral music? I have been pretty lucky in my choral experience, starting way back in junior high with Mr. Blackburn, who was a stickler for discipline but an absolute genius for teaching not only music but musicality and technique. In high school I worked with a director who taught me what great choral music sounds like and it was in his classes that my addiction for the “good stuff’ in choral works began. Sometimes this nerdy passion of mine did get a little over the top, like scheduling all my classes in college so that they wouldn’t interfere with choir, even though normal classes only  met three times a week and I had to go to choir every single day.

I am not a great singer and I never will be. But I am good enough for choirs and I am grateful for that because I never get tired of choral singing and it always makes me happy (even if temporarily I have breakdowns because of memorization pitfalls). This past year has been a great year musically. I joined the Tanglewood Festival Chorus last summer and have done a few concerts with them and with the Boston Symphony. From the first time I sang with them (Beethoven’s 9th) out at Tanglewood, I could barely contain my joy. The music is just so incredible, and every time I hear the Boston Symphony play I am astounded  by their skill and I do a yay dance inside (and sometimes outside, too, it’s just what it does to me).
Many people know I have not been extremely thrilled about living in the Northeast. My first few years here were pretty hard. If it hadn't been for my husband and a truly wonderful place to work it would have been a lot harder. A couple of weeks ago I was talking with some friends who just got a teaching job at BYU and so are moving back to Utah. I admit that for a couple of minutes I was a little bit jealous, not because of Utah per se, although I do love Utah, but because family is there and there is a lot of opportunity for great music-making.

Then the following thought popped into my head:
“Wait. If I leave this area it means no more singing with the Boston Symphony.”  And then I thought “There is NO WAY I am leaving this area!”

So it wasn’t the allure of the East Coast that has made this home. It certainly isn’t the best place to live economically speaking. The community where I live has taken some getting used to. I will say that Rhode Islanders are very nice once you get to know them. There are lots of reasons why I have felt that this was a temporary exile for a few years, which I won’t go into here.
But now it IS home, because my husband, my dog, my great job, and my music are here. Never underestimate the music.
(of course I am on the back row so I am not in the photo, but two of the most amazing female vocalists I have EVER heard are and so is Rafael Frubeck de Burgos, whom I adore. Christine Brewer, soprano and Stephanie Blythe, mezzo)