Back to the Music!

I am so excited about so many things.

First of all, I’m studying with Connie Haas and starting to sing great “big-girl” music. I’m going to start working on some American arias including Augusta in Baby Doe, and I also want to work on some Baroque pieces. I’ve been enamored of Philipe Jaroussky lately, and it’s made me want to sing some Vivaldi arias.

And in my other singing life, Christine O’Meally, Cabaret Chanteuse, I have two gigs coming up: December 12 at Hart Park Square Retirement Community (A Christmas Gift is the working title) and Oh to be a movie star! at St. Camillus for the assisted living community. The first show has yet to be written. The second will need to be edited for time. (Cut the Titanic parody, for one.) I’m thinking Ryan and I should set up a website…. now what to call it/us?

MacDowell Club has asked me to co-ordinate an Irish themed recital for March 14 to be held at the Greendale Public Library. This is also exciting – I don’t want too much “die-dee-die-dee” music. I want to have people perform pieces that are either by Irish or Irish-derived composers or in the case of song literature, perhaps with Irish texts. I’d like to involve the Irish Fest Center/Ward Music Archives or the Irish Community Center as far as marketing. (Of course, marketing is my biggest pitfall. I have great ideas but getting them out there is another story.) I’m planning to sing several of the Barber Hermit Songs (texts by Irish monks, 11th-12th century). I’d like to have Kate Trotter sing some Yeats poetry set to music by various composers, possibly Milwaukee’s own Paula Foley Tillen. And Mary Rempalski Ohm told me about some pieces by a Minneapolis composer, who I contacted – and then asked Mary if she wanted to come down and sing them.

Nervous about approaching instrumentalists. Why? It’s that singer vs. musician mindset which is, unfortunately, all too prevalent not only among singers but among conductors and instrumentalists themselves. I need to get over it. I’m sure we can get a good program going, but I’d like it to be varied, not just all singers. Although getting Kurt Ollmann and Bill Lavonis on the program wouldn’t be a bad thing…. Hmm…..

I also want to write a program for Mother’s Day for the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center. Becky Spice always said that if I didn’t write a show about my mother, she would do it. I have some ideas, one I’m going to try out at Renate’s memorial service. I think it’s respectful. Actually, I think it’s kind of dear, and if it goes well, I’ll write about it post-memorial service. (If it’s a train wreck, I won’t.)

So it was the last time….

After my parents went to Florida, I wrote that it might have been the last time I ever saw them.

It was. At least it was the last time I saw my mother. She passed away last Tuesday, October 6. Although she was older than my dad, it was a surprise. He had been ill for weeks before and had almost died a couple of times – the hospital was even talking about releasing him to hospice care, but then he rallied and wound up going back to the nursing home to be with my mother, who was his life. Even more than his children were – she was the center of his universe.

But my mother, even though she was primarily speaking in Estonian toward the end (and unlike the non-Yiddish-speaking Boris Thomaschefsky in the song “The King of All Broadway” in The Producers, she actually did speak Estonian!) and wasn’t always sure who the people visiting her actually were, she showed no signs of any life-threatening illnesses. We all thought that in 2020, Willard Scott would say, “And celebrating her 100th birthday is Renate Bojic. She’s pretty as a picture and everyone just loves her.” (I don’t know which would’ve freaked me out more – Renate living to be 100 or Willard still doing those Smucker’s birthday tributes.) But one morning, the nurse went in to check on them, really being more concerned about Marko, and found Renate looking blue and her breathing labored. She was rushed to the hospital and was gone within 90 minutes.

And I am feeling – I don’t know what I’m feeling. I had an initial wave of sorrow. I haven’t decided if it was sorrow for her passing, sorrow for my not getting to see her again (that realization hit me the next in, of all places, my core class at the WAC), sorrow for my father — sorrow for who she was at the end of her life and who she’d been during my childhood. I’m relieved. I’m numb.

All I can think of is how much I wish I could tell her about Boston and how much I love it. But the woman she was since her stroke wouldn’t have gotten it – and the woman of the last 10 years probably wouldn’t have appreciated it. She would have told my dad that I thought I was so high and mighty, going on trips all over the place. We didn’t used to have that kind of relationship. Before I became more in touch with my own emotional needs, I could tell her anything. Once I became more self-aware (and I don’t think more self-absorbed), I couldn’t. She couldn’t take joy in my joys or my accomplishments. So I shared fewer and fewer with her in those last 10 years.

I feel numb. And sad (kinda). And determined not to live my life the way she lived it, which was letting life happen to her, not being pro-active, not taking risks.

Back to singing next week. Just had to follow up. And I suspect there will be another follow-up regarding Marko before long. Or maybe he’ll be on Willard Scott in 2023.

Voice lesson journal – MUS 366A

This is the format that I would like you to use for your voice lessons.

Title should include the Date, Lesson # and your name.

Body of journal:

Your Student’s Name:
Lesson length:
Voice Type (if known):

Discussion:
In this section, just note how much time was spent discussing general things – health, amount of time practiced (NOTE: this CAN get away from you sometimes!)

Physical Warmups:
List what kind of warmups you did and how long you spent on them.

Vocalises:
List the vocalises used (you may use solfege or numbers, whatever is easier for you, or you may reference exercises in Miller, e.g. “2.13”). Indicate on what pitch you began the exercise and how far you took it in each direction.

Also indicate what your intention was for the exercise – breath managemnt, resonance, alignment, articulation, phonation (onset/release), as well as agility/sostenuto, range, registration, etc.

Indicate how long the vocalise portion of the lesson took.

Repertoire: Name of Song(s)
Indicate who selected the song, if it was you or the student and what you hope to gain from using that particular song. Indicate time spent on each song (unlikely you’ll cover more than one per lesson).

Post-lesson Analysis:
How did it go? What did you encounter? What was successful and what was not successful? Was the student cooperative? Did he/she seem confused or not understand you at any point? How do you think you could be clearer? Is there anything I can help you with that would make the next lesson easier for both you and the student?

Student goal for the next lesson:
What have you asked your student to work on?

Your PERSONAL goal for the next lesson:
What do YOU want to work on? How will you prepare for the next time you see this person, based on what you learned today?

A Culinary Cabaret!

Tomorrow, Ryan and I perform our 2nd cabaret show, If Music Be the Food of Love: A Culinary Cabaret at the Times Cinema Theater, 5906 West Vliet Street, Milwaukee. The show starts at 1:30pm, and will be followed by the 1996 movie Big Night.

I like pairing shows with movies that share a theme. The last time we did our movie show and followed it with Singin’ in the Rain. Not really the same theme except we sang about movies, old and new, and then watched a classic film. This time, we are doing a show about food and how the subject of food is used in song as a metaphor for finding love, losing love, sex, as status, as a way of saying goodbye, in marketing, and as entertainment. I’m very excited about the show – I like all the songs we’ve picked and I think we’ve put them together very creatively. And the movie is one of my favorites, starring Monk‘s Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci (Julie & Julia, which I haven’t seen yet). It’s about two Italian brothers who come to 1950s New Jersey to open an authentic restaurant and are met with skepticism from a market that thinks nothing but spaghetti & meatballs is REAL Italian food.

We’ve been marketing this show much more than we did our May show. Our February show was full, even though our marketing was primarily via Facebook – but that didn’t work for May. We put up a lot of posters, mailed postcards, and did a lot of BOGO deals for my students, WAC members, neighborhood association members. I’m hoping it pays off. Even without a BOGO deal, $15 for a live show + a great movie is a steal. So please come – we’re good, really! 😀