Singin’ an’ swingin’ an gettin’ merry like Christmas

 This is me in my concert gear. No Deep Bloggery from this songbird, she is all chirped out.

Tonight we sang the world premiere of a new song cycle “Lullabies” by Anthony Ritchie and perfomed a swingin’ smokin’ hot jazz Mass, Paul Winter’s Missa Gaia. I’m not linking to any of the YT versions because none of them are as good as we were tonight 😉
It’s great to sing, I urge you all to do it!


Singing again, dressed up!

I’ve said it before, it’s great to sing. And everyone can.

Tonight, I sang in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Ode to Joy, with our own amazing NZSO. Pictured, me in concert rig. Any opportunity for sparkling cleavage, I say!

You can find my next public singing dates here
This is not simply an attempt to sell you tickets – though that would be great! – but you’ll see there are a couple of opportunities to come to an Open Rehearsal, see what we do and even try it out for yourself in the anonymity of the chorus.
Remember, everyone can sing!! I invite you to take up one of these free opportunities to enrich your life with this beautiful activity. Wear whatever you like, but please join me!

If you can speak…

… you can sing.

I’ve been singing in choirs most of my life, even had some individual lessons to improve how I sound alone. Nothing special to begin with, but over time I’ve improved, and I expect that to continue. More about that in this earlier post
It’s the Best Thing. Better than chocolate. Or sex. It may be that I’m doing either/both of those unskilfully, or that more participants/lessons might help, but you get the idea.
If I were given a diva’s bouquet for every time someone said to me “I wish I could sing” or “I can’t sing” … florists would be our most profitable business sector.
I don’t know where Voice Shaming comes from, but it’s a horrible thing we do to each other. 
Why do people with zero expertise choose to sneer at others’ voices?
Why do so many of us take that baseless criticism on board?
Honestly folks, if you can speak, you can sing. 
Singing uses exactly the same physical equipment as speech, just some additional skills required. Some people may find those skills easier to learn than others do, and some people’s physical equipment may offer a more pleasing basic sound than others, but it’s something we all can do. And it feels so good! If you sing with me, 100% guarantee I won’t be judging what you sound like, I’ll just be so happy we’re doing a fun thing together. 

The picture is my view at rehearsal in the Auckland Town Hall. A whole lot of happy people doing the good stuff.

Verdi Requiem – the show went on

They made it!

At 6pm this evening, we took our first deep breaths as Maestro Inkinen delicately gestured the opening bars. After the disappointment of the previous night’s cancelled concert, at last we were rehearsing with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

As in previous times I’ve been lucky enough to sing with them, I was blown away by their amazing quality of sound and passionate expressiveness.  After a 7-hour wait at Wellington Airport yesterday, and an unusual flight experience today, they were still breathtaking.

Yes, the Air Force transported our national orchestra – over a hundred players and their instruments – in a single flight so they could perform the Verdi Requiem in Auckland. We were lucky there were no major search and rescue operations under way, and that missions to Antarctica are over for the year. I think that’s a pretty good use of an air force, and I’m sure our capacity Town Hall audience would agree.

Even with the reduced rehearsal time, we came together at the critical moment to produce a beautiful, moving, spirited performance. Music is always a collaboration between composer, conductor, orchestra, singers, support people and audience, but it is not often the ensemble stretches to a P-3K2 Lockheed Orion. Three cheers for RNZAF No. 5 Squadron!!

Like it or not, we’re not in control

Maybe you read my earlier post, The Price, on risking my music for my new job

Turns out I DID get to enough rehearsals, and I made the grade to perform with the NZSO tonight : Gustav Holst’s magical “Planets Suite”

…and tomorrow night : Giuseppe Verdi’s magnificently operatic Requiem. Excited and delighted, that was me.

In one of those ironic little twists that remind us that Nature is really in charge, the recent stormy weather closed airports and stranded the orchestra in their home city of Wellington.

No airport, no orchestra. No orchestra, no concert. Cancelled.

And if I think I’m disappointed, what about all the people with tickets? What about Eve de Castro-Robinson, who was anticipating the world premiere of one of her works in the same concert?

So far things are looking promising for Saturday. The tour manager must be a miracle worker to reschedule flights for all those players, plus shipping their instruments.

Fingers crossed.

The price

Most wonderful things have a price.

In the case of my fascinating and rewarding new job, that price is my music. In the first month, work travel meant that I missed five rehearsals and three singing lessons. If you read my earlier posts about singing, you will understand how big that price is.

My daily practice routine faltered badly too. One is reluctant to sing an hour of vocal exercises at full volume, considering the effect on your neighbour in the next hotel room. The walls are not really thick enough!  I wonder what the great divas do?  

If I miss any more rehearsals before the end of June, I won’t meet the preparation criteria to be part of the concert choir. We are performing the Verdi Requiem and the Holst Planets Suite with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. It’s a big deal and will be marvelous. The Holst is on my bucket list. It’s not regularly performed, so I might never get another chance.
If you want to hear this great stuff, go here to book a ticket. I’ll do my very best to be on the stage, singing my heart out for you. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll be in the audience with you. I’ll be the one wearing a gag.

finding the beat

Between singing lessons and vocal coaching at choir, I think I’m on the path to bettering that part of my musicianship.

There’s plenty of other room for improvement. I’m a woeful time-keeper, especially with offbeat rhythms, and through long rests.

Just as I decide I need to do something about this, along comes the opportunity to participate in a 3-day workshop of the TaKeTiNa rhythm learning process. More about the method in this youtube video

Having had a taste of the method a while ago, I had little hesitation in signing up. Even managed to convince the guitarist in the household to come along too.

I’m very glad I did. It was the first time I’ve got comfortable with off-beat, 5-beat, 9-beat, 3-in-4 rhythms to the point of real pleasure and confidence.  Much more importantly, I also experienced falling out of those rhythms with humour and recovering them with grace.

That’s a little bit less fear to carry around, a bit more joy to offer back.

Good news for Kiwis – there will be another TaKeTiNa workshop in Auckland early next year. Contact for more information and tell them I sent you