Critical Writing

October 19, 2014 — 21 Comments

Module:

• As part of my course this year I have elected to take part in a Critical Writing course, where I am taught how to analyse performances and offer my opinion in a critical way.
• The teachers are very enthusiastic which makes the course seem very exciting.
• We discuss and write about dance, acting and music.

Critical-Thinking-Header

Samantha Quillish And Me after the concert

 

On Friday 17th October, I went to watch a concert with my friends Samantha Quillish and Chelsea Palskitt and I thought I would use the opportunity to try and see if I could have a go at writing a piece for my module. This is my first attempt so I would love any feedback that you could give me :).

Concert:

SCO: Haydn & Mahler
Glasgow City Halls
Charlotte Hoather
17/10/14

The evening started with the powerful and emotional performance of Howokawa’s Meditation. An incredible interpretation and dedication to the victims of the Tsunami on 11th March 2011, focusing on the children lost in the disaster. It included a ferocious duet from violins who appeared to embody demons, their bows striking and hair whipping, which created a visual element to the piece. However the energetic music was interrupted by deathly silent pauses and animalistic sounds created using modern playing techniques. These sounds made me imagine the shrieking cries and the wailing of the school walls crashing into the ground. Then this sound world was disturbed aggressively by thunder claps from percussion which made your ears ring, and your heart race. Waves of music and a sense of destruction filled the pauses after each three consequential hits. ROBIN TICCIATI allowed the sound to reverberate around the hall and die into terrible nothingness. A dynamically active and emotionally hard hitting opening to a Friday evening.

Programme note: http://www.sco.org.uk/content/meditation?print=1

 

Robin Ticciati

Robin Ticciati – Principal Conductor At The SCO.

 

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) then welcomed KAREN CARGILL to the stage to perform ‘Kindertotenlieder’ by Mahler, continuing the theme of mourning of lost children. From the opening Cargill captured the solemn landscape of this music honestly and gripped the audience’s attention. Standing tall and free from physical tension she displayed with clear consonants and richly dark vocal tone the suffering a parent encounters after losing a child. The cycle continued to develop and an unsolvable pain resonated through the interpretation, through to the last song where Cargill gripped her hands into fists during the introduction. The first sign of physical embodiment of the text. This arriving at the end of the cycle left the audience spellbound and overtaken.

Programme note: http://www.sco.org.uk/content/kindertotenlieder?print=1

 

Karen Cargill

Karen Cargill – Internationally Renowned Scottish Mezzo-Soprano

 

After the interval the SCO performed Mahler’s ‘Blumine’ which caused me to imagine a Disney scene of a park in the spring, surrounded in flowers, where two loves meet to celebrate their love with a first kiss. With a regal tone setting the mood this delicate piece painted a sweet and enjoyable scene, a great contrast after a deeply moving first half.

Programme Note: http://www.sco.org.uk/content/blumine?print=1

 

WDFlowerFestival01

 

The concert ended with the rich and sonorous performance of Haydn’s London Symphony. Ticciati had a creative control over the orchestra and executed echoes and the shape of the piece with enthusiasm and excitement. The music was very merry and triumphant. However, I couldn’t help but wonder how the piece could be interpreted to represent modern London. With all the characters and experiences it has to offer now. But it was a magnificent way to finish the concert. But for me the opening piece of the evening was outstanding and really got my blood pumping!

Theatre Royal Glasgow

October 15, 2014 — 22 Comments
TheatreRoyalGlasgow

Outside The Theatre This Evening With My Friends Nathan Jenkins And Jessica Hurst Just Before The Opera This Evening

I walked past the Theatre Royal extension this morning on my way in to college excited at the prospect of my visit to watch the opera being shown there this evening. It has been amazing to watch the building change over the months into what will be a beautiful addition to Glasgow’s architecture.

Before-Construction-Started

The Theatre Royal, Glasgow Before The Construction Started.

In 1974 the theatre was purchased by Scottish Opera from STV to become the first national opera house in Scotland and also became the home of Scottish Ballet. Over the years that followed the theatre was updated and refurbished creating a fabulous environment to watch live entertainment and one that I would love to perform in one day.

Plan

The Plans For The New Entrance And Foyer

In 2011 Scottish Opera had plans drawn up to build an new signature entrance on Cowcaddens Road which was described as “a gilded splendour” incorporating the “sculptural shape of the main theatre into the new foyers in a contemporary manner”.  The project is expected to cost about £ 14,000,000.00 and is considered very ambitious and when finished will create a new foyer on four levels with a feature staircase.  So when it opens in December I cant wait to have a look around, if the new entrance is as stunning on the inside as it looks on the outside then it will be worth the wait.

Nearing-Completion

Nearly Finished – The Entrance Takes Shape

Here are some of the productions on the program for the next few weeks, which as you can see are varied and full of things for everyone :)  from Scottish Opera’s La Cenerentola; J B Priestley’s Dangerous Corner; Agatha Christie’s Black Coffee; Richard Alston Dance Company; Beyond the Barricade; An Evening of Burlesque to The Magic of Motown.

21743_full

La Cenerentola – Rossini

Scottish Opera – “Cinderella is the ultimate rags to riches tale. Featuring a host of colourful characters, this new production is a highly entertaining take on one of Rossini’s most popular comedies. With music that’s bright, breathless and full of energy, it’s a Cinderella story…but not quite as you may know it.”

 

Opera-Singer

When I first started singing I had no idea where my love for this beautiful art would take me, I only knew that the sheer joy that I felt when I sang was a feeling that I never wanted to lose.   I discovered Disney Sing-Along-Songs when I was two or three and would dance and sing as I watched them, gradually during my time at school my musical awareness widened as I was introduced to different musical genres.

Ariel

I loved to perform and found the work involved in learning more demanding pieces very exhilarating, constantly seeking help to improve my technique and challenging myself to explore new songs.  Eventually in my early teens I remember being told that my voice would probably develop into that of a “Soprano” although several competition adjudicators thought I may fall between “Mezzo-Soprano” and a “Soprano” and though I wasn’t quite sure exactly what that all meant I was very excited at the prospect.:)

Since then I’ve heard my voice develop and though I know that it will constantly change over my career at the moment I am considered a “Lyric Soprano”.   So for a young aspiring opera singer just how important is your voice type.?

Well to answer this question you have to go back to the end of the 19th Century when the Germans developed a method of categorising a singer’s voice, this was then used to improve the auditioning process in German opera houses.  It allowed for the pre-selection of a group of singers prior to auditions based on a range of their vocal characteristics.

range – the notes your body can produce
weight – light voices, bright and agile; heavy voices, powerful, rich, and darker
size – the amount of sound you can produce and your voice’s dramatic effect
tessitura – part of the range which is most comfortable to sing
timbre or colour – unique voice quality and texture
transition points – points where you change from chest, to middle, to head register
vocal registers – how extended each register is
speech level – speaking range
physical characteristics – height and build age and experience

I’m sure that many composers had a particular voice type in mind for the roles they created in their operas.  They were artists who painted with sound and created beautiful stories using a range of characters to bring their work to life.

Wagner - The Ring Cycle

The Ring Cycle – Wagner

When a Director or Conductor is set the task of re-creating the story so imaginatively created by the composer they know that selecting the right singer for each role is so important. The Fach system can help in this selection process, allowing the Directors and Conductors to audition singers on a role by role basis using a very strict set of vocal characteristics. They can then use the audition to look for that little something extra that the singer can bring to the role safe in the knowledge that the vocal requirements of the part can be undertaken by each auditionee.

VocalRange

The system starts with three female voice types and three male voice type. They are Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano and Contralto for the female and Tenor, Baritone and Bass for the male.

Each of the voice types are then broken down into more specific groups of characteristics, for the Soprano for example we have :

Soubrette – Young, light, bright
Lyric Coloratura Soprano – High, bright, flexible
Dramatic Coloratura Soprano – High, dark, flexible
Lyric Soprano – Warm, legatto, full
Character Soprano – Bright, metallic, theatrical
Spinto /Young Dramatic Soprano – Powerful, young, full
Dramatic Soprano – Powerful, dark, rich

Mozart - The Magic Flute

The Magic Flute – Mozart

If opera is a new art form to you and you still need persuading of its purity and beauty then over the coming months I will try and convince you by writing about these different vocal characteristics and the roles associated with them, the great singers who have performed them and the beautiful operas that they come from.

On the other hand if you adore the art form then please feel free to join in with your comments and help me to persuade as many new people as possible to come and watch. After all one day I hope that it will be me on the stage, singing with all the emotion and colour that my heart will allow and I would love to see you all in the audience.

To close this post I can only say that I find this whole process so exciting, not quite knowing what characteristics my voice will take on makes my training so much more interesting. Working on my technique with experienced and supportive teachers helps me to understand the processes involved with my singing and I hope that it will allow me to improve my performances and paint with vocal colour. As to what voice type I will enter my professional career with, I still do not know but I can tell you whatever it is I intend to enjoy every second of it :)

Charlotte_Close_Up_01

La Rondine – Puccini ( my first chorus role in an opera )

Since the 29th July 2014 the charity ALS has raised over 115 million dollars from donations linked to their “Ice Bucket Challenge” which is a staggering amount and I hope that it will help many people in the years ahead.

I don’t normally get involved in chain mail or “pass it on” posts on Facebook, Google and Twitter but for the ALS ice bucket challenge I found myself with no way to refuse as one of my oldest friends had thrown down the gauntlet by nominating me after his own attempt.

ALS01

The water was freezing cold and a real shock to the system when it hit me but at least it was over quickly :)  Over the days that followed I was amazed to see that my video was watched nearly 17,000 times which I hope made people chuckle and helped in some small way to raise awareness and generated some donations for the charity.  On Tuesday 7th October I was pleased to receive an update e-mail from the charity detailing the progress of their fundraising efforts and what they intend to do with the money raised. Though I, like so many others, only played a small part in the fund raising it was nice to read how the money was to be spent.

 

Dear-Charlotte-Small

Please click on the image to see a larger copy

 

ALS-Thank-You

I doubt that I will be making a habit of getting involved in future chain-mail social media “pass it on” promotions so please rest assured that I wont be bombarding you with them :)

Marie Curie is a UK based charity that provides care for people with terminal illnesses both through their hospices and through the nurses they employ to provide care at home. In 2012/13 they provided over 1.3 million hours of nursing care and to continue with their work they need to continually raise money through charitable events and donations.  70% of their funding comes in this way with the remainder being provided by the NHS.

kelvingrove-art-gallery-and-museum

So I was thrilled to be asked to sing again at one of their fundraising events at the Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery. When I saw the venue I was amazed at the beauty of the room and I could sense the history of the building.

05102014004

The floating heads in the foyer were definitely a talking point.

The evening was billed as the must attend event of the year in the Glasgow calendar with businesses competing against each other for the title of the “Brainiest Company in Glasgow”

05102014001

The view of the room from the balcony was amazing.

For my part I was to perform at the end of the evening meal and was very excited about the opportunity.  When I found out that it was to be a formal banquet I jumped at the chance to get dressed up, as if I really needed an excuse :)

05102014005

George Todica when we first arrived at the venue.

George Todica skilfully accompanied me on piano for the performance, it was tremendous fun and we enjoyed every minute of it. I met some lovely people and enjoyed talking with them throughout the evening.

05102014002

Lorna and Gordon, the organisers of the event.

Two of the quiz-masters for the evening were Sean Biggerstaff ( who played Oliver Wood in the Harry Potter movies ) and Cat Cubie a prestenter from BBC Scotland.

05102014003a

05102014006

Cat Cubie

Marie-Curie-Cancer-Care

 

I took part in a vocal improvisation master class yesterday ( Wednesday 1st October 2014 ) at the RCS in the Agos Opera Studio.  The class was given by Anne-Liis Poll and Anto Pett two fabulous teachers from Estonia.

Estonia

Anne-Liis Poll

Anne-Liis Poll is one of the most leading improvisational singers of Estonia. She is also an eminent teacher of singing and improvisation. She has taught singing at the Estonian Institute of Humanities (theatre students), singing and improvisation since 1996 in Drama School of Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre (docent) and since 2001 at the University of Tartu Viljandi Cultural Academy. Anne-Liis Poll is also improvisation pedagogue at Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre.

Anne-Liis-Poll

Anne-Liis Poll

Anto Pett

Anto Pett is one of the most well-known free improvisators and improvisation teachers in Estonia. He  graduated with piano studies from the Tallinn Music High School in 1978 under the guidance of Ene Metsjärv. He continued studies at the Tallinn State Conservatoire in piano class of Virve Lippus, studying also composition with Eino Tamberg and improvisation with Hugo Lepnurm, and graduated in 1983. He has developed original teaching method and introduced it in several music academies in Europe (Helsinki, Stockholm, Leipzig, Odense, Paris, Riga, Marseille, Bordeaux, Vilnius, Glasgow, Gdańsk

Anto Pett

Anto Pett

The main concept that I took away from the lesson was to be aware of how you can portray emotion through your consonants.  Your consonants initiate your vowels so if you work on the emotion you project it will encourage a dramatic tone in your vowels too, which hopefully creates an exciting text for the audience :)

Here is one of the exercises that we were asked to try out.  We used a Syllabic language ( made up sounds ) using a consonant followed by a vowel.  You could use any consonant sound from any language that is the best thing about improvisation.

For example :

LO   YA   EIV   QUO   PEH   SUH

We began by changing every syllable on a crotchet at a slow 4/4 tempo. Then we were asked to speed it up, changing every quaver, every semi-quaver and so on … This helps to improve your articulation and your speed of imagination.

When you try this exercise it sounds a little like beat boxing. We began by passing around the room sounds in a call and response manner.

We then explored the difference between unvoiced and voiced consonants

Unvoiced consonants.  – unvoiced consonants are consonants which rely on the air being disturbed by the teeth, lips, tongue without using the vibration of your vocal chords

Voiced consonants –as the name suggests are consonants which require the vocal chords to play their part in the production of the sound.

Many consonant sounds come in pairs. For example, P and B are produced in the same place in the mouth with the tongue in the same position.

The only difference is that P is an unvoiced sound (no vibration of the vocal cords) while B is a voiced sound (vocal cords vibrate). Put your hand on your throat as you say the pairs below to feel the difference.

This leads us on to other partner consonants such as

F and V
T and rolled R
S and Z
K and NG (nasal)

You use similar placement of the tongue in the mouth which allows these partnered consonants swift movement between the changes. So you can produce the sounds very quickly and efficiently, which is so helpful for a singer.

For example the tip of the tongue creates the T on the top ridge of the mouth and the rolled R is rolled behind the top teeth.

It was great to see the development of these exercises as we all joined in.

improv04

Having fun with the improvisation exercises

improv02

improv01

As the lesson progressed we touched on tuned percussion, the speaking voice and then the singing voice.

The class helped me with my understanding of how vocal improvisation can be used in the development of my singing technique and help my warm ups and vocal exercises.

Love’s Philosophy

September 28, 2014 — 58 Comments

 

Sequence-01a

My final recital of the Summer was held at St George The Martyr Church in Preston on the 19th September. My parents were taking me up to Glasgow after the recital and I was so happy that they would be there to watch me perform. The day started well, we had packed the car so tightly with all my essentials and with just enough room to squeeze me on the back seat we set off to Preston. It was a warm sunny day and the time passed quickly, when we arrived in the town my Dad parked in the shopping centre and we all set off to find the church.

St-George-The-Martyr

St George The Martyr

We came out on the wrong side of the shopping centre and it took a little time to find the church but when we arrived Edmund Crighton was there to welcome us and I got down to my warm ups and rehearsals with Russell Lomas.  I performed alongside Elizabeth Lawton a flautist and we so enjoyed performing there as the audience was so receptive.

After the recital Glasgow beckoned and so we jumped back in the car and headed north to Scotland, still part of the United Kingdom after the vote, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the start of my third year there :)

Here is one of the songs that I performed in my recital, “Love’s Philosophy” by Roger Quilter and I do hope that you enjoy it.

This beautiful song was inspired by the lyrics from a poem by Percy Shelly which I believe tries to remind us that harmony and love are all around   :)

The fountains mingle with the River
And the Rivers with the Ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle.
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What are all these kissings worth
If thou kiss not me?