I travelled back up to Glasgow on Friday 18th April ready to start back at College on Monday and thought that it would be a great idea to go along to the opening event for what will be one of Scotland’s largest pieces of Art “The Kelpies”  The site in Falkirk has been redeveloped to provide a grand new tourist attraction for the area which is hoped to bring new jobs and additional development for this area of Scotland.

I was really looking forward to the event as it is not that often you get the chance to be a part of something as grand and imposing as this.  I contacted some of my friends and we travelled over to Falkirk in the early evening to try and get a glimpse of the park before it went dark.  Unfortunately because of the opening ceremony we could not get close enough for any decent pictures and decided to grab something to eat before we started the walk around the Helix park.

Group-Picture

Tom, George, Charlotte, Rob and Tim

We arrived at our appointed time slot 9:30 pm, parked the car and went to join the queue. We entered the park and you could sense the excitement of the people around us. The helpful security staff made sure that we kept moving-on ensuring that we saw all of the magnificent show, which lasted around 90 minutes.

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We could see strange lights on the path in front of us and as we got closer we could see the path lit by fountains of water which were constantly changing colour. It was amazing to watch the water dancing in the calm of the evening as the colours changed every couple of minutes. You just had to walk through them it was impossible to resist.

Fountain

Passing the lake with a floating sign as its centre piece displaying the title of the show “ Home “ we walked towards the main sculptures. Next to the pathway there were some very warming open fires, we stumbled upon a group of performers dressed in a very outlandish costumes. They were stood perfectly still, like statues, when we first found them and I just had to take a closer look. I took my chance to get in on the act and stood behind them for a picture, just at that moment they started to move, reciting poetry as they quirkily moved along the path using jerky movements. It was both bizarre and yet mesmerizing at the same time.

Performers

We then crossed the canal and found ourselves on the path around the wonderful sculptures that we had all come to see. They were lit by projected light with pyrotechnic lights erupting all around giving a very imposing appearance of the mythical water horses “The Kelpies”. Over 30 metres tall the pair of water horses created by artist Andy Scott became the focus of our attention as the light show blazed all around us. We were so tempted to stop and film but the stewards made sure that after a couple of minutes at each vantage point we all moved along making room for the people behind us.

I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and was so glad that we made it back in time to be part of it.

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Here is a little bit of video that I took which gives you a little taster of what we experienced :) My Dad has added an audio track to the video with me singing “Diamonds Are Forever” as he thought that the event was very James Bond.

 

Eye on the Target

April 16, 2014 — 53 Comments

Charlotte

This evening I had the fabulous opportunity to meet up with Dennis and Helen Kay TMVC , who are like my extended family :) from the Tideswell Male Voice Choir. It was a delight to catch up with them and discuss future concepts as well as musical issues and the effect on the wider community.

Their new CD, which I had the fabulous opportunity to be included on, can now be bought off ITunes and Amazon. I am really happy with the quality of the recordings and it is a fabulous way to hear the collaboration of the choir and soloists and support this choir who help to raise such a lot of money for charity as well as giving opportunities to young aspiring artists.

 

CD Cover

Inside-Cover

Recorded with the TMVC on Sunday 16th February 2014, Derbyshire.

However the focus for my blog article this evening was inspired by Dennis advising me to ‘Sing for your Target audience’. This caused me wonder ‘What do the audience want?’ ‘What would they like to hear?’ For me, the most thrilling feeling I achieve from performing is experiencing an audience who are transported with me to a new world. The energy is so uplifting and I feel that If I pick repertoire that people can connect with I will be able to achieve this feeling more often.

So, I would love to know what pieces you enjoy listening to most from particular genres such as ‘Operatic, Musical Theatre, Pop/Easy listening, Jazz, etc’. I will then suggest these to my singing teacher and friends who will then help me to choose some pieces that suit my voice to add to my repertoire.  In this way by having a better understanding of the different audiences that I will be performing to I can choose songs from my repertoire that will allow me to give a performance that they can enjoy and  allow me to connect with them.

On November the 8th and 9th I am performing in two Remembrance concerts with TMVC and I have been tasked with researching into Wartime classics and pieces that encapsulate the theme of remembrance. I would love to hear your suggestions, and if you can attach YouTube clips that would be super fabulous! Personally I was thinking of ‘Danny Boy’, ‘We’ll meet again?’ or some Doris Day songs such as ‘Secret Love’. But I’m also intrigued into positive war songs, something that remembers the courage of our Heroes and Heroins.

I will still be cheeky however and perform a piece that has a connection with my life and the journey I am taking as a singer in training.

Dancing An Hour Away

April 13, 2014 — 66 Comments
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This is me with my serious face

You know what it’s like when you have to set yourself a goal and no matter what you do it just isn’t getting any closer ? Well after three days working on my compositions for College I was at that point tonight, where I needed to clear my head and take a break.

I find that if I face a difficult challenge, a good place to start is by breaking the problem into smaller tasks that are each achievable, (hopefully). But what happens when the path you’re on needs to change direction and suddenly the method you tried doesn’t work? I think sometimes it is good to take a break and return with fresh eyes.

So tonight I switched off my computer, put down my pencil and decided that if I was going finish off my compositions I needed a little fun and relaxation first. So I invited myself along to my Mum and Dad’s dance class. We started doing ballroom and Latin dancing when I was about eleven or twelve. My Mum wanted something that we could all do as a family so she found a dance school that we could all start together as beginners and have a little bit of family fun together.

The fabulous dance teacher is called Amanda Kirkby and her school is Northwich Dance Company

So tonight I joined them for their lesson and as my brother had a dance partner I was taken through my paces by Amanda.  My parents have been learning six sequence dances and I decided to give each one a go.  They were tremendous fun to learn and all my years of dance lessons from ballet to contemporary helped me remember the steps and fix the routines in my head to the beat of the music, although my dad said it wasn’t fair as it took him weeks to learn them all and he still forgets the odd step here and there :)

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Amanda presenting me with my Ballroom Silver medal awards in November 2010.

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IDTA Northwest Ballroom & Latin Newcomers Competition – Oct 2011 – First Place In Latin Under 21s – Charlotte Hoather

At the end of the lesson I felt energised and although tired it has given me the boost I needed to continue with my compositions and push on to the end of my chosen path.

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Here are the dances that we learnt along with videos which will give you a flavour of the evening. Unfortunately these are not from our lessons but from another school of dance that has published them on YouTube.

Sweetheart Waltz

Mayfair Quickstep

Tina Tango

Saunter Together

Queen Of Hearts Rumba

Midnight Jive

O Lieb – O Love

April 9, 2014 — 33 Comments

Last weekend I was reflecting on my progress as a practitioner for my end of year critical commentary. One of the area of my practice that I want to improve upon over this next year is : Repertoire and contextual analysis.

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In order to improve this, I have started a project which will entail, analysis of texts, research into Historical eras as well as researching into composers lives and possible influences on a compositions. I feel this research will give me even more to imagine about when I perform my pieces in order to give an exciting performance.

In this piece I will be focusing on a piece called ‘O Lieb’ by Liszt.

At first I created a word by word translation of the German Text and then I created my own poetic English translation:

Oh love, Oh love as long as you can!
Oh love, Oh love as long as you wish!
The hour will come, when you will stand by graves and mourn.
And worry, that your heart glows,
And cares for and carries love,
So long as his, a different heart beats lovingly in reply.

And whoever opens their heart to you.
Oh to him, love as much as you can!
And make each of his hour’s happy
And make no moment dull for him
And look after your happy tongue,
Too soon a bad word can be said
Oh God, even if it was not said with bad intentions
It can cause the other to leave and cry.

Oh Love, oh love as long as you can!

Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810-76) wrote the original German poem in 1845. In 1838, he wrote his first poems, ‘Gedichte’. The popularity of these poems enabled him to leave his career at the Bank as he received a pension from the Prussian King Frederick William IV. However in 1844, Freiligrath renounced his pension in order to release a collection of radical, political poetry. This publication exposed him to political persecution and Freiligrath fled Germany only to return in the last years of his life.

Franz Liszt (1811-86) was a virtuosic pianist, conductor and composer. Often Liszt’s Lieder can be found in two or more versions. In a letter to Josef Dessauer, Liszt wrote “Meine früheren Lieder sind moistens zu aufgebläht sentimental, und häufig zu vollgepropft in der Begleitung.” (My earlier songs are often too inflatedly sentimental, and frequently too overladen in the accompaniment). The later editions tend to be more serious, and the melody tries to match the syllabic rhythms of the text more. This song was later arranged for solo piano under the new title ‘Liebesträume’.

Spoken Poem:

In this video the famous German actress and singer Marlene Dietrich recites the poem ‘O Lieb’ alongside Maximilian Schell who was a Swiss film and stage actor who later filmed extensive autobiographies of Dietrich. An interesting fact about Dietrich is that when her daughter was doing a Circus Benefit show in Madison Garden (1953) and all the famous stars were sitting on elephant backs, she asked if instead she could be the ring master. This fashion concept was then highlighted by Vogue and could be the inspiration for modern short shorts! :)

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Marlene Dietrich is in the centre.

This video is really interesting as it shows the power of the text at the end of the clip. Where Dietrich appears lost for words. At the end I can roughly translate her words to:

“I know it might be considered a cheesy poem, but my mother loved it very much.
Maybe too sentimental nowadays…maybe.”

Her uneven spoken tone and possible whimpers could demonstrate how powerful these texts can effect peoples lives.

Here is one of my favorite recordings of the piece by the wonderful Diana Damrau. I would love to hear her perform live.

Maury Yeston is an American composer and lyricist whose works include the Broadway musicals “Nine” ( 1982 ) and “Titanic” ( 1997 ) both of which were acclaimed by the critics and won Tony Awards for best musical and best musical score. But today I would like to introduce you to a lesser known musical written and composed by him “Phantom”.

I love to perform the songs form the “Phantom” and recently during my recitals in Preston and Warrington I was able to perform “Home”. This is a beautiful song which was sung by the character of Christine Daae. I hope that you enjoy it …

After the success of “Nine” Yeston was asked by Geoffrey Holder to write a musical based on the novel by Gaston Leroux “The Phantom Of The Opera” as he had purchased the rights to the novel in the USA. Though Yeston was initially sceptical of how a horror story would transfer to stage as a musical he completed the task. He decided to make the character of the Phantom more like that of the Elephant Man or Quasimodo to enable the audience to connect and feel for the Phantom as the story developed.

Maury-Yeston

Maury Yeston

Unfortunately for Yeston and the musical he had written Andrew Lloyd Webber also decided to produce a musical based on the book as the rights for using the book became public domain in England. The Lloyd Webber production was a hit in the UK and as he announced that he intended to take his show to Broadway the funding for the production of Yeston’s “Phantom” subsided.

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The musical never made the Broadway stages but did eventually get produced in Houston Texas by the Theatre Under The Stars in 1991 with the title “Phantom”. The musical which is more like an operetta was seen in over 1000 productions worldwide and Maury Yeston always refers to his work as “the greatest hit never to be produced on Broadway”.
Yeston’s interpretation of the of the original book is captivating in its use of the music and lyrics to build your acceptance and eventual sympathy for the character of the Phantom.

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Me, Elizabeth Lawton and Russell Lomas

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Edmund Crighton and me at St George’s Church, Preston

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Me and Robert Feeley at St George’s Church, Preston

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This style of dance incorporates several dance genres such as modern, jazz, lyrical and classical ballet. I love the structured nature of ballet and tap and enjoyed the classes that I took from pre-primary aged three until leaving school at 18, but I found contemporary dance more versatile due to it’s involvement of improvisation and techniques such as Graham and Horton. These techniques involved a focus of movements being driven by an inner energy. This enabled me to have more freedom of expression within my movement.

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Another subtle difference between ballet and contemporary is that you dance in bare feet.

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Routines could involve Floor work, fall and recovery, controlled legwork, which could be representing unpredictable changes in rhythm within the music.

For my AS lower sixth exam I had to devise a dance for myself…

Unfortunately this was the first time my Dad had used this video camera and as you can see from the ending he hadn’t quite got the hang of it :)

For my AQA A level dance exam the following year, we had a choice of artwork to act as an idea to create for your own dance troupe you were not to dance/perform in your own work. I had created a team of five fabulous dancers; Sam Costello, Frankie Gerrard, Emily Bowcock, Emma Morgan and my brother Tom (who has just this month passed his IDTA medal test with honours for his Charleston routine). The question I chose was a picture, a circus scene from the BBC children’s series Mr Benn. I also had to dance a set piece Bruce routine that you can see on my performance page.

Watching the dancers tonight at the Knutsford Academy Dance Festival bought all these happy memories back. I had a fabulous contemporary dance teacher in Mrs Lisa Scott, and for a short time Mrs Donna North, with lots of the dance students from my school going on to the best dance schools in the Country including PJ Hurst, Caitlin Fretwell-Walsh, Carl Harrison, Josh Scott (who was there to watch tonight and has had excellent news of a postgrad dance placement – well done Josh), Emma and David Lane to name just a few.

The Hindi New Year

March 30, 2014 — 60 Comments

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My Mum’s cousin by marriage, Rosie, loaned me her beautiful sari or saree. Her sari is dark magenta and beautifully decorated in gold at the tail end. I love the colours, patterns and textures in Indian saris and as I had heard that it was the Hindu New Year at the end of March I thought I’d ask my friend and fellow Soprano Olga Ivankina to take a couple of photographs in the sunshine in Glasgow Mid-March for Pascal Barnier to use in a New Year celebration picture.

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I checked on-line how to wear the drape; it is typically wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder, baring the midriff. The fitted upper garment called a blouse or choli has short sleeves and is cut off at the midriff. The sari is associated with grace so I tried to get some graceful pictures. I tried to wear the sari in the Nivi style but I need more practise. The cloth is wrapped around the lower body once, and then hand-gathered into even pleats below the navel, the pleats are then tucked into the waistband, in my case my leggings. The effect is meant to give a decorative effect which poets have likened to the petals of a flower.

Whilst reading articles on India and it’s festivals I learnt that New Year is celebrated at different times from March 31st and throughout April dependant on the region and its cultural heritage. I would love to find out more and if you can help me out please add your comments to my post.

Hyderabad

Rosie originates from Hyderabad, the capital and largest city of Andhra Pradesh, South East India. I discovered Hyderabad is situated in south-eastern India 973 miles south of Delhi, 434 miles southeast of Mumbai and 350 miles North of Bangalore by road. It is one of the largest metropolitan areas in India. Hyderabad is situated on the banks of the Musi River and has a population of 6.8 million the fourth most populous City in India.

The nickname for Hyderabad is ‘City of Pearls’ as it was historically known as a pearl and diamond trading centre. It’s situated on hilly terrain around artificial lakes. Industrialisation in the 20th century has attracted major Indian manufacturing, research and financial institutions. It is the fifth-largest contributor to India’s GDP. A city rich with history and tradition, Microsoft and Google have their Indian headquarters there.

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South Indian music and dances such as the Kuchipudi and Kathakali styles are popular in the region. North Indian music and dance gained popularity during the rule of the Mughals and Nizams. The nobility liked to associate with artistic courtesans called “Tawaif” whose role was to teach and promote singing, poetry and classical dance without the court.

Music still plays an import part in the city’s culture and alongside western and Indian popular music genres such as film music, the residents of Hyderabad play city-based marfa music, especially at weddings, festivals and other celebratory events.

The state government encourages the development of music by organising the Golconda Music and Dance Festival, the Taramati Music Festival and the Premavathi Dance Festival.

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I could not resist adding this picture to close my post today as it reminded me of the time that I was talked into having a go on one of these reverse bungee trampolines by my brother, NEVER again :)    This one was at NTR Park and gardens in Hyderabad .