Day two of my exciting adventure in Bergen. Today we had the pleasure of going to the Grieg Academy to begin our intensive course on Grieg song and Norwegian pronunciation.
In the morning we met with our friends: Kristiina Watt, Donal McHugh and Esther Knight who are also students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Together we left the hostel and arrived at the Grieg Academy at 9 o’clock in the morning. We went to the welcoming reception which was held in the Prøvesalen ( rehearsal hall ).
It was at the session that I met the other participants who had been invited to take part on the course and we all had to stand up and introduce ourselves. I’ll admit I always find this quite daunting, I never know what to say. When it was my turn I stood up fairly quickly announced that “I’m Charlotte Hoather” and then promptly sat back down again. Thinking about this now, I maybe I should have said a funny fact about myself, or a joke, if any one has any advice please let me know! Haha
Following the welcome meeting we were allocated a practice time slot between 9:30 till 11:00. George and I were shown to a lovely room, 322. The room was very inspirational as it was filled with music and pictures to set the atmosphere along with two grand pianos. I was quite nervous in the morning, all of a sudden it hit me, I was in Bergen, Norway about to sing some beautiful Norwegian songs in front of leading specialists and performing artists. This is quite a daunting task! Before now I had not participated in any masterclasses in my own country and the enormity of the challenge hit me smack in the face. But luckily I had George with me, he was ever so positive and told me to smile and that I’d be fine. It was just a kick up the bum I needed and pretty soon I was back to my normal self.
At 11 o’clock I went to an open lecture called ‘Troubleshooting Norwegian pronunciation in classical singing’ taken by Wencke Ophaug. I sat next to Tessa Romano and Mary Rose Norell, it was lovely to meet them they had travelled all the way from the USA and I had the pleasure to listen to them later this afternoon. The lecture discussed how Norwegian doesn’t have a standardised pronunciation and the problems that can occur due to this. It explained that this was because people can speak many dialects in the same city. As a singer I strive to be as accurate with the pronunciation as possible, so this was really interesting. I have studied IPA ( International Phonetic Alphabet ) at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland so I was familiar with most of the symbols that the lecturer was using apart from the odd few. I learnt so much from this talk, for example I found out that there is no voiced ‘S’ in Norwegian, unlike English or German.
We then took a short break for lunch and we ate at the Grieg Academy canteen. I had an interesting sandwich, I’m not quite sure what was on it but it was very tasty! The staff are ever so friendly and the students that were taking us around the building were brilliant, so helpful and made you feel really welcome.
At 1 o’clock I had an open teaching session with Solevig Kringlebotn in the Prøvesalen. It was an incredible session, I performed four songs from the Haugtussa cycle, Det Syng, Veslemøy, Killingdans and Ved Gjætle Bekken. Solevig was full of life and she provided me with so much help and encouragement during the session. Later on I made a note of everything she said in my diary, lots to think about and work on.
For the rest of the afternoon I watched two of the open lessons, it was hard to decide who to listen to. For today George and I listened to lessons that included work from the Haugtussa cycle. Each duo and teacher had something different to say, and the interpretations were fabulous to watch.
After that we nipped out for a quick bite to eat. We visited a fabulous café recommended by my lovely friend Martina called Godt Brød, here we had some delicious pastries and I got an English breakfast tea! It was a delightful place and they also did takeaway sandwiches to your choosing, I might be visiting this place again. 🙂
To finish a very musical day we went to a concert at 5 o’clock performed by USA pianist Daniel Baer. He performed a wonderful program of Prokofiev, Barber and Grieg. It was both dramatic and powerful, his dynamics were crisp and clear. thoroughly enjoyed it.
I then went back to the hostel for a quick chill, wrote this on my iPad and now I’m going to go and find somewhere to eat.
Looking forward to tomorrow!