I had a very musical day on Friday 30th of October. At lunchtime I was able to grab a sandwich and listen to a concert held in the Jubilee Hall at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, where two of my close friends George Todica and Daniel Ciobanu performed.
The exciting and very musical program involved works by Scriabin, Ravel, Liszt and Trofin. I particularly enjoyed George’s interpretation of Valses Nobles et Sentimales. Before playing he explained in his introduction that the climax takes place on the seventh piece of this cycle and that the eighth acts as an epilogue and compared it to the way an older person recollects memories of their past. The concert ended with a bang with two piano four hand pieces in which the two performers were practically dancing around the piano performing a wild duet of Romanian folk music.
After this I ran back to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland to observe some of the Opera school students receiving coaching from Kathryn Harries in the AGOS studio. Kathryn Harries is the Director of the National Opera Studio, which is based in London, after having a very successful performing career as an operatic soprano. She has an exuberant personality and successfully commanded the space for continuous four hour block.
It was interesting to carefully and attentively watch this event as I was able to receive a lot of information and ideas that I can put towards my own practise. The main idea I have taken away is that subconscious body movements performed whilst singing can sometimes give an insight into what is happening. For example some students would throw a shoulder forward (slightly) at the start of phrases. Demonstrating their eagerness to begin the phrase well however it made for an aggressive sound. And another student held their arm in tight against them with their hand forming in a fist which was linked to the tight vocal line. However gestures can also unlock and aid a singer’s ability to improve a weakness. She explained that because we can’t see our instrument when we play we must use the tools of imagination. An example of her technique was to involve swinging arm movements which would mirror the action of expanding ribs to reinforce the engagement of the support and to keep the ribs out wide whilst singing. This aided most of the singers on stage and definitely an exercise I will try. She gave us lots of tips and encouraged our practise to be specific rather than general.
However one thing that I think is a transferable piece of advice when learning, improving a skill or completing a task at work is to treat yourself consistently like a little puppy, don’t ever kick it because it’s not doing it right or give up on it because it can’t do it the first, fifth or the tenth time. Instead be patient and loving.
The cherry on the cake was going to the Sunday coffee concert today at the Royal Conservatoire at 11:30. The programme was a great selection from German composers involving pupils and professors performing together. It was wonderful to see such a high standard of musical interpretation. A personal highlight were the Schubert pieces performed by Julia Daramy-Williams and Julian Tovey in which two rich voices superbly conveyed poems by Goethe.
Sadly I could not record the singers today but here is my performance of Schubert’s “Gretchen am Spinnrade” from 2014. I really must try and get the opportunity to record this again next year, for those of you who have not seen it I hope that you enjoy it.