The Magic Hoot

July 26, 2020 — 43 Comments

I want to share with you this week a collaboration I did recently with Arcadian Opera. The musical vocal piece is their adaptation of the overture to ‘The Magic Flute’ by Mozart. There are some witty lyrics in the different vocal parts so I hope that you enjoy listening and that it spurs the odd chuckle. Fingers crossed that this production will be able to open to audiences soon.

I always find returning to my home recharging, and I love catching up with my Mum and Dad. They are constant inspirations as they work so hard and with a high level of dedication to whatever task they take on. When I was younger, I loved watching them explore new ideas. Now as an adult I see how they are always pushing their limits, improving their current working methods and experimenting with creative pastimes. It reminds me that time always flows on and as one door closes another opens.

I’m looking forward to putting my foot back on the gas next week and brainstorm new ideas and learn new music that I’ve had on my aspirational to-do list. It was great to have a rest, but tomorrow brings new challenges and opportunities.

Last Friday I had a lovely surprise, I received a gift box from Amazon Smiles.  They read that George and I had to cancel our wedding in June and sent through a few items which really did bring a smile to my face.

Short Back And Sides

July 19, 2020 — 63 Comments

Feeling well-rested and supercharged today thanks to blue skies, sunshine, and time with my parents. I decided to visit my family, and in true Hoather fashion, there was no rest for the wicked. We made the most of the good weather and decided to tackle the evergreen hedge at the front of the property. I had a great time, learning how to use electric hedge clippers – and I am glad to report no fingers or thumbs were hurt in the process of taking of these photos.

Before my journey home, I had a wonderful time collaborating again with my two friends Jenny Martins (Pianist) and Roger Paterson (Tenor). We met one another last year when we were working together for Northern Opera on their production of Much Ado About Nothing. In May, we decided to join forces and find a way to perform together whilst we were in Lockdown. We had so much fun, we decided to do another duet from the same opera.

I am delighted to share with you the duet from Act 4 of Much Ado About Nothing. Leading up to this point in the story, Claudio has dismissed Hero. He publicly shames her on their ‘proposed’ wedding day, as he believes that she has been unfaithful. After this brutal condemnation, Hero is advised by the Friar, to act as if she is dead. This may seem very dramatic in modern-day, but perhaps it is similar to lying low on social media and disappearing from the public eye. In the time that passes, Claudio learns the truth and realises that his accusations are false. Claudio now feels tremendous guilt by his actions, which he believes has ultimately led to her death. Luckily for Claudio, Shakespeare doesn’t leave the desperate lover in mental-torture purgatory for too long, he soon finds out that Hero lives and finds redemption through her forgiveness and love. This is the moment that you see in the duet that I am thrilled to share with you. There is a modern editing twist in our version, as Jenny has re-imagined the meeting under Lockdown circumstances. The power of a Video Call!

I had a great time contributing to this project and I even developed my home editing skills through the use of a green screen and Adobe editing software. Picking the backdrop was a really fun challenge. It was too tempting to be underwater – but alas professionalism kicked in. As the play is set in Messina, a port on the island of Sicily, I thought I better pick a Romantic Italian Balcony. I would love to hear what you think!

Sweet Sixteen

July 12, 2020 — 73 Comments

It has been a joy and such an engaging challenge to present 16 weeks of music alongside George from our balcony in London. We have explored a variety of repertoire, with the hope to engage with different tastes in music so that each week we hope that we brought a little fun to our neighbours, both virtual and from within our complex. Thank you so much for watching!

For me, it helped ground my weeks. Providing inspiration and a deadline for tasks, which would add up to a musical sharing. Sometimes it was our main priority and other times it was a joyful release of tension. I simply love performing and to be able to share and continue to make music has been a gift. I feel very lucky.

I would love to hear what you have enjoyed the most about our shared experience?

George and I decided to take a little break from the weekly concerts, so that we can attend some rehearsals and give us some time to relax, recharge and learn some new material. We hope to evolve the idea and see where it takes us. Would you be interested in the concerts continuing? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments or by email.

One of my New Years’ resolutions was to experiment with video, and this string of concerts, which emerged from a spontaneous event, has opened my eyes to the fun of sharing regular video content with you. I hope to continue to explore this over the coming months. So, stay tuned and as always, I would love to hear your feedback as I explore the possibilities further.

I hope you enjoy this week’s balcony concert and celebrate 16 weeks with us.

Program:
Do, Re, Mi – Sound of Music
Bibbiti Bobbiti Boo! – Cinderella
Be Kind and Courteous – Britten
Piangerò la Sorte Mia – Handel
Baby Shark – Pinkfong
Quando m’en Vo – Puccini
Don’t Cry For Me Argentina – Evita
Oh Luce di Quest’anima – Donizetti
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – Mary Poppins

We hope that you enjoy our balcony concert this week, it has different moods inspired by memorable visits that George and I made together to Bergen, Norway and Paris, France, and the time that I have spent in Germany. 

We start with a joyful French aria Frère Voyez! Le Beau Bouquet! From the opera Werther by Massenet ”everyone is joyous; happiness is in the air!” One of my favourites.

Then two French songs: S’il Est Un Charmant Gazon – Liszt, a love song with visions of the lovely places his true love may walk ‘if there is a charming lawn’ a dream of love;  the second Chanson Triste – Duparc, a ‘song of sadness’ but very beautiful.

Next Three are Grieg songs from the Haugtussa cycle you can read more about these songs (HERE) and listen to the full album that we recorded when we returned from Norway (On Most Streaming Services) this album is also available to download at Amazon, iTunes etc.

Finally, a German aria Durch Zartlichkeit Und Schmeicheln by Mozart from the Opera ‘Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail’.  This aria is sung by Blonde, she was captured with her Mistress and sold to Osmin a mean man.  She is betrothed and remains loyal to him but Osmin has his eye on her and forces himself on her, she refuses him and fights his advances.  In this aria she tells him she can only be won over by kindness, tenderness, and flattery but Osmin isn’t convinced.


With the outlook for live performances looking pretty bleak for the months ahead we are looking for outlets to record and sell mini-concerts or small operas that we are hoping to put together with a few friends.  If any of you have any ideas of where to put these on-line with a pay to view element I’d be very grateful if you could e-mail me at enquiries@charlotte-Hoather.com.  We’re going to have to get inventive and find new ways of earning an income from our music as several of George’s online tuition lessons cease next week and government SEISS stops soon if necessary we could try to pick up more office work hours but six months without music work wouldn’t be good.

A Disney Medley

June 28, 2020 — 82 Comments

Last week we asked our neighbours for their song suggestions for this week’s balcony concert and we enjoyed reading through those they put forward. Several of the songs were from Disney Movies and this inspired us to try our hand at creating a Disney medley.

It was a really fun task. We thought about which films we enjoyed the most when we were both younger, and let’s be honest you can never run out of excuses to watch a Disney film! We settled on a set of eight songs. We tried to pick songs dependent on their key signatures and tempo so that they would flow from one to the other. However, it was so important to pick songs that were special to us which is why I chose ‘Colours of Wind‘ as it’s a favourite of my Mum and my brother, Matt. I included two songs from Mary Poppins as they reminded me of the time that I played the role in a Stagecoach production when I was younger and always evokes special memories for me. George’s favourite Disney song is ‘A Whole New World’.

We opened the concert with ‘When Daisies Pied’ by Thomas Arne based on Shakespeare’s words in ‘Love’s Labours Lost’ as the children in our community love the cuckoo calls and it is so sweet to hear them join in.

To finish, we thought it would be apt to perform ‘Art is Calling for Me’!  A comic opera aria from ‘The Enchantress’ by Victor Herbert which opened in New York in 1911 – the song is about a pretend Princess called Vivian Savory (who is an opera singer), she sings of longing to be an opera singer in order to try to win over Prince Ivan of Zergovia, however, should the Prince fall in love with a commoner, he must abdicate, this story has Disney written all over it, I was introduced to the song by my first classical singing teacher Jayne Wilson GRNCM when I was about fifteen it was a tough song to sing then!  All that was missing was a tiara and full-length gown, maybe next time 😊.

What is your favourite Disney song? Have you any special memories that come flooding back when you listen to it?

Programme:
When Daisies Pied – Thomas Arne

Followed by a medley of :
Colours of The Wind – Pocahontas – Disney
Whole New World – Aladdin – Disney
Part of Your World – The Little Mermaid – Disney
Some Day My Prince Will Come – Snow White – Disney
Spoonful of Sugar – Mary Poppins – Disney
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – Mary Poppins – Disney
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo – Cinderella – Disney
Under The Sea – The Little Mermaid – Disney

Finishing with:
I Want To Be A Prima Donna – The Enchantress – Victor Herbert

Thankfully sufficient progress has been made in containing the virus in England (its slightly different rules in N Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) with shops allowed to reopen with physical distancing now, I’ve not been yet though other than to my local mini-market so I’m not sure how it’s going. The pubs, restaurants, cinemas, and hotels are allowed to re-open with restrictions from 4th July but the large London theatres have said they’re unlikely to re-open until 2021 possibly March? This week we can allow two people to meet from different households as long as you don’t stay overnight, so no visiting my parents yet. I think we can meet in a group of six outside but a lot of people had been going to the beach in the heatwave we had mid-week and going on demonstrations in larger groups. If we travel there is a two week quarantine when we come back for everyone in each household group. Are you venturing out yet?

We are happy to report that we have seen improvement in the WiFi quality in our home. Hooray!! This is fantastic news as our solution (a WiFi Booster) has enabled us to stream continuously whilst performing on our balcony. To mark this occasion, we decided to sing pieces that sadly suffered from our previous WiFi problems and that you may have missed. We combined these with songs from our first balcony concert on the 27th March 2020. Goodness, almost three months have passed – Time is whizzing by! 

We hope you enjoy the concert and we are so thankful that you have stayed with us on this crazy, wonderful journey over the past 13 weeks.

The program includes:

You’ll Never Walk Alone – Carousel – Rodgers
Somewhere – West Side Story – Bernstein
Me Voglio Fa’Na Casa – Donizetti
Over The Rainbow – The Wizard Of Oz – Arlen
Danza, Danza Fanciulla – Durante
Glitter And Be Gay – Candide – Bernstein

A special shout out to my Dad on Father’s Day, love you, and of course to George’s Dad and thank you to all Dads for everything that you do. We celebrate you all today 🙂

What have you been up to this week to lift up your spirits and cheer?

Have you made any homemade projects Glitter?

My good friend and authoress Noelle did an interview with me for her blog, Sailingaway and if you fancy taking a look here is the link :

This week has felt a little like an after-shock, which I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t realise how much an emotional impact postponing the wedding would have on me, combined with the unrest in society and also the fear that I have for the future of the performing arts industry, and how theatres will survive in a world constricted by social distancing.

But once again I found solace directly from all your support here on my blog and across my social media platforms. I feel secure knowing that people’s love for music and their need to be entertained is prevailing. Thank you all for this.

Endless Pleasure – Handel
Deh Vieni Non Tardar – Mozart
Batti, Batti O Bel Masetto – Mozart
Piangero la Sorte Mia – Handel
Neghittosi Or Voi Che Fate – Handel

This week, George and I performed a selection of Handel and Mozart arias from our balcony for a variety of reasons. It was rejuvenating for me to reconnect with characters and arias that I’ve rested from my repertoire and see how much they have matured since I last performed them. The choice of program also took a little bit of pressure off myself, in the sense that I knew I would feel comfortable with this repertoire whilst allowing myself some time to reflect. However, I want to say a huge thanks to George for pulling it out the bag, as some of the Handel is devilishly hard to play in such a short time scale. I think he did brilliantly. In hindsight, it was also fun to see that there is nothing quite like an 18th century vengeance Aria to express the frustrations that surround us at this time.

I took real enjoyment from watching the Royal Opera House present it’s first live event since lockdown on Saturday. It gave me a sense of calm and hope for the future. Showing how we as an industry, and an art form can continue to adapt and strive to share and make music with those who miss having it in their lives.

With that positive feeling in mind, I feel that I’ve expressed my grief and angst through my performances and I am ready to re-emerge for whatever unknown adventure the future holds for me and for George.  

What are you missing the most during these lockdowns? and what is bringing you comfort whilst you wait for normal life to resume?

Good Luck everybody! Live long and prosper!

As the Mad Hatter might say: ‘A Very Merry Unwedding-Day’ to us and to all the other couples who have had to postpone their wedding plans because of the Covid-19 virus. This week’s concert was particularly special to George and me as it was on the Eve of what would have been our Wedding Day on Saturday 6th June. Despite making the decision to postpone our Wedding when it became clear that due to the restrictions it would not be possible to go ahead with our plans, we felt a surge of pent up emotions rushing back at the start of this week.  We decided not to fight them but to embrace them and ride the waves of our feelings as the week unfolded in front of us. So on Monday 1st of June we sat down together and chose a selection of songs related to weddings that were special to us both from our past and in our future.

Our first song Let Me Be Your Wings, was performed at both at my Brother’s wedding to his husband Alex, and my Bridesmaid Ellie’s wedding to her husband Rory.

We then performed two Disney songs, Once Upon A Dream and A Whole New World. We had arranged for these songs to be played by our musician friends Maria and Jobine on Violin and Cello as we were to have walked down the aisle.

Followed by Love’s Philosophy: George’s Best Man Daniel was to create our wedding favours printing the poem by Percy B Shelley that Quilter used in this song onto artwork we had chosen. The next Two German songs are about dedication.  Schumann wrote Widmung as a wedding present for his wife Clara. A personal touch is that George played the Liszt arrangement of this piece for the processional walk at my brother’s wedding. We then performed Zueignung, by Strauss because it was the closing piece in our first duo program that we performed at the Kathleen Ferrier Bursary Competition back in 2013

Finally, Qui la Voce. Bellini wrote this beautiful aria for the character Elvira in his opera I Puritani, she has been driven to madness after her beloved abandons her on their wedding day. She dreams in the faster section of the aria of his voice and hopes that they will meet again and fulfill their wedding vows. Though George did not abandon me, I did find new resonance with this character and I can’t wait for our new wedding date! BRING IT ON!!

Little did we know, that our wonderful Neighbours had secretly arranged online a surprise for us after they had read, we were supposed to be married this weekend. On Friday morning we received a personal video compilation of messages and congratulations. We were so moved; I must admit I cried a little!

Then as we began to move our keyboard onto the balcony, we were moved to see a display of multi-colored bunting decorating over 25+ homes in our courtyard. One of our neighbours, Shannon came to the base of the balcony to greet us five minutes before our concert to explain that the bunting was for us and that our neighbours wanted to say thank you for performing to them over the past 11 weeks, they had also left a gift for our balcony outside our door and a bottle of champagne! I managed not to cry until after the set – although I did get a lump in my throat a couple of times, when I started swaying with a friend on his balcony making me smile, it was one the most difficult performance challenges to date. I couldn’t look at George for too long, in the worry that I might blub! I am so glad that we were able to film this concert and share it with you. I will remember this act of kindness forever.

I would also like to add a special thank you to our families and to all of our friends who have reached out with messages and sent us gifts to show their support and keep us in good spirits. We were so touched and felt so loved we can’t wait to celebrate with you all.

P.S Our Shoulda-Woulda-Wedding day started with a bang! After a friend of ours told our story to the BBC Radio 4 Today program we were invited to have a brief interview and sing live from our home to close their Saturday segment ahead of the 9am news headlines. We had brilliant fun setting up our Pop-Up recording studio equipped with microphones, two laptops, lots of wires, and three blankets hanging from the wall. We’d had a test run earlier in the week and using the iPhone/FaceTime meant the mike on the piano receded when I started singing so we learned a new trick to get the balance right.  Sadly, the song that we prepared only aired for 10 seconds but it was a brilliant experience and a great way to start our day and we had lots of lovely messages from teachers and friends we hadn’t seen in a while.

We’ve enjoyed selecting pieces tied together by a theme or a place over the past two weeks. Since the West End is temporarily shut, George and I thought we could bring a taste of the West End to the Courtyard with a selection of pieces from Musical Theatre Shows.

Growing up I was a huge fan of Doris Day and the classic Musical movies, like Calamity Jane, and live stage shows such as Cats, Wizard of Oz, and Phantom of the Opera. I particularly enjoyed Calamity Jane, as the story featured a fierce lady with a big heart who learned how to find strength and love in vulnerability. I personally think that as a performer allowing yourself to be vulnerable on stage, in the sense of releasing your emotions honestly, creates a special bond between you and your audience. Over the last 10 weeks, I have felt this connection with our audience and this bond has made me feel supported and encouraged me to take more risks during live performance. Such as holding my notes as long as I can and singing quietly.

I want to take a moment to thank you for listening and sharing this unknown journey with us. We will continue to experiment with how we can make and share music, whilst prioritising people’s safety. You can listen to our tenth balcony concert below:

Songs:

If I Loved You (Carousel)
The Deadwood Stage (Calamity Jane)
Secret Love (Calamity Jane)
Memory (Cats)
Popular (Wicked)
Think Of Me (Phantom of the Opera)
Encore: Don’t Rain On My Parade (Funny Girl)

Concert number Nine! Wow – How the time has flown and yet it seems that this new normal will continue into double digits.

We enjoyed performing our Italian themed program last week, so we decided to select songs that had a common connection. We drew inspiration from the abundance of Birdsong that we are now hearing from our windows at home. Have you noticed any changes to the sounds around you during lock down where you live?

We settled on the following pieces and invited our neighbours to join us for a musical garden party which we hope that you enjoy too.

Our Programme:

Sweet Chance That Led My Steps Abroad – Michael Head
The Sound of Music – Rogers and Hammerstein
When Daisies Pied – Thomas Arne Traditional English song
The Sun Whose Rays Are All Ablaze – Gilbert & Sullivan
Down by the Sally Gardens – John Ireland Traditional English Song
Three Ravens – Traditional English Song
Green Finch and Linnet Bird – Sondheim from Sweeney Todd
Finally, my Nana’s favourite that I should have put in my Italian concert last week but that I have included just for her.
Time to Say Goodbye – Sartori/Quarantotto

On the day of the performance, we had a couple of hiccups with the live stream. But luckily George was quick to turn on our back-up camera and so we managed to record most of recital, (excluding the first piece).

One of our future plans is to record an album using the repertoire from our Balcony Concerts. What pieces have been memorable to you? We want the CD to become a positive memory of this situation so that we can look back at how we created strong bonds with our friends and neighbours here in our complex and online.