This Friday marked our fourth balcony concert, and it has been a real joy to sing to my neighbours and friends online alongside George. Despite being limited to our own home for a few weeks now, it has been a breath of fresh air to feel close to the lovely people who live near me. I feel connected to a bigger community, a neighbourly relationship that reminded me of my childhood as we grew up with lovely neighbours and were in and out of each others homes, George also grew up in a really close community where all the neighbours knew each other
As a musician, who practises at home, I was nervous about upsetting my neighbours during the lockdown. I limited my singing hours to be conscious of those around me and I made adaptations to my home such as hanging homemade sound panels (created by George!) above our electric piano. After our first concert, we were overjoyed to feel the support and encouragement from our neighbours and the request for more music. We even received some chocolates, flowers and even beautiful drawings from our little neighbour upstairs.
On one of her art pieces, she told us that her favourite song was ‘Baby Shark’. So as our encore to four American Songs by Aaron Copland and Glitter and Be Gay by Bernstein George and I sang, (with all the actions) ‘Baby Shark’ for our little friend above us.
Unfortunately, our live stream dropped out during the concert cutting the recording short but one of our new friends filmed the encore on their phone. I hope you enjoy the clip.
Happy Easter and Joyous Passover one and all. I hope that in spite of the quarantine situation you all managed to find creative ways to enjoy this long weekend and the beautiful weather that came with it.
At the moment, I am so thankful for technology and for being able to video call my loved ones. On Good Friday, George and I performed another Balcony Concert, which now is slowly turning into a series! It is nice to experiment with live streaming as it means my friends from all over the world can become part of our small community whilst we perform, and our neighbours in our block who don’t face into the same courtyard can still enjoy the show safely. Thank you for supporting us and we hope you enjoy watching our next performance on Friday 17th April which will be Balcony Concert #4
After the performance, I was able to FaceTime with my close family despite the huge distances between us and a enjoy a Disney themed karaoke and compete against each other in a friendly pub style quiz.
On Saturday I dedicated the day to arts and crafts. I spent time calling my good friend Emily, and whilst we spoke we enjoyed drawing exotic animals such as frogs and geckos, (who doesn’t love a challenge).
Then after lunch, I painted empty eggshells with my close friend Rebecca, who is a fantastic artist. I’ve not done this for a few years and it was good to revisit childhood memories and see if I could remember how to blow out an egg. In the evening, over zoom, I played a board game with my brother Matt, his husband Alex, and George, where we had to complete a stained glass window. All in all a great time was had.
What have you been doing recently? Any fun indoor activities to share?
For those of you who may have missed our performance last Friday I have included the link below. George’s Mum suggested this week that we include a few songs for the children in our block, which seemed like a great idea at the time. It wasn’t until we walked out on to the balcony that it struck me how long it had been since I last sung any of them 😊
Repertoire this week:
Do Re Mi – from the Sound of Music
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – from Mary Poppins
I took inspiration this week from the videos of people
sharing music on their balconies during the quarantine in Italy. I saw these
videos on my Facebook newsfeed and I found them so moving and thought that they
really celebrated community spirit.
On the Facebook group of our apartment block, there was a request to do something similar at our shared home. So, George and I said that we would be happy to get involved. One resident was worried that as everyone has different tastes in music that we should be careful not to disrupt the normally peaceful atmosphere. Our small community has families with young children, elderly residents and homeworkers so I thought this was a very thoughtful comment and so I suggested that we limit the live music time to after normal working hours and pick a date so that there is as little disruption to everyone as possible.
So last Friday, 27th March at 18:00 George and I
were gearing ourselves up to take our electric piano onto the balcony and sing
Somewhere Over The Rainbow
Somewhere (West Side Story)
You’ll Never Walk Alone.
I must admit that I was a little nervous, I didn’t want to
upset anyone so I tried to pick songs that I thought most people could connect
with, whilst still sending a message of hope and togetherness. After all the
people I would be singing to are my neighbours. But we thought it was time to
be brave and try to do something nice for our community using the skills we
We set up and let rip. One by one, we saw windows open. People came out onto their balconies. One young woman in the courtyard who was on the phone began to share the experience with her loved one during their FaceTime call. There was a father dancing with his daughter. After we finished the first song, there was applause. It gave us the courage to continue and we started to perform our little hearts out. After the three songs, we were surprised to hear people ask for more and we said that we will try and perform again next Friday if the current situation doesn’t improve.
We were then surprised that our performance was filmed and shared by a few of our neighbours on our community Facebook group and this has allowed me to share this short video with you. Please continue to stay safe and healthy and know that you are each loved.
This week has been full of new challenges and insights. It’s
very easy to become consumed by the feelings of worry and dread at this moment
in time, but I am urging myself and my loved ones to try and find reasons to
Personally, my heart has been warmed by the kind gestures of the community that I live in. Due to our varied work routines, our apartment complex rarely gets the time to share communal conversations unless they are about possible items of furniture to be sold or upcoming resident meetings. But over the past week, I have seen people come together and selflessly offer their services to help those in most need in any way they could. Some of them offered to buy groceries for people who aren’t able to go outside. Online posts have been shared where you can find hard to source food that can still be bought locally, and people were even willing to share the food that they had in.
Residents have been promoting local shops, butchers and greengrocers and shared that the farmers market are offering deliveries. Our local Italian restaurant has set up a no-contact delivery service especially for the complex. Some people are offering help in other creative ways. Today a neighbour, who works in publishing offered books as gifts, of which George and I received, “The Truants” and “Norse Mythology”. I am really looking forward to reading them. George and I have been practicing our first dance for the wedding in our communal courtyard in the mornings for exercise and hopefully bringing a smile to people’s faces, whilst they are drinking their coffee. We are learning the Viennese Waltz and it is bringing us a little bit of happiness during a time of uncertainty.
What moments of kindness have you experienced this week?
On Saturday I took part in my first ever group online Pilates class! I usually go with my brother-in-law, Alex to “Greenwich Pilates” and it’s our special time together before my brother, Matt makes our brunch. I was so happy to still be able to do this. If you want to do an online exercise class, I thoroughly recommend my teacher Chiara, who is holding community classes online via a free application called Zoom https://m.facebook.com/chiarafavarettipilates/
How does it work? We all click onto a link and join the live session. The session involved over 5 different homes. The main screen is the teacher, and along the right-hand side is live thumbnail videos of each person completing the work out in real-time. So, remember to wear fitness clothes and not pyjamas 🙈.
I am in favour of YouTube videos for exercise and fitness
routines but the great thing about the live streaming is that we got immediate
personal feedback from the teacher and the friendly pressure to keep going when
the exercise gets hard as you are doing it as a team.
As a professional whose work is canceled due to restrictions on public gatherings, I think these online classes are a great alternative!
George and I have been sorting our music room today, we have been hanging pictures and our homemade acoustic Panels. We are offering online classes for singing/piano/music theory. Please email me if you are interested.
It would be a huge help if you could find time to stream a few of my tracks using your preferred streaming service, each time you do George and I get $0.003 per play but every little helps now that all of our work has been canceled for the foreseeable future.
If you have any links to audiobooks you have recorded, Kindle publications that you have published, or other online events or activities please add the links in the comments to this post to advertise where they can be found. It is so important to keep your mind active when you are forced to stay in so please do share with us anything that could be of interest.
Wherever you are and whatever you are doing this week stay
Keeping Calm and namaste greetings to you all from London, if you see me in person and wonder what the heck I’m doing I’ve adopted the new hands together bow of the head respectful gesture 🙏 – it’s called Añjali Mudrā. I figured everyone has been told to cough and sneeze into their elbow if they don’t have a tissue rather than their hand so elbow bumping isn’t such a good idea. My profession is very huggy and we often kiss on both cheeks but I’d hate the thought I’d passed on this flu virus to someone with a weak immune system, I’ve been boosting mine as singers often do whether there is a pandemic or not hehe. If we get a bad cold with a sore throat we can’t work. It is fun to use this an opportunity to experiment with different greetings such as curtsying and saluting. Do you have any fun ways to say hello?
I’ve had two competitions canceled and a couple of bookings at risk so fingers crossed we get on top of this especially before our wedding in June! I’ve taken on some other work to pay the bills so for that I’m grateful! In my usual day today, I’m practicing and trying to maintain my coachings and lessons as usual.
I had a lovely weekend back up North staying with my family, whilst I performed in a concert in Skipton. I performed alongside Ben Crick as he conducted the Skipton Camerata. This orchestra was a great bunch, they knew how to create a relaxed atmosphere yet maintain a high level of quality and artistry. The theme of the concert centered around ancient stories and myths, which was well received by a friendly audience. My Dad, who was on camera duty at the back of the church, was particularly thrilled when people approached him just to say how much they’d enjoyed our performance, he was preening like a proud peacock all the way home.
Here are a few excerpts from the performance to give you a flavour of the concert.
I’m also celebrating this week as it’s my 7th WordPress blog anniversary. Thanks to WordPress for the reminder and to my blogger friends that have stayed the course with me over the years and to new joiners, welcome!
Have you learned any new tricks this past year on your blog or widgets that you think could be useful to me?
To close tonight I want to send you all my fondest wishes and hope that you all stay well, with coronavirus now running rampant all over the world remember don’t be scared be prepared and if you have to stay in keep in touch online 😊
A strong childhood memory for me is watching The Phantom of the Opera with my parents on a Sunday afternoon. We would sing along with the 2004 film adaptation of the musical starring Gerald Butler and Emmy Rossum. To me, it is a beautiful film, with sparkling costumes and sweet moments of intimacy between the Phantom and Christine.
This Tuesday I was invited to watch a friend Eleanor Sanderson-Nash perform in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. Ellie and I shared the stage in Mansfield Park, whilst working for the Waterperry Opera Festival and we were also students at the Royal College of Music.
Ellie is one of the company’s ‘Swings’. A Swing is a member of the company who understudies several chorus roles, this involves memorising multiple parts (or as they call it in the biz “tracks”), which can involve different vocal harmonies, entrance and exits and actions. It is a very demanding role and needs an artist who is not only talented but one who is organised, able to remember multiple tracks and able to accommodate flexibility within their scheduling, (as they may the called upon with short notice). It was great seeing her rock her stuff on Tuesday!
Ellie also took me on a backstage tour before the show began. I was able to stand on the stage, see iconic props and moveable set such as Christine’s dressing room, Phantom’s organ, and boat, the life-size masquerade props – which click into the stairs to give the impression of raucous party-goers and of course the iconic, and very large, Elephant from the Hannibal rehearsal scene.
I was interested to find out that this show has a team of 130 people involved (cast, crew, and orchestra). The Show has been at Her Majesties Theatre for over 30 years and because the theatre is historically listed it still uses many old-fashioned techniques to manually change the sets. In modern theatres, these changes are normally done by a computer but at this theatre, stagehands are positioned at particular pullies with specifically timed queues to ensure the show runs smoothly. There are truly many phantoms who create this magnificent show, who the audience never gets to see!
I had a fantastic time seeing a different side to this show that holds a special place for me in my heart. Go to see it if you’re in London you won’t be sorry.
It was such a delight to visit Alderley Edge in Cheshire to perform alongside George Todica on Wednesday this week. I used to visit this town annually to participate in the Alderley Edge Festival of Music, Speech, and Drama. This week-long platform hosted many different competitions where performers could showcase their skills as musicians, public speakers, singers, and actors. The festival has been running for over a hundred years and I was fortunate to celebrate their centennial year in 2016 by performing in their gala concert. If you are interested in building up experience and showcasing your skills within the UK. Then check out the Festival Directory by clicking on the link and see if there is a festival near you that you can apply to. I learnt so much from these experiences when I was younger and can’t recommend them enough!
George and I performed at Alderley Edge Methodist Church, which is one of the venues now associated with the festival. The team who organise the lunchtime recitals here were so warm and welcoming and created a relaxing atmosphere – just perfect for our performance. I was thrilled to see some new faces as well as some from my childhood friends.
On Tuesday 18th February I attended a talk held in the Caversham Room at Cadogan Hall. The event was organised by Opera Prelude, an organisation who is passionate about opera and the professional development of young singers. They specialise in lecture-recitals and masterclasses. The event that I attended was called: The Key to Audition Success. The guest speaker was Sarah Playfair, who is a renowned Casting Director who previously held artistic administrative positions at Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera and Glyndebourne Festival for many years before becoming a freelance arts consultant. Playfair spoke precisely and honestly about her work. It was very helpful to hear a voice from the panel, which so often in auditions only says “Hello” and “Thank you”.
She offered advice across a range of topics but I found it a little disheartening when she discussed the volume of sopranos (my voice type) that apply for each audition. The amount is much greater than all the other voice types put together and often represents over two-thirds of all applications received. An example she gave: there were 220 sopranos who auditioned for five chorus spots, and that wasn’t including the number of applicants who didn’t pass to live audition! Playfair discussed that certain training programs would tip the odds in your favour, such as opera school. I haven’t completed an OS program, and as a freelance artist, the odds seem a little steep. But I shall keep swimming and hopefully, I will be one of the fishes that slips through the net.
For those of you who may have missed my most recent video release I have included it below:
This morning I had the delightful opportunity to turn pages for my Fiancé George Todica as he played alongside Maria Gîlicel (Violin) and Jobine Siekman (Cello) as they performed together as the Chloé Piano Trio. The concert took place at 11:00am this morning in the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall. The aroma of coffee mixed with freshly baked flaky pastry oozing fruit jams filled the hall… ready to whet the appetite of the Sunday Go-Getters!
The Trio’s concert was sold out and 150 people came to hear Beethoven’s Second Piano Trio as well as two pieces by Lili Boulanger. George played on an outrageously vibrant red grand piano, which filled the room with lively energy. The Yamaha piano is a one of a kind and originally played by Sir Elton John.
Later that same day, we visited Lancaster Hall Hotel and attended the Schubert Society’s monthly concert with our friend Catherine. It was a great excuse to catch up and enjoy listening to a concert, which just happened to also feature a piano trio! It’s been quite a string feast today, but interesting to see how different musicians can create their own unique sound worlds yet start with the same ingredients.
This week I have been preparing for my upcoming recital at Alderley Edge Methodist Church where George and I will be performing on the 19th of February at 1 pm. These lunchtime concerts that the Alderley Edge Methodist Church host help to support a variety of charities. The designated charity for this month’s recitals will be Church Action on Poverty.
Here is a link to my most recent video just in case you missed it 🙂
Often Opera companies and competitions require a selection of unedited video evidence of your singing. A one-take wonder you might say!
Recording a video of this style can be quite challenging. Firstly, you need to become relaxed whilst in the presence of a camera. For example, you need to consider where to look and where your imaginary audience is. This will encourage you not to stare down the lens of the camera, as this can be off-putting to the viewer.
A performer in the recording studio needs to have a great mindset that can focus on aiming to sing with your best possible technique on that day, whilst still telling the story of the text. We are all human and mistakes will occur, therefore you have to learn to forgive yourself quickly. Concentrate on recording a full take of your aria/song. Then at the end of the recording session, you can be critical so that you choose videos that provided the best results.
However, this recording mindset is similar to a Competition
mindset, where you have to try your best and not give up. If you make a
mistake… you can’t just walk offstage or stop the performance and request to
restart. You have to power on, and draw the audience and the panel into your
performance and hope that they enjoy it.
This week I’d like to share with you a video of my
interpretation of “Piangerò la sorte mia”, from Handel’s Opera “Guilio Cesare”.
This video was recorded live during a competition, that I entered last year and
I do hope that you enjoy it too 😊
On the 6th March I will perform alongside Ben Crick and the Skipton Camerata as we collaborate to present a Concert entitled:
Dance of the Furies
Gluck Dance of the Furies (‘Orpheus and Eurydice’) Gluck Aria: Che faro senza Euridice (‘Orpheus and Eurydice’) Mozart Concert aria: ‘Ah, lo previdi’ Haydn Symphony No 59 in A ‘Fire’ JC Bach Symphony in G minor JC Bach Aria: ‘Ebben si vada’ Boccherini Symphony in D minor ‘La casa del diavolo’
As part of the evening’s program, we will perform Mozart’s concert aria ‘Ah lo previdi’, which I have taken great joy in translating and researching this week.
First things first, I’d like to explain what a Concert aria is. Usually, they have been purposely written to be performed in a concert as a standalone scene rather than as part of an opera.
‘Ah lo previdi’ is a concert aria inspired by the
relationship between Andromeda and Perseus from Greek Mythology.
After completing the translation of the text and delving further into the story behind the aria I found it compelling and wanted to share with you a little of what I have discovered.
Andromeda is a beautiful young woman, daughter of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia who rule over Joppa (Jaffa) in Palestine. However, trouble is brought upon their home when Queen Cassiopeia offended the Nereids (Sea Nymphs and companions to Poseidon) after boasting that Andromeda was more beautiful than them. In retaliation to the Queen’s hubris, Poseidon sent a sea monster, which some writers refer to is as the Kraken or Cetus, to rage havoc and destroy the shores of the city. Terrified at the prospect of the destruction of their great City the King and Queen seek guidance from an Oracle on how to appease the gods, the oracle responds by suggesting that they must sacrifice Andromeda to the Monster to satisfy Poseidon. They agree to this (reluctantly I hope) and chain Andromeda to a rock on the shore outside the City. Poor Andromeda!!
Luckily for our damsel in distress, Perseus is flying past the region after successfully completing a task set for him by King Polydectes, the killing of the Gorgon Medusa. Perseus is overcome by Andromeda’s beauty and he slays the beast intent on killing her by using his sword and Medusa’s severed head. The two of them are instantly bound by love and wish to spend their lives together.
We begin our story in the concert aria after Andromeda has been rescued. However, in this interpretation there is an introduction to the character Euristo, who had been promised Andromeda’s hand in marriage. It has been suggested that Euristo tells Andromeda that he has seen Perseus wandering around dementedly with an unsheathed sword. Suggesting that Perseus has committed suicide as a reaction to this marital obligation that separates him from Andromeda.
The concert aria explores several emotions from rage to
resignation. She is furious that the same sword which he used to save her life
has also taken Perseus’s. Andromeda later pleads with the shadow (spirit) of
Perseus to wait for her in the Underworld before he crosses the River Lethe.
This river is said to cause one to experience complete forgetfulness and
oblivion. Andromeda asks him to wait on the bank so their memories can be
united before their story is forgotten.
From my research, I discovered that rather than this being the end for our lovers it was the start of a long, eventful, and happy marriage… or so mythology tells us.
Having translated the aria and read several accounts of the story behind it I decided to journey out to the Tate Britain museum, with the aim to see if there was any art inspired by this myth to help embellish the picture that I had painted within my own imagination. I was thrilled to see an evocative statue cast in bronze by Henry C Fehr. It brought together the main elements of the rescue of Andromeda and it was interesting to see how another artist had pictured the scene. I hope to invoke this imagery in my development of the piece and bring this aria and it’s story to life on the 6th March and I do hope that if you are in the area that evening you can come along and join us.