Archives For George Todica

A Vision of Haugtussa

November 6, 2016 — 73 Comments

Since I started blogging I have met so many supportive and helpful people, people who have inspired me to be myself and pursue my dreams.  One of them is Pascal Barnier, a French artist, and a good friend.  When he listens to my singing he uses his illustrations to share with me what he sees in his imagination.  I find the results absolutely fabulous and have loved sharing them with you all over the last three years.

When he found out that I was to release the “Haugtussa” as an album he decided to produce a video of his images set to my music. When I sing I have in my mind the images of the characters and the story that I am trying to tell, it helps me to find the right emotions to accompany the melodic music and expressive poetry.  So to be able to see what someone else imagines when listening to my singing to me is quite fascinating.

Here is the video and I would love to hear what you think of it.  If you have listened to the Haugtussa, is this how you imagined the story?

iTunes USA https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/haugtussa/id1151773586
iTunes UK https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/haugtussa/id1151773586
CD Baby https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/charlottehoather2

You can also listen to my album by using the streaming services like Deezer, Napster, Spotify, and Apple Music

Entirely Bonkers

September 11, 2016 — 76 Comments

Today I have been enjoying the September sunshine and preparing for a short trip to Antwerp, Brussels to take part in a masterclass tomorrow morning.

I’m getting quite excited at the proposition of moving to London next week and the new challenges and opportunities that await for me when I get there.  I have had so many wonderful experiences and amazing adventures during my four years at the RCS and have enjoyed sharing them with you all.  It has been such a treat to read your feedback and to see my world through your eyes. Your support and encouragement have helped me to reach this new fork in the road and though I don’t know what is down the path I have chosen to follow I do hope that you will all be there with me every step of the way.

 

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Pascal Barnier created this beautiful picture for the cover of the album

Before I left Glasgow, there were a couple of projects that I have been working on throughout the year that I wanted to finish off.  The first was to record the “Haugtussa” song cycle by Edvard Grieg for release this month, and the second was something totally different, you could almost say that it is entirely bonkers.

Earlier this year I took part in an English Song competition which required me to perform both songs and spoken words.  One quote in the prospectus caught my eye and got me thinking:

“to encourage the communication of English words, in singing and in speech, with clarity, understanding and imagination”.

What if you took the text from a famous piece of literature and tried to mingle in some English song to help enhance the telling of the story.  I found what in my mind was just the perfect story, one from my childhood that always conjured up vivid images which danced through my imagination.

So I got to work reading through the text to find passages that I thought worked well with songs that I had in mind.  With the work complete I sent off my application and following an audition in London, I was delighted to be chosen to perform in the final.  Though I did not make the final three, as I had enjoyed the project so much I decided that rather than leave it there I would record the pieces and release them on a separate album, just in case there was anyone as crazy as me out there who wanted to listen to it.

On both projects, I was accompanied by George Todica, who over the past three years has helped me immensely by accompanying me in competitions, auditions, and my exams.  He even went the extra mile and agreed to take part in an impromptu photo shoot at the Glasgow Botanical Gardens.  It was great fun hunting down the costumes and then dressing up for the photos.  It was as if a childhood ambition had come true, walking through the gardens we were both stopped by passers-by who wanted photographs with us, I was finally living the dream, it felt like being a Disney Princess for an afternoon.

I am sure that you have guessed by now which story I picked.

Before I sign off there is one more huge thank you that I must pass on, I have been given an  award by the Kathleen Trust towards the cost of my first year studies at the Royal College of Music.  Without such an award and the generous support from all of you who bought copies of my first album, it would be impossible for me to continue on my magical journey.

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Last Saturday, the 2nd July George Todica and I were asked if we could perform a recital in support of the Pendsey Trust by my friend Jane Froehlich. Lucy Laycock, Jane’s Godchild has been raising money for the charity and Jane suggested to her that a small recital may be an excellent way to raise some money.

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Jane Froehlich, Me and George Todica

The Pendsey Trust raises money to help educate children in India who have type 1 diabetes. The cost of the insulin needed by these children is so expensive for their families that many of them do not survive into adulthood. Whilst in India in 2011 Lucy interviewed an Indian doctor, Dr Pendsey, who explained the problem and what he was doing to help. Dr Pendesy, believed that by providing financial scholarships to educate the children they could find better jobs, which in turn would help them to fund their own medication and go on to have a healthy and happier future. On her return to England, Lucy along with three others established the charitable trust and through the trust continue to raise awareness of the problem along with well needed funds.

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Both George and I were happy to be able to help out and had a lovely evening. It was a real treat to meet everyone and chat during the interval and after the performance. Jane felt that the evening was a real success and has already been asked if she intends to host another recital .

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Following my post about my graduation I received so many lovely comments, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your tireless support and heart felt encouragement. I cannot tell you how much it means to me, knowing that so many of you are willing me on, it is such a huge boost.

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I have several projects on the go at the moment and I can’t wait to share them with you over the summer. My Dad has managed to prepare a couple of the videos from my recent performance of Zerlina in Don Giovanni which I wanted to share with you. The first is “Giovinette Che Fate All’Amore” and the second is “Vedrai Carino”, these were fun to perform and I hope that you enjoy them.

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Last Sunday 3rd April I was invited along with George Todica to attend the Leeds Lieder Festival hosted at the Leeds College of Music. The Leeds Lieder festival is an amazing opportunity for anyone interested in Art song to immerse themselves in this fabulous art form through performances, master-classes and pre –concert talks.

The master class on the Sunday was on between 10:00 am to 13:00 pm, presented by Roderick Williams, a baritone and the Artistic Director of the festival. It featured four duos from UK conservatoires and I thoroughly enjoyed their programmes and the insight provided by Roderick to each of the pieces. The master-class was very thought provoking and left me with plenty to think about for my own performances.

In the afternoon George and I performed alongside four other duos in the Master-class Fringe Concert held in the recital room. It was great opportunity to perform with other students from all over the country in this fabulous festival.

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The other duos were :
Andrew Henley ( tenor ) and Conal Bembridge-Sayers ( piano ) from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Emily Gray ( mezzo soprano ) and Francesca Fierro ( piano ) from Trinity Laban.
Adam Gouldin ( baritone ) and Marcus Bingham ( piano ) from Leeds College of Music
Michael Vickers ( baritone ) and Ljubica Stojanovic ( piano ) from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

During conversations with members of audience after the concert I got a real sense of the enthusiasm and passion that they had for the event and I was so pleased to have taken part.

If you are in the Leeds area next year between the 21st and the 23rd April then I would encourage you to drop in and listen to what is on offer I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

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On Thursday alongside my fellow 4th year undergraduate students we performed in a scene from “Cosi fan Tutte”.  It was the finale from Act 1 and I performed the part of Fiordiligi  with Inkeri Kallio as Doribella. The other performers were :

Don Alfonso – Jack Sandison
Ferrando – Robert Forrest
Guglielmo – Timothy Edmundson
Despina – Xinhui Lai

In the opera Don Alfonso makes bet with two younger men, Ferrando and Guglielmo that all women are fickle and are easily tempted.  As the two men believe their fiancés, Fiordiligi and Doribella, are loyal and faithful they see this as an easy bet to win and decide to play along. Pretending to have been called up to go to war the two men agree to return in disguise and attempt to tempt the others fiancé.  Will the deception work? Will the two sisters succumb to the advances of their new suitors?

In the scene that we performed Despina the maid had been persuaded by Don Alfonso to help him win his bet.  She works with the two men who are now disguised as two Albanians to tempt the two sisters to stray.  As part of the deception the two men threaten to poison themselves if Fiordiligi and Doribella do not accept their amorous advances. After refusing their efforts Ferrando and Guglielmo pretend to take the poison and Despina (now disguised as a doctor) saves them from dying.

Pretending to be under the effects of the poison the two men demand a kiss form the sisters who adamantly refuse.  Fearing the bet will be lost both Don Alfonso and the disguised Despina encourage the two sisters to agree to the amorous demands as the Act draws to a close.

I had a great time with everyone 🙂

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Then after school I packed up for the weekend as we had to travel to Reading in Berkshire for a concert which was on Friday, 18th March.

George Todica was both accompanying me in the concert and also playing three piano pieces by Franz Liszt, Maurice Ravel and George Enescu.  We arrived in the afternoon and after being shown the recital room we warmed up before getting changed for the performance. During the afternoon we had a look around the beautiful arts centre which was buzzing with life and a fantastic credit to the community.

During our performance we were made to feel so welcome by the enthusiastic audience and the evening just flew by.  We met so many lovely people and enjoyed chatting with them after the concert about the music that we performed.  I would like to say a special thank you to Penny and Brian for their hospitality.

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As you’ll be aware if you’ve been following my blog for the past three years,  my musical passion lies in the Opera world, in July I flew to Italy to participate in the Trentino Music Festival Summer School.  When preparing the songs for my audition for this summer school in January, my ambition about such an experience was initially to get more opera performance opportunities and to improve my Italian language skills over the five weeks duration.  Whilst in Italy I made friends in all the local shops, bakery and cafes and practised my Italian on my willing victims every day.  I attended and performed in master-classes, one by the amazing Deborah Voigt, and undertook the roles of ‘Gretel’ in Hansel and Gretel (under the skilful baton of David Gately), ‘2nd Knabe’ and chorus in Die Zauberflute by Mozart and as ‘The Novice’ and chorus in Suor Angelica by Puccini.

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Jess And Me On Our First Day In Italy

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Going To See Aida with Natalie

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Just Before Going On Stage At A Concert In Italy

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My Final Week With The Opera Performance Studio

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The Final Performance Of Hansel And Gretel

I was guest soloist at a Fyfe Creative Arts Hub Recital the day after I returned from my summer holiday and in October I performed a selection of arias at a gala fundraising evening hosted by the Bowdon Festival Opera, they are raising funds to put the Opera ‘Don Giovanni’ this year and I’ve been offered the role of ‘Zerlina’ which is very exciting.

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Tim Edmundson, Beth Jerem, Robert Forrest, Me And Michael Gibson

Last November George Todica and I utilised our Grieg Haugtussa song cycle coaching from our Norwegian master-classes in a one hour long concert in Edinburgh.  I sang the full eight song cycle in the first half in the original Norwegian. I have been analysing if songs sound better in the language they were originally written in and one comparison I thought:  ‘Does Shakespeare have such a profound effect and impact when translated into other languages?’  Or indeed ‘Would Robert Burns give the depth and feeling if spoken or sung in standard English rather than Scottish dialect, his poem and song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is often sung at Hogmanay (New Years Eve)?’

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At the close of the year I enjoyed participating in the RCS choir at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral undertaking Handel’s Dixit Dominus, I also got to listen to friends performing Spem and Purcell.

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Beth Taylor, Me and Susannah Bedford Ready For Handel’s Dixit Dominus

And finally singing in the Christmas Cracker with Jessica Hurst at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

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Ready To Go On Stage At The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

 

My Musical Review Of 2015 – Part 1

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This weekend I’ve had the chance to sit down with a cup of tea and reflect on my first performance of Grieg’s ‘Haugtussa’ as a complete song cycle. My Dad was able to come to watch when I performed in Edinburgh and I was so grateful to him as he stood at the back of the room and held his video camera over his head for the entirety of the evening so that I could listen back. Hopefully, next time he’ll bring a stand so he can relax and enjoy it. (Perhaps Santa will leave him one under the Christmas tree 🙂  )

Normally I struggle to watch myself as often I can be very critical. However, I read a book recently whilst I was preparing for my auditions and it recommended to list what you did well first and then rather than say “I did that terribly”, immediately start thinking how you can improve it.

For example in this video one of the things I would like to improve is my ability to keep my vibrato spinning at the ends of phrases to create a better line.

But for this blog post I am sharing this video with you as a work in progress as I would love to continue with my research into these pieces and work hard to improve my performance of them.

The song I have chosen is “Veslemoy”, it appears second in the cycle of the eight songs. Veslemoy is the real name of the young girl, and Haugtussa is her nickname meaning ‘mountain maid’. The text in this song describes her physical appearance as being thin and slender with brown pure features. It also mentions how she appears to be touched by magic allowing her to see into other realms. The second verse goes on to explain that despite her appearing calm she is still a young beautiful girl trembling and frail.

This description in some way prepares us for what is to come, as the story develops over the remaining six songs Haugtussa meets a boy and she feels her emotions blossom into a first love but sadly she is left waiting for him in the cold. He never returns.

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Me with George Todica in Troldhaugen where we performed in Grieg’s house during our stay in Bergen, Norway.

I’m very excited to work on this cycle as it is rarely performed in the UK in its original Norwegian and yet the music and poetry are so touching and beautiful. I hope to record the whole cycle next year and would love to share them with you.  George and I have been working with these songs for over six months now and they’re still a work in progress, I hope that you enjoy them on first listening and that they can grow on you to become favourites as they have done with me. This gives me an opportunity to really listen and appreciate George’s sensitive interpretation and emotional connection to these beautiful songs.

Translation :

She is thin, dark and slender
with brown, pure features
and her eyes are deep and grey
and she has a soft dreamy manner.
It is as if it, half and half,
lay a spell over the whole of her.
In movement, speech and everything she has a muted calm.
She has a muted calm.
Beneath her lovely forehead,
Her eyes shine as if behind a mist,
It is as if they staring, saw far into another world.
Only her breast goes tight and heavy
And her pale mouth quivers.
She is trembling, frail and weak
At the same time she is beautiful and young.
She is beautiful and young.

Here are some links to the posts that I wrote about my time in Bergen 🙂

Edvard Grieg – Composer
Soprano Packing!
Just Arrived In Bergen
Day 2 – Welcome To The Grieg Academy
Day 3 In Bergen – So Inspiring
Enthralling Lectures, Inspirational Performances and Great Company
Bergen – The Final Concert