On Tuesday I returned to Glasgow to begin rehearsals for the third set of performances of BambinO! I have really been looking forward to performing again in this wonderful production and to catch up with my friends and colleagues.
Musical rehearsals took place on Wednesday. These rehearsals were lead by Lliam Patterson, the composer of BambinO. The aim of this style of rehearsal is to ensure that the music is in tip-top form and to ensure that the balance between the quartet in the new venue is at the optimum level. In order to achieve this result, we performed the entire piece and then dissected the score into sections and then worked on those that needed more attention and polishing, experimenting with dynamics and new ideas that we wanted to try out since the performances in Edinburgh.
On Thursday we visited Scottish Opera’s fabulous costume department for fittings to check if any alterations were needed. The wonderful Ali and Lorna were at hand to refresh our look and make sure the costumes looked brand new. It was lovely to get into my Uccelina costume again, especially the feather-covered tutu! I do love that. In the afternoon we had stage rehearsals co-ordinated by Lissa, our Assistant Director. In this rehearsal, we performed the piece on the set and made any alterations necessary to move freely around the new venue. Another element of this style of rehearsal is to remind ourselves of the blocking and our interactions with props and other members on stage.
Friday arrived with final rehearsals and brushing up. We began with a music rehearsal and then moved into combining this with staging to ensure that we were ready to open to audiences on Saturday morning.
It has been an absolute delight to have performed this show on Saturday and Sunday. I can never stop smiling after the interactions with the babies and their lovely families, each show brings new surprises from confident crawlers who giggle and gurgle.
Thank you to Keith Bruce from The Herald for his lovely review in today’s paper. The performances run through to the 5th November and if you want to come down and join in the fun there are still a few tickets left but don’t leave it too long or you may miss out.
The decision about what to do next for my Masters’ study has been on my mind all month.
Scotland has a well-being dividend, after three and a half years here I’ve settled into the wider community, made relationships in and out of college and have a lot of comfort. There is very little travelling because it’s a compact, cultural City and I receive great support from lots of fabulous people. In fact Glasgow is full of warm and generous people and has been a great home for me for my first spell away from my parents.
London is billed as having ‘a cultural life that is unsurpassed anywhere in the world’. London city life can seem unwelcoming, they say people on public transport and in the street avoid eye contact. I put this to the test and I get lots of smiles back and have had a few chats on public transport. I met a fabulous elderly man in the café at the Royal Albert Hall and sat next to him whilst I ate my soup and we had the most interesting conversation about his recent bereavement and how much he missed his wife and her love of the ballet, the Bolshoi and life, the time passed so quickly.
I narrowed my choices down to The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) and The Royal College of Music (RCM), London. It is difficult because I know lots about the RCS, which I love, and much less about the RCM. I have read the RCM prospectus from front to back several times, visited the institution a couple of times, and I did the tour. The first page quote by The Director; Professor Colin Lawson says; “Choosing where to study is one of the most challenging decisions a musician ever makes” gulp!
The RCM welcome page says they are ‘ranked no 1 place to study Music by the Guardian’ newspaper’s UK university guide. Also on the positive side they value independence and individuality, they offer ‘unparalleled performance opportunities, opening up the world and improving your performance’. ‘The institution takes your musical future seriously from the day you arrive”. They also hold numerous competitions and have three fully staged opera productions to audition for, watch and learn from each year. On the downside studying in London is also expensive, double my current living costs and nearly double the annual tuition fee loan as the RCS very generously offered me a scholarship to help with my fees. There are tube fares to take into account I think my brother pays £1500 each year for his travel card.
However… I’ve accepted my offer to study at the Royal College of Music, I just want to take the opportunity to challenge myself and I feel very excited to take this leap of faith. I’m looking forward to working there and I hope that it will be an interesting couple of years. Some people think I have a masterplan but frankly, as all my long term blog friends know, I pretty much feel around in the dark and grab onto any opportunity that passes by. Before reaching my decision I really had spent the entire month in turmoil about my decision because Judith Howarth has been a fantastic vocal professor this year and has helped me to develop my vocal skills and performance, Judith is still working in the Industry and if I had the spare funds I would go out to Berlin in February to watch her perform in Peter Grimes. Your teacher is very important as they act as your guide and mentor to help to nurture you and I have grown and learnt so much in Glasgow during my undergraduate studies. But I now feel that the time is right to move on and take the next step on my musical journey.
I feel this is more an “au revoir” than a good bye 🙂 and I am still looking forward to the rest of this year.
On Thursday night I had the pleasure to watch Carmen at Theatre Royal, in Glasgow with my friend Jessica.
Scottish Opera’s production was full of heat and energy, despite its beige stage design (but I might be biased as my favourite colour is rainbow), Carmen (Justina Gringyte) and Don José (Noah Stewart) shared some passionate moments and a Spanish flair was created through flamenco dancing and ruffled skirts.
The chorus and small roles interacted well with the props to create some really wonderful effects that captured the audience’s attention. A great example of this was during the Toreador fight, appearing in the last act, where the performers stood at an elevated line of rope and acted reactions to the fight in slow motion accompanied by lighting affects similar to those from my high school disco which combined to make time to stand still in the middle of all the excitement.
It was brilliant also to watch two former students of the RCS perform in the chorus; Heather Jameison and Luke Sinclair both stood out due to their great charisma on stage and commitment to their characters.
I found it very useful to watch this production which involved the use of a minimal set and interaction with props as during this year I will be performing in a scene from an opera with my colleagues from the RCS, which will probably be performed in a space with only props to set the scene. I learnt some interesting tricks on how to take advantage of the space during an aria whilst being isolated against large backdrops, also the importance of interacting with other characters on stage to create atmosphere and to progress the story.
Georges Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ premiered in Paris on the 3rd March 1875 and ran for only 36 performances as the audiences reacted with indifference to the production. Sadly Bizet died at the age of only 36 before the initial run was completed and never knew the success that his opera would eventually achieve. Following a series of performances around Europe it returned to Paris in 1883, growing in popularity becoming a firm favourite of Parisian audiences. It is still one of the best known operas and its arias the “Habanera” sung by Carmen and the “Toreador Song” sung by Escamillo are probably two of the most recognisable operatic songs.
Maria Callas – “Habanera”
From the movie Carmen, with Julia Migenes-Johnson as Carmen, Placido Domingo as Don José , and Ruggero Raimondi as El Matador.
The opera was written by Bizet in the style of Opera Comique which allowed for dialogue to be used between the arias. The story demonstrates the destructive power that an unrequited love can produce.
We follow the life of an innocent and naïve young soldier Don José who has been promised in matrimony by his mother to his childhood sweetheart Micaëla. However he encounters a wild and intoxicating young Gypsy woman who completely captivates him changing the direction of his life forever.
Following his first encounter when he is beguiled by Carmen she manages to persuade him to release her from jail, for his actions he then finds himself locked up for a month. When he gets released he searches out Carmen who he meets in an Inn. As the evening progresses he knows that he should return to his barracks but she asks him to desert and leave with her. He wrestles with his emotions but finds the decision is made for him following a fight in the Inn with a superior officer, he now cannot go back and leaves his military life behind and sneaks off with Carmen.
But all soon unravels for Don José as Carmen starts to get bored with him. Micaëla who has been searching for Don José finds them both and pleads with José to leave Carmen and return home. Despite feeling the sting of Carmen’s sharp tongue José is determined to stay with her until Micaëla tells him that his Mother is dying. Don José swears to return to Carmen as soon as he can as he is concerned that she has become infatuated with the bullfighter Escamillo.
The story comes to its dramatic conclusion as we find Carmen at the bullfight with Escamillo who sing of their love for each other. Carmen when confronted by Don José throws his ring back at him and attempts to enter the arena to be with Escamillo. Don José blinded by his emotions and filled with rage at being cast aside by Carmen after all his sacrifices for her, lunges at her stabbing her. As Carmen lays dying Don José proclaims his love for her and as the tragedy comes to its conclusion Don José confesses to killing Carmen.
The production has now moved to tour the Highlands and will end its run in Edinburgh
His Majesty’s Theatre, Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen AB25 1GL
Thu 22 Oct 7.30pm•Sat 24 Oct 7.30pm
Eden Court, Bishops Road, Inverness IV3 5SA
Tue 27 Oct 7.15pm•Thu 29 Oct 7.15pm•Sat 31 Oct 7.15pm
Festival Theatre, 13–29 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9FT
Tue 3 Nov 7.15pm•Fri 6 Nov 7.15pm•Sun 8 Nov 4.00pm
Thu 12 Nov 7.15pm•Sat 14 Nov 7.15pm
Last Thursday ( 10th September ) I had the pleasure to help out a friend, the very talented Yigit Mert Sengun. He has just opened his own boutique called Le Nozze Boutique, designing and selling spectacular corsets and fabulous special occasion and wedding dresses.
Me and Yigit Mert Sengun
I was so excited when I was asked to participate in the photo shoot, what an opportunity to try on so many gorgeous outfits whilst helping out a friend at the same time. The shoot was to start at 1 o’clock in the afternoon and as the time approached my excitement grew, I couldn’t wait to get down there and see his designs and try them on for the first time.
He invited me to pick which corsets I would like to try on, along with his favourite ones. Each one was special in its own specific way, from sumptuous satin to streams of sparkles I felt like a Princess.
The outfits were surprisingly comfy to wear as the fabric on the inside was soft on the skin, the designs allowed each garment to be pulled in to my exact shape which still left me with plenty of room to breathe and move. Which I wasn’t expecting from stories that I had read about the olden day corsets.
I first met the designer, Mert, at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, when he too was learning how to sing operatically. As we both had the same teacher we often met and exchanged stories, talking about our dreams over cups of tea. It was lovely to take a step into his store and be a part of his dream, to see his vision taking shape and to listen to the enthusiasm about his future plans.
The pictures were taken by my beautiful friend Olga Ivakina, who is also a trainee classical soprano. We worked inside and out, which created some hilarious moments as I walked out in these marvellous dresses and had to pose as people were walking and driving past in Glasgow city centre. It was lots of fun. I certainly know what I’m asking Santa for this Christmas!
So if you find yourself in Glasgow and are looking for something special or and a little different to wear then I can recommend a visit to this beautiful shop “Le Nozze Boutique” at 32 St Andrews Street, Glasgow, G1 5PD.
For some reason photographers love capturing me in mid-laugh like this last shot!
This is ‘The House For An Art Lover’, designed by Mackintosh, in Glasgow. I visited for lunch with family and friends, we had a fabulous value two course meal which was delicious. I should have taken a photograph of the meal it was very nicely presented, the atmosphere in the dining room was lovely and it was quite busy.
We went to walk off the gorgeous strawberry dessert and cheesecake. I spied a gate in the wall and we wandered through into this beautiful garden. A lovely surprise in full bloom.
I loved these vibrant colours in the hanging baskets and the lawn below was immaculate like a carpet.
I wondered if I could keep any of these type of plants on my balcony. They must be hardy to survive the harsh weather of a Glasgow winter.
So just to prove my life isn’t all about work 😀. I wanted to show you my new vertical garden that we bought the next day. Da Dahhh. I was telling my blog friend Koko about it and she asked me the name of the plants mmmm. I knew I should have kept those little cards, I know the bottom one is a ‘Pineapple plant’, the ones to the right were a gift and they’ve survived a couple of weeks already I think they’re called Lilies. My Mum said if I killed everything else she’d be surprised if an ivy couldn’t survive so we have one of those and a pot of chives.
I love this time of year at the Conservatoire you can always get a practice room and mine this morning was fabulous. The sunshine lured me away eventually.
Tomorrow will be the first of September 2015 and for me signifies the beginning of my final undergraduate year here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The last three years have been a whirlwind of exciting experiences, technical discoveries and personal development. Though I have learnt so much from the fantastic teachers that have coached me I know that this is just the beginning, as they have also ignited within me the desire to explore this fantastic art, this wondrous world of opera that so captivates me.
Looking Back To When I First Joined The RCS
I have so much to do in the coming weeks from preparing my application for a Master’s degree, to carefully selecting my audition repertoire and managing my concert and recital bookings for the coming year.
Looking back over the last three years I remember my excitement at the prospect of joining the RCS and preparing for leaving home for the first time. Walking through the doors on my first day full of wonder and anticipation of what was to come, engulfing my senses with the sounds and smells as I walked through the corridors full of new faces. Smiling to myself as I thought that this is exactly where I wanted to be.
Now three years later I enter my final year relishing the challenges ahead, new repertoire to master, opportunities to search out and decisions to make. I know that I will be helped and encouraged to make the best of my time here, stretching myself and pursuing my dreams to one day perform the operas that I love on the great stages of the world.
It has been so much fun to share my time here with you all, your support and comments have helped and encouraged me to believe in myself and to work hard to achieve my dreams.
Before starting my post today I would just like to say that following the earthquake in Nepal that everyone affected will be in my prayers. if you are in the UK it is possible to help by texting DONATE5 To 70008 to give £5.00 #NepalEarthQuake @SaveChildrenUK or you can donate directly through Save the Children on their website
I was recently asked if I would present a 20 x 20 second slide PechaKucha (Japanese for ‘chatter’) session on my experience of using technology alongside my music degree. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images.
It doesn’t sound much 20 seconds speech per slide does it, until I timed myself, it’s not just one sentence per slide! However, the whole point of this simple presentation form is so that you don’t waffle. The conference is on the 5th May and is organised by the National Association for Music in Higher Education.
There will be seven students from a range of institutions and I’m the second student to speak. I was excited about the opportunity and have been putting the slides together trying to finalise them this weekend so the lead tutor can have a look. I keep reminding myself PechaKucha nights are often held in bars and are a ‘FUN’ activity, then I noticed we’re on just after the tea and coffee break at 11:15!
I read that the key is to present something you love and I do love my music and sharing it with all of you so…..watch this space. What can go wrong in 6 minutes 40 seconds right? I think I’ll wear pink so psychologically they’re not expected much from a stereotypical blonde wearing pink and if all else fails I could always burst into song.
If any of you have done one of these presentations or have any advice, even if you’ve only experience of being in the audience at such an event, I’d be very grateful for your thoughts. For example, is it acceptable to glance at 20 cards as I go along or should I try and memorise them?
I was vocally tired after a busy three weeks so finalising my end of year reflection essay due in Monday and preparations for this conference forced me to take a bit of a break from singing practise.
The weather has been so good in Glasgow recently that I took the opportunity to go to an international food market with my flat mate Rob today, we were inspired to make a paella, a first for me both to eat and to cook. It was delicious this is just a bowl of leftovers.
With so much fresh produce on offer I just had to try my hand at something for pudding 🙂 So I whipped up a lemon meringue pie.
The food pictures are getting better don’t you think hahaha 🙂
Following my concert on Friday with Les Sirenes at the Mackintosh Church in Glasgow, I had the pleasure of performing alongside Troon chorus at their Christmas concert yesterday.
Troon Old Parish Church
The concert took place at Troon Old Parish Church which the audience filled with Christmas spirit. Troon is just a 45 minute train journey from Glasgow, I had been asked to perform the Benedictus solo in the Haydn mass along with three Christmas songs by my friend Sam Prescott who is the conductor in residence.
I Loved The Christmas Spirit
I love this time of year! Christmas spirit and sparkling lights illuminate Glasgow in the evening. I love walking around the city with the happy bustling crowds and Christmas decorations.
Glasgow has plenty to do and see this time of year including the Christmas market on Argyle Street which brings a wide selection of gifts, themed bars and fast food outlets bringing a European feel to the Scottish streets.
George Square comes alive as darkness falls and the Christmas lights sparkle and twinkle. You can even put on a pair of skates and take a spin on the temporary outdoor skating rink. All the music and laughter that you hear in the square this time of year fills you with joy and hope for the New year despite the cold temperatures.
In my third year at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland I chose to take a module called ‘Writing about the Arts’.
I really enjoy writing for my blog and using it as a portal for reflection. One of the reasons I chose the module, was because I read last year, whilst studying German Lied, that Robert Schumann was a critic as well as a composer. Which made me wonder whether I could work on my writing skills and rather than it just be a hobby I could challenge myself to improve and so that maybe it could become one of the strings in my employment bow 🙂
Last Monday, 1st of December, we had a guest speaker lead our session called Gareth Williams. Gareth is a composer who studied his Masters of Composition at the RCS (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), formally the RSAMD (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama). He has composed pieces for groups such as the Hebrides Ensemble, Scottish Opera, the Paragon Ensemble, Symposia, the Black hair Ensemble, and the London Sinfonietta.
The focus of the lecture was on ‘Writing a Libretto’. A libretto is a story written for a musical work such as an Opera, operetta, oratorio, cantata or musical. In our seminar we focused on Libretto for Opera so he showed us a clip from his site-specific promenade opera: “Sloan’s Project”.
Outside Sloans Bar – Opened 1797
The musical drama takes place at Sloan’s Bar in Glasgow and the audience move around Glasgow’s oldest pub to watch a chain of true stories involving love, vengeance, grief and forgiveness. I have actually been to Sloans Pub for an incredible Ceilidh, (traditional Scottish dancing), it was held in their beautiful ballroom last year and I must go again! 🙂
The Ballroom In Sloans Bar
Gareth finds it very bizarre when people just sing without need in an opera so for this composition he tries to create a realistic reason for the characters to sing.
In the following clip the characters begin to sing stimulated by hearing playing on the jukebox the favourite song of a recently deceased friend which had been played at his funeral.
In another scene, the wake takes part in an upstairs room. The characters have to carry their dead friend up without the coffin as it was too heavy. This was taken from a true story!
David Brock wrote the libretto for the ‘Sloans Project’. Brock and Williams decided to include the Glaswegian accent to emphasise the culture and the sound of Glasgow in the piece.
Gareth then created a short task for us to do. We had to write a small story using 140 characters only, the same length as a tweet. For inspiration he showed us a poem by Ernest Hemingway an American author and journalist –
The focus of the story is that Person A wants something from Person B. Here are a couple of examples, why not give it a go, it would be great to see what you come up with!
Here is my attempt;
A: I’m really sorry to have to ask this Mrs Grey.
But I am going to need you to identify the body now .
B: Yes, that’s Darrel Grey.
This from my Dad
A Did you see what happened?
B No, he is pointing to the floor, I can’t watch.
For 400 years, bonfires have burned on the 5th November to mark the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, to blow up the Houses of Parliament and King James, the first King of Great Britain, with 36 barrels of gunpowder. Soon afterwards the use of fireworks were added to the celebrations.
The Original Westminster Palace
An Act of Parliament was passed to appoint the 5th November as a day of thanksgiving for ‘the joy of deliverance’
Preparations for Bonfire Night include making a dummy of Guy Fawkes, which is called ‘the Guy’ and children used to ask for 1p for the Guy to use the money to buy fireworks.
The Original Conspirators
There is a well known rhyme to accompany the day: Remember, Remember! The 5th of November, Gunpowder, treason and plot, I see no reason, why the gunpowder treason, Should ever be forgot!
Bonfire or Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated all over the UK. In recent years it is becoming more popular at organised events rather than home bonfires and fireworks mainly because of all the accidents and incidents and the strain it often puts on the Fire Service, who advice people now to ensure a safer, enjoyable evening.
On the night itself, the Guy is put on the top of the bonfire that is then set alight, fireworks fill the sky and in the region I’m from people eat; creamy tomato soup; jacket potatoes with cheese melted inside; sausage rolls; fruity red cabbage; toffee apples; toad in the hole; or hot sausages and fried onions in a bun.
It’s often very chilly, and as the night draws in around 5pm to 5:30pm it’s very dark which is perfect for the early firework displays.
Westminster Palace As We Know It Today Following The Fire Of 1834 Which Destroyed The Original Home Of Parliament.
Well I am off out now to our local organised bonfire display so I hope there are some great snacks on sale 🙂