Archives For Jessica Hurst

Christmas Cracker

December 21, 2015 — 71 Comments

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This years final performance was in the annual ‘Christmas Cracker 2015’ on Sunday 20th December at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall with my friend Jessica Hurst, the program features the City of Glasgow chorus and the orchestra of the Scottish Opera. It’s a real privilege to have been asked to appear and we had a lovely audience reaction to our piece which we’d been asked to keep as a surprise element which is why I didn’t say too much about it in advance and we had some fantastic feedback after the show.

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When I arrived home following the performance I was thrilled to read that one of my favourite and long term blog friends, the author Janice Spina who won my 12 days of Christmas art and one off cd two years ago, has framed my drawings most spectacularly take a look. I’m truly speechless in a fabulous way.

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Last Tuesday, following my final audition, my brother Matt took the day off work to treat me to a day out at The Harry Potter World, I was sorted into Hufflepuff house and wore my house tie, we had a brilliant day.  This week Matt also discovered that he had passed his final actuarial written exams, he just has a final presentation to pass before he becomes a fellow after seven years of intense training, I’m so chuffed for him.

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I received offers of a place on the Master’s program from three of my four Conservatoire applications by Wednesday, the first reply of the day was an ‘unsuccessful’ but the day got better.  I have a lot to plan before the end of January 2016 when I must make my decision for the next two years study. There’s a lot to consider from financing, accommodation, travelling, teachers/support, and opportunities. I’m going to have to seek out scholarships and sponsors if I’m to achieve my goals of four years further training.  I’m very grateful to everyone who downloaded my cd Canzoni D’Amore and played my tracks on the music streaming services it helped me to fund my Italian training course this summer and will kick start my savings for my tuition fees or accommodation costs so I’m eternally grateful for you believing in me and helping me out and I hope that you enjoyed my music this year.

I hope that you’re all enjoying the seasonal holidays and that 2016 is a good year for everyone.  

Sir John In Love

April 30, 2015 — 40 Comments
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Jessica , Me and Eva

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Opera for this term is ‘Sir John in Love’ by Ralph Vaughan Williams it is an opera in four acts based on Shakespeare’s ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’. In the preface to the score Vaughan Williams stated his ‘chief object’ was ‘to fit this wonderful comedy with, I trust, not unpleasant music’.

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Jessica Hurst and Eva Macfarlane in costume and ready to start

The opera premiered at the Royal College of Music in London in their ‘Parry Opera Theatre’ in 1929. The first professional performance was at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in Islington, London in 1946. It has also been performed in 1978 and 1988 at the Bronx Opera in New York City.

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It is so much fun to be involved with the rehearsals. ( Photo reproduced with permission of  Gordon Munro )

It’s been a treat seeing the Opera and Master’s students rehearse and to be part of the ensemble. I’ve listened to ‘When Daisies Pied’ hundreds of times in music festivals but didn’t realise it was from this opera. ‘Greensleeves’ a traditional English folk song and tune also features in the musical score. Often people remark on the use of folk songs a genre of music that you know I love.

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The performances start on Saturday 9th May with the final performance on Friday 15th May.

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Long Time Ago

March 1, 2015 — 41 Comments

This is the last of the four songs that I chose to sing from Aaron Copland’s “Old American Folk Songs”. The lyrics are sorrowful and speak of lost love, the love of someone very important to the writer. It reminded me of the lyrics of “Danny Boy”, having to come to terms with being parted from someone that has become the centre of your world.

The lyrics were originally attributed to George Pope in 1837 but may have been adapted from an earlier song by John Cole in 1833. The sympathetic and emotive melody along with the piano arrangement added by Aaron Copland make this a particular beautiful song to perform.

Long Time Ago

On the lake where droop’d the willow
Long time ago,

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Lakeside Willow


Where the rock threw back the billow
Brighter than snow.
Dwelt a maid beloved and cherish’d
By high and low,

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American Bride 1880’s


But with autumn leaf she perished
Long time ago.

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Mid 1800’s Funeral Cortège

Rock and tree and flowing water
Long time ago,
Bird and bee and blossom taught her
Love’s spell to know.
While to my fond words she listen’d
Murmuring low,
Tenderly her blue eyes glisten’d
Long time ago.

Today I have been asked to sing the four Aaron Copland songs during the judging interval of the Bruce Millar Gulliver Singing Prize in Stevenson Hall at the RCS. My good friend Jessica Hurst will be performing four songs after me and then we are both to perform a duet, Rossini’s “The Cat’s Duet” it is such an amusing piece and makes me smile thinking about it.

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Jessica Hurst And Me Back Stage Before Today’s Performance

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George Todica Accompanied Me In My Performance Of The Four Aaron Copland Songs

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Had Great Fun Performing Rossini’s “Cat Duet” With My Best Friend Jess Accompanied By Julia Lynch, Who Is One Of The Busiest Accompanists In The Country Who Has Performed With Many Distinguished Artists.

Now I am off out for a Pizza 🙂

The Boatmen’s Dance

February 22, 2015 — 55 Comments

When I found out that I needed to select and perform four folk songs this year as part of my course I knew that I wanted to tackle something new and different. I decided as you know to perform songs from Aaron Copland’s series of American Folk Songs which he composed in the early 1950s.

One of the hardest parts was choosing which four songs to sing, “The Boatmen’s Dance” became the third of my selections and one that I thoroughly enjoyed performing.

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The Jolly Boatmen – George Caleb Bingham. Circa 1877.

 

The original version was credited to Dan Emmett in 1843 and was considered to be a celebration of the lives and exploits of the Ohio River boatmen. As immigration from Europe to the USA soared in the early 1800s the Ohio / Mississippi rivers became busier and busier as one of the primary routes for safe and secure travel for the Europeans searching for a new and better life for their families.

As people travelled down the river they often kept diaries or journals and there are many references to the jovial nature of the boatmen and their expertise on the fiddle.

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Boatmen On The River

 

In an issue of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, called “Folk Music on the Midwestern Frontier 1788-1825’, by Harry R. Stevens, Duke University one traveller (Timothy Flint, 1826) wrote “almost every boat, while it lies in the harbour, has one or more fiddlers scraping continually aboard, to which you often see the boatmen dancing.”

Another observed: “As the boats were laid to for the night in an eddy, a part of the crew could give them headway on starting in the morning, while the others struck up a tune on their fiddles…The boatmen, as a class, were masters of the fiddle, and the music, heard through the distance from these boats, was more sweet and animating than any I have ever heard since. When the boats stopped for the night at or near a settlement, a dance was got up, if possible, which all the boatmen would attend. ”

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The Ohio River

 

The Boatmen’s Dance

High row the boatmen row,
Floatin’ down the river the Ohio.

High row the boatmen row,
Floatin’ down the river the Ohio.

The boatmen dance, the boatmen sing,
The boatmen up to ev’rything,
And when the boatman gets on shore
He spends his cash and works for more.
Then dance the boatmen dance,
O dance the boatmen dance.
O dance all night ’til broad daylight,
And go home with the gals in the mornin’.

High row the boatmen row,
Floatin’ down the river the Ohio.

I went on board the other day
To see what the boatmen had to say.
There I let my passion loose
An’ they cram me in the callaboose.
O dance the boatmen dance,
O dance the boatmen dance.
O dance all night ’til broad daylight,
And go home with the gals in the mornin’.

High row the boatmen row,
Floatin’ down the river the Ohio.

The boatman is a thrifty man,
There’s none can do as the boatman can.
I never see a pretty gal in my life
But that she was a boatman’s wife.
O dance the boatmen dance,
O dance the boatmen dance.
O dance all night ’til broad daylight,
And go home with the gals in the mornin’.

High row the boatmen row,
Floatin’ down the river the Ohio.

High row the boatmen row,
Floatin’ down the river the Ohio.

I hope that you are all singing along with me on these songs

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Jessica Hurst and Me

 

I have been asked along with my best friend Jessica Hurst to perform our folk songs during the judging interval at this year’s Bruce Millar Gulliver singing competition. There will be a surprise for those that can make it, Jess and I will be also be performing a duet but I wonder if you can guess which one ? I will reveal all next week after the event. I am posting a bit earlier than usual tonight because I am going to try and get an early night and a get a good long sleep.