Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Duets and Trios, Mozart to Gilbert and Sullivan, all good clean fun !

" not that way Cherubino....."

Another week on the go and I feel as if Christmas never happened ! It's a good feeling though, I think I would be hard put to retire fully - I may find myself bored out of my aching brain !

I have been finding a wide selection of duets and trios for all those students from near and far, who are attending song school this year. I always regret that I did not do enough duets and ensemble work as a young singer. I had a wonderful duet partner in my old friend J, and we won, if I may be so bold, some high flying prizes in our competition days. Mostly though I was always so fixed upon a solo career that singing ensembles for fun rather bypassed me.

I now think that the bond which builds between singers is vital for many reasons, not least of all the ability to be a part of a whole and work in an up close and personal way with other musicians which hones a good musical ear into a fine one, and teaches equality and give and take. It trains the ear to take tuning to another level, and probably of the greatest importance, it teaches us to listen to what others are doing.

Listening is something many singers have a problem with. As a soloist I often felt that I was singing in a private bubble. A bubble which was all and entirely mine. I could pull all the strings in the way I wanted with no thought for anything other than myself. This is not as selfish as it sounds, when there is just you, of course everything about the song is yours, to do with almost totally as you wish.

Duet singing was a rare treat for me, and much missed when I became a professional, so I like to encourage all my students to pursue this happiest of occupations - singing together !

So what have I picked for those singers this week ?! Firstly the beautiful Strings in the Earth and Air by Christopher Le Fleming for two teenagers who will enjoy the clashes and will float effortlessly on the pppp line of the song. Next the fast and furious Susanna and Cherubino duet at the point where Susanna lets the rampant young teenager out of the cupboard and finds a way for him to escape from the Countesses boudoir ! Another of today's choices was the evergreen trio from Pinafore Never Mind the Why and Wherefore, when the Captain, Josephine his daughter and the mad Sir Joseph Porter sing and dance like slightly tipsy and endearing puppies ! Can't wait to do that one in a big space!

"You have carried firm conviction to my hesitating heart !"

Other duets are a pretty little Arne piece called Mists before the Sunrise Fly which two of my fantastic young 13 year olds will love, with the trickiest of intervals all the way through, the 3rd - so difficult to keep perfectly in tune, but they won't even think about it, they will simply open mouths and let rip ! I gave E and J a Purcell piece, Let us Wander not Unseen, which I learnt in school long before I even started singing lessons, and has remained a golden standard all through my teaching life.

It's been an ensemble week so far, and much enjoyed by moi. I am clearly deeply scarred from my clear lack of enough duet singing ! My soprano buddy J can still sing wonderfully, sadly my part song ( and solo song) days are long over. Do I hear a sentimental violin playing in the distance?

No just a hoot of laughter from said 'friend' !



  1. You now weave your magic in another, special way. xx Diane (Perth)

  2. Thank you for your kind words Diane ! Hope you are well and singing ! Ann xx