Sunday, 12 April 2015

Song School Week 2 - powerful as ever.........

Song School 2015 is over.....

I feel certain that it was hugely enjoyed by all the singers in both weeks. Each week is so very different, they seem to have a personally and life of their own. Each is vital and exciting, emotional and exhausting, but mostly in entirely different ways. Considering it is lead by the same two folk ie myself and Julia Kennard our whizz accompanist, it it interesting that one week can be so far away from the other in feel and style !

Week 2 had as many tears and laughter as week one. If I were to pick out some truly stunning moments we would span music from 20th century crooning to Britten operatic arias and song cycles.

K absolutely gripped us with her Ellen aria from Peter Grimes by Britten. It is a difficult and distressing sentiment, and she rose and rose as the music drama swelled like the waves of the cruel North Sea. I have never heard her sing so well, and with such commitment. Her husband I was at the opposite end of the genre, he sang a movingly beautiful performance of Moon River, with such joy and intimacy I don't think there was a dry eye in the house !

We had two gloriously different performances of Hahn's Ah Chloris. In fairness I already love the song with a passion, but to experience a mature and introspective version sung by the fantastic soprano M, which was heart rending and so full of warm life experience, and another from the 17year old N, who sang it with the visualisation of the beautiful Chloris being over the green landscape and unreachable as yet, was a privilege I think none of us will forget. N also wowed us with the most touching and powerful Monica aria from Menotti's The Medium. She really is so very very talented.

E sang arias and recit's from The Messiah throughout the week. He is performing a professional Messiah later in the year so we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to work with a real pianist ! He grew in so many ways during the week, vocally, personally and emotionally. It is so difficult to sing with true emotion when English is not ones first language, but his growth in this area was remarkable.

Young M who is about to sing her final degree recital in a month chose to work on some of the more tricky pieces she was using. She sang us a Sesto aria from Handel's Guilio Cesare, which like Topsy, grew and grew until she was wielding her sword with vigour, dropping her jaw (!) and letting her striking and resonant mezzo voice soar and soar. It reminded me of all my early Handel roles in my life - oh well !

J had a vocal revelation which was very emotional for her and us. She had an operation some years ago which damaged the muscles around her vocal cords and has rebuilt her voice millimetre by millimetre over the last two or three years. During a warm up session she 'felt something happen' - I can say no more than that ! Suddenly her muscles were back in place, her voice was released and she sang and sang. It was a wonderfully exhilarating moment for all in the room.

Four of my week 1 ladies took another day each this week (gluttons for punishment ?!) and really did the job. The Bach 'Konnen Tranen' was magnificent, serious and legato and full of grounded sound, P's 'An Sylvia' was a perfect example of open and free singng so the top notes practically perforated my ear drums - in a good way of course ! E sang with usual warmth and affection with her Light song, and was a shining example of a really wonderful technique - I even used her as a model of excellent mouth shapes ! K began the week (voluntarily!) with a stately and scrummy toned 'Where'ere you Walk'. It is so well known, yet she made it her own, using her height and noble bearing to such good effect !

Our young 15yr old A made a long and amazing journey from child singer to grown up in the space of five days. She was a good deal younger than the majority of singers but has a voice which is huge, tricky to control and where it will end, I do not know ! She sang a gorgeous and youthful Verdi 'Ave Maria' from Otello which was quite stunning, then on Ensemble Day, together with N, showed her real potential in a restaged version of the lovely and haunting Novello duet, 'We'll Gather Lilacs'. They both showed such maturity, such potential and great perseverance. A joy it was !

What a journey we all made. Including Julia and I. It touches us all in a real and enriching way. Thanks guys.


Lilacs and a sad Veronica.......


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