Coming together again with the wonderful Minnesota Orchestra for two evening concerts on Thursday and Friday this week, doing one of my most favorite pieces in this world – Samuel Barber’s ‘Knoxville: Summer of 1915‘. His setting of Jame’s Agee’s wondrous poetry simply breaks my heart…
I’ve done quite a bit of contemporary classical music in my career so far, and I sing nearly every piece from memory. I am often asked, “how do you do it?”
My answer is simply that I would be a horrible performer with music in front of my face. Some people can do that extraordinarily well – and I greatly admire them for it – but, for the most part, I need to internalize a score before I can relay it with expressivity, and for me that means that I really must first learn the music by heart.
I seem to have a kind of affinity in personalizing what is considered ‘difficult’ music. I regard this as a gift, I’m not quite sure what it is and wherefrom it comes, and I’m incredibly grateful for when it’s THERE (which isn’t always the case…). In connection to this, I wanted to write a little bit here about my process of learning and performing.
I don’t consider myself to be one of these prodigious, naturally super strong musicians. I don’t have perfect pitch, and I can’t sit at a piano and just figure a whole song out on the spot or blurt something out that makes wonderful sense. I’m so envious of musicians who can do that easily.
I can’t discern structural patterns or exact chord progressions upon listening to something in real time. My brain just isn’t big enough. So I’ve had to figure out my strengths and then work on them. A lot.
I have an agile and expressive voice. I do possess a good ear for melody, and rhythm, and good ear-voice connection for correct pitch. And I whole-heartedly adore, endlessly love, and have infinite passion for the expressive and communicative magic of music. Continue reading…