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freewaydiva: (Default)
My LJ paid account is about to expire. I will not be re-upping, and will likely delete the account very soon.

Just so you know.
freewaydiva: (Default)
The US is a dumpster fire. I fully applaud how it's invigorated a lot of people to engage more fully with government, but I'm really struggling. I've made calls, sent email, and donated money, though, so I'm not sitting completely idly by.

I've seriously dialed-down my Facebook time, though. There's a meme I saw that was a photo of Captain Picard in the captain's chair on the bridge of The Enterprise, with the text: Me, every morning of 2017: Damage Report. Which is exactly how I feel.

It seems to be causing me to focus more on my SCA projects, though, so that's a fine. thing.
freewaydiva: (Do Not Like)
Today is a shitty day to be an empath, is all I'm saying.
freewaydiva: (Default)
Seems changes are afoot. Find me at Dreamwidth using my usual moniker...
freewaydiva: (Wakko)
Blankets and hats for the Wee Cousins. To recap, I have an unhealthy obsession with vintage skirt/sweater kits where you get enough fabric for a skirt and enough yarn for a sweater, all from the same dye lot. Sometimes they come in colors that really oughtn't be made into garments (melon whip, anyone?), but make brilliant other things. Like stroller blankets and children's garments.

For Ian and Tara's four, Amir, Augusta, Francesca, and Ishmael:
Clicky click )

For Kate and Luke's two, Lucy and Player to be Named Later (due Dec. 25):
Clicky click )
freewaydiva: (SCA)
'Cause some people want to see this...

Behind a thoughtful cut. )

I'm back.

Jun. 22nd, 2012 09:33 am
freewaydiva: (Mind the Gap)
I've been avoiding a cumulative post about the week in Italy, partially because I've just been so busy since getting back, and partially because it would truly underscore the fact that I'm no longer there.

The end of the week brought a concert of Restoration Period polyphony (Purcell, Blow and Locke) held in the lobby of The Best Hotel EVAR. It wasn't hugely attended, but it didn't matter. We did well, and had a fine time of it. It was also a good lead-in to the next day's Operastravaganza. I also completely caved, and had some pasta at dinner, which was, of course, amazing.

Saturday - our last day in Triora - was made up of a final rehearsal in the piazza for Dido, the afternoon off to rest up, and then the performance for a much more sizeable crowd. The café even had an Opera Special to offer, which was fantastic. In spite of us never having done a complete run-through without stopping, and some costume/logistical things that hadn't actually been done in rehearsal before, we aquitted ourselves of the performance rather well. We won't be taking La Scala by storm, but for a week's rehearsal, I think we ought to be rather proud of our accomplishment. Not only were there no snafus, everyone performed well, looked good, and rolled with whatever small stumbles there may have been. Certainly nothing memorable.

Dinner that night, however, was completely memorable. A meat-fest the likes of which I've not seen: beef, lamb, chicken, pork *and* rabbit. (And antipasti, pasta, and gelato). Dear God...

Because we had an INSANELY early wake-up call the next morning (we needed to be on a bus and rocketing down the hill by 5:30am), most of us were in bed at a reasonable hour, and up with the sun.

It was a glorious week, really. Lovely music, lovely location, lovely people. The adjustment to the life I'd been living before I left has been really, REALLY hard.
freewaydiva: (Mind the Gap)
Rehearsals continue apace - I'm still amazed at how quickly things are coming together. We did a full run-through, yesterday that went quite well. I did my little solo bit, and didn't completely suck, which was a big personal win. (I've been cast as "Spirit" in Dido which is a tiny but pivotal role.) Today we're doing a dry run-through in the church piazza where we'll be performing. The current idea is that I'll hike up to a balcony and sing my bit from there. I hope it works out, because that would be cool.

The only other "official" thing we did yesterday was a master class with Deb and Julia. About seven of us got up and had a 15 minute session. Really lovely stuff. If I had known that I could bring music for strings, I might have worked up some Handel, but as it was we all had a great time. Probably the most relaxed master class I've done to date.

This afternoon we're free-range. I plan to wander about the town and take a load of photos that look as timeless as I can make them (which should be easy, since not a lot has changed here since the middle ages. Hopefully the witch museum will be open, too. Then it will be a nap and some practicing and yet another four course dinner. For the record, last night involved prociutto-wrapped veal. The things I do for my art...
freewaydiva: (Mind the Gap)
I'll admit that I had some fear about coming on this trip. Most of it revolving around having to show up late and get to a tiny mountain village in Italy on my own, and whether I really should be doing it anyway, because it's not the least expensive trip I've taken. I was imagining all sorts of worst-case scenarios, none of which actually occurred, and I managed to make it through three countries by plane, train, and automobile without incident. My taxi driver in Italy - Sergio - was a joy and a delight, and delivered me to the village of Triora exactly on time for the afteroon rehearsal on Monday.

It's a much smaller group, this course, than the choral weeks that I've done previously. About 24 singers, and a handful of strings/continuo. Mostly English, but with two Americans (me and another woman from Seattle whom I sing with regularly), a woman from Denmark, and a woman from the Czech Republic. Oh, and an Austrian viol player. Really, really lovely people. I was a bit trepidatious coming late - it's hard, sometimes, to break in when everyone's already met and begun to work together, but they've all been quite lovely and solicitous. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked how I was recovering from jet-lag, I could buy a great deal of wine. People have, naturally, found small groups that they tend to hang out with, but there is a great deal of cross-over and no sense of cliqueishness. It's a great vibe.

The overall quality of the performers is good, too. We're managing to pull together several baroque choral pieces - all with small ensemble sections - and an entire opera (Purcell's Dido & Aeneas) insanely quickly, with little note-bashing and coaching.

Triora is amazing, and gorgeous. It's a Medieval hilltop village with a tremendous sense of history. I'm looking forward to having a bit of time, this week, to wander around in the "old town" and take loads of pictures. The sense of history is quite palpable, here. and the vistas are AMAZING. We've been blessed with good weather, largely - mostly sunny, not too hot, with a bit of wind. A girl could get used to this.

I'll continue to post photos to my flickr account (Triora 2012) if you want to follow along. They're not really edited, and won't have any useful information, but hopefully they'll be pretty.

Full run-through of the opera, this morning, and a master class this afternoon, and that's it for today. The schedule is gloriously relaxed.

Oh! And the lovely piano music I'm listening to as I type this in the hotel breakfast room is being streamed from SEATTLE. Small world...
freewaydiva: (Ladybug)
I was all set to rain down a tirade about what it did to us, as a nation, and then I looked up at a postcard I have above my desk. I bought it in Assissi, and it says the following:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

~ St. Francis

This is the talk that I try to walk. Especially on days like today.

If the goal is Peace, the only way to get there is by moving foward.
freewaydiva: (Music)
Stupid weather notwithstanding, I really had a good time. The week wasn't without its disappointments and annoyances, but overall my take-away is one of cameraderie and joy. It was good to see some people that I'd met before, and to continue strengthening those relationships. It was good, also, to meet new people from all over the world, and establish some new friendships that I hope will carry forward.

I learned that I am, in fact, continuing to improve as a musician, that the choices I'm making are the right ones for me, that my moral compass is still intact, that everyone has a doppleganger, that black tights under denim cut-offs is de rigeur for young women in the UK, that Picadilly Circus is a nightmare, and that I really, truly am allergic to wheat.

I was also reminded that, while being kind is its own reward, sometimes that kindness inclines people to do nice things back (*waves at Charlie!*), that I am a problem-solver and helper-girl (I'm still trying to decide if it's my chicken), that I will almost always defend the underdog, that spandex is a privilege not a right, and that some people are DETERMINED to be unhappy and there's nothing I can do about that.

Lots of little things happened, this week, that I really appreciated. Time will tell what sort of impact they will have, but I suspect that doors and windows were opened.

I *heart* Choir Camp!

P.S. The bass ringer in the TS concert? Lovely sound, and rather handsome. ::saucy wink::
freewaydiva: (Mind the Gap)
The service at St. Paul's Cathedral, this morning, was pretty great. It was, coincidentally, the same mass (Haydn's Nelson Mass, for those playing along at home) as two years ago when I was there, although this time Patrick and Jan were singing. It was lovely to hear Jan singing in full voice, and they both did very well. It's a shame that no photography is allowed in there. The mosaics are stunning. I find it interesting that both times I've been there, Hassler's "O Sacred Head Now Wounded" spontaneously pops into my head. Weird.

There were quite a few of us from the course, there, so we were treated to the Sneaky Back Way to the downstairs cafe (past the aforementioned Nelson's grave, even) for a bit of coffee and chat following the service, which was lovely.

After all of that, I hopped the tube back home to get my camera and KnitNation registration, and thought "it's not far from my hotel, I think I'll walk!" So, naturally, the skies opened up and I was caught in a rain shower of BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS. Good times. I arrived at the convention completely soaked, got my merchants pass and took a spin around the joint before picking up a couple of things for my knitting hockey pool prizewinner buddy, and three skeins of wool for myself (50/50 Zwartbles/Mohair in a GORGEOUS dark olive green). After that, it was around the corner to the V&A to get all up close and personal with the clothing in their permanent collection.

Except that I was THWARTED!

That room is closed until Spring 2012. Boo. So, I wandered around in the Medieval/Renaissance areas before deciding that I was tired and my feet hurt, so I came back to my hotel. One of the girls on the course has a concert in London, tonight, but by the time I got the address of the place and figured out where it is, it was too late to make it. Again with the boo.

So, now I'm sitting in my hotel, watching TV and trying to decide what I want to do about dinner.

Back to Seattle, tomorrow, where I'll get to snuggle with my kitty. And start planning my next big adventure.


Jul. 17th, 2011 09:31 am
freewaydiva: (Mind the Gap)
London seems to be largely peopled by French. Also: Picadilly Circus = Times Square. Also, also: Phantom of the Opera is still running, which...really? ::shrug::

So, I took myself to see a show, last night (as you may have guessed by the 57 posts I've made about it). Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at the Royal Theatre Haymarket, just off the Circus. LOVELY building, and an incredibly entertaining performance. All of my Word Nerd/Existentialist friends should go look it up. A film was made a while back with Gary Oldman and Tim Roth - go watch it.

Today, I'm up and at the same cafe as yesterday, before heading over to St. Pauls for the 11:30 Show. Patrick will, I believe, be the Alto soloist for the...Hayden? Mass, which will also feature Special Guest Star Janet Coxwell on Soprano, both directed by Andrew Carwood. It should be lovely. After that, I'll work my way back to the Kensington area to hit the V&A and the KnitNation convention, which are conveniently located right next to each other. No idea what I'll do this evening, though. We'll see how that goes..

OH! And I fulfilled my quest for appropriate salt & pepper shakers to mark my fourth trip to London. I may have also picked up a punky t-shirt. I totally forgot to look for Union Jack running shorts for my brother, though. I'll have to keep an eye out, today.
freewaydiva: (Music)
Well, Christ on a bike, did we get our act together at the last minute. Seriously. The looks of anguish on the faces of ALL of the tutors and Peter during the dress rehearsal must have flipped a deeply-seated switch in us all, because we NAILED the performances. Every piece. Even Spem. Twice. That is hugely gratifying, being a part of an ensemble that is actually ensembling, and doing it well. I'm quite proud of what we accomplished. I hope everyone else is, as well.

We also aquitted ourselves of our EPIC PARTY duties rather well. I don't remember the last time I stayed up past 3am. o.0 There was, as you might imagine, much hilarity. It was a fun bunch, this go 'round. And, as always, when they do the Certificate Receiving Line, I learned the names of probably 45% of the people I'd been looking at for a week. It's one of the perks of the course. ;)

This morning came rather early, and I may have gotten a little verklempt saying goodbye to quite a few of the folks, but travelling back to London on a train full of people I knew was quite nice. The pouring rain, however, was not.

So now I'm sitting in a cafe, after having navigated the tube and locating my hotel successfully, figuring out where I need to be next. (Just off of Picadilly Circus, for the record).

I'll post some sort of "Let me essplain, no there is too much, let me sum up" thing when I've had a chance to let my thoughts percolate a bit. But the current general consensus is that the week was made of WIN.
freewaydiva: (Music)
I have to say that I am enjoying the nice coffee shop across the street. The food in the cantine may be trying to kill me, but every day has started with a 3-shot latte. This is a Good Thingtm.

Thursday was pretty much Standard Issue for the first part of the day: breakfast, warm-up, rehearse, break, rehearse, lunch, lecture (from Patrick about performing Spem). Then anyone doing a small group piece needed to perform it for Deb, which meant that I had a GIANT chunk of time in the afternoon, during which I took a long and glorious nap. After that, we had a full-choir rehearsal for Spem (we'd only done it all together once before) and...it didn't crash. Neither did it burn. We were pretty good, actually.

In the evening, we all gathered 'round in the Chapel for the "Sharing Concert." All week, people had been getting together in groups to work on other pieces of music, and this was the opportunity to perform them in front of a jury of their peers together with everyone in a non-threatening environment. It was really quite good. The only real unpleasantness can be categorized under "What has been seen cannot be unseen." >.< Then it was Boy Night at Compline, followed by our usual bar shenannigans (and an extra cocktail to muddle the visual memory from earlier in the evening). Also, it would seem that I am in need of a pair of red patent stiletto pumps. Who knew? Also, also: David is very cheeky.

Which brings us to today. We've just finished our last rehearsal before our Gala Concert, this evening. It would be bittersweet, except that I was making so many mistakes that I'm glad for another opportunity to get it right. And we're making a Spem sandwich - doing it once at the beginning, and then again at the end. No sense in doing all of this preparation just to perform it the once!

One more Compline, and then the Epic Party of Finishing in the TSSS Memorial Library Bar, where I fervently hope they've re-stocked the gin.

Tomorrow, I return to London for a couple of days on my own. I plan to give full play to a few of my other geeks (V&A for costume research, the theatre, KnitNation and probably the British Museum) before returning to Seattle on Monday. I also expect to take more photos, there, I hope.
freewaydiva: (Music)
Yesterday, we went to Oxford. A small group of us found a very nice cafe, and had some lunch (with dessert, of course), and then sort of wandered around a bit before we needed to be at Magdalen College Chapel for a rehearsal. It was an amazingly beautiful space, but the light wasn't good enough inside to take many pictures. Boo.

Evensong, there, went fairly well, and then it was a quick jog up the street for some dinner before taking our seats at Christ Church Cathedral for a Tallis Scholars (the real ones) concert. They did a variety of things, including the Allegri Miserere, for which the quartet stood right behind where I was sitting. It was a bit of a revalation, since I was able to hear some fiddly bits in the music that I'd never picked up from recordings or other live performances before. Very nice! The light was MUCH better, in that space, so I did get some pictures.

Then we were hurried out the door and back on the coaches for the drive back to Oakham. I had the pleasure of having Dr. Sara as my seat mate. Hilarity enused. I'd not really had much of a chance to talk to her, yet, so it was Most Premium time.

Back to our regular schedule, today, with the lovely addition of Patrick Craig and Chris Watson to the tutor lineup. Only a day until the Gala Concert, and the end of the course. It goes by so quickly, and yet it seems like we've been here a month.
freewaydiva: (Music)
It's an odd thing how sometimes counting to four can be such a challenge, but there it is.

So, wow, did I sing a lot, yesterday. Rehearsal, rehearsal, lunch, post to blog, rehearsal, Evensong, small group rehearsal x2, Compline. But, under Jan and Deb's expert instruction, and not talking during breaks, I made it to the end of the day with a voice, and woke up with it again this morning, so I did something right. Go me!

I was thrown a couple of curve-balls at compline, last night. Normally, we do the same service night in and night out, so cantoring is no big Magilla. You get your starting note, and off you go. Last night, however, we did a full-group, polyphonic Te Lucis by Tallis that was in a higher key, which threw me a little, and there was a snap decision to do the Salve Regina chant at the end that I hadn't rehearsed. I was pleasantly surprised at a) how little that freaked me out and b) how well I rolled with it once I found my stride. Even the Te Lucis incipit at a higher - and slightly awkward, for me - pitch. I feel much improved. :)

(Madame Z, if you're reading this, the general consensus is that my voice has shifted up a bit, just like you thought. That should make things interesting.)

I really like the compline services we do here, and cantoring really helps me center. It's also kind of fun, since I don't have a church gig and I get to draw on my past experience with chant choirs.

Today, we're off to Oxford. We'll be doing Evensong at Magdalen College, and then hearing the Tallis Scholars perform at Christ Church in the evening. We will also have the opportunity to eat real food at a restaurant of our choice, which will be a nice break from the absolute crap they serve in the cafeteria (although, I have to say that the bacon is very nice). AND (and this is a Very! Exciting! Thing!) we'll be bringing Patrick back with us! EEE! He's so much fun.

::waves at Jan, to see if she made it this far...::
freewaydiva: (Music)
I would have thought that finally getting a full night's sleep would have improved my mood, but the reverse seemed to occur, yesterday. Anyone who has ever sung with me probably knows that one of my biggest pet peeves are those folks for whom Stopping Singing = Starting Talking*. What's worse is when it's people who are really just interested in showcasing their obvious superiority in knowledge and musicality, and all-around awesomeness ::looks at some Tenors:: when the DIRECTOR is...you know...GIVING DIRECTION to everyone else. That crap put me on a bit of a slow boil for the rest of the day. And the oversinging by the group really can stop, now. We need to make it to Friday.

I'll save my ranty rant about Perfect Pitch And The Cross It Is To Bear for some other time, but suffice to say that later in the day there was DRAHMAH about that when we were handed a piece of music and then expected to sing it a semitone lower. My Stars!

The other thing that was...disappointing, really, was to discover "the man behind the curtain." Sometimes humans are so...human. ::small sigh::

But the day wasn't all Drama and Intrigue. The woman paired with me on my part for Spem seems to be a Sister from Another Mister. We've officially become the silliest section in the whole choir. We're having a GREAT time, and, if I may say, nailing our part quite well. ::flicks imaginary dust off of shoulder and looks smug::

It's a good group of people this year. The cliques are few, and most everyone seems to be fairly friendly. The language barrier is a struggle for some, it seems, but that doesn't stop them from attempting conversation. Also: the coffee shop across the street is made of WIN.

Today was essentially the same as yesterday, but without the bad attitude. Mostly. ::looks at some Tenors:: I had a voice lesson with Deb Roberts ::fangirl squeal::, and I'll be cantoring Compline, tonight. And we're doing Evensong at the parish church, here, this evening as well. A lot of singing for one day, really. But tomorrow? Tomorrow is a field trip to Oxford, which should be a rainy fun time.

Also, the pigeons here are really loud. And look awfully meaty...

*The other is about the logistics of getting choirs on and off the stage, and other logistical issues, but that's a rant for another day.
freewaydiva: (Music)
Sunday was the first full day of Tallis-ing. It always feels like Monday, to me, and it takes me well into the afternoon to remember that it isn't, which explains why nothing is open. Also, quick props out to the Old Wisteria Hotel - I'd forgotten my plug converter in my room when I checked out, and they sent me a very nice email to let me know. When I was coming up the walk on Sunday, the really nice receptionist - Katie, I think - had it in her hand to give to me. Great service!

So, the day quickly got into the normal pattern. Notices, warm up, Spem rehearsal, break, full-choir rehearsal, short lecture, lunch, Spem rehearsal, break, small group rehearsal, break, another small group rehearsal, supper, full choir rehearsal, compline rehearsal, compline, bar. It's a lot of singing. A LOT of singing. Hard, but fun work. And we're making serious headway with some challenging stuff.

One of the things I really love about doing this course, is that Peter and some of the tutors are always researching the subject area, something from which we benefit by being their performance lab-rats. Last year, it was a piece that Deb's colleague found moldering in the back of a convent in Italy. This year, Peter found and arranged the Missa Euge bone by Tye, which is GLORIOUS. Really lush and lovely. We tackled the Agnus Dei on Sunday evening, and it's just beautiful. I'm assuming that we'll work it into the concert rotation, somehow. Yay!
freewaydiva: (Music)
...where was I?

Yes. Saturday!

I ran into an unexpected face in the hotel lobby on Saturday. Turns out that one of my favorites from last year in Seattle decided to cross the pond this year. Yay! Ran into a few other familiar faces at breakfast, and then we were off to the school to get ourselves situated. I'm in a different dorm than the last time. One without ethernet cables in the rooms, for all that the internet is alive and well, there. (Fortunately, another dorm we're using has extras, hence my typing here, now.)

This year, as you may have heard me wax on about at great and wondrous length, is a bit different, in that we're doing Thomas Tallis' "Spem in alium," a 40(!) voice motet. However, it is also delightfully the same in a lot of respects. This year the US and Canada are well-represented, as well as England, Sweden, Italy, Russia, Spain, Australia, Germany and France (an ex-pat, but still...she lives where she lives). Several people are here from my last trip, which has made it really easy to slip right into the pattern, and there are lots of new folks who are just delightful. It seems to be a decent blend of personalities, and I have to mention how high the musicianship bar is, this year. We're tearing through sight-reading like it's no big deal, which is making it even more fun since the angst is lower.

The food, as expected, is fairly dreadful. Apparently that's something upon which the kitchen, here, prides itself. ::blink::

So, for those playing along at home, the music for this session is as follows (and please go track down youtube footage or audio recordings - it's lovely stuff!):

Spem in alium - Tallis
Dum Transisset - Taverner
2nd Service (Magnificat/Nunc Dimittis) - Byrd
Verbum Caro - Sheppard
Ave Maria - Parsons
Domine, quis habitabit - Parsons
The Lord's Prayer - Sheppard
Christe qui lux - White
Te lucis ante terminum/Procul recedant - Tallis

In addition, there's compline and sharing, but more on that later.

The beds are horrible, the tiny irritating bug life is prolific, and the bar is well-stocked. Thankfully, there are two coffee shops, two doors apart, directly across the street and a lovely little restaurant tucked away behind the parish church, so I will neither starve nor thirst to any great extent, while I am here.

Sleep, on the other hand, may be a bit hard to come by...

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