Monday, December 13, 2004

Sad Hotel, Messiah and Magnificat in quick succession

Whew! A free moment! I haven't written anything about
the series of concert I had bang, bang, bang after I
returned from the US. But here it comes!

I arrived back on Sunday, November 28 and on
December 1 was my first concert. It was a repeat
performance of Sad Hotel - the one with poetry by Anne
Sexton. It took place in the Holzhausenschlößchen
(which means the Little Holzhausen Castle) here in
Frankfurt. I was so glad that we were performing this
program in Frankfurt, but I expected more people to be
there. I think that of the people that were there about a
third of them were people one of us performers new! I
mean, that's great - I'm so pleased about the friends that
came, including 2 writer friends - but there were only
about 25 people there and that's not very many! Oh well,
the program was very well received and the people at the
castle were so friendly and helpful. It's too bad that Herr
Greve (the boss) wasn't there. I would have liked to ask
him about Elysium performing there. I suppose I still

Two days later was Christ the King's annual Sing-along
Messiah. I was singing the soprano solos. I love this
event. It's really a lot of fun. People who think that they
know the Messiah enough to sing in the chorus without
weeks of rehearsal come and sing. The soloists all come
from our church. There is a brief rehearsal with the choir,
a shortish break with refreshments and then the
"performance". If I do say so myself, I sang pretty well.
Especially "Come Unto Him". I really enjoyed it. I think
I'll use that aria as an audition aria in the future. Magnus
and Cristina came up from Karlsruhe. Cristina sang along
in the choir! All of the other soloists sang very well,
especially, Bruce Hunter, Bass. He really sang
magnificently! I was amazed at his breath control. I'll
have to ask him about it sometime. Jeffrey Coulas
(Tenor) said he has some sort of trick! Hmmm.
Afterwards, we went to Novità - my third night in a row!
We also went there after Sad Hotel and after regular
choir rehearsal as usual.

Friday morning I had gotten a call from a cantor in
Wiesbaden asking me if I had time to jump in for another
soprano soloist on Saturday evening. I had time and an
added bonus was that I actually knew the more important
of the two pieces she was going to sing: Magnificat in C
Major by Zelenka! I performed the piece in Dillenburg
about 2 years ago. I only had to sing the first movement
in Wiesbaden. I would've preferred to have more time to
prepare but it turned out quite well. I also sang "Laudate
Dominum" by Monteverdi as ersatz for the solo cantata
by Scarlatti the other soprano was going to sing, which I
didn't know.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


I haven't written here for so long for a few reasons: 1) I
was on vacation in Wisconsin with my family for
Thanksgiving and couldn't access my email, 2) Once I
returned from the USA I had 3 concerts with different
programs within a week and so was simply too busy and
3) because I have this big announcement and wanted to
have time to write a good blog about it!

Magnus and I are engaged!!!!!!

While we were in NYC Magnus proposed. He had
planned a lovely evening out, bought a ring (in Frankfurt,
when I was at a concert rehearsal!) and proposed during
dessert! It was very romantic and just like him. We ate
at Cafè des Artistes on 67th and Central Park West,
which is one of the restaurants that Pamela
recommended to Magnus (she guessed what was up but
can keep a secret!). It's a cozy, romantic french
restaurant and the food was wonderful. I had the best
potatoes ever (and there was really nothing fancy about
their preparation, just boiled potatos - can you tell I'm

We were talking about the contacts he had made at the
conferences he had just come from. He asked me how I
felt about living in any of the places he'd made contacts.
When I got around to Chicago I said, "Chicago is a great
city with lots of potential for me musically AND it's close
to family." Magnus reached into his pocket (I hadn't
noticed the bulge!) gave me a small box and said,
"Speaking of family - will be my family?" I was so
surprised! I had an inkling that he was planning
something and that it would be a small ceremony, but I
wasn't expecting it then! Also, the ring is absolutely
gorgeous and although I'm not surprised he bought one, I
am surprised at just how lovely it is! Also, it fits perfectly
(he guessed the ring size!)! Needless to say, I said yes,
but I couldn't really see to open the box (It was wrapped
too) and then couldn't really see the ring except how it
sparkled. All I could say was, "Which finger?!?" Well, it
fits just right on the proper finger for both Italy and the
US (the left one).

At any rate, I'm very happy, and quite a bit relieved, if I'm
honest! We have started making plans or at least talking
about it. The date is set tentatively for May 2006 in Italy.
Mark your calendars...

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Big Apple

I'm in New York City!!!
Got here yesterday and of course it's so overwhelming...
I've been here quite often before, but you forget how much is really going on.
Tomorrow I will have my lesson with my beloved teacher Cornelius Reid. I can hardly wait. Unfortunately, it will be the only one this trip. He is taking his wife to the hospital. I hope she will be OK. But I'm disappointed nonetheless. But at least I will have one lesson!
M. the cook will be joining me here tomorrow and I'm sure we will have a wonderful time exploring this place together.
More later.

Friday, November 12, 2004

promising diabetes research

I just have to share with all of you:

A medical researcher at Harvard, Denise Faustman, has
cured diabetes in mice! She was actually just searching
for a way to keep transplants from being rejected. She
used a well established and natural method to destroy the
T-cells (the immune cells) responsible for destroying the
islet (insulin producing) cells. Then she retrained the
diabetic mouses system not to reattack its own tissue by
injecting tissue from the spleen of a healthy mouse. She
then expected to perform islet cell transplants on these
mice to see if it would work, but then found that it was
unneccessary because the islet cells had rejenerated!!!!!
Isn't that amazing? I often thought that the islet cells
should be able to rejenerate and if the immune system
could just be persuaded not to attack then all would be
well. Aparently, most medical researchers didn't think
they could. I wonder why, because it is common
knowledge that the body rejenerates all cells except brain
cells every 7 years. Why shouldn't the islet cells do it?

Do a search on google for ' "Denise Faustman" diabetes'
and you'll find tons of articles on her work and related

What makes my blood boil is that she had trouble finding
funding to persue testing on human subjects (with
diabetes)!!!! Pharmaceutical companies turned her down
- that's not surprising though, since they certainly have
little interest in millions of people suddenly having no use
for insulin and all the rest of it. But also the Juvenile
Diabetes Research Association turned her down!!!! They
are now in the process of trying to replicate her work,
which is working. I don't know what politics are involved
in that, but it is unfathomable to me and unconscionable!
Anyway, she got funding from Lee Iacocca (of Chrysler
fame), who wrote a check for $1 Million to start a fund
which should raise $11 million for the research. His wife
died of diabetes complications in 1983, so he is very

It makes me want to send Dr. Faustman a birthday card
or fly there and kiss and hug her! It's very exciting - and
so simple too. A two phase, out-patient procedure and
then let the body take care of itself. WOW. I hope it
pans out.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

New Website

OK, I spent way too much time tinkering around (there
were a few glitches), but it really did go super fast - you
know they claim that you can have one of your own up
and running in 15 minutes and all of that for free! You're
probably wondering, "WHAT?!?"

My new website of course!

The address is:

Nothing fancy, and it's not finished, must add several
more pages, but it's functional...


Monday, October 18, 2004

Mozart and movement

My only concert this month was this past weekend. This time it was
like going home - the concert was in Dillenburg, where I've performed
probably 10 times since I moved to Frankfurt. The church musician
Joachim, is always a pleasure to work with - one of the few catholic
church musicians who actually does interesting projects. He usually
hires a baroque orchestra (or instrument ensemble) and chooses
wonderful music. This time it was Mozart, it's been a long time since I
performed any Mozart (probably since college in Madison!) and I think
my voice has really grown into his music. I enjoy singing it, it's not
hard work. Joachim had hired a small group of instrumentalists the
core of which (cello, organ and first violin) I'd sung with in Dillenburg
before. I also knew one of the trumpet players who recently moved to
Berlin from Frankfurt. I also know a few of the choir members and it's
really nice to see them again.

The program was the Credo Mass with readings from a book "Would
like to have been Mozart? - Meditations on Mozart's Credo Mass KV
257" by Peter Bichsel. THe readings were short - 5 minutes maybe -
between most of the mass parts, and were very interesting. I wonder
if the book has been translated into English? At any rate, it would be
an interesting read. Some ideas from the book: the more he listened
to the mass the less he could think of to write about it - Music defies
language; music is unsuccessful.

The Alto soloist, Claudia Ramroth, was fun to sing with. She was at
Elysium's concert recently in Gemünden and said she loved it. It's
amazing that we should cross paths again in this way. And wonderful
to hear that a singer was so moved by our performance.

So, having sung Mozart with Joachim, he's hired me for 2 more
projects next year. Mid-March we will be performing the Passion
according to St. Luke by Telemann, which is a big chunk of music for
the soprano soloist. Five big da capo arias! I ordered the music today
and I'm looking forward to delving into it. Then we will do a repeat
performance of the Hildegard von Bingen program with the women's
chorus the end of April. The Hildegard program is what brought us
together in the first place, so it's always a joy to do it again.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Puppeteers and Poetry

On Friday Oct. 1 I had a repeat performance of "Sad Hotel" - a
combination of poetry reading with musical accompaniment and
songs on poetry by Anne Sexton. Jens (the pianist and composer)
and I had one last rehearsal on Thursday night and then took the train
to Magdeburg together the next day. We met Barbara (the actress
reciting the poetry) at the train station and took the tram to the theater
immediately. What I didn't know, was that the theater wasn't just any
theater, but a puppet theater! Most people probably think of
marionettes and kids when they imagine a puppet theater and indeed
that is how most puppet theaters (including this theater) earn most of
their money. But Puppet Theater can be much much more than what
most of us imagine. The Magdeburger Puppet Theater does
productions for kids during the week and productions for adults at
night and on the weekends. They are premiering a biographical
production on the life of Anne Sexton Friday, Oct. 8, 2004, which is
why we were asked to come and perform there. The director of the
theater was doing some web research and stumbled across the notice
about our performances in Heidelberg in May. He wanted to give the
Magdeburgers the opportunity to learn a little more about Anne
Sexton and had us perform and had someone give a lecture last
night. Take a look at their website:

They were so friendly and helpful and also extremely interested in
what we were doing. It was interesting doing it in a real theater. The
Prinzhorn Museum in Heidelberg was a bit more live acustically,
which was really nice for the musical aspect of what we were doing.
But the Puppet Theater was really good for clarity of text. It was
interesting to experience the drastic difference of the two spaces.
Plus the Puppet Theater has a whole team of people who were there
to help us with lights and sound. It was heavenly!

They are doing their Anne Sexton production in Stuttgart on October
13 and the end of October. I'm going to go to one of the shows and I
would highly recommend it!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Do as the Romans do

So I got back from an extended weekend in Rome late last night. It was a wonderful, if exhausting trip. I know, I shouldn't complain. The trip was fraught with adventure (preceded by mishaps) beginning with getting stuck in Frankfurt. We tried to leave, really we did, but it seemed as though the world were conspiring against us! Magnus and Sandra had major traffic issues on the way to Frankfurt and I had the not-so-brilliant idea of meeting them at the airport. As it turned out it would have been faster for them to come all the way into Ffm and pick me up. Then there was a huge traffic jam outside of Mainz. After much deliberation and a few phone calls to the Hahn Airport we aborted our trip and thus missed our flight to Rome! We turned around and went back to my apartment to reconnoitre. The "fastest" and cheapest option was to take a night train to Rome. 18 hours later we finally arrived.

The wedding day went off without a hitch (thank God!). The ceremony took place at a church right in the center of the city on the Piazza Venezia. A beautiful church with a wonderful acoustic. The organist was OK, not fabulous, but adequate. The groom got emotional during "Caro mio ben" and I had a hard time holding together myself! Nearly lost my place, but luckily no one else noticed! The reception was held at an old villa just outside of Rome, there was champagne and yummy hors d'oevres in the lovely garden. Unfortunately, it was a bit chilly. The 3 course dinner was in a pavillion and a lavish dessert and dancing was outside again.

Sunday, was spent having brunch with the Pirates (who had converged on Rome from all over Europe for a reunion by way of the wedding) and walking around Rome. Sandra got to see the Piazza di Spagna for the 6th time this trip! I had a wonderful Granita di Caffè (iced coffee) with whipped cream at one of the most famous Cafes in Rome. We visited the Caravaggio painting of Jesus recruiting Matthew at the church of St. Louis of the French. Close by is the Pantheon, which is one of the most amazing pieces of ancient architecture. It's a place I try to see every time I go to Rome. We met Riccardo and Niki in Trastevere, went for a walk up the hill for a beautiful night-time view of Rome and had dinner in a popular Pizzeria. I know now why it's popular! Yum! Riccardo showed us the place where St. Peter was martyred, which is now the site of the first example of baroque architecture, a little chapel with a relic of St. Peter.

Monday the agenda was to go to the market at Campo de' Fiori for spices, look for yarn in the Jewish quarter (Sandra promised to knit me a bolero with black Angora), and go to the Vatican. We didn't find the yarn, unfortunately, not the season... But we got lots of spices, mmmh. We met Magnus' boss Antonio for lunch near the Campo de' Fiori and he gave us a ride to the Vatican. Once through the metal detectors and in the church of St. Peter we admired the Pietà, by Michelangelo, which is one of the most powerfully beautiful sculptures I have ever seen. Another place I go to repeatedly. We went down into the crypt to St. Peter's sepulchre and saw the tombs of many Popes including Pope John Paul I. We met some friends outside and walked around some more. We stopped at Magnus' favorite bakery and bought enough food to feed an army. It was meant for M, Sandra and I for the trip home that night.

We got back to Ffm very, very late last night and M and S returned to Karlsruhe this morning...

Thursday, September 23, 2004

"Day Off"

Oh, it's good to have a day "off" sometimes. It's not really a free day completely, but I only have one lesson to teach and that not until 2pm, so it sure feels like it.

I'm getting ready to leave for Rome, last minute laundry, tidying up the apartment so I don't come home to a pig sty, packing etc.

My assistant, Candy, is coming over later for a lesson and then I will put her to work doing the book keeping. I'll ask her to do a web search for gigging possibilities for Elysium also. It's a wonderful thing to have an assistant! However, I'm usually too busy to think of things she could do, or too much of a control freak to let her do certain things! But it's good for me, I don't have to control everything.... :-)

Magnus and Sandra are picking me up at around 5:15 to go to the airport. We are flying with Ryan Air, the cheap airline. Eugenio is picking us up in Rome and we'll go to dinner. Magnus and I are staying with him for the weekend.

I'll tell you all about it next week!


I've been thinking about this blog: Although I'm often gone, I could use it to inform anyone who wants to know, what I'm up to. I think I will tell my family and friends about it. I wonder if I can link a Yahoo calendar to it? Hmmm.

I have been a travelling maniac lately, singing here and there. Since mid-August I've been in Berlin, Antwerp (Belgium - competition), Karlsruhe (of course), Italy (Bussolengo) and Rheinland-Pfalz (for concerts). In the next few weeks I'll be in Rome (wedding!), Karlsruhe (I'm assuming), Magdeburg (concert), Dillenburg and Moers (concerts). In between of course I'm in Frankfurt, rehearsing and teaching. It's exciting to have so much work, but slightly exhausting!

This weekend should be mostly vacation. Friends from Karlsruhe are getting married in Rome - a German girl and Italian boy. I'm singing for the wedding - they chose The Bridal Chorus, by Wagner; Caro mio ben', by Giordani; Ave Maria, by Bach/Gounod; and Alleluia from Exultate jubilate by Mozart. It shouuld be fun. I'm glad that it's in Rome, which gives us the opportunity to see Eugenio, and Riccardo and Niki. Many from the karlsruhe Pirate Crew are coming, including those who have since moved to other parts of the world. I'm sure we will make Rome unsafe.

Next week, is a repeat performance of the Anne Sexton Project. First time was in Heidelberg, this time in Magdeburg. I'm singing 4 songs composed by the pianist especially for this project on poems by Anne Sexton: Young, Dead Heart, Old, and Killing the Spring. Between songs (and actually the bulk of the performance) an actress recites other poems with an improvized musical backdrop. It's a wonderful project and I'm so glad I'm part of it. We have 2 more performances scheduled, Oct. 29 (Moers) and Dec. 1 (Frankfurt).

Now it's time to go out and buy milk!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Testing, testing

I always get so excited about these things but can't maintain the enthusiasm. We'll see. Actually, I signed up so I could post to my dear friend "Jupiter's Daughter"'s Blog.