Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Greetings from Switzerland!

I just wanted to let anyone who doesn`t already know that I have a little story narration (Robowassailing) and a Christmas song (a super-kitschy version of Silent Night) on StarShipSofa's Christmas Show. It aired on 24 December. I hope you aren't yet tired of Christmas stories and songs. If not, head over to http://www.starshipsofa.com and check out my offerings for Christmas Cheer!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I'm having a Charlie Brown kind of day. Maybe it's been exacerbated by the repeated listenings to A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, but I got two bits of not-happy news in the last two days. It's not exactly bad news but, you know, just not good. Am I taking it too personally? I'll let you be the judge:

1) I blogged last week about the story I narrated coming out on PodCastle. Yesterday I went to Escape Artist's (they produce the podcast) forums online and read the responses to the story. People there say what they want and are not inhibited because I'm not a presence there, like they might be at StarShipSofa. They didn't like my narration. At all. They also didn't much like the story, but that's beside the point. They thought I sounded bored, or simply not emotionally involved. Maybe I wasn't, although I did like the story. One poster thought my accents were inconsistent, and there I'd have to concede the point. I'm not great with accents. I shouldn't try to do them, but in this narration I did - a light southern accent and a pseudo-Asian one. Bad.

2) The other not-happy news is that I didn't make the short list for the First Annual Sofanaught Awards. I can be a bit blasé about this one, because the folks that did make the short list deserve to be on there. But I wanted to be. More than I think I let myself believe.

Now I'm thinking - "Do I suck as a narrator?" I really enjoy doing it and have no delusions that I'm a great one, I can recognize that I need to improve. But you know, it's hard to hear the criticism - expressed outright or not.

That is all.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Report: Silly Christmas Songs

It's kinda old news now, but the performance of the silly Christmas songs went off quite well. Mrs. Hooligan's Christmas Cake and Tom Lehrer's A Christmas Carol were big hits, garnering laughter in all the right places. Only mumbled a few times and had a lot of fun hamming it up! W00t! For your entertainment:

Checked out the space where I'll give a song recital next year. It's my neighbor's office. It's spacious with a high ceiling, mostly concrete and brick walls, so the acoustics aren't too bad. A violin professor who lives in the building on the street (my neighbors's building is back behind the main one) asked if he could use the space for his student's recitals and put a piano in there. Roger asked if he could use the piano for other concerts as well. The piano is just an upright (too bad it's not a baby grand or something more concert-esque), but I think it will be adequate, but then I know nothing about what makes a good piano. As far as I'm concerned if it works and makes a decent sound, then that's a good piano. The finer points are (as yet) lost on me (maybe I could learn...). Anyway, I think it would be nice place to have a little recital.

I had the "ladies" over for Caroling last Friday. I had to play the piano. Ugh. I'm not a pianist - there's some screw loose which makes me play wrong notes in different places on every repeat, it doesn't matter if I practice or not. But this was a very informal thing. There were about 7 of us and we just went through our favorite ones. Ursula brought her Reader's Digest Christmas Carols book, which had arrangements that I could actually play for the most part. Afterwards we drank Glühwein and Eggnog and munched on the things the guests had brought along. Nom!

I baked my first German Stollen! Ursula came over early for the Caroling and walked me through it. We'll see if it turned out OK in a couple of weeks. It's supposed to sit in a cool place for about 2 weeks to develop the flavors.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Your cup runneth over

Yes, yesterday two different narrations I've done came out on two different podcasts:

PodCastle #36: "Ancestor Money" by Maureen McHugh. This is an interesting look at what the afterlife might be like.

StarShipSofa #54: "View from a Height" by Joan D. Vinge. Also on that show is poetry by fellow Wisconsinite Mark Rich, Flash Fiction by my buddy Matthew Sanborn Smith, and a fantastic piece of genre history by our resident historian Amy H. Sturgis.

We are in the 2nd week of nominations for the Sofanaughts Awards at StarShipSofa. Please go and nominate your favorite narrator (me!), fave flash fiction or main fiction piece, and your fave poetry and fact contributor in the first 52 episodes of Aural Delights. You can go to the online poll or go to the forums (register) and post your favorites under one of the threads under "Sofanaughts". In each of the categories, the five entries with the most nominations will be short-listed for the run-off poll at a later date.

Go on! What are you waiting for?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Schlocky Christmas Song for the Sofa

So, yesterday I had fun geeking out recording a song for StarShipSofa's Christmas special. I thought I would just record one of the silly songs I'm doing with Anne tomorrow, but Tony, the old softie, actually requested Silent Night. Now this is actually a really hard song to sing well. I thought it might be kind of excruciating if I just sang it all by myself, because he asked me if I could get it to him sooner or later, so I looked in my collections of Christmas Carols and found an easy accompaniment, one that I could actually play without any mistakes. I chose the cheesy vibraphone sound on my electric Pai-anna and used the record function on it as well. Yah-ta! I did it! Then because I realized I didn't have the proper cables to attach the piano to my computer I just let the piano play the accompaniment and recorded it using Audacity. It gives it a nice "live music" feel, but makes for a pretty crappy recording. Oh well. Then I recorded myself singing the melody in English and then German. And then I worked out a harmony and proceeded to record myself singing the 2nd voice. Then Audacity crashed. And I lost everything I'd done because I was stupid enough not to save the whole time. But recording it all the 2nd time went quite quickly and Voila! I have an all-Diane version of Silent Night, which isn't half bad. It's amazing how well I sing with myself. I think I might upload it to My MySpace Space, if you'd like to hear it now. Otherwise, do Tony the favor and on Dec. 24th or after download his Christmas Special. I've also narrated a Christmas story for that show, so it'll be worth the wait!


Friday, December 05, 2008

Silly Christmas Songs

Next week I'll be singing (some) silly Christmas songs at the Annual General Meeting of the International Women's Association of Hannover. Anne Pehrisch, an American and local pianist/piano teacher, will be accompanying me. It was her idea to do fun Christmas Songs, rather than the tired, old, staid Christmas songs. I was all for it. Actually, it will be a mix of things, and the program isn't long. Here's the run-down:

*Music for a While, Henry Purcell (the one serious song)
*A Christmas Carol, Tom Lehrer (go here for a great recording of Lehrer doing this one)
*Mrs Hooligan's Christmas Cake, trad. Irish
*The Gloucester Wassail, trad. English carol - but a drinking song!

If we get the chance we'll do an encore of Aaron Copland's Simple Gifts. Which is just a gorgeous song.

I'm looking forward to it, and I hope that it'll perhaps garner me a few more, more lucrative gigs.

Working with Anne has been a joy and we are planning to do a song recital in the Spring. I'm excited, and a little nervous. I haven't done a recital per se since my exit recital in Bremen in 1996! But they don't make you much money. It'll be great because there are so many great songs, that you never get to do after you graduate from conservatory!


Monday, November 10, 2008

In Memoriam - Concert for Barbara Thornton

What a rare experience this concert in Berlin was. The music was fabulous, except for copious amounts of annoying pflegm under my vocal chords my voice was in good form, the group of singers worked well and efficiently together and sounded amazing, the acoustics in the church were astounding and the occasion for the concert was very meaningful to me and a few of us singing.

This was the program:

*Alma Redemptoris Mater - Antiphon, anonymous (10th cent.)
*Motet- Anima mea liquefacta est/Deschendit in ortum meum/Alma - Montpellier Codex
*Eya, mater fidelium - Codex Las Huelgas
*O frondens virga - Hildegard von Bingen
*Motet- Ex illustri - Codex Las Huelgas
*O quam magnum miraculum - Hildegard von Bingen (with solos by yours truly)
*Ave, generosa - Hildegard von Bingen
*O vos imitatores - Hildegard von Bingen
*Motet- Ave,regina/Alma redemptoris mater/Alma - Codex Las Huelgas
*Eterni numinis - Codex Las Huelgas
*Spiritus sanctus - Hildegard von Bingen
*In exitu Israel - Psalm 113
*Quis dabit capiti meo - Codex Las Huelgas
*O monialis concio - Codex Las Huelgas
*Motet- Ave, virgo/Ave, gloriosa/Domino - Codex Las Huelgas
*Nunc gaudeant - Hildegard von Bingen
*O viridissima virga - Hildegard von Bingen (with solos by me)
*Motet- O Maria maris stella/O maria virgo davitica/Et veritate - Codex Las Huelgas

The singers were:
Amy Green (Student of Barbara Thornton's 1996-98/Elysium/Vox Nostra/Diadema),
Susanne Hammer (Diadema/Vox Nostra),
Ellen Hünigen (Vox Nostra),
Lucia Reichelt-Pahn (Sequentia 1996 - 1998),
Diane Severson (Sequentia 1997-99/Elysium),
Allegra Silbiger (Sequentia 1997-99/Elysium/Diadema/Vox Nostra),
Anja Simon (Diadema/Vox Nostra),
Susanne Wilsdorf (Vox Nostra/Diadema).

We had 4 rehearsals before the concert and there was no rehearsal where all 8 of us were present. In fact, I think the most we ever were at one rehearsal was 5. Allegra and I were the unifying factor. That said, as you can see from the list above Allegra, Amy and I have sung a lot together, and the others, save Lucia, also sing together a lot. I know Susanne from conservatory in Bremen and Allegra, Lucia, Amy and I all have extensive experience in the oral tradition that is borne of having worked with Barbara. (If you are wondering who Barbara Thornton is, see my previous post "Concert in Berlin" or google her!) So, even though we had never sung together as a group before, we all had extensive experience singing this type of music and singing together in part. Everything just fell into place and we created this powerful, lovely, unified sound. It was an amazing experience to feel Barbara's legacy live through us as singers. What a gift. I wish we had a recording of it.

The church was St.-Johannes-Evangelist in Berlin-Mitte. It's stuck on a little street off Oranienburger Strasse (Auguststrasse) with buildings plastered to each side. The interior is huge and cavernous and empty (they have exhibitions and concerts there only), built in a neo-romanesque style. The reverb lasted a full six seconds, but unlike the Speyer Cathedral the sound remains pure and doesn't swim. The text and the musical line remain pure and understandable. Incredible. We sang from various points in the church - mostly from in front of the altar, but also from the side and the rear balconies as well as from both sides at once (for the antiphonal psalm).

There were possible 40 people at the concert. Not a lot, but it was a very attentive audience (even the 10 year old was rapt!) and I'm just happy when the audience numbers more than the musicians on stage! It's a shame, but then we did it to honor Barbara's life and work. I think we achieved that and then some.


Friday, November 07, 2008


I arrived in Berlin early this morning. Man, I hate getting up so early. My train left at 7:21 so I left home at about 6:45. I'm not convinced it's a good thing, but there was a bus immediately and the connection to the subway was also fast, so I made it to the train station by 7:00, way more than enough time to get coffee. I had a reserved seat, so I was able to relax and read a bit (The Final Key, Catherine Asaro) and listen to my iPod. Listened to GeekAcres, Christiana's Shallow Thoughts (I'm finding this short daily podcast hugely entertaining), Metamor City, and StarShipSofa Aural Delights #48 and the rest of #49. I arrived in Berlin about an hour before rehearsal started so I made my way toward the church in a leisurely fashion. I was nearing the church and still had half and hour to spare, so I nipped into a cafe and had a second breakfast (ciabatta with cheese and a cappuccino).

Rehearsal was long, but we got through everything went over logistics (we'll be singing some things from the balconies) and tested the acoustics. I'm really pleased with the way the group sounds so far. Allegra, Amy and I have tons of experience singing together in Elysium and Allegra, Amy and the other singers sing together often in Vox Nostra and Diadema. Unfortunately though, we haven't had everyone at the rehearsals at once. But in the various constellations sofar the group has a lovely full sound. The church is completely empty (I guess it has no congregation and just hosts art exhibitions and concerts) and has a full resonant acoustic. The reverb lasts a full 6 seconds! Perfect for Hildegard's music.

Amy, Allegra and I went to an Indian restaurant afterwards for lunch (at 3pm!) and to catch up. Oh my God, there was a lot of food. It's amazing how cheap things still are in Berlin. I paid about €10 for soup+bread, salad, main course, bottled water and a mango lassi! That's about $13 these days! There was so much food that we had them box it up to take home. I think it will feed two more people at some point!

We'll have our last rehearsal tomorrow morning at 11. We won't have everyone assembled until just prior to the concert so there will be plenty of exciting new stuff for the concert! :-)

Next post: concert report

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Concert in Berlin

On 8 November 2008 I'll be participating in a benefit/memorial concert in honor of Barbara Thornton, founder of Sequentia, ensemble for medieval music, and director of the women's vocal ensemble, Vox Femina (of which I was a member), who died 10 years ago of a brain tumor, while Vox Femina/Sequentia was touring doing Ordo Virtutum by Hildegard von Bingen.  The concert proceeds will go to the German Brain Tumor Fund (die Deutsche Hirntumor Hilfe).

8 November 2008 8pm / 20:00
St. Johannes Evangelist Church
Auguststr. 90
Berlin, Germany

The concert is organized by my fellow Elysia, Allegra Silbiger, who had a close pupil/mentor relationship with Barbara. Several of the performers in the concert worked with Barbara at one time or another.

I can't believe that it has been 10 years already. It seems like yesterday, somehow. Her death, while we were all on tour, was hard to take. We all knew it was coming and we had all suffered through trying periods (the first tour half a year earlier), while Barbara was still working with us.  But she was a brilliant musician, a real work-horse and inspirational in many ways. She brought the world the music of Hildegard of Bingen in a way that made it immediate, not 900 years old. It was an honor to work with her and I hope that in some way she lives on through me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Recent and upcoming narrations

I've been very busy with the new home lately, but I've still been doing the occassional narration for the StarShipSofa. Especially poetry. It's still a total blast and I'm looking forward to doing some more meaty stories soon. 

Here's a run-down of my recent bits on StarShipSofa:

- Like the First Morning, Cyril Simsa (Flash Fiction) Episode No. 43
- Fairytale Graveyard, Mikal Trimm (poetry) Episode No. 42
- Judy Resnick, Laurel Winter (poetry) Episode No. 40
- Tideline, Elizabeth Bear (Main Fiction) Episode No. 39
- Moon Over Baton Rouge, Atalanta Pendragonne (Flash Fiction) Episode No. 36
- Staying the Course, Mark Rich (poetry) Episode No. 33
- Goodbye is Meaningless, Laurel Winter (poetry) Episode No. 32

You can find the complete listing of Aural Delights segments here: StarShipSofa Aural Delights

Narrations you can look forward to in the future:
- Ancestor Money, Maureen McHugh (Fiction) - on PodCastle
- King's Man, Samantha Henderson (poetry) - on SSS
- Gunfight at the Sugarloaf Pet Food and Taxedermy, Jeff Carlson (fiction) - on SSS
- 3 Days in a Border Town, Jeff VanderMeer (Fiction) - on SSS
- View from a Height, Joan D. Vinge (Fiction) - on SSS
- More poetry from Laurel Winter, Mark Rich and Mikal Trimm

Also, I'm creating the role of a succubus on Chris Lester's Metamor City Podcast It's one of the first short stories that he released on his podcast, which he simply narrated himself. Once he's finished with Making the Cut (a full-lenghth novel) he'll go back and remaster the early stories. That's where I come in. :-)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Sorry, this post is very late. I forgot I never finished it or posted it!

So, I had my first audition in years the other day. I sang for 5 or 6 church musicians around Hannover. It was the strangest audition.

When I first arrived in Hannover I heard that there had just been one of these Audition-for-everyone-at-once sort of events, and that I'd missed it.  I called the office that organizes it to get the names of the musicians so I could contact them and audition for them personally. But no, the woman wouldn't give me that info! It's a German thing - Data privacy, dontcha know? Anyway, she put me on the list for the next one, which was on Tuesday.

I got a letter and a form to fill out about 6 weeks ago. In the letter it stated that they had had so many applicants that they could only allot each of us 6 minutes. Six Minutes?!? The next requirement was that we should sing 2 pieces. One from the standard baroque sacred music repertoire (ie an aria from a Bach Cantata or Oratorio). I'm sorry, but there isn't a single aria that is less than 5 minutes! That leaves 1 minute for the 2nd song. At best. Sigh.

In the end I chose to sing "Ich will Dir mein Herze schenken" from the St. Matthew Passion by Bach, which is a da capo aria, meaning I could skip the repeat of the A section, making it about 3 minutes long. It's relatively fast, has lots of sixteenth notes, shows a good range and has a few endless phrases which Bach is famous for, which I can do well. As my second piece I chose something contrasting, slow with long lilting phrases: Evening Hymn by Henry Purcell. The song is very long, but I figured if they didn't want to hear the rest they could stop me.

They didn't. Which I'm glad of. They were pretty stone-faced throughout my singing, but then when I thanked them and offered them my Curriculum Vitae or resume, they all smiled and seemed interested.

I was the first one on for the day, and I think they were still pretty unorganized (one of the musicians was late and came in during the Bach), so I didn't get any information as to when or if I might hear anything official.

I'm still waiting. I hope that's not a bad sign.  They've probably got singers lined up through Easter at least and so I don't really expect to hear about specific jobs until after Christmas, but it would be nice to get feed back.

We'll see!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Romantic Garden Festival Performances

So, now that the first phase of work in our new place is finished I have space in my brain to think about other things!

A couple of weeks ago I had my first performances in the Hannover area: I sang Lute Songs and Jazz Ballads with Gero Parmentier on Lute and Guitar at the Romantic Garden Festival at Rittergut Remeringhausen

It's an annual event which involves much retail, food and music in a lovely setting. Gero and I were the headline musical attraction and we performed 4 times for about 20-25 minutes on Saturday and Sunday afternoon respectively. For our own sanity we decided to alternate 2 programs: Songs by Renaissance composers Dowland and Campion and Jazz Ballads. The run-down:

Lute Songs - 
*Come Again (Dowland)
*Fine Knacks for Ladies (Dowland - very appropriate!)
*Wilt Thou, Unkind
*Never Weather-beaten Sail
*Now, oh Now, I Needs Must Part
*A Shepherd in a Shade
*Come Cheerful Day

Jazz Ballads - 
*The Nearness of You (Hoagy Charmichael)
*Misty (Garner/Burke)
*Skylark (Hoagy Charmichael)
*Black Coffee (Webster/Burke)
*At Last (Warren)

We performed under a little pavillion, which was at a slightly unfortunate angle, but people could still sit on the grass or at tables and listen, if not necessarily see us. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny - even if slighty too warm for us!

I really enjoyed working with Gero, who I hadn't known previously. He's a wonderful player and a great accompanist. I hope we'll have a chance to perform together again. Thanks Tobias for the recommendation!

Many friends, pupils came and even my In-laws were there from Italy. Thank you everyone who came especially those I saw and spoke to: Magnus, Franca and Luigino, Dilara and parents, Claudia and family, John and family, Rene, and various colleagues of Magnus' from E.On. I'm quite sure I'm forgetting someone, so please feel my gratitude for your support.

Also, a huge thank you to Thilo and Petra for getting me this gig and to Tania v. Schöning for hiring me to perform at such a lovely event!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"Silence" CD available for Digital Download!!!!

Yes, that's right, you can now download my CD "Silence" right into your iTunes or MP3 player for a very reasonable price.

Please go to CD-Baby and have a listen. If you like it, download it and write your comments on the site.  Meinhard and I receive 91% of the sales from digital downloads from CDBaby. The CD is also available on most major download platforms (i.e. iTunes), but we don't get paid as much for sales. 

You can also buy "real" CDs if you prefer!!

If you don't know CDBaby yet, it's an online distribution service for independent musicians. It started out with just one guy doing it in his shed for his friends and has grown into a huge and well-respected business venture. 

And thank you for your support!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Still a construction site and no internet/telephone

Just a quick notice - I would love to be writing more at the moment (Just gave my first official concerts in Hannover), but we don't have phone or internet at home. It was supposed to be hooked up on 22 August but there's something wrong and they'll be having a look at it sometime this week. Yes, thank you for that precise information so I can plan! Anyway, until I get internet at home I'm relegated to checking my email in an Internet Cafe, so I'm only doing what's absolutely necessary.

So, hopefully more soon! Thanks for tuning in!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Moving house!

I've been going mad with all the stuff I've had to do the last few weeks! Here's what it's looked like:

1. Packing for the move (which is today! Ack!)
2. Wedding in Italy on July 26 (I sang)
3. Renovations began at the new place on July 28 and I've been the overseer!
4. I started using an insulin pump to treat my Type 1 Diabetes this week, which meant several trips to the doctor.
5. Regular teaching schedule.

Today we're actually moving into temporary housing with a friend who's going to be away on vacation for the next 2 weeks. From 08.08.08 we should be in our new digs. Who knows if we be all connected up by then though... :-)

Monday, July 21, 2008

StarShipSofa Round Table

Yes, this is old news. The 2nd StarShipSofa Round Table discussion podcast aired on Wednesday, 16 July 2008. It was Tony Smith, Fred Himebaugh and me discussing the last 2 Aural Delights shows with main fiction by John Varley and Robert Reed. There was a special treat at the end - I sang (unaccompanied and very off-the-cuff) Summertime by Gershwin. It was a request by Tony.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wedding #2

This was Magnus' friend Francesco's wedding in near Arezzo, Italy. That's in Tuscany. It's beautiful. And if you've ever been there, you know what an understatement that is! It's also the home of famous medieval music theorist the monk Guido of Arezzo, famous for the "Guidonian Hand" a method to teach the Hexachords or "scales" in use back then. Don't ask me how it works, I don't remember!

Anyway, this blog is turning into more of a travel blog than a music blog, so those of you more interested in music than travel will have to bear with me, I promise I'll be posting more on music soon.

M & I traveled to Florence on Friday night. On my brother's recommendation we stayed at the Hotel "Il Bargellino" in central Florence. It's a lovely little hotel with a gorgeous roof courtyard which is open to guests.
On Magnus' sister Manon's recommendation we went to a great restaurant very close to the hotel called "da Mimmo" where they have the real Fiorentina steaks. We met our friends Pierpaolo and Yaki and we all ate these huge, yummy steaks. Tom, I'm sorry I didn't know about them when you and Barb were there!

Saturday, we met Manon and Francesco who were on their way to visit Francesco's parents. They went with us to pick up the rental car and then led us a ways towards Arezzo. We went on our way, visited the Pieve di Romena and the castle nearby, met Francesco who showed us his home town of Poppi, and then wandered around Arezzo a bit before having dinner. Francesco's father had graciously and generously bought us tickets to the famous jousting games . We watch a bit of the parade. The participants of the Joust paraded through town in costumes, with horses, horns and drums, and flags. We had a great time at this ancient competition. And I think it's worthy of its own post. Stay tuned!

The wedding was pretty early on Sunday - 11:45am. By that time it was already around 33°C/91°F and unfortunately the wedding was a bit long and boring, but it was in a beautiful little abbey church in the hills and I enjoyed Alessandra's (the bride) sister's singing. She has a sweet, clear soprano voice and has just started taking lessons (at 30). I hope the lessons don't ruin her voice! :-) I know, I'm terrible!

After the wedding we drove to a Villa where we stood in the HOT sun (or crowded under the few umbrellas) for an hour drinking champagne and eating trifles, then we repaired to a large tent where we had "lunch" (or dinner?!?) at about 3pm. After dinner, we went inside, where it was blessedly air conditioned for desserts. Mmmmmh. The food was glorious.

It was still early after the reception and so we decided to go with Danilo and Manuela (D is a friend from Karlsruhe) to the celebrations of the winning jousting team (Quartiere di Porta Crucifera) and watch the European Cup (soccer/football) semi-final between Spain and Italy. We had good food (which we were basically still too full to eat) and good company. Unfortunately, Italy lost.

Next day, we took it easy, packed, went shopping for Italian food staples and drove back to Florence and flew home. A lovely weekend.

I love the idea of audio books but...

...the reality of accessing them and listening to them (and other digital downloads like music) the way I'd like is another thing entirely. While, personally, I haven't run into any problems regarding DRM (Digital Rights Management) or other download management software and the like, I just read this clear, well-founded article by the owner of Podiobooks.com which led me to a site, where, as an owner of a MacMini and various Apple devices, I'm simply out of luck. Read the article and see if he doesn't have a point.

Friday, June 20, 2008

weddings galor!

No, not mine - I'm already married! Rather, everyone we know who's not, decided to this summer!  Luckily (!), they must have consulted with one another and have scheduled their weddings evenly paced so that we can attend (nearly) all of them.  

First, on June 1 was a lovely wedding in DC. A "school" friend (sort of, but it's a complicated story) of Magnus', Roberta and her (also) Italian boyfriend Andrea got married.  Andrea is a diplomat at the Italian Embassy in DC.  They have a lovely house, which we got to see.  The reception was held at the Cosmos Club, where we also had our accomodation.  The Cosmos Club is one of those typical old school clubs, the sort that only exist on the East Coast, if you know what I mean.

This weekend we're off to Florence/Arezzo, Italy for the wedding of a former colleague (Karlsruhe) of Magnus', Francesco.  

Mid-July my Prosperity friend, Sue and her fabulously lovely boyfriend of several years, Xavier are getting married on Sue's birthday in France (where Xavier is from).  That will be especially fun, because I'll get to see many of my Prosperity friends, whom I haven't seen in ages. Some of them are even flying in from the States so it will be extra-special. Lucky Sue!

At the end of July, long-time fiancés Marzia and Beppe (originally Marzia was a friend of Magnus' but I've known her for years as well, since she lived in Karlsruhe. This one takes place in Cadore, Italy up in the mountains above Treviso.  I love that area.  There will be many Karlsruhe friends and I'll be singing during the ceremony too.  Fun, fun!

In August my cousin Mike is getting married. Unfortunately, we won't be able to attend that one - logistics make it just too difficult, never mind the expense of travelling to the States in August!

September marries my dear cousin Rose's daughter Theresa, who visited Magnus and I in Germany AND London.  I'm really hoping that at least I can attend this one, but Magnus already knows he can't.  Theresa asked me to sing and my mom will play the organ too, so that's extra incentive!

Phew! That's enough!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Weekend in Helsinki

M has to go to Finland every 2 or 3 weeks for business. Until now, it's been winter (no fun for vacation) and/or his meeting has been in the middle of the week. This time his meeting was on Monday and since in Germany May 1 is a holiday and NO one works on a Friday after a Thursday holiday here, we made a LONG weekend out of it. We were there for 5 days and we hit the weather jack-pot! It was sunny and "warm" the whole time! I guess that's pretty unusual. It was between 60° and 70°, but the breeze off the sea was still pretty cool. One day I ended up carrying my jacket and my sweater around all day!

We walked our feet to bloody stumps! I didn't bring great walking shoes and we did a whole lot of it. Ouch. We had bought a brochure detailing 6 or so walking tours of the city and an island fortress and we did at least 4 of them! The brochure gave the details of the more interesting buildings, churches and statues, parks and even some historical cafes! The island with the fortress on it was beautiful, we had a fun picnic eating Finnish bread and cheese on a bastion overlooking the sea where the huge ferries come in and out. And since the weather was so fantastic there were also lots of cute sailboats on the water.

We ate fabulously all weekend, trying various typical Finnish dishes. The first night we went to a cute restaurant called Lappi that specialized in food from Lapland (the area above the arctic circle). We ate a taster platter with deer sausage, reindeer steak and moose/elk steak with root veggies. I had a cool cocktail with sort of pale pink blackberry sort of thing called cloudberry. :-) The second night, at the Seahorse M had deep fried Baltic Herring and I had Finnish meatballs. mmmmmh. The atmosphere wasn't so great though. The third night we took a boat out to an island just off the coast to a restaurant called the Boathouse and had grilled salmon. oh, was it good! Here we had the whole second floor of the restaurant (which was round with huge picture windows overlooking the sea) to ourselves. It was lovely. Not sure why business was so slow. It was only their 3 day open for the season...

We went to the movies twice! The movies in Finland all have Finnish and/or Swedish subtitles, as opposed to in Germany where everything is dubbed. So we took advantage and saw Darjeeling Limited and There Will Be Blood. Both were very good, but There Will Be Blood was a bit creepy. Mostly I think it was the soundtrack that gave me a weird feeling all the time, but the main character, one of the first oil barons in Texas, was such a violent person lacking in any moral fiber. Darjeeling Limited on the other hand was a delightful movie. You should go see it if you haven't already! It's about these 3 brothers who meet on a train to go across the Indian countryside ostensibly to go visit their mother who's become a nun after their father died. They are wacky characters and much hilarity ensues. I'm sure you'd get a kick out of it.

One of my pupils here in Hannover is huge fan of the Finnish band, Him, and asked me to buy her a CD she couldn't get here. The singer, Manna, is married to the guitarist (I think, well someone) from Him. So we went on a little treasure hunt. It wasn't too hard to find the CD once we found the shop! That was a bit of an adventure - we got lost in the department store Stockmann's! Back at home I've listened to the CD and it's really great. I can recommend it highly. I think it is possible to get it through iTunes. Manna writes the songs and lyrics for the most part and sings. She has a lovely light voice, which is clear and the words (in English) are perfectly understandable. The music is not loud, more on the folky/pop-y side. Very nice.

We also bought a graphic novel version (in English!) of the Kalevala, which is the Finnish folk epic kind of like Beowulf or the Canterbury Tales. We asked for a version of it in English and they showed us two paperback editions, one was cheap quality and one was super expensive and we wanted a nice one that was maybe illustrated or something. Just to have, who knows if we would read it! Then I had the idea to look in the comics section and there it was! A nice hardcover edition in black and white and in English! Amazing.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Carmen in Hannover

A couple of weeks ago M and I went to see Carmen at the Hannover Opera with a colleague of his and her boyfriend. (I know, it took me long enough to get around to blogging about it...) It was the premier. A Georgian mezzo by the name of Khatuna Mikaberidze sang the title role. Jose - Pedro Velázquez Díaz and Micaela - Arantxa Armentia. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't very good either, I'm afraid. I've heard operas where the singers were very bad. Here, in Carmen, the singers were quite good, especially Arantxa Armentia, but they were pretty much all of them simply over-singing. Why? I have no idea. The Japanese girl who sang the role of Frasquita (Hinako Yoshikawa), was quite excellent and the only one who didn't sacrifice musicality to sing loudly. Unfortunately, we don't get to hear a whole lot from Frasquita. The Card Aria (Trio) was wonderful, in large part due to Hinako Yoshikawa. The staging and direction was a bit random which hindered the singers in expressing the emotions fully. One exception was the death scene at the end. Pedro Velázquez Díaz as Don Jose sang very sensitively. The orchestra was quite excellent. The conductor, Jahbom Koo, was a bit excited at the beginning, though. The overture began at a racing tempo and returned to that theme at a much more relaxed tempo.

One real gripe: Why must there always be naked people on a German opera stage? Carmen was no exception.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Singing Revolution?

Can singing cause a revolution? The answer is yes! When 1 million Estonians sang for their freedom, it happened. Well, at least that's what the people involved in getting a documentary (of the same name) screenings say. I'd love to see this movie, but somehow I don't think I will be able to. They are doing a campaign to get screenings around the USA and Canada and if they get at least 1500 requests they will organize it. So far, it is or will be shown (for a week long run) in 25 cities around the US and Canada. They have a map on the site where you can see how many requests have been made in cities all over. Madison, WI has only 73 requests... :-(

Go have a look and make a request! Click on the title of this post!

Friday, April 11, 2008

14th Annual Free the Voice Seminar

I just got back from Frankfurt yesterday, where I attended the voice seminar offered by Carol Baggott-Forte. This is the same seminar that was once taught by my mentor, Cornelius Reid. The work is the same: Functional Voice Training. And let me tell you - it was FANTASTIC. Unfortunately, I only had 4 lessons myself (I thought I was going to have 6, but there you go), but they were so good. Carol is so amazing. I feel like I took another huge step towards vocal freedom. At the same time, I listened to her teach throughout most of the seminar 10am - 1pm, 2:30pm - 5:30. It's the most fascinating thing to listen to these people singing and hear what she does with them. Her explanations are always clear and concise and I learn soooo much. The progression of the singers is phenomenal, even in the course of one lesson, but especially at the end after they've had 4 lesssons. Now I just have to incorporate what I learned into my own teaching. My first course of action is going to be to be more adventurous with my pupils. I hope that I can inspire them to sing better, more reflexively and to trust their bodies and their ears!

Want to know more about Functional Voice Training? Go to Carol Baggott-Forte's website: www.liberatedvoice.com

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Singing and Short Stories

So, things are flowing nicely around here. I'm up to 4 pupils now with the possibility of a 5th in a couple of weeks. I'm off to Frankfurt next week for 9 days - I'll be attending a voice seminar with Carol Baggott-Forte and seeing some friends. One of the stories I narrated for the StarShipSofa's BSFA series - Lighting Out, by Ken MacLeod - won the award! Congrats, Ken! I have a couple of more narration projects in the works - Tideline, by Elizabeth Bear (which is up for the Huga Award in the short form category) still needs to be edited and then I'll do my biggest project to date: Three Days in a Border Town, by Jeff VanderMeer. Eventually, I'll get around to doing Storm Constantine's The Green Calling and then I'll be doing a recording of some Dr Who FanFiction (by Jeri Massi). After that? Who knows. Hopefully, I'll also be singing before too long now....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Sledge-maker's Daughter, by Alastair Reynolds

For those who are interested, My 3rd story recorded for the StarShipSofa (as stated in the title of this post) has been posted to the Sofa's website. It is another of the nominees for the BSFA Award in the Short Story category.

It's a great story about a girl living on the banks of the Tyne river in a far, far future Northern England, which is engulfed in a seeming endless winter. She is given knowledge and a tool with which she is meant to preserve the memory of what happened to the earth and how to protect its people from a threat they don't remember, but which looks as though it might return soon.

Junior Elysium member No. 4!

Noam Zev Spincemaille was born to Elysium member Anna Levenstein and her husband Pascal Spincemaille on March 12, 2008!!! I'm very excited to welcome another junior Elysium member (so far now we have 2 girls and 2 boys)! From the pictures it looks as though mother got through the ordeal OK. She looks a bit tired, but otherwise happy and serene!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Voice Studio

What a joy it is to be teaching again! I didn’t realize how much I missed it really. I spent most of my time in London trying to find singing work, or a teaching job, that I didn’t really try hard to find private pupils. So, as a consequence, I didn’t teach much at all. I had a couple of people call me (they saw my entry in an online teachers list) asking for a lesson to prepare for an audition they had coming up. But they weren’t interested in learning how to sing. Later, close to the end of my stay in London I took on 2 pupils, one a Canadian who I met at Carol Baggott-Forte’s course in Brighton, and the other a woman who’d found me through the internet. I was very sorry to leave them in the lurch like that, having only just started teaching them and leaving town just a few short months later.

But now, here in Hannover, I have tried a little harder to find pupils right away, but not much. I hung a few notices in Libraries and such and put up entries on various classified type websites, but that was it. And as of now I have 3 pupils who’ll come regularly and one who’s coming after Easter for a trial lesson, but who seems keen! Not bad.

Now if I could just find someone to hire me to sing sooner rather than later, I’d be happier than a clam.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lighting Out, by Ken MacLeod

So, the StarShipSofa has posted the next short story that I've narrated: Lighting Out, by Ken MacLeod. You can go listen to it by clicking on the title of this post.

It's been short-listed for the BSFA award for 2007 and the SSS is releasing each of the 5 stories in audio form, one each day. This is the first of 2 of the nominated stories that I've narrated. It's an interesting far future story, which extrapolates on what life might be like if the internet and computer technology we have today keeps evolving at this rate.

Friday, March 07, 2008

New Students

I have a couple of new singing students lined up, but alas, 'tis the season for illnes, I guess, and both cancelled just before their first lessons. Have rescheduled, but hey, it's frustrating. Anyway, it's gone pretty quickly getting interest in lessons. Which reminds me, I have to try to reach another person who contacted me again. She said she's hard to reach...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Infinity Syrup, Laurel Winter

So, it's up, it's online, it's being broadcast into a home near you - why not yours?!?

Of course, I'm talking about the story I recently narrated for my friend Tony's podcast "StarShipSofa" - click on the title to go straight to the website. After this week you can find it under the Audio section of the website. Or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, you'll get the weekly audio short story (and I'll be narrating more in the future!) and also the weekendly podcast proper on various Science Fiction authors or themes. It's great fun! Hope you enjoy!

Also, check out Laurel Winter's website: http://www.laurelwinter.com

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Diane - Narrator!

I recently completed my first audio recording of a short story narration!

When I mentioned to Tony of StarShipSofa that I read aloud to my husband every night before we go to bed, he asked if I'd be interested in narrating a story for his short fiction series. I've always wanted to try my hand at this, but since he asked, I felt motivated to really do something about it. I had fooled around with Audacity software, a couple of months ago, when I was toying with the idea of doing a podcast (but I never could come up with an interesting theme), so I had that. We have a bluetooth headset I used when I chatted with MA on her podcast "Better Late Than Never" . So when Tony sent me a story to narrate, I did a sample. He wrote back and very politely said that the microphone was cr*p - but my reading was fantastic. I was pleased with his compliment, but what should I do about the mic? He suggested a couple and I did some research myself on what is available here in Germany and got hold of one very quickly. A couple of days later I had my first draft finished and sent to Tony. He gave me some feedback, which I incorporated and now I've submitted the finished product! I'm not sure when he's going to put it out into the ether, but I'll be sure to let you know!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sad News

On Sunday 3 February 2008 my beloved teacher and mentor, Cornelius L. Reid, passed away just short of his 97th birthday.

Of course, one knows that it is inevitable, but in a way, he seemed immortal to me. Afterall, I met him when he 86 - already a ripe age! But in the heart of my heart I think I'd always hoped he would live on forever. I was never able to work with him as much as I wanted to. It was made difficult by the very fact that we lived on different continents. At the beginning though, he came to Frankfurt, where I was living, on a yearly basis, and I made that into an opportunity for intense study. I took several lessons from him myself and listened to his teaching all day, every day for 2 weeks. In addition, I had work in Philadelphia on a yearly basis, which allowed me to travel to NYC for lessons, which I otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford.

Nevertheless, I learned more from this great man (and not just about the voice and music!) than I learned from any one person - save perhaps Robert Fountain at the UW-Madison. His ideas are so unique and yet so sound, I don't know how anyone can doubt the truth of what he re-discovered!

I consider myself blessed for having known him and hope, with all my soul, that I will prove a worthy "disciple" in carrying on in the spirit of his work.

Luckily, I began working with Carol Baggott-Forte, one of Cornelius' long-time students and a fearless teacher of singing herself. She is much younger than Cornelius and very fit and comes to Europe several times a year. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem likely that I'll ever be able to take advantage of proximity and take lessons from her in Canada, but one never knows.

I miss you Cornelius!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Things are getting serious around here!  The movers are here packing up all our belongings! They are being very kind and waiting to separate me from my Mac! :-)  

Hopefully I'll have something interesting about music or my singing to write before too long, once in Hanover.  

But in the meantime I have something that will keep you busy (as if you needed that, right?):  Go right now to http://www.playingforkeepsnovel.com  !!! Do not pass go!  This is a multimedia podcast novel by a very talented writer and podcaster - Mur Lafferty.  She came up with the idea for this novel years ago - long before the TV show Heroes - and has been working on it ever since.  Now, you can read the novel or you can listen to it as a podcast, narrated by Mur Lafferty herself. It's all completely free, too!  I would recommend subscribing to the Playing for Keeps Experience through iTunes directly from the site.  It's fun!  There are little surprises in the form of "Easter Eggs" in the pdf files, so if you decide to listen to it, be sure to download the pdf too and click on the link embedded in the text.

Enjoy!  And see you in Germany!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hello! Sorry about the radio silence here!  I've been very busy with other things, not least with moving back to Germany!!!!

Yes, that's right.  Magnus was offered a very good job with E.on (a huge utility company) in Hanover and we decided to accept!  We have a one-way ticket to Hanover on 26 Jan!  It's so soon! And we only got final word just over a month ago! Arrgh!

We've had fun in London, but it's been quite frustrating for me professionally as you might have noticed from the decided lack of postings on performances. I've tried to keep myself busy doing stuff, but I'm a singer - darn it! I have to sing!

So, I'm confident I can get back into things back in Germany, where I know how it works and have a lot of contacts already.  Let's hope I'm right! I'm also planning on taking up teaching again.  I'm moderating a Yahoo!Group for teachers who use function as their basis for teaching voice, which is extremely valuable.  I'm also looking forward to being closer to 2 of my fellow Elysiae, Allegra and Amy, who live in Berlin.  And there are some things in the works with Elysium as well!

So, please stay tuned, subscribe to my Blog on this (or the main) page and you'll get a notification when I've posted. How cool is that? You only have to come by when you know I've written something!

Onward Ho!