Thursday, October 28, 2010

Masterclasses in Europe with Carol Baggott-Forte

Every time I check the stats on my blog (their not impressive to anyone but me, trust me) I see that one of the posts that gets the most hits is one about a masterclass I took with Carol Baggott-Forte. I'm sure these hits are mostly from people trying to find info on her current schedule and for some reason they think they'll find that information here. And as a result, I'm happy to oblige!

Carol will be teaching on the following dates:
23 – 27 November 2010, Iserlohn, Germany
30 Nov – 04 December 2010, Berlin
16 – 20 February 2011, Lyon, France
23 – 27 February 2011, Paris

More dates might be forth-coming, so I would recommend you go to Carol Baggott Forte's Masterclass website La Voix Liberee, where all the rest of the pertinent information can be found.

It's a little late in the game, so it might be hard to get a spot, especially at the classes in Germany, but it's definitely worth a try! I, myself, will be attending the class in Iserlohn. My first trip overnight sans baby! I'm excited, apprehensive and really looking forward to the work with Carol! She's the best there is!

See you there?


In praise of the Cold Sock Treatment

I have a cold. Perfect timing. I have a concert to sing, the first one in a year and a half (almost), and I got a cold a week before. The timing couldn't be better. Really. I hope you can hear the sarcasm... As a singer, a cold or flu or laryngitis is the worst thing that can happen to you. You can't do hardly anything about it and it makes it, if not impossible, at least difficult to do your job. For me, my voice usually starts suffering about 3 or 4 days into a cold, so getting a cold more than 3 days before a concert usually means I'm in for it.

But this time, the moment I started feeling it coming on, I started taking care of myself. I canceled my teaching on Monday afternoon and tried hard to lay low. I started doing "nose showers" (which is a direct translation of the German "Nasendusche", or nasal irrigation. This is the best thing for clearing out sinuses. And is a boon for anyone who is prone to sinus infections or has allergies (me!). If this sounds like you and you don't have one of these contraptions - WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!?! I started drugging myself. Out of habit, from almost 2 years either being pregnant or nursing, with mild stuff (Sinupret) especially for sinus infections. Also drinking lots of Sage tea and inhaling with a special Eucalyptus oil mix (Bronchoforton) and contraption that I got here at the pharmacy. I also got some enzyme tablets from the pharmacy to help the swelling in my nasal passages.

However, I decided drastic measures were in order and I really needed my voice not to suffer and be mostly better by Sunday, 31 October. So, I looked it up in the Schiltz family recipe book (my Aunt and cousins are Schiltzes) for the Cold Sock Treatment procedure. This is it in a nutshell: Take a bath or a hot shower or soak your feet in hot water to get yourself really warm. Dress warmly for bed. Wet cotton socks in cold water (just the foot part) and wring out well. Put them on your feet (truly heinous, but not as bad as you might think!) and put on a thick pair of wool socks over them. Jump into bed and go to sleep. The idea, is that your circulatory system is so busy getting your feet warm again that all the fluids drain from your head and upper respiratory system. IT WORKS!!!! I am truly amazed.

To be honest, I also took an Actigrip tablet (An Italian medicine something like Vick's Medinight in a pill), so I can't be sure to what extent either measure did the job, BUT Tuesday evening I had a low-grade fever and my sinuses and nasal passages were almost completely blocked. I slept well, was able to breathe and the next morning I felt so much better! Magnus predicted that I would feel worse again once the Actigrip wore off, but that never happened. last night (Wednesday) I did the Treatment again and forgot to take another Actigrip. I feel even better today. And the best part is, that I seem to still have a voice... Pray, cross your fingers or press your thumbs for me please that the improvement continues and I don't have to cancel or be terribly disappointed with my performance on Sunday.

Thank you Colleen!!!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Of concerts and recitals

I forgot to mention a few other news-worthy items in my last post. Don't know how it could happen. I mean how many concerts have I sung recently? None! My last public performance was shortly before Dante's birth 13 months ago. My next performance will be on Oct. 31st. And no, it will not be an evening of Halloween music (is there such a thing? I must look into this!). I'll be reprising my performance of various pieces by none other than Hildegard von Bingen, one of my most favorite composers and a fascinating figure in History (or Herstory, considering she was a woman doing amazing things in the middle ages). This is the 4th or 5th time I've performed this particular program with the Schola Hildegardensis of Dillenburg, but it's been several years since the last one. It'll be wonderful to do it again and to see the women in the group and work with Joachim Dreher (the organist/choir director at the Herz Jesu Pfarrei in Dillenburg). It feels great to have something to work toward (I work best with a concrete goal) and the voice feels pretty good. Perhaps a little rusty, but not like one would think after months of use solely for lullabies and children's songs.

So, in the unlikely event that you actually live near Dillenburg, Germany and would like to come hear me sing, here are the pertinent details:

Schola Hildegardensis (Direction/Leitung Joachim Dreher) with Diane Severson, Solo
Music by / Gesänge von Hildegard von Bingen
Sunday/Sonntag, 31 October 2010, 17:00 (5:00 pm)
Pfarrei Herz Jesu, Dillenburg (Kirchberg)

Shortly thereafter, I'm providing my singing pupils with an opportunity to perform one of the songs we've worked on for the others. This is not a public performance. It will take place in my studio (at home!) and only those taking lessons from me will make up the audience. I used to do these regularly when I lived and taught in Frankfurt and this is the first one I've organized here in Hannover. Each singer will perform one song and it'll be about half/half classical music and pop/Jazz. A nice mix. At the end, I'll sing a few songs. I hire a pianist for these things, since I am a miserable accompanist and I'd like to listen as well. There will be 8 pupils singing, plus me, so it'll only last about 45 minutes at most, I'd say. Each pupil will have a brief rehearsal on the day with the accompanist.

I think I forgot to mention that my mother-in-law asked me to sing for some of her friends at a Kaffee Klatsch while we were in Italy recently. This is the first time she's ever done so. And I was happy to do so. So many of Magnus' family have never heard me sing and I took that opportunity to repeat the program for the family that came to Dante's birthday. This was the program:

Durante, Danza, danza fanciulla
Caccini, Amarilli mia bella
Giordani, Caro mio ben
Händel, Ombra mai fu (Xerxes)
Händel, Lascia, ch'io pianga (Rinaldo)
Mozart, Ach, ich fühl's (Zauberflöte)
Schubert, An die Musik
Schumann, Widmung
Händel, Oh, had I Jubal's Lyre (Joshua)

I must say, it went extremely well. I had put together a CD of the accompaniment (karaoke style) and stood in front of the TV and sang to about 10 people sitting on the terrace. I suppose the whole neighborhood could have listened too. Needless to say, they loved it. I'll probably do it again. It was fun!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

StarShipSofa Stories Vol. 2 and other news

So, in addition to being my father's birthday (Happy Birthday, Daddy!!!!) and my friend Sandra's birthday as well (Happy Birthday, Sandra!!!) today is the launch of my favorite podcast's 2nd Volume of "Best of" StarShipSofa stories. These are Science Fiction stories that ran on the show this year, since Volume 1 came out. There are some great authors represented including Gwyneth Jones, Nancy Kress, Jeff VanDerMeer and my friend Larry Santoro. A slew of great artists have illustrated each story and Dee Cunniffe and Skeet Scienski have done a wonderful job with graphics, layout and the cover art. Can you tell how much I love that this book is coming out? Have a look at the promo video and more detailed information on contents and how you can buy it here and see for yourselves. Of course, Volume 1 is equally as awesome and if you missed that one you should buy both!! :-)

News on other fronts:

Dante turned one year old!!! We spent a week in Italy with the Nonni (that's grandparents to those who don't speak Italian) and had some relatives over on the day with a cake and everything. I actually gave Dante little bits of the yellow cake part of the cake. The first time he's had anything sweetened with sugar! Of course, he loved it and wanted more, more, more! He got some lovely presents from various people over the last few weeks - thank you everyone, so much! I'll add a picture of us with the cake later...

I attended a wonderful concert with Magnus the other day. Thomas Quasthoff singing selections from his recently released 2nd jazz CD. He's a classical singer of amazing quality and we decided to treat ourselves to this concert to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. I intend on writing a proper review in English and in German, but haven't found the time yet.