Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Waiting for Spring

The promised concert review didn't make it to cyberlaunch because 3 performances during 1 week in the middle of winter were pushing my boundaries too far and I've been very ill ever since. I've been depending on the arrival of spring warmth and new energy, but they're proving elusive. Bring on summer! but in the meantime I've had to clear my schedule through to January and won't be taking new bookings until I'm well and truly on my feet again.

After my winter galivanting came to a halt, it was two months before I had any voice to sing again. I'm still a bit croaky. Looks like bits of my blogs are croaking also...is Photobucket trying to make Songuine kick the bucket? CPR applied...

I had a quadruple neck adjustment today and as a result have been able to enjoy a lilting cyberjam with Hayley tonight. I'm also relieved that the the clamp on my voice has not been caused by a lack of practice.

What do you do when you encounter an empty outdoor stage and auditorium?

Give me a road, a park, a beach, a hill, an amphitheatre...to me it's an invitation to sing.

Tahunanui Beach's outdoor amphitheatre issued such an invitation last week. I started out with "Only Hope" (Switchfoot/Mandy Moore)...

There's a song that's inside of my soul.
It's the one that I've tried to write over and over again.
I'm awake in the infinite cold;
But You sing to me over and over again...
And I lift my hands and pray to be only Yours...
I know now You're my only hope.
When it feels like my dreams are so far,
Sing to me of the plans that You have for me over again...
I give You my destiny. I'm giving You all of me.
I want Your symphony singing in all that I am...
I know now You're my only hope.

A Princess Moment

I do have the video footage from July. It's not great - my unprepared accompanist provided some serious cringe moments on the organ - so my plan is to edit the footage into something less painful to discerning ears. As the state of my blogs show, I'm doing minimal computer work, so I doubt it will happen in an instant. The text is ready to go, with the title "A Princess Moment". Here's hoping you get to enjoy that moment with me.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

YouPerform Contest results

Yes, Elaine and I won the April edition of the Musicnotes.com YouPerform Contest. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for us. You can read the Musicnotes winners' interview here, and view the winning song on YouTube here.

If you missed the first part of the story, you can find out more about the creation of our Wedding Special here: Apple Blossom Wedding.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Apple Blossom Wedding

Voting is now open for the April edition of the YouPerform Contest at Musicnotes.com. Who should win the prize worth US$100? Have your say by clicking here.

Voting closes May 15th (Central Standard Time).

The butterfly link has been disabled so you can view this poster in a larger format. Follow the text link above to vote.

More details on the creation of our Apple Blossom Wedding Special will be posted on BoutiqueNarelle on Friday, 8th May.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Who's the winner?!? -- updated

29 April, 2009
Thank you so much to all those who voted for Elaine and I in the March edition of Musicnotes' YouPerform contest. There was such an enthusiastic response to the competition that the organizers have sponsored 2nd and 3rd place prizes for that and all future competitions provided there is a minimum of 10 entries. Clicking the above image will now take you to where you can view comments from the 3 winners and listen to their music.

I learned a lot from the experience and am very happy for the ladies who won those lovely music vouchers. I want one for myself, so Elaine and I have been working hard on our next feature, "I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time". We hope to have that recorded in time for the contest opening on May 1st.


2 April, 2009

Can we do it?

On the first of the month, Musicnotes.com provide a free download of their chosen arrangement for the month. The rules allow for competitors to choose from 1000+ arrangements by Musicnotes staff, but most people go for the free one. Competitors have one month to prepare and film their performance and upload it to their YouTube account. Public voting begins on the first of the following month, closing on the 15th. The prize is awarded at the end of that month.

Narelle loves Musicnotes.com because it revolutionized finding and purchasing sheetmusic. The Musicnotes website offers a pile of other music-related features, one of which is the YouPerform monthly contest, for which this video was created. Elaine and Narelle enjoyed making it, and hope you enjoy listening.

You'll probably recognize the melody made famous by Cat Stevens in the early 1970s, "Morning Has Broken", which was based on a song by Scottish composer Mary MacDonald (1789 - 1872). The original lyrics for her hymn entitled "Leanabh an Aigh" were in Gaelic. When the hymn was translated into English by Lachlan Macbean, the song was renamed "Bunessan" after a Scottish village close to Mary MacDonalds hometown of Ardtun. Musicnotes didn't supply any of these lyric versions in their "Bunessan" arrangement, so we decided to go with the vocalise style.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

New Zealand Folk Song website promo

John Archer with the aid of other volunteers has put together this massive New Zealand folk song resource, featuring audio clips and free downloadable song lyrics and sheet music. The song lists are alphabetized, and there is also a search feature. Entries include modern, vintage, and historic songs, Maori waiata, ANZAC songs, tramping songs, train songs, Christmas songs, a list of the most recorded folk songs, and all are wonderfully researched and documented.

When preparing music for community programs, I find www.FolkSong.org.nz supremely helpful. It plays a song for me while I follow along with the lyrics and melody line. I can print the lyrics for me and the music for my accompanist. In short order, we have a new song added to our repertoire.

Here’s a big hand for the FolkSong band!
Thanks for all the work you've put into it, John!
It's a fantastic resource!

Ah-choo! Singin' with da 'Flu?

New Zealand Folk Song has a Q&A feature.

What happens when a singer is booked to perform while in the grip of a nasty cold?

On this page
the saga is told
of Micheal's cold
and Tony's tonsil tips
for coping with
da dose an da throat ond a really off day.

Provides a check list for how to know if you can perform, and survival techniques for both cancelling or proceeding as planned.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Card from the Queen

I am delighted to send you my warm
congratulations on your One Hundredth birthday,
together with my very best wishes for an
enjoyable celebration.

Elizabeth R.

I have seen the famous telegram sent to centarian citizens of the former British Empire! These days, it comes in the form of a large card with a photograph of the Queen on the cover, a classy gold tassle down the spine, the royal crest inside, and the Queen's autograph.

No, I was not the recipient. Today Elaine and I had the privilege of being part of Kathleen Maloney's 100th Birthday celebration, providing the musical entertainment.

Elaine wore green for the Maloney clan and I wore pink because I always think of Kathleen Maloney as a rosy little lady. (See Rosy 99.)

We had a 50 minute wait before we performed due to the venue being so crowded there wasn't room for the piano, let alone musicians. When the guests had been fed,the staff suggested they transit to the lounge at the other end of Eileen Mary Retirement Home where the piano waited.

I put together a smiley Irish program for this sweet lady whom I've never seen without a smile on her dial. We gave her:

Carolina in the Morning
Side by Side
Sunshine of Your Smile
I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen (1 verse & chorus)
Irish Eyes are Smiling (1 verse & chorus)
An Irish Lullaby
Peggy O'Neill
I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover

and closed with her special request, the Crimond 23rd Psalm. It brought tears to her eyes. Seeing how much it meant to her, I had to cover a choky throat myself.

Kathleen's last task of the day was to let off 100 balloons, which she did with difficulty -- I've never seen balloons so reluctant to fly! The day was bright and sunny, but even the central courtyard wasn't protected from a playful breeze that proved anything but buoyant. Perhaps to mark her 101st birthday we should try getting high on helium?

Work completed, I scooted off to the tearoom to browse the after-feast. I gathered up a few souvenirs, including a collection of mini cream puffs, chocolate eclairs, and a luscious slice of chocolate cake. Okay, so I normally refrain from that much dairy, but I've certainly sung for my supper this week. I felt a treat was in order.

Tired but Happy

This week was the first time I've attempted bookings on consecutive days (yesterday was a full-on afternoon's entertainment at the Elske Centre). I managed both with aplomb, all praise to the Lord. Now for a few days rest!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Opera in the Park 2009

Outdoor Music-Making -- Summer's Bliss

My list of fun things to do this summer looked like this:

My parents and I went on our bush walk and picnic, I found a marvellous swing that endowed me with proprietory rights for 9 days, and to my astonishment, I was blessed with attending 3 concerts, 2 of which were outdoor events.

Nephews and I playing shady characters on the swing. Yes, a bowl of cherries was involved. Swingsational.

Dad and I went to Nelson's Opera in the Park, a type of show I've been waiting half my life to attend. We arrived at the venue to the lively sounds of a terrific Nelson brass ensemble. I'll never forget the welcome of that as we proceeded from our car through the park grounds, in the venue gates, and across the field to our seats.

The official program was a classy New Zealand showcase (apart from the M.C. radio hostess trying too hard and the strange antics of mezzo soprano Helen Medlyn), with superb vocals from internationally acclaimed soprano Anna Leese (whose big sister and I once shared a bowl of birthday cake icing), a girl whose serene presence on stage is an experience indeed. I would have liked to hear more from Georgia Jamieson-Emms, winner of last year's Sealord Aria, off to seek a singer's fortune in Europe the day after this concert. She sang just one item, "Caro Nome" from Rigoletto.

Tenors Simon O'Neill and Ben Makisi got together for the first time since their 1st and 2nd placings at the Nelson Aria in 1994, and offered magnificent vocals along with amusing memories of emergency shoe-swapping. Their "Au Font du Temple Saint" moved me to tears. I'm a sucker for that melody...

Dad and I held Gold Patron tickets, with all the luxuries laid on. Dad even waved to himself on the big screen (I'd gone walkabout to experience the backbenches). It was a night to remember.

Arriving hatless, our neighbours found that desperation under the evening sun made them creative.

Last weekend, my parents and I took our deck chairs north to Central Hawkes Bay's prestigious back of beyond, the historic homestead of Oruawharo. The Lions fundraiser event has been running for three years. I attended the first one at the time I started voice lessons with Ileana Otto-Johansen, who is the musical director and featured soprano.

I stood in the shade of a mighty tree while people were arriving, and a man passed by whom I haven't seen in a while. I once sang in his garden. He waved at me in my heirloom skirt and white linen hat sporting feathers and flowers. "Are you performing this year?" he said.

The program runs for 4 hours, with 3 satisfying brackets of mixed opera and musical theatre songs, the first two separated by a 15 minute interval, and the second and third by an hour for tea. Those who paid $50 entrance were classed as prestige-ticket holders and enjoyed a restaurant meal cooked in the homestead kitchen and served under the trees at linen-draped tables. Those who paid $40 received a plastic-wrapped plate of salad, meat, and bread bun. We were quite happy with our personally serviced picnic hamper.

650 concert-goers mean a lot of cars, and the homestead grounds were well organized for coping with this influx. The wooden swing hanging from a very tall elm that I'd been looking forward to sampling was pre-booked --- gowned in white linen, clearly the sole property of the bouquet of pink roses resting among the folds. I found the intervals tedious, it being necessary for me to walk (deckchair malaise) rather than stand around talking, but I filled in some time with my own vocals down the far end of the paddock. As folk regathered for Session 3, a man maneuvering down the row behind mine said he'd enjoyed my music. He must have been socializing with the cars to have heard that, but it was nice to know I'd entertained more than myself.

Ileana's performances were wonderful, and so were her gowns -- 8 of the former, 3 of the latter. I was totally blown away by tenor Jason Parker, a 17-year-old with not much training (yet) but an incredible power and richness to his voice that I eagerly anticipate hearing again. I took quiet pleasure in listening to soprano Janet Smith and studying her demeanor. Having in recent months become happily acquainted with Andre' Rieu's relaxed, joyful style of classical music, followed by the bantering featured in Nelson, I felt a slight culture shock in the seriousness of the Oruawharo singers' presentations. The only time I saw Ileana smile on stage was before her last solo, the second to last item on the program. Janet had a sparkle that made her a pleasure to watch as well as a pleasure to listen to, a distinction that reminds me of the difference between my demeanor at my Town Hall debut and the way I handle gigs now after a year of working with Elaine Swanney. Ileana is a trained, experienced performer and a woman of strong character, so I figure she just sees opera as very serious business.

Ileana Otto-Johansen with guest artist Patrick Power (local tenor of international renown)

Summer's passive entertainment becomes a warm and pleasant memory as the year's program takes over. A sudden, unexpected improvement in my health has allowed me to dig into music preparations with enthusiasm, and bookings are beginning to dot my calendar. So then, on with the dance! May the melody of love be woven in the fabric of your days.
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