Sunday, July 31, 2011

Salzburg Update

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind and a total dream! I have enjoyed walking the streets of this beautiful city everyday to and from class. Music is in the air in every direction. And the diversity of people is fantastic! However, I really need to avoid the Backerei's on every corner!

My voice has essentially experienced a revolution. Thanks to Rudolf Piernay, I feel I have the final piece to the puzzle that I have been missing in my singing. This revolution has also opened up a plethora of repertoire that I never thought possible before. It has been so nice to work at such a high level. Prof. Piernay really focused intensely on every little detail. I feel that I can approach my music with a greater depth of understanding that I did not possess before. During the last two weeks, he has uncovered my true voice and has given me more understanding of the possibilities of the beauty of sound that my instrument is capable of. It's really quite exciting! It is kind of like carrying around a beautiful rock all your life only to discover that it's a diamond or a ruby! I feel so blessed and find so much joy in this discovery.

I should back up and explain a bit better what happens with these masterclasses. The first day of the two week session, all of the singers enrolled in the class audition for the teacher/professor. The Professor then decides who will be an active participant and who will not. At that point, a schedule is made where each student will get private lessons, coaching/rehearsal with the pianist, and masterclass performance time. Everyday is full of getting instruction, observing other students, and practicing. Most of the Vocal masterclasses are held in the old Mozarteum building which is right next to the famous Mirabell Garden where parts of The Sound of Music was filmed.

The students in the class were from all over the world including Romania, Russia, Korea, Switzerland, and Poland. It has been so interesting to see so many cultures in the same room trying to communicate about the universal language of music. In the end, we are all very much the same. We just speak different languages. I have enjoyed observing lessons in German and French as well as English. Although my German language speaking skills are very limited, I'm starting to understand more and more. The Austrian's speak German very differently than the Germans so they are harder to understand.

Along with the voice instruction, I had the opportunity to take an Alexander Technique class along with a few Yoga sessions. Both classes have made a tremendous difference in how I approach the act of singing. I have a completely different perspective of the way my body should be engaged physically while I am performing. I've learned how to be more efficient in my movements in order to make the optimum quality of sound possible. I also love how I feel as I am being encouraged to become more centered in both body and soul.

This last Monday evening, we were delighted to run into our dear friend Brian Stone who is also in Salzburg on a grant from another American Austrian society in New York. He conducted the orchestra for the recent Die Fledermaus I performed at UD this past Spring. It was really fun to see a familiar face!

We were also surprised by a brief visit from Bob Demers the president of The Austrian American Society of Wilmington, DE (the society that has granted me this opportunity). The just popped in to one of my classes one day. I wasn't at all expecting him to be in Austria! It was quite a surprise! He was here visiting his daughter. My husband and I were joking that he came to make sure I didn't take the money and run! (Just teasing Bob!)

I finished this first session by performing in the final Academy Concert that was on Friday evening. I sang Come Scoglio from Cosi fan Tutte by Mozart. I felt really good about the performance although I certainly didn't remember everything that Prof. Piernay taught me. In the end, I chose to commit to my character and connect with the audience. That is where the most fun is for me. After the concert, I was walking out the door and going over my performance in my head making a note of the all the things I didn't do properly. I am always my own worst critic! Anyway, a young girl and her mother stopped me and asked for my autograph. I didn't quite know how to respond to that but it certainly gave me a nice self esteem boost! I absolutely love performing but I get somewhat uncomfortable with the attention I receive afterwards. My greatest thrill is the magical connection between myself and the audience. I'm always happy to know they received something positive from my performance.

I will be saying goodbye to my husband in two short days and will begin another session. I will also be changing apartments so I feel like I'm starting all over again in a way. I am missing my children but have been happy to know they are having a blast with Grandparents back at home. How blessed I am to be having this experience! Who would have thought that a country bumpkin from Deer Park, WA and a mother of three would be granted a dream opportunity like this! Thank again to everyone that has helped make this possible!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Jet lag stinks!

Since I have never been outside of the United States, I didn't really know what to expect when it comes to jet lag. I have to say that getting one's body on a new clock is kind of a weird experience. Anyone that knows me very well, knows that I don't handle no sleep. I had to force myself to stay awake yesterday and go to bed Austrian time. After spending the day getting to know the city, registering at the Mozarteum, and buying groceries, I could only make it to 7pm Austrian time before I hit the pillow hard. I woke up at 2am only to realize I should still be sleeping! Now if I can just get used to the new mattress, that will be great!

Also, when I realized that most everyone speaks mostly German it was a bit of a culture shock. I'm kind of regretting that I didn't find more time to study the language. It's really weird when you walk through a crowd saying "Excuse Me" in English and everyone looks at you with a totally blank stare. I'm sure I'll catch on to more of the basics as time goes on. I'm a person who thrives on connecting with people so this will be tough at first.

I feel a little better this evening (24hrs. later). We made sure to get out and about to see a few things before the real work begins on Monday. Today we hiked up to the Festung Hohensalzburg which is the big fortress on the hill above the city. It was quite a hike bu
t it felt good to get some exercise in. We also found a cute little cafe on the cliffs near the fortress called, Gasthaus Stadtalm. The food was delicious and very authentic. While I enjoyed some wonderful Weinerschnitzel, Rob tried not to get stung. If you look closely at the picture, you can see the bee on the rim of Rob's glass of water. It was getting too friendly with our food so I killed it with our Rick Steves' travel guide.(I'll have to clean off the guts before I return it to the library, oops!) I don't think Rick will mind as it was a cafe Rick Steves himself recommended.

We just discovered that there are practice rooms in the basement of our student housing complex. No piano, but a place to rehearse and vocalize nonetheless. I was co
ncerned that we wouldn't get to rehearse much before the Audition on Monday. We have to audition for the masterclass for the professor to decide whether we will be active participants or not. If we are deemed worthy to actively participate, then we are authorized to purchase practice room time in the Mozarteum facility.

I'm kind of anxious for Monday. I'm hoping all goes well

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A new season begins

I'm sitting in the Dulles airport waiting for my plane to depart to Salzurg, Austria. I have no diapers or baby wipes in my bag. My carry on is not stuffed full of snacks, toys, and extra clothing for possible blow-outs or mishaps along the way. I keep looking around with the feeling I'm forgetting something then to realize that no, I'm not, everything is fine. I just had a fabulous meal at the Chipotle Mexican grill. I ate slowly, savoring every bite. For there were no mouths to feed except my own. The feelings I am experiencing are mixed. I have this strange sense of absolute freedom yet I'm not sure if I feel at home in that feeling. I fight back the tears as I remember how Palmer held me tight and long as I said goodbye to my little munchkin that will be turning two while I am gone. I know they are all in good hands with Grandma and Grandpa, but I will have the challenge of discovering my identity without my children.

A new season is beginning for me. The events that have led up to this day have been a whirlwind. I marvel as I contemplate on my life. I have seen the pieces of my puzzle slowly form to make this beautiful scene that is my life and my soul purpose.

I have never been one to go at life via traditional methods. I would classify my approach as unconventional to say the least. As unconventional as my path has seemed, I don't regret a bit. In fact I celebrate in how God has led me on my particular path for very specific reasons. I don't believe in accidents. And I truly believe that God's timing is the best timing.

I look forward to this new adventure and am grateful to see a life-long dream of studying music in Europe coming true. I will miss my three little boys terribly. But hopefully, I will come home to them with so much more to offer.