Friday, July 29, 2011


That's where you'll find me and the latter half of my university adventures! See you there


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chère nuit

I've been thinking a lot about stardom lately.

It's not uncommon around the music school to hear the term "star"--someone has star quality, someone will be a star (but only if they: lose 20 pounds, practice more, etc.), someone is a total star. It certainly doesn't help that our mascot is the stars--add another pile of wood to the fire! It's getting hot in here.

But what makes someone a star? Judy Garland jokes aside--is someone born a star? Or, through a combination of hard work, determination, luck, and chutzpah, is someone thrust into stardom? Is stardom contagious? Is it lethal? Is it preventable?

The real answer is this: they begin, of course, as balls of gases that collapse on themselves, eventually becoming denser and, over time, due to pressure or collision, become the stars we know and tilt our heads toward each night.

The odds are overwhelmingly against anyone who wants to become a famous musician. There is more of a chance of me becoming an actual space-star than a star opera singer. I could do everything "correctly": get into a fantastic grad school, find an amazing teacher at that grad school, lose a bunch of weight, get really good, gain access into a Young Artist Program almost immediately, win the Met Auditions--and still, in the annals of music history, be eons away from amounting to the likes of Joan Sutherland, Beverly Sills, or Maria Callas.

But there is something about this art, despite the often depressing and disheartening probability that I will never amount to anything, that pulls me inward into myself, much like a star, overwhelmed with pressure and colliding with teachers, directors, and individuals.

I am willing to give up so much for my art--when is the last time I went to a party or stayed up "just for fun"? When is the last time I skipped class (and it is so easy to do)? When have I ditched my homework? The answer to these questions is not in a long time--and not for a long time after this, either. There is too much at stake. I care too much about what I am doing to risk it all so haphazardly.

Even so, many stars never have enough energy to become anything of size. Are they any less beautiful than the giant ones? Is a giant star of more value than a little one? Is it any less important in the context of the sky? We count them all the same.

I feel it must be so with musicians, as well. Though Maria Callas is arguably one of the greatest opera stars who ever lived, I also can't help but wonder how many masters of interpretation (at the level of Callas) that existed that simply never were noticed. Are their contributions lesser to art? Do they matter less?

I remember every day that why I do what I do is not for the sake of fame or fortune. To go into doing something like this with that in mind is almost suicidal. Why set yourself up for disappointment?

I am in music because music is in me. I cannot live a day without it; I refuse to live a day without it. I want to make a contribution to my art--even if it means living as a tiny star in the grander tapestry. No matter what, I will leave my mark, though it may be noticed by few. Would I love to be famous? Of course. Would I love to be a Maria Callas? Undoubtedly. But that, oh nameless, faceless reader, is not why I do what I do.

I looked at the sky, as I do every night, attempting to catch a glimpse of the stars so often masked by the noise of streetlights and humanity. I see some that twinkle and sparkle longer than others. Some illuminate bigger parts of the expanse. Some blink occasionally.

I am reminded that these tiny balls of gas, like my colleagues and myself, are just as beautiful, just as awe-inducing, just as artful, no matter their size or importance.

"I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." - Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, March 24, 2011

To Daffodils

Today I received news that a friend from an Internet community passed away in a horrible accident. I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be in this Internet age--how, even without meeting someone in the flesh, you can feel connected. Meredith, known as carwindows or libraries to most of us who knew her, was one of those people who managed to make me feel connected to someone even when I felt so far away.

I went looking through my email for interactions I had with Meredith over the past few years and I found one exchange in which she asked the community what gave us hope and what got us through our days. When I responded that "the knowledge that I have a gift not many people have--and that the work for this gift is worth it," she told me it was "perfect." I told her about a masterclass I attended--the first one like it I'd even been to, actually--in which I was told that I needed to "show up for my life."

She told me it shaped her. No, Meredith, you shaped me--you have reminded me how precious this gift of life that I've been given is. How precious the gift of music is. How precious my opportunities are. How precious friendship is. How important it is to make the most of my gifts and the most of this life.

I have been seemingly surrounded by daffodils lately. They are perhaps the most optimistic flower I know--a flower that I think is entirely representative of Meredith's spirit. I never once heard her complain or chide another. She was always supportive, loving, caring.

Meredith's life, just like a daffodil's, was bright and brought immense joy to everyone she met. It was, also, sadly, short. But I take comfort in the fact that Meredith was able to make her life a time of spring rather than winter--she was a reminder of hope, positivity, and optimism in an often-negative and pessimistic time.

So, in her honor, I wanted to post a piece of music, and what should come to my mind but this one. Andrea Ramsey, an Arkansas composer, set Robert Herrick's poem "To Daffodils." I've had the immense pleasure of singing this piece (though the recording I am about to post does not contain me--it is a choir from Bentonville, AR) and I think it's only appropriate.

For you, Meredith. Thank you.

Fair Daffodils, we weep to see
You haste away so soon;
As yet the early-rising sun
Has not attain’d his noon.
Stay, stay,
Until the hasting day
Has run
But to the even-song;
And, having pray’d together, we
Will go with you along.

We have short time to stay, as you,
We have as short a spring;
As quick a growth to meet decay,
As you, or anything.
We die
As your hours do, and dry
Like to the summer’s rain;
Or as the pearls of morning’s dew,
Ne’er to be found again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Flower Drum Song

This past Saturday, some of my best girl friends and I headed up to Wye Mountain for their annual daffodil festival. Despite living in Arkansas for almost twelve years, I've never made it to Wye Mountain to see their seven acres of daffodils. I wish I had gone sooner!

There's a craft barn (where I picked up a rustic gift for my voice teacher), a little food trailer, and plenty of photo opportunities--not to mention a chance to pick some flowers for $1 a dozen. It's almost an Arkansas tradition to have your photo taken amongst the 30 types of daffodils present in their field. You couldn't count the number of families taking pregnancy, engagement, family, and Easter portraits.

The kind folks at Wye Mountain United Methodist Church even let my girls and me picnic in the blooms! We brought the fixings for tomato sandwiches, hummus, couscous, corn relish, and trail mix--washing it all down with green tea! Yum.

Of course I brought along my camera:

We had to grab an innocent bystander to take a group photo:

Truly the perfect country afternoon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It Might As Well Be Spring

And it almost is!

After surviving myriad snow days and my dreaded midterms week, I'm back in Little Rock for a few days for Spring Break. A very needed respite.

There's been very little to write about, but I will fill the Internet in on what has happened recently.

1. I've lost almost 20 pounds. I'm insanely proud of this. I've done it with virtually no effort--I've just been watching what I've eaten and exercised when I could (which, to be honest, recently, hasn't been much). Taking the stairs has become a new hobby and finding the "long way around" is my new game.

Don't get me wrong, I've got a long way to go, but I'm changing my relationship with food for the better. I'm learning how to identify true hunger versus emotional hunger--and I'm learning how to satisfy both hungers in a way that is healthy. I've learned so much about portion sizes/control and healthy eating that I've become somewhat of a guru around school! Pretty flattering and pretty impressive for the girl who never cared to think about what she was putting into her body. Not to mention I'm sure I'm almost singlehandedly responsible for 90% of my university's spinach budget. Hee-hee.

2. I've made some pretty important vocal progress. Anyone who's gone through a voice change can tell you that it isn't always easy to view yourself in the new category. Since entering college, my voice has changed from mezzo-soprano to soprano--fach is still way too early to tell. It's nice to be viewed as a baby when you're twenty! Call me in five years and I'll tell you if I have a better idea of my fach. But right now? I'm a bigger-voiced soprano. That's all I know.

What I doknow for certain is that my voice teacher is a magician--and with his help, knock on wood, I'll have a super-awesome C6 to take out of the studio and onto the road by the end of the year. I'm singing high tessitura repertoire--no more "Che faro" for me!

3. I've been doing things that scare me. I've sung for an esteemed individual in the opera field in a masterclass (I won't go into details for privacy's sake)--and it went well. I got some absolutely invaluable advice from a soprano whose voice is very much like mine. I'm immensely grateful for the opportunity.

I made a resolution to myself that I would vocalize more--I'm trying to every day. I fail some days, but the days that I do vocalize, I really make it count. And I'm not just vocalizing the stuff I'm good at--I'm singing coloratura and scales and all the things I thought my voice wasn't meant to do. Slowly but surely, my voice is learning how to cope with this new sense of articulation and technique. Before you know it, I'll have some damn good runs. Promise.

Things are going well, Internet. Things are going well.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Show People

we're a special kind of people known as show people
we live in a world of our own
our days are tied to curtains--they rise and they fall
we're born every night at half hour call

it's an honor and a joy to be in show business
i feel that spotlight hit me and i'm gone
at the last curtain call, i'm the envy of all
that's how i know the show must go on

Last night was the second and final performance of PIGGY IN THE MIDDLE. It was such a joy to work on--I got to build my character from the ground up. What an amazing opportunity! Unlike other roles I've done, there were no recordings to listen to, no videos to watch to help me develop my concept of Mercy Saddleback. It was all my own. Pretty sweet.

Tonight is my first night without rehearsal in God knows how long. I kept second-guessing myself about actually having nothing to do tonight. I was so afraid I was going to miss an appointment that I kept checking my schedule. But no--nothing to do! I got a chance to vocalize, practice my repertoire, and hit the gym for a good 45 minutes.

The DIDO & AENEAS cast list finally went up. And, unfortunately, yours truly was not cast. But you know what? That's alright. I've done two amazing shows this year and grown so much from both of them. But now, someone or something is telling me to really focus on my technique.

And that's just what I'm going to do.

A door closes. Another opens. I'm going to have plenty of time the rest of this semester to practice my technique, vocalize, learn my repertoire, prepare my junior recital, and hang out with friends (something I haven't done in QUITE some time).

It's pretty good right now, I'm not going to lie.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How to Return Home

It seems like every time I make an effort to post on a schedule, I fail. Oof!

Time passes, as it always does. I've been enjoying the past few days thanks to SNOWPOCALYPSE 2011. Oklahoma City got hit with a massive amount of snow and ice--and Oklahoma City University, in turn, got hit with three snow days! It's been a blessing, to say the least. Catching up won't be fun, but who's counting just yet?

More importantly, it's February--which, admittedly, I've always sort of despised because it's the shortest month. I still don't know why it's only 28 days. Lame. That means I've only got 28 days (25 days left!) to complete my:

february dreams & wishes
- VOCALIZE EVERY DAY FOR 30 MINUTES (seriously. i didn't do this last month.)
- learn my repertoire pieces every week WAY in advance!
- spend more time with my friends
- say "yes" more often
- but certainly don't be afraid to say no!
- continue eating well and making good choices

How'd I do for my January goals? Well, let's just say that in the practicing department, I've left a little to be desired. My voice teacher definitely had something to say about my vocalizing schedule (practically nonexistent) and has thoroughly kicked my ass. February will be full of practicing, that's for sure.

However, I did accomplish most of my January goals! I did well at WEDDING SINGER auditions (probably the best music theater audition I've had here at OKCU [despite not getting a callback!]) and DIDO & AENEAS callbacks (waiting for the cast list--STILL!), managed to bring enthusiasm to PIGGY IN THE MIDDLE (which opens this Saturday, snow or no snow), and have taken pictures where applicable--though I certainly could do more of that.

Second semester is in full swing and I'm excited to see how I'm going to finish out sophomore year. BRING. IT.

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