Saturday, January 21, 2006

I Hate Music!

On January 22nd at 7pm, I presented my first solo recital ever. The process has been exhilerating and exasperating. Especially when I was supposed to have Christmas break to prepare.

Allow me to explain the irony of my situation over Christmas break. I am told that I must receive the seasonal all-healing drug of the gods: the flu shot. So, within about 24 hours of the highly praised injection, I begin to feel sluggish and fatigued. Keep in mind that I'm a very energetic person and slowing down physically or mentally has never been within my capabilities. In my usual manner, I continue to push through until the annual drive to visit my grandparents in Maryland.

We return home exhausted and I awake the next morning feeling 10 times worse than the previous day - which was pretty crappy to say so myself. My mistake was immediately stumbling down the stairs to take some sort of medicine. Due to some weird quirk of mine, I should not come in contact with any humans within the first 15-20 minutes of waking up sick lest I ball my eyes out. My mother is apparently ignorant of this rule and I should have known better than to enter into her vicinity in that state. Should have, but didn't.

My mother's internal radar quickly picks up the flustered signal of unwell young. I got the usual questions like " Are you feeling ok?" "What's wrong?" etc. There was about 5 seconds where I tried to answer like the adult I know I am and then broke down into sobs in spite of myself. Instead of sympathy or motherly tenderness, I recieved the equivelent to "Suck it up."

According to my mother who is an RN, I had flu symptoms from the flu shot. I consider this the flu, but apparently, the medical world doesn't. I say, if a shot containing a dead/weak form of a virus gives you the same symptoms it would have if it was a strong virus, then you still have the disease. The only exception being that you're not contagious because the shot is too weak for that. So, I called it the flu; my mother called me overly dramatic.

This "Flu-like phenomenom" created an issue - I had three songs left to learn and memorize. I hadn't even started these songs at all. Debussy songs. Panic began to set in. I drove myself crazy with never-ending listening sessions. Translations and IPA were drilled, but that only helps so much with learning an Impressionistic melody.

When I finally could phonate again, only about a week remained between me and my jury and about two weeks for my recital. My primary instinct was to pull the keyboardist-type marathon practice sessions in order to insure the success of those pieces. Any singer would tell you that this methodology is suicidal when applied to the human voice. Piano was my first instrument, so overpracticing is a habit I carried over to voice. Luckily, I was smart enough to know this and avoid suicide. But, the instinct is there and the resulting stress from going against instinct ranks up in the houndstooth level (I'll have to explain the Stressometer that Rai and I created at some point, consider houndstooth in the uppermost levels).

When my jury was over, the nail-biting part had been passed successfully. I chose to have Munden, Kramar and Smith as my jurers, creating a comfortable atmosphere for myself. To my delight, they only asked for two songs in addition to my offered aria and sent me on my merry way. I can't say that this wasn't considered when I began planning the members of my jury. These are not people who want to spend about 30 minutes listening to a recital and nit-picking at translations for a student they know is an overachieving nutcase. Being an overachieving nutcase has its advantages.

So then, my teacher and I began the "polishing" phase of recital preparation. Now, we had two different definitions of this final pre-performance time. He thought that I could learn to stand perfectly still, add expressive gestures, sing pianissimo and correct any minor diction and rhythm problems. My expectations weren't quite as high for my last week of practicing, but I managed to achieve all except standing still. What do you want - I'm Italian.

The marked day finally arrived. Most of my friends recommended spending the day watching TV, drinking water and studying a little bit. I, however, confiscated an old wobbly bookcase from the stairwell at the School of Music and proceeded to repair it. It was about two hours worth of hammering and cursing. Then, I reviewed my music and got Jamie to do my hair.

I like my way better.

With about thirty minutes before I was supposed to meet with my accompanist, I clicked my way up to a practice room to warm up. After warming up, I clacked back down three flights of stairs, around the construction fencing and straight into the mud before the recital hall. I had no other option with the mud. Apparently, the construction workers enlarging the SoM determined that a sidewalk could wait until Monday. Luckily, clear 3-inch heels are easy to clean.

Yes, I wore 3-inch heels and sang. And sang well, if I might say so myself. My recital flew by so quickly that it hardly seemed over when I thought we'd just begun. There were some made up words - some covered better than others. Between my friends and I, we discovered that every time I forgot something coincided exactly with the moments I deliberatly tried to stand still. Oh, the irony.

If you would like to listen to my recital, it is available online from the video my father shot. Its not the best quality and he did misspell sorority (we're a fraternity, thank you very much), but overall its an excellent job. Here's the link: