Skip to main content

Upcoming Concert - Amazing Soloist

We are up in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula this week, performing with the Pine Mountain Music Festival.  This year, disappointingly, we are not presenting an opera, but I have been enjoying the symphony concert. 

The highlight for me is Sibelius’s Luonatar - it’s the shortest work on the program but a thrillingly dark and intense ride.  Our soprano soloist, Mary Bonhag, is absolutely marvelous.  Her sound is rich and pure and colorful and ashen and huge and intimate and perfect.   The liquid sounds of the Finnish language resonate deeply with the ancient mythical poetry of this work, and Mary brings an otherworldly quality to the performance that just sends chills up my spine, in the best way possible. 

She is fascinating to watch as well.  When I see great instrumental soloists play with us I am often struck by their combination of physical relaxation and perfectly honed muscle control.  This is something which immediately stood out to me about Mary’s singing.

As she stands around chatting with us before and after her piece, she looks like a normal person.  A normal very pretty person with great posture, but not out of the ordinary.  When she begins to sing, though, her body changes.  Everything is loose and taut all at the same time.  The impression she gives is that her very slim torso is an enormous helium balloon.  Filled with open space and lightness, not resting on her hips but loosely tethered to them.  Her arms float lightly away from her body, so nothing remains to inhibit or compress the resonating chamber.

And then this enormous voice flows out from this tiny little body.  The eeriness (to me) of the Finnish vowels only adds to the weird and wonderful quality of seeing someone so relaxed create something so intense.   

Of course this level of calm intensity is a goal of mine.  Has long been, will continue to be.  I’ve just never seen anyone so perfectly demonstrate it.  I don’t think I do it nearly as well as she does but I want to.

We had our first concert on Thursday night, but there’s one more Sunday afternoon.  Details HERE.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Resonance

When my students get too MOUTHY with the oboe, I put them in a corner.

Really.

They tend to play the oboe only from the TOP of their body, north of the collarbone, and it winds up unsupported.  Fussy.  Weak.  And out of tune.

So I back them into a corner, and have them stand a foot or so out from it, facing out into the room.  And I challenge them to find a sound that resonates BEHIND them, out from the corner of the room that they are not facing, to fill the space without blowing directly into the space.

It's a weird metaphor.  I wouldn't have any idea how to describe the physical technique to do it. When I find it in myself, it feels like my back is puffy and my body is round, and large, and barrel like, and also collected and zipped up, and supremely powerful.  If you know me, you know that these statements about my body aren't remotely true.  But that's what I feel when I'm blowing well, and filling the room, and owning my resonance.

I teach resonance.  I talk …

Five Minute Reedmaker: Length of the Windows

My Five Minute Reedmaker Season Two seems to be largely about experiments.  People ask me how LONG, how THICK, how SLOPED, etc - and I'm running the experiments for them and for you.

I've been posting these videos on YouTube, and sharing them from my Facebook Page, but haven't totally kept up with sharing here on my blog.

Here are the ones you may have missed:
Length of the Heart
Fallacy of the Long Tip
Moldy Cane

And here's the new one:




Here's the YouTube playlist with all of my other Five Minute Reedmaker videos.  You could subscribe right there if you wanted to - I'm dropping a video each week until I run out of ideas this season.
Here's my website, where you can order reeds or cane or ask me questions.  Questions will keep these videos flowing! 

Here's how you can send me your own reeds to analyze and improve on video for your learning pleasure!

Everybody's Got a Thing

I went in for my yearly mammogram last week. As you know, it's not exactly a painful procedure, but it's uncomfortable, and as I was being manipulated into the unwieldy machine I got to thinking about what a peculiar job it must be to jam women into awkward positions, over and over, every fifteen minutes all day.

So after we were done I asked the technician about that, and she LIT UP, the way people do when they FINALLY get to talk about the thing they are passionate about, and she talked about the advances in the technology since she was starting out, and the things this machine was capable of.  She talked about the women it has saved, from dying of cancer, of course, but also from unnecessary surgical disfigurement.  It was completely inspiring listening to this lady love her weird job, and I left feeling fantastic about the whole ordeal. It's great to see someone who is doing what they are supposed to be doing!

Two weeks before, I had my first Mendelssohn rehearsal with…