Singing is the main joy of my life right now, and singing at Woody's Workshop (Mondays or Thursdays) is always special. I don't think I'd even be thinking about auditioning if it weren't for these workshops. At each workshop, we sing two (sometimes three) songs. These songs can be finished performances or works in process. I'm posting here one of the songs I brought to the Aug. 3 workshop, "Sea Slumber Song," by Edward Elgar (1899; part of the Sea Pictures set of five songs). Woody Regan is the phenomenal pianist. I first heard this song at a master class that Marilyn Horne conducted at Zankel Hall and fell in love with it. When I shared an elevator with Ms. Horne a week or so later at Carnegie Hall, I told her how much I'd loved watching her work with the young woman who sang this song, and how much I loved the music. She encouraged me to work on all five songs in the cycle, and I am doing that.
A note: On Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009, Stephanie Blythe sang the Sea Pictures cycle at Carnegie Hall with the Met Orchestra, James Levine conducting. (I was in the third row, center.) It was an incredible performance. She filled the hall with her singing, yet kept the intimate quality of the first two songs intact and did not overdo the power of the third and fifth songs. "Where Corals Lie" was exquisite. And Maestro Levine conducted one of the most beautiful Mahler Fifths I've ever heard. The Adagio was so powerful and the "chord" just brilliant. What a glorious afternoon at Carnegie.
Of course, I love Carnegie Hall. Where else can I see Sir Simon Rattle on a regular basis? Or the Vienna Philharmonic? Or the Met Orchestra? What a privilege to be a subscriber and to find transcendence.
Sir Simon Rattle. The love of my life (when Derek Jeter isn't at Yankee Stadium, and sometimes when he is). There's such an intelligence in his conducting, but also such passion and excitement. The performances at Carnegie Hall in November with the Berliner Philharmoniker brought wonderful new insights into music we've heard hundreds of times (the Brahms pieces were great). I'd love to go to Berlin to see him there. (The link for Sir Simon is to a YouTube video of excerpts from the Brahms 3rd and 4th Symphonies.)
I am so sorry to remove the New York Philharmonic from my favorite things. I had three subscriptions, and was a loyal subscriber and donor for 16 years. But the Philharmonic has decided I'm not worthy to continue to be a subscriber because I will not allow the automatons there to automatically take payments from my credit or checking account. (Apparently it's more convenient for the finance department, and after all, with 10,000 subscribers, why make an exception for one person who's fallen on hard times a bit?) So I guess this year is the last I'll be a patron. As with New York City Ballet, once I lose my subscriptions, I tend not to return. Such a shame, but sometimes a cultural group's arrogance outweighs its humanity.
My favorite album is still Claudio Arrau's recording of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Eliahu Inbal conducting. I never fail to tear up when listening to the call and response in the second movement. I never got to hear Arrau in concert, much the pity.