Monday, April 14, 2008

Where I've been/CyberSing 2008

It's been a long time since I've posted. I've been working very hard on my various writings for children. I'm putting finishing touches on the ninth (!) of my picture books, and am on the fourth chapter of a hard-hitting young adult novel. :-)

And I did a recital at KHPR, the Public Radio Station in Honolulu (the tan has already fated from my pasty-white skin) and I am really excited about my latest performance effort: an evening of songs by Edith Piaf. Sounds weird, but believe me, it seems to work. I've tried a few out on three different audiences now, and the response has been tremendous.

But enough about me. I did want to post this information about CyberSing, the Lotte Lehmann Foundation's art song performance vocal competition. I'm not the publicist for the Foundation, but I am the vice president of the Board of Directors, and I'm dedicated to getting the word out (ever the proselytizing minister's son!)

In the meantime, sending all the best to my sometime readers. I do promise to get back on the blog bandwagon ere too long. There are so many great singers I'm eager to share with you. Just lately: Janine Micheau, Galina Vishnevskaya, Berta Kiurina, Rosanna Carteri, Hugo Hasslo, Francesco Merli... ah, the list goes on and on!

But for now, here's the press release:

The Lotte Lehmann Foundation has released the new rules, regulations, and dates for CyberSing 2008, its fourth biannual art song performance competition.

The stated objective of CyberSing is “[t]o recognize and award performance of art song by singers and pianists throughout the world.”

Entrants to the competition may enter in one of two Divisions: Division One, for singers 23 years of age and younger, and Division Two for singers over the age of 23. Prizes will include a Top Prize of $1,000 for the Division One winner, and a Top Prize of $5,000 for the Division Two winner. Prizes for best individual song performances will also be awarded in each Division.

Singers of both divisions will submit audio recordings of a range of art song repertoire, including German and French art song, a required song composed expressly for CyberSing by Larry Alan Smith, which is available for download exclusively at the CyberSing website.

In past competitions, entrants were judged exclusively on their submitted audio recordings of a prescribed art song repertoire. This year, for the first time, finalists will be requested to submit a performance DVD. The final round will be judged exclusively on these submitted DVD recordings.

The Foundation is accepting applications now through August 31, 2008. Finalists will be chosen by October 15, 2008, with a November 15, 2008 submission deadline for finalists’ DVD recordings. The winners will be announced on or before January 31, 2009.

Daniel Gundlach, the vice president of the Foundation’s Board of Directors stated, “CyberSing has always been a crucial element of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation’s activities. We are all thrilled with the new parameters of the competition, which will enable the judges to more completely and accurately evaluate the performances of the participants.”

Repertoire requirements and complete rules and regulations for the competition, as well as application forms, are available on the Foundation’s website: or at

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Monday, September 24, 2007

...But Life Got In the Way...

I've been away from here for much too long! It seems like I'm only writing about an entry a week these days, though my goal is to do it twice a week.

Things have been kinda crazy though. I sang a recital at the Donnell Library a week ago today. I shared it with my friend Marianne Labriola. I had a great time. I did a Schubert group and a Rodgers & Hart set. That last was a gesture in a new direction for me.

For the Schubert, I did four his late settings of Seidl poems, some of my favorites among his songs: "Der Wanderer an den Mond", "Am Fenster", "Im Freien", and "Die Taubenpost". Each one of them speaks so deeply to me. The first, Schubert's perpetual wanderer addressing the moon, wishing that, like the moon, he could feel that the world and the sky was his home and not that he was a stranger everywhere he went. The second is about the joy of someone who has cut himself off from the world to pursue a contemplative life. The third is the poet gazing down through the night, as if from the sky, at places that are dearest to his heart. And the last one is about a symbolic dove that carries sighs as if they were letters, all in the name of longing. So it's clear why all of those might be dear to my heart.

The Rodgers & Hart was important to me for an altogether different reason. I have written before of my interest in putting together a cabaret program (the theme of which is becoming clearer to me) and this was my first chance to sing some standards in public. I was nervous, and yet with Bill Lewis at the piano and many of my dearest friends in the office, it was not as scary as it could have been.

I sang "Glad To Be Unhappy," "I Wish I Were In Love Again," "My Funny Valentine," and "With a Song In My Heart," which is practically an aria anyway. I ended up singing the second one in my baritone range; I just couldn't make it work singing it up an octave. It's just as well. It took a lot of the pressure.

I had wanted to do "I'll Tell the Man In the Street" from I Married an Angel, but evidently it's a rarity. How was I supposed to know? I grew up with Barbra Streisand's recording on her first album and there are also okay versions by Kristen Chenoweth and Mary Cleere Haran, but other than Nelson Eddy of the original cast, I found out there aren't too many other recordings. I thought about doing it a cappella, but there will be time to suss out the music eventually.
Of the songs I did sing, I thought the last two were the best. I almost lost it when I sang "My Funny Valentine," because I flashed so clearly on all the men that I have loved in my life. And there was one day when NN called me from work on Valentine's Day to ask if I knew the words, which of course I did. In my mind's eye, not only did I see him, but I saw them all. And two of them were in the audience. So even if it weren't for the beauty of the words, I also had a personal association with the song. Anyway, whenever someone sings the meaning of the words, really sings them, the music takes flight. And I could feel it happen here, just as it did in the last two Schubert.

And "With a Song In My Heart"... well, how can you not love it? I tried not to take a page from Jessye's version, but it does have an operatic sensibility that one can't ignore. Interestingly, I was just listening to an early recording of the song by a cabaret singer called Hutch (Leslie Hutchinson), who was evidently the Prince of Wales' favorite singer! Anyway, Hutch is very much a cabaret singer who sells the song with almost no voice at all. Shades of Mabel Mercer, who I am finally learning to appreciate, even love.

The other thing that happened last week is that I was, quite unexpectedly, elected Vice President of the Lotte Lehmann Foundation at our board meeting on Wednesday. I am completely dedicated to the Foundation and its various aims, primarily perpetuating the name of Lotte Lehmann as well as furthering her legacy by bringing art song into the limelight. We now have a composition competition in partnership with ASCAP as well as a vocal competition (for which I judged the finals this past winter). So I'm proud of that.

Giannina Arangi-Lombardi
I have so many singers I've been listening to recently that I absolutely must write about: Delia Reinhardt, Judy Raskin, Povla Frijsh and Félia Litvinne, the last two of whom both proved to be completely different from what I expected, though in completely different ways. Plus Giannina Arangi-Lombardi, whom I've always loved, but now I've heard her Aida and now I'm a raving maniac (for her singing, of course).

So I hope to do entries on each of them very soon.

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