Many of you know that I performed in a concert Valentine's Day Weekend! This concert began as a little kernel of an idea back in October 2018, when I joined a self-employed Facebook group and happened to meet Sam Partyka, a self-employed pianist and piano teacher. Naturally, we bonded over being music teachers, about the high cost of living in Boston, and about our love of music. As we talked, I got increasingly excited about a collaboration. I'd been dreaming about planning a classical concert, but I didn't want to simply pay a pianist to "accompany" my program. I wanted to have a fellow collaborator. I wanted to plan a concert together, to put on a concert together, to learn and experience the music together. Thus, the seed was planted. I shared this dream with Sam, and he was interested! When deciding what music to choose, I kept coming back to Schumann's Frauenliebe und Leben. This was a song cycle I started learning during my Bachelor's of Music degree, right around the time that I started dating (my now husband) Davey. Since Davey and I got married last summer, and the song cycle is all about falling in love and getting married, it felt fitting to sing the entire song cycle now, as his wife.
As I was putting together the program, I thought about how sweet it would be to have Davey sing "Widmung" by Schumann and "Dein Blaues Auge" by Brahms. When Sam mentioned that he also had the song "Liebestraum" by Liszt in his repertoire, the first half of the program was set.
Now, I have sung in many classical recitals, but this was my first time choosing the whole program. I had so much fun. I found myself scouring through music books I hadn't looked through in years, and singing through classical songs in my living room just because. I decided the second half would be folk songs. "The Singer" by Michael Head is another song that's been in my repertoire since my undergrad, so that one was a no-brainer. I knew that I loved "The Parting Glass", a traditional song (that I actually sang in a Scottish pub during our honeymoon). I chose a couple of arrangements by Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams. I chose a few of my favorite Stephen Foster songs. Then, I found myself dreaming of songs about fairies. As I delved into IMSLP, I stumbled upon the 5 Fairy Ballads by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. I fell in love. I chose two of these pieces for the concert and the program was set. Now, all we needed to do was practice, memorize, rehearse, make posters, programs, spread the word, etc.
Here I am, going on and on about the program, but what I really want to share is about my process. If you've read my past blog posts, then you know that I had a dysfunctional relationship with singing when I was going through music school. I believed that my singing defined my worth. This concert was a chance for me to practice living differently. I practiced trusting myself, the process, and the music. By the week before the concert, I was calm, joyful, and ready to share this meaningful and personal program. My mom had bought her plane ticket and was planning to come, people had bought tickets, everything was going swimmingly and then---I got sick.
Back in school, I would get sick 3-4 times per year. Every time required antibiotics, and every time I would sing through anything and everything until my teachers forced me to stop...but I have always gotten better by the time of the performance. Always. Not this time. I was sick as a dog. I slept for 4 days straight, and by the Friday before the concert, it became very clear to me that we needed to postpone. So we did. And an amazing thing happened...the world kept turning. The Brown Paper Tickets website AND the venue were able to switch the date with no problem. Instead of being February 9th, it would be February 16th. Surprisingly, no one asked for a refund. My mom and I shared a wonderful weekend together and I promised to record the program.
Many people shared with me that they weren't available the previous weekend, but now that it was postponed, they were able to come. It was a gift. Sam made the most beautiful programs. We had support all around. The concert was intimate, stunning and rewarding. We filled the room with music, friends, family. We ate cookies together afterward and shared stories about growing up and the importance of music in our lives.
Thankfully...My singing no longer determines my worth. For the first time, I was able to sing with total trust in me. I was able to use my vocal technique to express each color, each word, each feeling. I was grateful for all of the positive feedback following the concert, but it didn't feel like it defined me.
This experience has deepened my love for music and taught me that I don't need to focus on only one genre. I can sing opera, lieder, folk songs, bluegrass... I will sing music that brings joy, healing, and inspiration. I will write my own songs, create my own programs. My creative spirit can be unlimited.
Thank you to everyone who has been a part of my journey, and who continues to be a part of my journey. I am blessed.
For those who missed the concert, here are some videos. As I am able to post more, I will add them. I am grateful we were able to record on the iPad. They are not professional, but they are a little way for me to share the beauty of: Songs of Life and Love: A Valentine's Day Concert.
Frauenliebe und Leben Part 1
Frauenliebe und Leben Part 2
The Singer by Michael Head
Sweet Polly Oliver and The Salley Gardens
Linden Lea by Ralph Vaughan Williams (sung by Davey Harrison, my lovely husband)