Martha’s birthday today!

martha.jpgMy beautiful, loving, funny, best friend celebrated her birthday today (Monday, 2/25). I swear she has become more attractive , clever, witty, and interesting each year we’re together. To point (after the break):

“The Pitch That Killed” by Mike Sowell

Since I have been doing more reading that usual these past few months, I thought I would start sharing some of my current books. So keep an eye out for some good reads.

“The Pitch That Killed” chronicles the 1920 pennant race, but more importantly the death of the Cleveland Indians’ Ray Chapman after the pitch of the New York Yankees’ Carl Mays. Sowell describes the lives and timeline of each player with such a fluid and complete motion, its as if he turned a literary double play. The game and its atmosphere come alive, making yesteryear’s ballplayers breathe again inside their sepia photographs.

It was a great read, easily available, and a real treat. It never dragged with its engaging storytelling and well researched details. It has inspired me to tackle “MoneyBall” this summer as well.

Bill Gates addresses students in University visit | The University of Chicago

Bill Gates addresses students in University visit | The University of Chicago: “”

Damnit! Why doesn’t anyone tell us IT guys in basements about this stuff?!?

Cav/Pag 2009: Lyric Opera Chorus

Well, step 2 is complete. I am very happy to announce that I have been contracted for the chorus of the Lyric’s 2008 Cav/Pag production. If you know me well, you understand what a huge deal this is for me.

If you don’t know me, I’l explain.

When I left Yale, I had nothing waiting for me in Chicago. No leads. No contacts. I took the first job offered and I hung (and still hang) my hat in a basement. I auditioned for Chicago Opera Theatre out east and no one was interested. I auditioned annually for Palumbo at Lyric to no avail. I couldn’t afford lessons and coachings were spotty and expensive. No one called from my past with any work. I had my voice, my experience, and a resume.

WIth nothing to lose, I let go and drove on a rainy cold night downtown to audition for the Chicago Symphony Chorus in April of 2006. Bill Chin heard my audition and must have sent my name up. I was called back the next month and auditioned for Duaine Wolfe and Don Horisburger. I sang…take a guess?… Tanzlied. A few weeks later, Mark Rulison called me to confirm I had been asked to join the CSC for the Ravinia season. By the time the fall came around, I was contracted as an Associate Member. I missed only one rehearsal the entire 06-07 season. I auditioned for Lyric and made a call back, but two others were moved up the ladder. It was a good sign, though.

In this past season, I have been promoted to temporary regular status at the CSC, offered solo lines and small chorus assignments, and even covered a small role. The Lyric audition this year with Maestro Nelly seemed different. He recognized me from callbacks. He inquired about my past performances and listened to both of my arias. And now, about a month later, I finally get confirmation that things are paying off.

My wife and sons depend on me. I depend on them. I need to work regularly to provide. My days of doing audition after audition, chasing gig after gig, and always reaching beyond he horizon for the next thing are behind me. As I’ve said, I just want to sing full time and provide for myself and family with my talents. I might know about a lot of different things, but singing is what I do best.

(Rambling…I do tend to ramble on pretty well also.)

10 hours of rehearsal later…

…and I got to sing the 30 seconds of music once with the CSO during the dress rehearsal last week.  Never got to go on (the last show is tomorrow night), but I believe my contribution was noted and appreciated.

AND THAT’S the short life of a cover.

Met Dawn Upshaw. She’s a real peach.

Dawn-upshaw.jpgAt Ainadamar rehearsal, I (finally) met Dawn Upshaw. Being a graduate of IWU’s School of Music, she is renowned in those small halls; a legend of artistry and proof that a small school can really produce fine, world-class singers.

I won’t go on-and-on about her singing, its magnificence has been documented enough. I find in this business the real story is who the performers are as person. Are they easy with a smile? Approachable? Do they look you in the eye and at least have a polite manner? That fascinates me much more; the personal, collegial aspects of opera personalities. To bare not only your God-given talent, but also your training and experience on the stage, WHILE maintaining a grip on what it is to be a flesh and blood human off the stage is what makes a singer a real artist. Its one thing to reach star status in this business, but I think it is more important to see how people relate not only the audience, but their colleagues as well once they have landed in that very rare air. Sometimes, I think that is harder for successful singers to understand those of us on terra firma.

Sure, you have your cold-fish: friendly, but not really engaged in meeting you during production. Rarely, you have a real jackass who is clearly offended by your handshake (I won’t Mention Any cuRrent, well-Known Dramatic ELAstic Verdi bAritoNes.) But Dawn Upshaw was clearly personable and charming.

I know her brother-in-law too, so we could both commiserate.

I’ll write about a few other spectacular singers who are, more importantly, extraordinary people that I proudly call friends.

Covering “The Teacher” in Ainadamar

Just got a call to cover a small baritone role this weekend at the CSO. Last minute, but a great chance to sing with the CSO and Dawn Upshaw. They are doing Osvaldo’s Golijov’s Ainadamar, about the life of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Small chance of going on this weekend, but I will keep you posted.