Thursday, September 26, 2013



My friend Blaise Pascal passed way this week after a 3 month battle in the hospital. 
Will everyone please take a minute and send all of their energy and prayers to Blaise's family.

I met Blaise this past summer at The Martina Arroyo Prelude to performance program. Blaise was there from day one, at my side. He became my friend and a mentor. He shared so much with me and I felt so comfortable with him. I loved his opinions about music and how he experienced music. I've never seen someone love this art as much as Blaise. For Blaise singing was art. He gave me great criticism when I needed it and told me how much he loved my singing. He told me "joe when you're singing you reminded me: yes! that's how it's done. I have to remember that." Blaise had so much passion and so much knowledge. He sat in on my coachings and laughed with me. He was there with me when I had no money and only had my 4 bananas to eat. He was there giving me half a sandwich even though I was too proud to take it.

My time with him was too short. Our time with him was too short. He became such a great friend is such a short time and I never was able to tell him. I am going to miss him more than I can express. He taught me so much...

I can't say enough and yet I feel so lost... I do not know what is beyond this life but Blaise deserves the best from every religion and every belief. He deserves an eternity of happiness greater than exists on this earth if such a thing is possible.

Please everyone, take a minute to think about him - even if you didn't know him.
Then take another minute to think about everyone you love in this world and let them know - make a sacrifice for someone who needs your love. I meant to visit him in the hospital, but business took me to switzerland. When I got back he was unconscious and I chose not to go see him. Do not make the same mistake I made - I don't know how or if at all it would have made a difference. I just can't believe he's gone.


Thank you,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mid Week Update Sept. 25th

Dear Readers,

As the semester continues we are getting closer and closer Carmen!
If you can make it out to Athens on the 13th or 14th of November, please do - you're in for a treat.

I will be singing Don Jose with a fantastic cast of emerging young artists: Marisan Corsino as the seductive and strong willed title character Carmen; Chris Voss as the gallant torero Escamillo; Elisabeth Slaten as the demure Micaela. There are so many other great artists in this cast: Richard Block, Ben Baskoff, Avery Draut, Evelyn Shreves and many more!

Cheers to all of the cast members and the hard work they are putting in to make this show great!

In the meantime, I still have some other duties to check off the proverbial to-do list:

This Thursday is a double duty day.
I will be singing Jose's Flower Song [La fleur que tu m'avais jeter] for UGA's Choral Day and then a short concert with Evelyn Shreves down town Athens. We will be performing the first act duet from Rigoletto followed by some solos including Brahms' Der Tod das ist die kuele Nacht and the neapolitan classic Core 'ngrato.

Lastly, I am preparing a recital for the spring.
I've chosen the first half, which will be Michaelangelo in song, but the second half is still undecided.
I am thinking a mix of Latin American, North American and French.
Any thoughts?

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

And the semester continues

Dear Readers,

I apologize for my reticence, life here at the University of Georgia has been busy.

I don't know where to begin.

My first engagement this semester was to celebrate the life of Adora W. Mills.
Adora pasted away last month and I feel at a loss to adequately describe Adora's impact in my life. I am at a loss to describe her immense impact on this community.

Adora's reputation and alacrity preceded her. I first heard of Adora when I began singing tenor. From my very first public performance as a tenor, Adora was there cheering me on. After my tenorial debut as Camille de Rosillion in Lehar's The Merry Widow at UGA, Frederick Burchinal approached me and made Adora's interest clear: she found Burchinal after the show and said "I think we've found out tenor!"

Adora's husband was a tenor and she, as a tribute to his memory, created a vocal scholarship at UGA for tenors.

It was Adora's scholarship and her encouragement that helped me get through tough times here at UGA and discover my love for singing.

In May of this year, several singers - including myself - piled into Burchinal's car and headed to the Reynold's Plantation where Adora was living. We sang a private concert for her. It was that very concert that we performed 3 weeks ago at the celebration of her life in Greenboro GA.

I sang the first act duet from Rigoletto with the brilliant and emerging Evelyn Shreves, One Alone from the Desert Song and a Gounod hymn "What Grief Can Try Me? Oh, Lord" at Adora's request.

It is was sadness that I morn the passing of such a influential and wonderful person - who touched more lives in more way than anyone will ever know.

There was another passing in the UGA community. Dr. Robert Brown passed this week.
Dr. Brown was a retired professor who loved classical music. Dr. Brown used to sit in our UGASO rehearsals (this is before and during my tenure as a Double Bass student at UGA). He donated, raised funds and supported the music that we made at UGA.

In April of 2012 Dr. Brown contacted me and offered me several Jussi Boerling CDs as well as some Beethoven and Schumann. It was an extremely kind gesture and I have since kept those CD is permanent rotation in my car. I listen to them at least once a week and several times through during long car rides.

Please send your thoughts an prayers to the families of these two wonderful patrons. What I do - what musicians and artist do - is impossible without the support from people like Adora and Bob.

Though I reluctantly continue, below are some more happenings from these last few months since Hoffmann and since Verbier:

Last week Metropolitan Opera tenor Allan Glassman visited UGA and gave a great master class, in which I was privileged to sing. I sang the flower song from Carmen - my first public go at it.
He had some very constructive and complimentary things to say.

On Saturday I sang for an even with the OLLI [The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute] Opera Group and then took a lesson with Allan - which was a lot of fun.

On Friday the 20th I will be singing Tony in a concert medley of West Side Story with the UGA Wind Ensemble - I have played several concerts with Dr. Lynch's UGA Wind Ensemble as a double bassist. This will be my premier as a singer.

On the 22nd I will be singing several gallant/classical era pieces with Anatoly Sheludyakov in a tribute to Catherine the Great in a collaboration with the Georgia Museum of Art.

Lastly, I passed my doctoral preliminary exams and have only one final exam - my comprehensive exams to complete and I will be admitted to candidacy!!! The end of my time at UGA is coming to a close.

Cheers to great music and future success!
Thanks for reading -