Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Nach AIMS; Wiedersehen, Graz!

Dear readers,

As the summer winds down, I wanted to offer you some updates.

After six weeks, I am finally home. That's a little misleading: after six week of living in Austria I flew home to New York. I am currently in San Francisco visiting the induplicable, tenacious bass singer (my bestie) Richard B. Block, and his lovely and brilliant wife Zanda Svede.

My summer at AIMS in review:

When Susanne Acton approached me, during rehearsals for The Magic Flute, about accepting a scholarship to study in Graz, Austria at the AIMS program I was a bit overwhelmed. Only minutes later did Dr. David DiChiera congratulate me on "my" decision to attend. Later that day I was approached by Elizabeth Anderson for my contact information and was promptly telephoned by Mr. Don Manvel from AVL, who is personally responsible for the Shelly Manvel Pocket Angel Scholarship. This generous scholarship honors his late wife by funding the recipients participation in the AIMS in Graz program. It was, as I hope it seems, a whirlwind.

I spent the month of June home in New York, following the end of the MOT season, preparing for AIMS. I started working with the inimitable Ron Raines. June flew by, and there I was: on a flight out of JFK to Munich, four our layover then on to Graz. "Auf Wiedersehen, New York, und guten Tag Oesterreich!" I was bumped up to business class, which was one of the most glorious things I

The following six weeks were documented in the previous three posts, and here is a brief summary: I worked closely with Tom Harper, Kathy Wright, and Greg Smucker. I attended German language classes 8:00 - 8:45am, Monday through Friday. We were fed a starch heavy breakfast every morning, except Wednesdays and Sundays. On those two days we were fed warm food, prepared at the nearest Gasthof called Goesser. Breakfast at Goesser featured runny scrambled eggs, rare bacon, hearty bread, marmalades, yogurt and the occasional Sunday surprise. Monday through Friday lunch was also provided at Cafe Global on Leech Strasse, near the Elizabeth Schule, where most of the days activities were held. The cuisine was international, and dense.

I sang arias and solos with the orchestra on several concerts. I sang "The Flower Song" from Carmen with maestro Alexander Kalajdzic; the tenor solo from Mozart's Requiem with maestro Markus Landerer; "Ah! Leve-toi soleil" from Romeo et Juliette with maestro Karen Kamensek. I also passed the first and second rounds of the AIMS Meistersinger competition. I was an alternate in the final concert/Meistersinger compeition. I sang "Tombe degl'avi miei... Fra poco" from Luci di Lammermoor with maestro Kamensek. I sang well, and though I was an alternate and as such ineligible to win a prize in the competition I was awarded an encouragement award.

I also had the great fortune to work with Beth Parker, Darryl Cooper, and Gabriele Lechner. I worked closely with diction faculty Roberto Rocco, Carmen Grasso, and Nina Radtke.

As for the nitty-gritty, the dirty details and rumors... those are better discussed over a drink or a meal, those interested are welcome to come to Detroit for the insider, behind the scenes stories.

Over all it was quite a learning experience. It turns out that my time at AIMS was more about fostering personal pride, gaining self-trust and solidifying self-confidence rather than skills and technique. It is nice to know that after six years, two advanced degrees, 18 roles (17 with orchestra), 7 oratorios, and countless concerts with piano I have something valid to say as an artist - and my experience is represented in my performing.

I should get going.
Round two of MOT soon to begin.

Thank you for reading.