Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Just got my first paid wedding gig!

I had auditioned for a temporary church job, didn't get it because the Chief & I will be on vacation for almost half the time they wanted to cover.  However, the email telling me that also asked if I'd be interested in cantoring a wedding next Saturday afternoon.  Sure thing!  Only cantoring, not soloing, but it pays.  Woo-hoo!  I'm gonna be a wedding singer! 😊

Friday, August 31, 2018

Another Sing-Out!

It's that time again!  Every 5 years, the theater company I keep coming back to hosts a marathon Gilbert & Sullivan sing-along over Labor Day weekend.  You sing through all the music (but none of the dialogue) of all 13 surviving G&S shows.  (Their first collaboration, Thespis, or the Gods Grown Old, survives only in fragments.) 

This will be the 3rd sing-out for which the host company will present one of those shows in a semi-staged, concert version, with a full orchestra on stage w/ the singers, and the principals in costume.  The company chose Utopia, Limited and The Grand Duke for these concerts because those two are rarely done.  When we presented Grand Duke for the first concert production 10 years ago, the response was so positive that we ended up staging it in 2010.  The response to Utopia 5 years ago was similarly positive and apparently the company did consider staging it, but Utopia is harder to cast because it requires so many strong male voices - eleven!

The standard format is to break the shows into blocks for which people can register as participants, or buy tickets as audience members.  Friday night opens with the singing of "Hail Poetry" from The Pirates of Penzance - sort of an unofficial G&S "national anthem," if you will.  Three shows follow.  Saturday is the one full day - a 3-show block in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, and the concert production and one other show after dinner.  Sunday wraps up with the remaining 3 shows, traditionally closing with The Gondoliers because the finale lyrics "leave you with feelings of pleasure."

Attendees come from up and down the eastern United States, the Midwest, the South, and sometimes even from Canada and the UK.  You get hardcore G&S scholars and fans, people who are completely new to G&S and the way the "veterans" quote from the shows, and everyone in between.  We have second-generation attendees, couples who met doing one G&S show or another, and people who've built long-distance friendships over Savoynet, the Gilbert & Sullivan Archive, or the International G&S Festival in England (first in Buxton, now in Harrogate).  Knowing a little G&S can serve as a connection when visiting or moving to new places (that's certainly been my experience), even if you've never had an opportunity to perform.  These sing-alongs are a sort of "family reunion" of G&S fans, of course, but also of opera and music lovers, fans of choral music (Sullivan wrote some rich, rewarding ensemble music for his performers), and those who enjoy wordplay of the sort Gilbert did so well.

I've already loaded my scores (including a few duplicates, just in case) into the cart I'll use for Saturday's marathon, got a hotel room booked near the theater, and am looking forward to singing my brains out this weekend! πŸ˜πŸ’“πŸŽ΅πŸŽΆπŸŽ΅

Instagram 001, anyone?

I created an Instagram account a few weeks ago so I could see the makeup creations of someone George Takei posted about, but didn't touch the account again until this morning.  To my surprise, I've got 15 followers!  They must be disappointed in me; I have no clue how to use Instagram and haven't posted a thing.  Guess I'll hafta do an online search to find an Instagram how-to, or reach out to one of those followers for some instruction. 😊

My Facebook friends are all over the map

While the bulk of my FB friends tend left and are anti-Trump, I also have some Trump supporters in the mix.  Many of my more liberal FB friends have been relishing the recent legal problems of so many of Trump's people (Manafort and Cohen being only the most recent), but one of my pro-Trump friends obviously sees it all as a witch hunt, because that person just shared this:

When I started reading, I thought it was going to be a joke; not so.  It'll be interesting to see how things play out as the Mueller probe continues.  What will we all be thinking a year from now - will we still see things so differently, or will conversations finally become more nuanced?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

A first - NOT cooking for a dinner party!

We had our annual July birthday party last month; we're now up to three honorees (the Chief and two clergy friends).  The Chief decided he wanted a larger group, of a dozen or so, and didn't want me killing myself in the kitchen.  As a result, we had an Italian restaurant cater the food.  We ordered 2 packages for 8, so we ended up with 2 kinds of salad, 2 pastas, 2 entrees, ciabatta bread, and a tray of single-serving desserts.

It felt so weird to do NO cooking AT ALL for a party.  We did still have dishes to do afterwards,  because sterling, crystal and good china DO NOT go in the dishwasher, but no dishes to do before guests arrived.  That meant we spent more time decluttering the house and generally getting it ready for company.

The woman who brought the food was very efficient in setting up, and easy to work with.  We're glad we have such a big kitchen island - plenty of room for 3 warming-pan racks, both salad varieties, and the tray of mini-desserts.  (The bread went on the table.)  Everyone loved the food, and the company was convivial as always, so the experiment was mostly a success.

I say "mostly" a success because the Chief & I decided that most of the food we ordered didn't keep too well in the warming pans; several things got dried out or rubbery (although the mushroom ravioli was very good).  We also weren't crazy about most of the desserts.  The chocolate things (chocolate-coated cake?) were popular, but I didn't love them; I liked the mini-cheesecakes and cremes brulees, but the Chief didn't; and the little apple pastries were better heated than room temperature.

The restaurant did a good job - had plenty of sturdy plasticware, deluxe paper napkins, at least 2 red-and-white-checked plastic tablecloths (which we declined), and the salads arrived in plastic bowls with fitted lids, not just plastic wrap.  However, because of the warming pan issue, we decided that next time we'd just make big pots of pasta and sauce and a big vat of salad; no need to have dozens of different offerings.

Friday, July 27, 2018

I love bulbs!

Back this spring I bought several pots of spring flowers - 2 pots of mini-daffodils, 1 of small pink tulips, and 2 of larger tulips, also pink.  This morning I planted the bulbs (didn't want to wait until fall).  To my delight, not only had the daffs multiplied, but the tulip bulbs had "sidecar" bulbs too.  I randomized daffs and tulips in the front of the square patch and planted the bulk of the tulips in the corner by the front door.

I also had some seed-looking things from the dried-up tulips, which I planted in front of the hellebore.  Now to wait until next April to see whether they actually produce anything.

I also did a little weeding.  My lone lavender is loving this crazy weather (record heat for 2 weeks, followed by a week of monsoons).  It produces more leaves than flowers, but the flowers have a lovely, if subtle, fragrance.  I may yet plant more next year.

So much for sleeping in...

The 6th Great Gilbert & Sullivan Sing-Out will be held Labor Day weekend.  Sunday morning is scheduled to start with Utopia, Limited, not one of my favorites, followed by Iolanthe and Gondoliers, which are two of my favorites.  I had planned to skip Utopia and sleep in a little; not going to happen.  The joke's on me.  It turns out I'll be singing the lead contralto in Utopia.  That means that not only do I not get to sleep in, but I'll want to get up a little earlier than I otherwise might, to make sure my voice is awake for Lady Sophy. 😡

Monday, July 09, 2018

Called that one wrong

It seems my Grand Duke audition didn't go nearly as well as I thought.  Not only did I not get the Baroness, but I wasn't even offered one of the comprimario roles.  Ah well, chorus will be easy, given that I've sung the show before.  Not getting a role in Grand Duke means I'm still in the running, at least theoretically, for a role in the Sing-Out.  That announcement will be published sometime Wednesday.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

FINALLY starting to nail this singing thing

I've gotten a lot of very encouraging feedback on my singing lately.  First was this semester's jury - the panel's comments were generally very positive.

When I sang my jury pieces for a friend who's a professional singer and voice teacher, he was very complimentary about my musicality, breath, line, and more - all the things I've been working on so hard lately.  He capped it with "You were someone who likes to sing.  Now you're someone who sings."  Coming from him, a person who doesn't give compliments lately, that means A LOT!  I still do a happy dance when I think of it. πŸ˜„

I had an audition the other night and used my Handel jury piece, even though I was auditioning for a G&S show, just to show them what I can do nowadays.  The MD got this look on his face that I chose to interpret as "Wouldya look at what she can do!"  The director hadn't heard me in 7 years and commented on how much "fuller" my voice is now.  I told her I'd been working on it and she said, "It shows."

This morning I led the responsorial psalm at mass and had at least 4 people tell me how beautiful it sounded.

I still have a lot of work to do, getting all my technical stuff to be more automatic and "hard-wired," but I'm finally at the point where the years of voice lessons are starting to pay off.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Recipe - modified rapture

While the Strawberry Cream on Shortbread didn't work out - I'll have to come up with something else to give the new neighbors - the berry trifle I took to this evening's party was a big success.  The cream filling was too thick to work down into the cake (layers were cake/filling/berries, repeat), so the cake was a bit dry.  However, it tasted good, and people were ridiculously impressed with how pretty it looked.  I actually had at least 2 people ask if I measured or used a ruler to place the strawberries!  No, I just placed 'em individually instead of throwing 'em in any old how, the way I did with the berries that don't show. πŸ˜„



KAF, you failed me!

Today I tried the King Arthur Flour recipe for Strawberry Cream on Shortbread.  The recipe reviews were quite favorable, with no warnings about the filling.

To my disappointment, the berry puree never set up, so when I folded in the whipped cream, the filling thickened but never solidified, even after 3 or 4 hours in the fridge.  I had made it in a springform pan, but didn't dare release it or I'd've had strawberry glop all over the place.  At the Chief's suggestion, I put it in the freezer before we left for a Fourth party at friends'.  When we came back, nearly 4 hours later, the filling was still a bit soupy in the middle!  I have no idea how long the gelatin had been sitting in the pantry; can gelatin lose its effectiveness?

It also didn't have as strong a strawberry taste as we'd expected.  Maybe it needed a bit more sugar; the recipe gave a range on the sugar amount and I went with the lower amount.

I've tried dozens of KAF recipes over the years and have usually been very happy with them.  Unless I can figure out why the filling never set, though, this one falls into the "don't make again" category. πŸ˜•