A Baroque Matinee: Post-Concert Reflection

April 25, 2016

 

Going through my undergraduate and post-graduate studies, I had often been told that although I had an obvious love for this repertoire, I should avoid boxing myself in to just the Baroque repertoire. It wasn’t until I sang this concert that I realised that, although I understand why these coaches have told me not to limit myself, there is something about this music that just makes me a better singer. Despite being ill for the performance, it was perhaps one of the most thrilling moments of my life. As I walked from the vestry of the Grosvenor Chapel to the edge of the altar, I was praying to the universe that my voice wouldn’t give out in the middle of the recital. In any other situation, I would have been toast – any form of anxiety or nerves immediately makes the body tense, which is obviously not ideal for singing; however the moment the incredible players I had with me started the introduction to Handel’s Furie Terribili, there was something that transformed my anxiety into ecstasy and excitement to be sharing this music. I don’t know if it is because I had done nothing but live and breathe these pieces for two weeks, or if it was because I have the deepest passion and understanding of this repertoire, but I had never felt so free and at ease in a performance. Obviously it would have been nicer if I wasn’t ill. As I am finishing up my degree and preparing for all my exams, I find myself often feeling so run-down and stressed out that I realise that I forgot why I love singing. Back in December I did a mini audition tour in London and in Europe for Opera schools and young artist programmes. I had also finally gotten a break-through in my technique after a year of having struggles. Instead of being happy and relaxed that I was closer to figuring it all out, I realised that I was so concerned about the technique that I lost my musicality and expression. I became a very mechanical and mathematical singer. I cared more about what the head honchos thought that I forgot to just be me. This recital was a break-through for me in that sense. This was music that I loved – I wrote spent hours trying to ornament these pieces and trying to find different ‘colors’ to play around with in each phrase. Unless I let go and just trust that it was all working, all of that work would have been a waste. There was no one there to mark my concert. My mother, close friends, and strangers were in the audience to simply listen to great music. For the first time in a while, I had fun. Lots and lots of fun. My mother cheekily recorded the concert on her phone. As I was watching the video after the concert, I just couldn’t stop smiling. Not because I find some sort of ecstasy listening to my own voice, quite the contrary, actually. I was smiling because all I could see in the video was myself and the ensemble just dancing.

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