July 29, 2013

Start where you are going

Pantheon

Ah! What a lucky fellow I am: singing in the green heart of Italy with Umbrian Serenades for the third time. Flying into Rome this past week, I spent a few days wandering around the city before joining my fellow Serenaders in Spoleto, Italy.

While in Rome, I stayed near the Pantheon, which I visited a number of times, standing awestruck under its oculus, contemplating the effect scale and proportion have on   the  senses.

Such spaces inspire both awe and wonder, which open ear and psyche, both being necessary for beautiful singing. It's really not any more complicated than that. But we do make it complicated, don't we? The trick, of course, is to be more simple.

My teacher would tell her students to "start where you are going," which I heard as an instruction to listen to vocal placement ('ring' if you prefer) as well as the position for singing which involves an understanding of breath. Yes, it is all those things. But now I also hear her instruction as an admonition to open to heaven and earth - and this whole awe and wonder business. If that sounds too woo-woo for some of you, well... just stand in the Pantheon for a long time. Then come and sing with me in Italy. We'll have an amazing rehearsal like we had today, where the music-making moved many—including myself—to tears.

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