This weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to sing with Tryptych Concert and Opera for the first time in their annual "A Holly Jolly Christmas Cavalcade". Ed Franko, the artistic director of Tryptych's concert division, contacted me with the gig in the summer after he directed the Annex Singers concert I did earlier this year.
Tryptych is the kind of group that I think every musician likes to work with. Both Ed and Lenard (the co-founder of Tryptych) were very kind and gracious through out the rehearsal and performance process. Not only are they the artistic directors of the company, they also did double duty as keyboardist (Lenard) and electric bass (Ed) in the band that backed us up.
The concert itself was very cool. Vania Chan (a wonderful soprano, with a clean, warm tone) and I were backed up by the "Tryptych Trio Plus", a band with piano, keyboard, bass, and drums, as well as a thirteen person chamber choir. The audience was arranged in cabaret style seating, so everyone sat at tables by candlelight, which gave a great ambience to the whole night. The music was all classic, secular Christmas tunes, and went over very well with the audience.
Ali caught a few clips of the night, so I've included my rendition here of "The Christmas Song". I hope you like it, and Merry Christmas!
Bad singer, bad! Like so many people who valiantly create blogs with the intention of keeping them regularly updated and interesting, I have fallen off the band wagon, and failed to update my blog in months. But here I am, so all is forgiven...right?
I just wanted to go over some exciting news from the past couple months, and what I have planned coming ahead.
In the summer, I signed up with Warren Beatty at AAB Talent Agency, which was definitely an exciting step. I'm looking foward to working with him and the team at AAB, and maybe get to some tv or movie oppertunities out of it as well!
This Christmas, I'll be joining Tryptch Opera Concert & Opera for the first time in their Holly Jolly Christmas Cavalcade December 15th and 16th at Trinity Presbyterian Church at 7:30 PM. I worked with Edward Franko in the spring Annex Singers concert I did in his capacity as director, so am very much looking forward to working with him again in this concert!
Finally, I will be joining North Toronto Players as Frederic for the third year in a row in their winter production of The Pirates of Penzance. I've previously done a Jersey Shore Mafia version of the Mikado with them, and Starship Pinafore with them the year before, and they are one of my favourite groups in the world to work with, so this is very good news!
Well, that's it for the news sound-off for now. I hope this October finds you all well and content! I leave you with this awesome poster for the upcoming productions of Pirates:
In my last post, I mentioned how Ali managed to record a lot of that May 26th, 2012 Opera Choruses Concert. Since she worked so hard (and did some great videography with our very small Kodak digital camcorder), I decided to do some work as well and get another video up from the concert. This is "A Wand'ring Minstrel I", from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, one of my personal favourites to sing (and I've been in two versions of the show). Enjoy!
This year, I was happy to be invited back by the Annex Singers to perform as a soloist in their Opera Choruses concert. They are a wonderful group, very kind and gracious, and always a joy to perform with because of their enthusiasm and passion for vocal music. I was especially excited to get to sing some opera and operetta classics with them. I don’t sing as much classical music these days, but I still love revving up and singing some big arias. Along with doing the Brindsi from Verdi’s La Traviata and “Ah grazie, si rendano” from Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito, I did the Watch Duet from Die Fledermaus with Lindsay Heyland, a very talented soprano who is immensely fun to act with on stage. I also did Nemorino’s forlorn cavatina “Quanto E Bella” from Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love”, and got to round out the evening with one of my personal favourites, “A Wandering Minstrel, I” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado.
The concert was at Bloor Street United, which is an excellent venue for live vocals. On top of that, the place was pretty much jam packed, which meant there was a lot of energy in the room (which for me, is one of the most important things when performing). The audience was active and excited, which gave a nice healthy buzz to the atmosphere. I love live performances, and I was still high on the event until late (very late) last night.
This week I’ll be singing during a cocktail hour for the Turnaround Management Association’s annual dinner in support of women’s shelters in Toronto, and also will be continuing work on my song cycle at home.
Ali came to the concert last night, and managed to record a whole lot of it. I’ve included a video of “Quanto E Bella” below. Hope you enjoy!
Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been working on a new project (aside from fun Katy Perry covers, of course). When I was pursuing classical music full time, I really loved singing song cycles. A song cycle is a group of songs that are intended to be performed together, and share a similar theme throughout them. One of my favourites was Vaughan-Williams “Songs of Travel”, which is based on the set of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson with the same name. It’s an incredibly emotional journey through a vagabond’s life travels.
Pop singers have also written some pretty incredible song cycles (think concept albums like Meatloaf and Jim Steinman’s Bat out of Hell albums, or The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band). I’ve been working on my songwriting quite a bit over the last few weeks, but really needed something to motivate me. I’ve always been a project oriented person, so I thought working on my own song cycle might be a good way to keep me at the piano writing. So I’m working on a song cycle now (tentatively called “Songs of an Ancient Land”), based on both Scottish and Irish poetry. I was inspired heavily by classical song cycles like “Songs of Travel”, but wanted to cross over that kind of concept into a more pop music sound and feel.
The motivation has definitely worked! I’ve written rough drafts of one full song (that will appear near the end), and a prologue and epilogue to the cycle. The first song I wrote is called “Don’t scatter me”, with lyrics adapted from D.H. Cramer’s poem “The Final Gift”. I’ve posted a rough draft of the video below (rough as in, version .02 or so). I have the melody and words set, but no arrangement so far beyond the chord progressions. But I wanted to share it anyways, so here it is! Let me know what you think (and if you know any musicians who love to do arrangements...feel free to share!)
P.S. - I’ve since lost the beard and hair in a bout of spring cleaning. Ali took this typical photo of me in the pub:
Video: A Wand'ring Minstrel I