Tuesday, December 29, 2015

11 Things I Wish My Non-Music Friends Would Understand

Happy holidays my lovely readers!

I will end my 2015 blogging with a venting post. Surprise!

You may be thinking "Geez Amy why can't you write your last 2015 blog post on something a little more lively for proper 2015 closure?". Well friends, I've been wanting to bring up this topic for quite some time and simply can't put it on the back-burner any longer.



Before reading on, this post is not intended to be rude or self-centered in any way - I write this post in light of my experiences and frustrations when it comes to justifying why music is more than a hobby to me. 

Let's clear the air on a few things, shall we?

1 - The "I can't, I have rehearsal" excuse is a real thing

I adore my friends. I have been blessed with amazing pals from different parts of my life over the years and appreciate when concerns are brought to the table. 

No one is perfect when it comes to maintaining friendships but I can confidently say about ninety five percent of the reasons of me either having a "falling out" or arguing with a pal is because they claim I don't hang out with them as I am always in rehearsal. 

I've received a text not long ago saying: "You kinda suck as a friend because you are never able to hang out when we're free"...

You can imagine the rage that boiled within me when I received this ridiculously uncalled for text because yet again, I had to explain in detail why my choir rehearsal was an important priority in my life.

Rehearsal is not something musicians can just miss to hang out with friends. We've likely had this rehearsal schedule for months and we're not going to risk being penalized because we'd rather ditch for something we can easily achieve on a night off like sitting on the couch and watching Netflix.

It is not my intention to "ignore" you or be flaky (unless you're a total ass and are asking for it). My priorities may not be your priorities so before claiming that I do not value our friendship, you may want to be a little nicer and get some perspective. 

2 - During performance season, musicians need more than a week's notice on plans

This all ties in to my previous point above. It never fails when someone wants to hang out and I have tech week for an upcoming concert. Tech week is exhausting and the last thing I want to do is hang out after a full day of work and a full evening of singing only to repeat it the following day and the next day...

It is important for me to set a limit on my outings during the month of a concert because this girl needs her downtime and sleep. If I say no to a hangout, I am not saying no because I am ignoring you, I am saying no because my brain is mush from a 12-hour on-the-go day and I'd prefer to be fully engaged in conversation. 

3 - We can't always get you free tickets to our concerts

While we'd love to help you out with discounts and/or free tickets from time to time, we also have to maintain support of our own music group's finances in hopes that we at least break-even for the expenses of the concert we put all our energy into. Putting on a concert is not cheap and ticket buyers are what keep my choir in the black. It would be awesome if you could help us out by paying a full price ticket once in a while. 

4 - No I can't just sing on the spot and no I will not sing Phantom of The Opera

"OMG you sing opera? I LOVED Phantom of the Opera! Can you sing one of their songs?" 

My non-music friends are hilarious. 

I appreciate your curiosity and enthusiasm but I'd rather not belt into song at a party with eager ears and not properly warm up for at least ten minutes.
I know this sounds snobbish but I've done this before because peer pressure and my throat felt as if I swallowed sharp knives for days because I was drinking beer and eating spicy foods at said party.
I will also look like a tool if I waste everyone's time warming up by making weird sighing sounds in the corner by myself. That is just awkward for everyone. 

5 - Just because I sing in front of large crowds doesn't mean it is easy to sing in front of friends, even at a karaoke bar.

I came across this great article by Chris Rowbury on why it is much scarier to sing in front of your friends. Very insightful:

http://blog.chrisrowbury.com/2011/11/why-its-easier-to-sing-to-1000.html



6 - We'd rather be paid for event gigs

Yes, the gesture to ask us to sing/play at a wedding is flattering and we're open to performing for free here and there BUT the preparation for performing and set up is a lot more strenuous than you think. I've come across this popular meme which sums up my feelings:




7 - No I will not audition for The Voice or X-Factor

*groans*

I don't need judges or producers from a TV show to tell me what I should wear, how to do my makeup, and basically strip me of my craft as a singer with statements and opinions that will do absolutely nothing for me in my training as a singer. Why does everyone think this path is the best option for aspiring musicians? I will never know. 

8 - We can be a weird bunch after practice

Hey, if you had to to go over German Latin diction for hours you'd be drinking steins and incorporate a loud and harsh German accent in a heated conversation too!

Fun fact - I love it.

9 - There is more to a music career than performing or teaching

This point is more forgiving since many of my friends are genuinely curious on what a music degree can entail as a career. Sure, teaching and performing are the main contenders but there are so many more options you may not be aware of:

- Arts Administration (my field!)
- Musicology and Research
- Composing / Arranger
- Accompanist
- Music Agent
- Sound Engineer
- Church Music Director
- Music Clinician
- Conductor
- Event Management
- Fundraising and Development

and the list goes on...

10 - Obtaining a Music degree is more stressful than you think

Yes, proving your talent can be very, very challenging. On top of regular course load and exams and assignments, music students are expected to practice daily and partake in numerous concerts and auditions throughout the academic year, holidays and the summer.

I've written a post on this very topic if you'd like to read further:
Big Bad World of University

And finally...

11 - Pretending you're interested in our passion to be nice is more damaging

We can tell, pretty blatantly. A part of being a musician is trying to engage and gain support from your family and friends. 

We get it. Grandiose operas and classical music isn't everyone's cup of tea. What we don't get is when you put on a masquerade saying how you are so pumped to see a performance and then make little effort to actually be there. 

Look -  we aren't asking you to be at every show - we are asking that you experience it once and decide for yourself if this type of music tickles your fancy. It also makes us feel wanted, confident and proud that people came to hear us. Many of us depend on this support system for encouragement and if you're not honest with us from the beginning, we will begin to resent you, your broken promises and question the value of the friendship. After all, isn't friendship about support and sharing a common goal of appreciating each other's interests and ambitions? 

This is our passion, so treat it better than just a hobby we do on a Wednesday night. It shapes who we are as artists and it is worth every damn minute. 



 ...So there you have it. I hope this provides some insight on the little frustrations which I am positive many musicians have dealt with on some level. 

Again, I adore all of you. We just need a good chat once in a while. 

Now to liven up the mood:



Thanks for reading! 

- Blonde in the Choir

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Memories with Opera Lyra Ottawa

Hi friends,

If you are an opera lover or up to date with the news, you've likely heard the sad news that our beloved Opera Lyra Ottawa has announced that it will be closing its doors in the middle of their 31st season. 

https://operalyra.ca/ 

I am angry, confused, disappointed, sad...it's just surreal. The heart of our opera community in Canada's Capital has left the stage because of a lack of financial support. This means aspiring singers, actors, stage managers, conductors, production managers, makeup artists etc. are now down one less incredible opportunity to formulate professional relationships, to grow as an artist, to gain exposure, and most of all - to create unforgettable memories that would have been spent on the National Arts Centre stage and other venues in Ottawa. 

My anger stems from the fact that this company worked so damn hard to regain its financial stability while remaining positive and continuing to produce beautiful operas. And yet, there was still not enough support from the community, philanthropists, and grants. 

I am angry because my love of opera and support of the arts was also not enough to save this company. 

Rewind back to circa 2008. My first opera in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. I was so young and ready to take on the world of opera. My teacher, Laurence Ewashko introduced me to the OLO chorus and I felt like I found my place in the world. 

Fast forward to October 2011, I was on staff at OLO. It was my first full time job fresh out of university as the Education and Outreach Coordinator and I was elated. My life was set until one day, the staff was laid off because of financial difficulties. It was a hard pill to swallow but they still worked endlessly to maintain relationships with patrons and the NAC. Many professionals were brought in to assess the situation in addition to focus groups being formed to discuss attracting a larger audience, especially youth.

Fast forward to April 2015. We just finished a successful production of Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and for the first time in a while, roots of a new era of a community were beginning to grow. If you want to see how this affected many of us, see my previous post on "OLO forms a new era of community". 

I owe so much to this company. Having been a staff member, friend, supporter, and chorister, they have given me opportunity to perform on the NAC stage, stage flashmobs and most of all - form the friendships that have shaped me as a person today. 

The OLO shows were the highlight of my year. Choirs are great, jazz quartets are great but opera shows? That's a whole other experience. Clad in elaborate costumes, makeup, and a whole lot of excitement, performing for thousands of people on that stage is an experience I hold close to my heart.

I haven't even come to terms on having to delete my Beethoven's Fidelio rehearsals out of my phone. All because of a lack of financial support. 

I feel robbed of my identity and pride as an opera chorister. This is what made me who I am as a musician today and without OLO, it will be mighty hard to top any other experience with an opera company in Ottawa. 

Now is the time for me to hold on to the memories of my time with OLO that I will never forget:






















OLO, thank you for the wonderful memories and opportunities you have given to so many of us in your 31 years of passion for opera. I am sorry that it ended the way it did. 

I have a dream that the NAC will take this as an opportunity to re-introduce an opera sector in their operational budget or even perhaps inspire more local chamber operas to be founded in order to continue the education and outreach of opera in our city.

Friends, the arts are in dire need of support. Join a donation circle, volunteer, spread the word, encourage others to come out and see a production. You have no idea what it can do to keep opportunities alive and arts thriving in your city. 

Thanks for hearing me out. 

- Blonde in the Choir 




Friday, September 4, 2015

Tips from a choir manager

As I embark on another choir management opportunity, I felt it important to give you all my two cents on managing a choir efficiently and provide useful tips I've used in the past that have kept me organized (and sane).


You've likely seen this meme surface on social media and I can tell you it certainly applies to the world of choir management.

A choir manager can range from having complete responsibility to partial duties where tasks are split between executive members of the choir. No matter the caliber or size of the choir, a choir management position is equivalent to a part time job, perhaps full time in some cases therefore time management skills are of the utmost importance which brings us to the first tip:

Time management:

If you're like me, you work full time and like to maintain a social life. While it seems impossible to juggle life chores while managing a choir, time management is of the essence. 

Perhaps the first important document to create is a calendar of events with specific tasks assigned to each month and the length of time it will take within that month. Treat this as your choir Bible and keep it close for not only will this document keep you organized, it will also benefit your successor. The calendar of events will change every year depending on the concert dates but at least you have a good basis.

Depending on your choir season, tasks will vary every month. When the time comes for those jam-packed months, you will definitely be expected to spend two-four evenings a week writing/responding to emails and finishing up the final touches for the current concert. Set tasks for yourself on your phone or planner to stay organized. 

Email communications:

I firmly believe all choir managers should get an honorary degree in email communications. When it comes to sending information to your singers, the best advice I can give you is:

- be clear and get to the point. If you begin sending long emails numerous times a week, it is possible your group will not read the email to its completion and miss important information.

- save all your email contacts or even creating an excel sheet with the list of all internal and external contacts affiliated with the choir. This comes in handy if you need to fill spots and/or contact volunteers.

- do not overflow singers' inboxes. If you have many announcements and/or housekeeping to mention to your singers, compile it all into one email (again, get to the point). 

- create multiple sub folders so you can find your emails easier. i.e Rosters, schedules, finance etc. 

I feel like I could write a novel on email communications so I will leave it at that for now and write a separate post on this topic. 

Librarian tasks:

I've recently started a new system where I assign score numbers to each singer for each concert. This helps with tracking scores and hunting down singers who forget to hand back their scores.
OK - maybe the term 'hunting" is too harsh but I promise you, there will be some singers who are downright bad at being a responsible chorister. Always. 

If you have a heaping pile of music that is not in an excel document or filing cabinet, all I can say is - have fun. This is a good summer project or off-season activity to get yourself better organized. This will help you find music much easier and also be able to have a quick resource if other choirs ask to borrow.

You can coordinate the logistics of your library with the Choir Director. If you are willing to store scores in your humble abode, all the power to you. I do recommend trying to see if there's space at the Choir Director's office or storage room at their place of work. 

Document EVERYTHING!

This will save your in multiple ways. Whether it be for finding contacts, an important document, or confidential email - it doesn't hurt to save everything on a USB stick or in your email sub folders. 

Social Media and forums

If you are in charge of social media, make it part of your routine to be active on your platforms. To get online attention, follow choir-related accounts on Twitter and invite friends to like your Facebook Page. The activity is generally reciprocated and really helps get your name on the choir map. 

One great tool to attract more audience members is uploading your recordings on YouTube. I know the minute I receive the repertoire, I go to YouTube and have a listen from a choir's recording. This is your opportunity to really show off the choir's talent. You superstars, you. 

Recruitment

This is a tough one which requires you to tap into your sales skills. Some things to know:

- know your market and demographic
- draft the choir's best qualities as a selling point (fun repertoire, level of singing, mainstage venues)
- keep their contact info handy for any audition announcements and recruitment
- maintain positive attitude about the choir since you are an ambassador for your group. 
- be approachable and have good screening judgement for potential members

A big rule for me is to limit your level of aggressiveness when recruiting. People have lives and don't want to be pressured into volunteering their time more than they have to. If they aren't interested, don't push them. I've noticed that singers take initiative on their own if they really want to audition for a group.

Sure, it doesn't hurt to send a mass email to your contacts, but it can make people uncomfortable when you single them out and say they NEED to audition for your choir.

Grow a backbone

You will deal with difficult personalities and aggressive comments. I will not get into detail as this would be another novel but remind yourself to stand you ground when it comes to hostile situations and remain neutral. ALWAYS remain neutral. Depending on the severity of the situation, everything is fair game until you hear all perspectives and consult the executive board for the next step. Most choirs also have a by-law policy which should be followed in these cases. 

Maintaining a positive attitude for your choir

As an administrative leader and ambassador of your choir, you have to be positive practically all the time. This keeps your choir in good spirits and also reflects how they view you as a choir manager. You want to be approachable and respected by your members.

And finally...

Don't be afraid to ask for help!

I get it. You want to have absolute control of all administrative duties since you are involved in practically every decision. 
Well here's a dose of reality for you - you can't do everything. 

So before you burn out and forget what a social life is, your executive board is there to assist you. Assigning ticket sales, posting to social media, managing finances, or even librarian duties to your board won't kill you. You may need to provide input from time to time but at least the labour work is off your shoulders. 
This will give you more time for a Netflix binge and making Nutella and ice cream concoctions! 

And so I leave you with one of my favourite movie quotes from Across the Universe. 


- Blonde in the Choir

Friday, July 3, 2015

Community Connections in Ottawa: The Ottawa Choral Initiative

Well good morning dear friends,

It has been months that I've been formulating ideas for projects and think it is time they finally came to light.

My biggest project to date is something that has been on my mind for a long time and I can't help but feel inspired to make something of it.

After endlessly researching and chatting with colleagues about the choral community in Ottawa, I realized there are many ways to improve the communal experience in our beautiful Capital.

With over seventy (yes seventy!) Ottawa choirs, both community and semi-professional, it is hard to keep track of concerts, announcements, and even the simplest act of getting to know other fellow choral lovers!

With this in mind, I've decided to begin a project to raise awareness on the choral community in Ottawa and what we can do to make it the best it can be! It is called -

"The Ottawa Choral Initiative" 

The goal of this project is to form a focus group where we would conduct a SWOC analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, constraints), compile feedback through surveys and interviews and implement that information into a a study/report where we can provide constructive ways to make Ottawa a positive and thriving experience for both beginner and professional singers in choirs.

This initiative is very much in its first stages and I am still in the works of drafting strategies going forward and making this project a "thing".

So, my questions to you are -

What are your general thoughts on the choral community in Ottawa?

Would you be willing to participate in the focus group?

Can you help spread the word about this initiative?

What do you think about the project name? Any other ideas for a title?

Please send me a message either through social media and/or in the comment section below. Also don't forget to share this blog post with other choral lovers that may want to submit their feedback.

Any feedback is GOOD feedback!

And so, I leave you with this:


- Blonde in the Choir

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Career Realities and the Importance of Volunteering

Good morning friends!

This post is not meant to be a bitter rant but to give you and idea of my experiences with the realities of applying for arts-related jobs and what I did to make the best of the situation.

I've been involved in the Ottawa arts community since my music studies in 2006 and have been exposed to an array of experiences working in the music realm. Since graduating, it has been challenging to get hired in an arts organization that has decent salary or paid internship positions. I can't tell you how hard I worked sprucing up my resume and cover letter which had been reviewed and praised by placement agencies and professionals.

Unpaid internships. Perhaps that was my first mistake. I set the bar too high and refused to take any of them. I chose this because well...student debt and basically living as an adult with bills. I'm sure if you've ever received a student loan and had little financial support post-University, you'd understand.



With my degree in Music and Arts Administration as well as a tremendous amount of volunteering, you'd think I'd be a perfect candidate to work in an arts organization. Unfortunately, I never got that call for an interview yet I checked off every skill and qualification on their job description. WHY?!
It is likely they already had someone in mind for the job or the competition was just too high. So what do we do? Move on to the next opportunity.

I'm not looking for a pity party. I'm a realist. With student debt racking up I needed a decent paying job quickly so I went into the finance field and worked contracts at the University of Ottawa. I am certainly grateful for these contracts since I am gaining experience regardless of where I am. But...

Call me bitter, or too inspired but don't call me the entitled twenty-something. I've realized what hard work takes so save your "you have to earn it" speech, thanks. All I'm saying is that it can be discouraging when you have so many ideas and projects to bring to the table yet you can't apply these ideas into your full time job.

That is when volunteering comes in.

Oh don't worry, I haven't given up on getting that dream job. Someday it will happen. For now, the best I can do is to keep applying and volunteer my heart out.

If I can't apply these skills in my job, I can still gain the experience in volunteering, brainstorming and networking.

I've volunteered as choir manager for semi-professional choirs since 2011 which is typically equivalent to a part time job with little social life outside rehearsal. It's hard work and certainly tests all the required skills needed to remain organized and receptive. You also work with plenty of professional artists which is a good opportunity to network.

Another tip for networking is to attend events (if it's within budget) and get chatting! You have fun and meet new and interesting people.

At this moment, I am currently in the works of transitioning into another choir management position and am also the social media assistant for the Music and Beyond Festival (musicandbeyond.ca), writing artist profiles for social media and live-tweeting the performances. This role has tapped into my creative writing skills (apart from my blog) and research. So much fun!

On top of that, I am brainstorming choral projects with colleagues and will also begin participating in a focus group on youth and opera with Opera Lyra Ottawa.

You may be asking yourself: "How has Amy not spontaneously combusted from all these projects?"



Remember - balance your work/life commitments. I've once gotten sick from burning out which left me looking like a zombie clad in bright yellow flats. Not fun.

It's always easier to volunteer for a choir or company that you're already performing with. Why not join the executive board of your choir? Help sell tickets at the door for an ensemble you support? Offer to assist with social media for a project?

Trust me, the feeling of volunteering for something you passionately love results in growing from that experience and passing along your wisdom to inspire others.

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others" - Gandhi 

If you'd like any more tips or suggestions on finding the right volunteer role, write a comment or send me a message!

Sincerely,

Blonde in the Choir

Thursday, April 9, 2015

OLO's Figaro forms a new era of community

Opera meets Downton Abbey. Need I say more?

It has been two weeks since finishing a fantastic run of Opera Lyra Ottawa's Le Nozze Di Figaro and a voice in my head keeps telling me I should be heading over to the National Arts Centre and start my pin curls and applying base makeup.

From singing to grocery shoppers in the produce section to tearing up during the opening night cast party speeches - it was harder saying goodbye this time around.

This time it was more than a show. It was a new era of community. 

When the chorus first began music rehearsals, we were formally introduced to our interim Artistic Director, Kevin Mallon. His enthusiasm and optimism to have the entire cast (yes, us too!) take part in fun events leading up to the show already had the chorus beaming with excitement. 
He left the room and the air changed. What he left with us was a true forming of a new community within this company. 

Call me biased, but chorus members are often forgotten as true ambassadors of an opera company. They are usually local, with much dedication and loyalty to the company (at least that is the case with Opera Lyra Ottawa). I have been a chorus member since 2009 and these productions are truly the highlights of my year. What can I say, we are a proud group. 

The fact that Maestro Mallon was asking the chorus to be in a flashmob, sing our hearts out at Karaoke night and enjoy the opening night cast party reminded us that we play an important role for this company. We also had the opportunity to interact more closely with the principal cast and our incredible stage director, Tom Diamond. Each and every one of them were so humble and approachable. Tom would approach every single person in the rehearsal hall, shake their hand and really make them feel like they were valued. 

Could it get any better than this?

Ladies and gents, it's the little things that really make a difference. When you have an extraordinary group of people in one rehearsal hall, magic happens -especially the giggly, high on life magic. On top of that, we got to work with fun sets and costumes reflective of the Downton Abbey theme. 

Here are some photos of the production:










I also had the opportunity to be interviewed by Samuel Blais from TFO 24.7 (Francophone equivalent to TVO)! It was a lot of fun (with a touch of stress) and it gave the viewers a chance to see me getting ready for the show. Thanks to Sam for doing a great job on this piece!

Here is the clip:




To end this post, I want to send out a huge THANK YOU to the Opera Lyra Ottawa staff and artistic team for their hard work in planning the flashmob and also for their endless efforts on making us feel like an opera family once again. Until we meet again for Rossini's Barber of Seville!

You can find more information on OLO and their upcoming productions here:

http://operalyra.ca/

P.S

I made an epic photobomb...once again. All hail Queen of Photobomb. 



'til next time!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My Current Projects


Bonjour mes ami(e)s. 

I've just had a splendid weekend meeting new friends, enjoying Valentine's Day with my wonderful boyfriend, and being spontaneous with my jazz quartet! 

Despite currently being unemployed, I've been keeping busy with my new choral projects and I might say, I am loving it.

Here are my current projects: 

Jazz Lines Vocal Quartet

Back in the summer my fellow colleagues, Pete and Stefano, wanted to start up a jazz quartet and I couldn't say no. We were on a picky hunt to fill the soprano lead and then came along Jenna. 
Given that we were all in Ewashko Singers at the time, coordinating our rehearsals and repertoire was fairly smooth and before we knew it, the first gig for Jazz Lines Vocal Quartet was booked!



Jenna, me, Peter, and Stefano - Jazz Lines Vocal Quartet

Aren't we one good looking bunch? We spent perhaps the coldest winter day in Ottawa running around Elgin Street dropping into pubs singing our set list for the foodies and winos. Never thought I would enjoy singing for drunk people in the afternoon. 

We had our first official gig this week so these spontaneous sing-and-gos were a good practice round. It truly is the best way to get rid of nerves and spruce up any tricky spots in your set.

For the record, pub audiences are very forgiving. 


Here's a link for more info about JLVQ and our upcoming gigs:

http://www.peterliuvocals.com/jazz-lines-vocal-quartet.html


Opera Lyra Ottawa's "The Marriage of Figaro" by Mozart

While the chorus part is quite small, the acting is huge!  The set is Dowton Abbey style and every chorister has a specific role assigned to them. I get to be chambermaid Anna Bates! If only my boyfriend was assigned the Valet and not the hall boy. 

Lol hall boy. Sorry Sascha. 



I gotta tell ya, this totally makes up for the alto part in a Mozart production. Singing middle G twenty times in a row makes you hallucinate. 

Our first staging rehearsals are next week and we have the pleasure of working with an amazing cast and stage director, Tom Diamond. For more info:

http://operalyra.ca/upcoming-season/the-marriage-of-figaro/


Capital Chamber Choir's Lamentations - March 22, 2015

photo credit: Paul Couvrette

I've officially joined a very talented choir full of my closest friends and colleagues and I am having the time of my life. 
The repertoire is challenging, hauntingly beautiful and our blend is of high calibre under Jamie Loback's direction. 
Best part? The night always ends with a relaxing beer and good chats with colleagues. 

Here is more info on CCC: 

http://www.capitalchamberchoir.ca/index.html


Here's a clip of CCC's recent performance of Whitacre's Lux Aurumque. If you don't get shivers, we can't be friends. 

Thanks for reading and I hope you get the chance to see my upcoming shows! 

- Blonde in the Choir 













Saturday, January 17, 2015

Big decisions for a simple gal.

Because life chores.

Hello my dear friends. Today I am drinking my first coffee in two years and am surprisingly not on the floor with caffeine shakes and muttering gibberish...yet.

After my recent and long overdue comedic post "10 better things to do backstage", I feel it time to update you on what I have been up to.

I recently came across my dear friend's recent blog post on New Year's resolutions as a musician and was compelled to brainstorm my own resolutions not only for this year, but my life as a whole.  

Here is her blog - Tessa-Tura http://tessa-tura.blogspot.ca/ Check her out!

- I'm pretty sure I was sitting on my bean bag chair, eating Cheetos and sobbing over The Notebook at her age. 

So onto more serious things...

I've had to make some big decisions these past few months and it has been quite the transition. 
On Thursday, I said goodbye to a group of badass coworkers at University of Ottawa. I've gained some amazing friends and will surely miss their dirty humour and insult battles. It's not everyday you run into people who are so laid back with each other they think it's totally appropriate to lift their shirt to give you a peek at their manly chest through the glass window. 

I also said goodbye to being choir manager a few weeks ago.

Goodbye to my baby, my pride and joy, my passion. 

I knew this decision needed to be made in order for me to focus on my career. Being choir manager for Ewashko Singers was a blessing but it began to deter my focus on my full time job and personal life. I loved it all. But it was time move on. 

Two doors close. One door opens. 

That door is my opportunity to grow, to excel, and to explore - and I will open it with strength and confidence. 

As I write this listening to Beck's Morning Phase album, a calmness comes over me (if you know the album, you'll know why). Big things will be happening starting next week and I need to be ready.

A new job, new choir, new apartment, new jazz quartet, and new opera are happening in a span of two months all the while fitting in a social life, yoga, and a somewhat regular sleep schedule. 

Needless to say, I have this crazy schedule because it's normal for me. Prepping and practicing music 3 times a week? Totally normal. Work all day, rehearse all night? Bring it. So naturally, on my days off I am the laziest person because I fucking deserve it.

In a nutshell...big girl decisions, I am ready to take you on. 



- Blonde in the Choir

















Sunday, January 4, 2015

10 better things to do backstage

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Hello darlings. I swear, the gap between each post is getting larger and I hate it as much as you do.

It has been a very busy few months with my choir as well as finishing up the production of Puccini's Tosca with Opera Lyra Ottawa. So naturally, other things were put on the back burner.

 Tosca was certainly a fun ride working with the wonderful stage management and principals, however the chorus had very little to do on stage. The "Te Deum" was certainly worth being in this production and I still get chills thinking about it.



I can assure you we are professional and quite strict with chorus etiquette backstage. However, there are times where you have so much time to kill that listening to the beautiful music before you is simply not enough. 

Well, we experimented and it got weird (in the best way possible). 

Here are a few things that can keep you and your fellow choristers entertained in between acts:

1 - Figure out weirder ways to applaud after a grand aria. Here are some we covered:










2 - Perfect rolling your Rs...or try to. 







And when you get SO GOOD, you can trololo like a champ. 


3 - Practice yoga on the floor - NOT in your costume. The wardrobe department will KILL you!





4 - Organize the pepper packets in the theatre cafeteria.




5 - Take endless amounts of photos backstage - obviously.



6 - Nap or connect with social media in that comfy chair reserved for the stage movers. 



7 - Master your air violin and conducting skills.





8 - Practice that Gone With The Wind kiss with your hand...or if you're lucky, a close friend. Oh my. 




9 - Attempt to get photobombed by stage management. 





And finally...

10 - Photobomb EVERY one of your friend's pictures. As you can see, I have been perfecting this skill since 2009. 


 Carmen, 2013. 

 Lucia di Lammermoor, 2011. 

 Tosca, 2014. 

Eugene Onegin, 2009. 

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed this post and I promise I will get my act together for the next one. 

Sincerely, 

Blonde in the Choir