January (OK, late January) Music Matters

Dear Friends and Family,

Happy New Year!!! I know, I know …we’re more than half way through the first month already. Things move slower up here in the frozen North. Yep, La Lamb and El Santos have moved to Ann Arbor, MI. I’m looking out at a fresh 3 inches of powder on top of the 8 inch base of snow and then, of course, there are the ice-encrusted trees. Not to mention, the temperature reached a 15 year low of -17 last week “Why move there?” you might ask. After 7 years in Cleveland, it was time for a change. What better place than “the Paris of the Midwest.” Tho’ I’m pretty certain a beret wouldn’t cut it around here. I’m bundled in something resembling that fake fur hat from Seinfeld. Fashion be damned, I’m friggin’ staying warm!

SO, I recently received a phone call from a friend wondering if I’d dropped off the face of the planet. Not quite, though it could definitely be argued that I’ve been to the other side of the world and back. In the past year I’ve played an old maid, a deposed queen, a gypsy whore, a cougar of a mother, and sung everywhere from Shanghai to Sacramento. I’ve flown all over the place trying to connect to audiences, trying to connect with the faceless masses and yet I don’t keep in touch with friends and family except maybe to “poke” them on Facebook It got me to thinking. If the people who know and understand me are wondering just what the hell I’m actually doing…What the hell AM I doing?

In the interest of keeping in touch and creating a supportive community of well-informed arts advocates, I’m gonna give this whole interwebs blog thingie a shot! And in the spirit of hope and determination, I’ll call it “Music Matters.” Each month I’ll try to give an inside look at my goings-on as opera singer/director/teacher/yogini. I’ll highlight some personal performances and what goes into making them happen, as well as casting a spotlight on performances and companies that catch and hold my attention. I hope it will be a forum for conversation and communication both of the musical and non-musical variety.

For the first installment, I would love to encourage a New Year’s Resolution for the Arts. Maybe I’ve been doing too much yoga, or perhaps I’m feeling the need to be this years Jerry Maguire but I so strongly want to take a proactive, grass roots approach towards my business right now. With opera companies and arts organizations shutting down left and right, and the economy in a tailspin, is it too much to hope that communication of human emotion and sharing of artistic endeavors might just be the balm that soothes our jangled nerves? So take a minute and have a peek at my A,B,C,D’s. Consider it a “half-scale” attempt at bolstering the arts community while enjoying yourself and taking the edge off this anxious climate. It’s like a pledge to PBS but on a more local level. Just some simple resolutions that you can make this year. If you follow through on even one resolution, I’m pretty certain that good karma will ensue. Check it out:

A) Advocate for the Arts

Write our new President, your Senator or Congresswoman, your local school board and tell them you want to see more arts programs in your schools and more national funding for the arts. Or how about a Secretary of the Arts? I don’t know about you but I love the idea of Quincey Jones or Tina Turner or Placido Domingo in a political office! Here’s a link to a petition you can sign.

B) Bring a Friend

If you are already an avid concert goer, grab a friend and expose them to your passion…you know what I mean…dance, symphony, jazz, opera, whatever floats your boat. If you’ve never been to an opera, just so you know, there is safety in numbers! Enlist a friend, study the libretto together and make a date to go to a show. Need recommendations? Drop me a line and I’ll give you some thoughts on good first operas. If you’re in the South Jersey vicinity this month come check out Yours Truly in a recital of Spanish songs and a theatrical piece complete with symphony and dance called El Amor Brujo (Bewitched Love). That’s January 24th and 25th with Bay Atlantic Symphony and Tyson Deaton, pianist. You can find tickets at the symphony’s website.

Please let me know if you’re going to make it, I’d love to catch up after the show.

C) Communicate with an Artist

Sounds crazy, I’m sure, but there’s really nothing like a quick “break-a-leg” email or a “good luck” phone call to get me pumped for a show. So if you can’t make it and you’ve got a second, send a quick “Toi, toi, toi” my way. And if you’ve want a quick spit in support of your endeavors, Please let me know what’s going on with your performance calendars. If that performance is a talk in the board room or a busy week of retail, or maybe a trying couple of yoga poses…I’d love to support your efforts! On a more universal level, perhaps you know a great music teacher. Communicate your appreciation to them. It goes a really long way. Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about performances that you’ve attended. Drop me a line with a couple words about your most recent experience.

D) Donate Time and/or Money

There are so many wonderful arts organizations to support. Seek out local companies that you believe in whole heartedly. Are you a graphic artist? Donate your expertise and design a program or an advertisement. Great baker? Make some delicious intermission treats. You get the idea. Or, how about ushering? Of course, all these productions take money to create. Consider donating cold, hard cash to support a company. Every little bit counts. As the GD of Opera Vivente said, take a look at our new President’s example-many small donations makes a successful campaign fund. And in this case, it’s tax deductible! Two links below if you feel a donation coming on:

On a more personal level, consider supporting an artist directly. It goes something like this: Lessons $130-$150 per hour, Coahings $50-$65 per hour, Gown for Performance $150-$250, Infusing the economy one opera singer at a time…PRICELESS. Over-used, yes, but true. Besides, opera singers are healthy eaters so we’ll take some of the money to the grocery store and further stimulate the economy 😉 I think that it’s a safe bet, a sound investment. Toss some dosh in the direction of a singer and listen to the amazing tunes you’ll get for a return on your investment.

Thanks for indulging my need to step up on a soap box and join me next month when I brave the brutal world of teen opera at Kent State’s prep program! Also, an update on my trip to the oxymoron expo: Yoga Competition?

Wishing you a year full of peace, love, soul, opera, arts, entertainment and all that jazz. And remember…music matters, I tell you what!

xox Maven of Music Matters

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