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Surprising Myself, Day 28

February 25, 2010

Today I woke up still sneezing, dragged myself to the gym, waited for quite some time to see my excellent doctor, and somehow managed to make it to the upper east side to attend a lecture series.  Seriously, I have to admit my self-pride in not allowing my cold (and this depressing weather) to stop me from living, exercising, and trying out new and interesting events in the city.

I couldn’t be more grateful that I pushed myself, as I had a wonderful time today catching up with a great composer and dear friend of mine, Benjamin C. S. Boyle.  Benjamin lives and composes in Philadelphia and teaches in Philadelphia, New York, and at Westminster Choir College.  This evening, I had the privilege of joining him at a European American Musical Alliance lecture.  Last year, I attended a wonderful concert where pianist Simone Dinnerstein played Benjamin’s teacher Philip Lasser‘s Twelve Variations on a Chorale by J. S. Bach, coached with Benjamin on his gorgeous French song cycle, Le passage des rêves, and hoped to possibly work with them in Paris as a singer at their summer composition, conducting, and chamber music programs.  Unfortunately, the economy thwarted my hopes for the summer, but I met some lovely people in the process and had the opportunity to see a few again tonight and meet several more.

When I received Benjamin’s invitation to Philip Lasser’s EAMA-sponsored lecture on Debussy’s Prélude à l‘après-midi d’un faune, I thought I had a nice opportunity to catch up with Benjamin and possibly reintroduce myself to some potential colleagues.  Honestly, I had no idea just how much of a wonderful time I would have, both during the lecture and when meeting the other attendees.  Although I don’t often discuss musical theory, I surprisingly thrived off of Dr. Lasser’s exploration of Debussy as a post-tonal composer through his Prélude à l‘après-midi d’un faune. Everything made perfect sense, I learned quite a bit about one of my favorite composers (to whom I shall never refer as an impressionist again), and I still cannot believe how much fun I had geeking it out in a music theory lecture for the first time in years.

Suspecting that most other non-theorists and non-composers wouldn’t likely attend such a lecture unless required, I arrived unprepared to meet such a beautifully diverse crowd of people.  Peter, the gracious host of the lecture, quickly whisked some of us away prior to the talk to his lovely upper east side office to hear a ridiculously good 1920’s recording of Robert White‘s father, also a fantastic tenor.  I discovered that Peter also loves to explore all the city has to offer, and hopefully he’ll attend a Tuesdays@9 session with me soon.  Later, I met Patrick Michael Wickham, a voice specialist with whom I sang in the 2001 New York City Opera production of I Capuleti e i Montecchi.  We chatted for quite some time, having some fascinatingly mutual interests, both musically and otherwise, and he agreed to work with me on some jazz and musical theater songs at his studio.

Finally, I met Elizabeth, a fellow mezzo soprano who trains at Westminster with Faith Esham.  A lovely and mature young singer, I hope she has the opportunity to do what I couldn’t last season and travel to Paris to sing with EAMA this year.  Benjamin said twice that she could learn a lot from me as a singer, and I think that shocked me more than anything else this evening.  I said goodnight to everyone at Peter’s apartment, spent some more time getting to know Phillip Lasser and catching up with Benjamin over hurried Chinese food and wine, and boarded the bus still perplexed.

I know I have a beautifully unique voice and can act.  I have believed in my drive to perform and my dreams as an artist all my life.  Only now do I realize that all of that has nothing to do with my far weaker belief in myself and my worth.  Why don’t I believe in myself, and how do I fix it?  Sometimes I come home after a long day wondering how to tie everything into a neat little package for my blog.  Tonight, I rode the bus back to Washington Heights wondering what it all means.  Without finding an answer, I at least know I have a new question and that, among so many wonderful surprises, was well worth the trip.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2010 2:05 pm

    For those of your readers that might be in the Philadelphia area, I will be performing Benjamin’s aforementioned gorgeous song cycle, Le passage des rêves, in my recital on March 20, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. at St. Mark’s Church in Philadelphia. For more details:

    I hope you get better soon, Abby!

    • February 25, 2010 2:12 pm

      Feeling much better today, thanks! Isn’t it a fantastic cycle? I’m so glad another mezzo sees it’s amazing value. 🙂 Enjoy, and toi, toi, toi!!

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