A New Invitation to Last April’s Event

Rehearsal for April in Paris
Rehearsal with Benjamin C.S. Boyle and Eugene Sirotkine

I love social media. You probably know that. I also look forward to Social Media Week twice a year, when this amazingly free conference graces major cities worldwide with their advice and musings about the history, direction, and uses of social media. Why? As Gary Vaynerchuk points out in his book The Thank You Economy, “Social media has transformed our world into one great big small town, dominated, as all vibrant towns used to be, by the strength of relationships, the currency of caring, and the power of word of mouth.” As someone who relishes bumping into friends from Israel on the subway in Manhattan, I can’t resist having another tool to turn my big city life into more of the small town environment in which I once lived as a child.

Since you’re reading Skydiving for Pearls, I imagine you also value the ability to “pop in” on friends, checking out their statuses and “liking” their newest smart purchase, recent personal triumph, or webisode (like the next installment of the Kara Morgan Show). Perhaps you don’t anticipate streaming events on Livestream with conferences from Social Media Week, or you’ve never actually seen a TED Talk. Either way, we’ve all seen video online and more of it as time moves forward, live or pre-recorded. Watching performances of friends, episodes of our favorite shows, that adorable cat who likes to shower.

Sometime last year at a Social Media Week conference, I discovered the value in video. Livestream still has me hooked, and I can learn from online clips how to do everything from folding a shirt to making my next iMovie. At this discovery, I had a million ideas and no real clue of how to execute them. My April in Paris recital with Eugene Sirotkine seemed the perfect opportunity to attempt a live video stream, had I only the money and tools, which I didn’t. Instead, I gratefully accepted the offer of a professional audio recording from my friend Rich Salz, an accomplished audio engineer and the brains behind On-Site Acoustic Testing.

Now what? Well, I had a (supposedly) high-quality webcam. Perhaps I could bring my laptop, record in HD, and mix the professional audio together with the video. Not a brilliant plan, apparently. Logitech‘s webcams have a surprisingly notorious issue of recording in too few frames per second and crashing certain professional video editing softwares, such as the one installed on my old PC and Adobe Premiere Pro, used by a professional video editing friend I had hoped to employ. Whoops.

No more tech talk, but I did have to return to the drawing board. Many months later, I have a new Apple laptop and a plethora of YouTube videos to teach me how to use iMovie 11. Thank you social media. Uploading my first song of many to come, today I finally joined the digitally functional community of video. Although April in Paris: A Recital with Abigail Wright and Eugene Sirotkine definitely sounds clearer than it looks overall, I present to you a new song by a brilliant, living composer and a fresh beginning for my online community. Expect much more to follow.

April in Paris Press Release

We finally have a press release for our April in Paris Recital, thanks to the help of Kit Emory! http://www.abigailwright.com/FORIMMEDIATERELEASE.pdf

Abigail Wright
Photo by David Michael


March 10, 2011

CONTACT: Abby Walter at (347) 767-6476 or abbywalter78@gmail.com


A Romantic Recital by Opera Singer, Abigail Wright and Pianist, Eugene Sirotkine

Ah spring! Retreat to Paris this April 16th at 7pm with mezzo-soprano, Abigail Wright and pianist Eugene Sirotkine for a romantic recital with a French accent at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Teaneck, NJ. There will be a reception immediately following the event.

Ms. Wright is an accomplished singer/actor whose wide-ranging career has taken her from the Metropolitan Opera stage to modeling to the world of puppetry. She has been critically acclaimed for her remarkably wide vocal range as well as for her sensitive musicality while delivering intense and dramatic performances. Eugene Sirotkine brings his expertise as a pianist, a world-renowned conductor, and a composer to their rich collaboration, inviting Ms. Wright to perform at St. Mark’s and also to sing one of his brilliant compositions, Sensation (poetry by Arthur Rimbaud).

The evening also features the song cycle Le passage des rêves (“The passage of dreams”), an exquisite new work by composer Benjamin C.S. Boyle, exploring the lush poetry of French philosopher, Paul Valéry. Other selections include Claude Debussy’s Ariettes Oubliées, set to the poetry of Paul Verlaine’s Romances sans paroles (“Songs without words”), the magically evocative Shéhérazade by Maurice Ravel, and a set of English language songs – including Vernon Duke’s April in Paris, of course!

Tickets can be purchased at the door, for a suggested donation of $15, to benefit St. Mark’s.


What: “April in Paris: A Recital with Abigail Wright and Eugene Sirotkine”

Who: Mezzo-soprano Abigail Wright and pianist Eugene Sirotkine

When: April 16, 2011 at 7pm; reception to follow concert

Where: St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 118 Chadwick Road, Teaneck, NJ
Directions:  http://www.stmarksteaneck.org/directions.php

Tickets: Purchase at the door.  Suggested donation $15 to benefit the venue.

http://abigailwright.com/images/aip8x10web.jpg (8×10 flyer)
http://abigailwright.com/images/aiparisweb.jpg (event postcard)


Westminster Jubilee Singers, Day 47

Today, I practiced for my upcoming Verdi Requiem in Richland, Washington.  I talked with Justin Raffa, my friend and the conductor and Artistic Director of the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers, about the details of the week in Richland, including a gala performance featuring myself and the soprano, Molly Holleran for their donors.  I emailed Molly to solidify some of the repertoire options for the performance, I applied for an opera soloist audition for the first time in months, and I felt pretty great about actually doing some productive activities for my career today.  Then, I read an email about a choir in trouble at my undergraduate alma mater.

Having sung in Jubilee Singers at Westminster Choir College for only one year, one might think I view it as dispensable.  Not so.  Because my time at Westminster came before a large change in the curriculum allowed more time in the schedules of the student body and especially those of the music education department, I simply couldn’t budget the time after my freshman year for the gospel choir.  Thankfully, in that first year, I had already learned so much about rhythm, movement, improvisation, and African American musical history, I still credit Jubilee Singers for a large part of at least my musical skills to this day.  Although I haven’t heard all of the current choirs at Westminster, I highly doubt any of them provide quite the same musical education and experience.  I can’t imagine my life as a professional chorister without those varied skills and consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had the chance to sing with Jubilee under the direction of Donald Dumpson.

Unfortunately, if the administration goes through with their decision to change the class times and requirements for the course (the choirs at Westminster are credited courses), Donald Dumpson could no longer feasibly conduct and teach Jubilee Singers, a group he has faithfully taught for fifteen years.  Additionally, the choir would meet at the same time as the other two optional choirs on campus, the Westminster Choir and the Williamson Voices, causing any students otherwise able to perform in both choirs to choose rather than benefiting from a far more well-rounded choral education.  Not to mention, this change adds a Friday evening rehearsal.  What student wants to give up their Friday nights after a long and packed week for a choir rehearsal?

Granted, I myself have a bit of an overboard passion for choirs and choral education – but so should an institution called Westminster Choir College!  So, I heeded the advice of a good friend and wrote an email to President Rozanski expressing my concerns and asking that he help the administration to reconsider this change that would “take away an essential part of the rich and diverse heritage Westminster Choir College has to offer.”  I sincerely believe that.

If you do too, please support them in person in Princeton, NJ on April 11, 2010, and follow these steps to add your voice to help save the only gospel choir available to the students at Westminster.

1. Write a letter in support of Jubilee Singers and Mr. Dumpson

2. In your letter, please stress the importance of keeping the Jubilee class on Monday evenings

3. Send the letter via email to: President Rozanski at mrozanski@rider.edu

4. CC the following people: (J. Donald Dumpson) jddumpson@aol.com , (Evelyn Thomas) thomasev@rider.edu, (Dean – Dr. Marshall Onfrio) monofrio@rider.edu, (Dean Robert Annis) annis@rider.edu

4. Also send a hard copy to the same people that you email:

Westminster Choir College of Rider University
101 Walnut Lane
Princeton, NJ 08540

Rider University
2083 Lawrenceville Road
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648-3099