The Seventh Biennial Bach Vocal Competition for American Singers

March 16, 2012
0

The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and the American Bach Society announce the seventh biennial competition for American singers with special interest in the music of J. S. Bach.

On May 6, 2012, ten finalists will appear before a panel of distinguished judges and a live audience in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The First Prize winner chosen by the judges on that day will receive a career development grant of $3,000 and a solo performing opportunity with The Bach Choir of Bethlehem and Greg Funfgeld, Artistic Director & Conductor, in a future season.

Read more…


The Louis CK Effect: How Should We Fund and Distribute Art Music?

February 24, 2012
7

Comedian Louis CK has gone into business for himself, cutting out the middle man, distributing a new DRM-free video comedy special directly through his website for $5. He made his first million dollars in under two weeks. It is exciting to see someone in the arts take a chance and elegantly use the Internet to distribute their work.

I see many classical musicians using tools like Kickstarter to raise funds for the sorts of projects that used to be funded by old media companies. Recordings – even live performances – are now being funded directly by backers rather than legacy institutions. In a way, this is how we wish the arts could be funded, by putting more ticket-purchasing butts in (virtual) seats. Perhaps the Internet has simply expanded the audience base by allowing the music lover in San Francisco to participate in performances by a New York-based group. A $10 donation is certainly cheaper than an airplane ticket.

I have a few thoughts, though, that give me pause, albeit insufficient pause to suggest that classical musicians stop doing this! Obviously any tool that gets people interested in supporting the arts is fantastic…

Read more…


TCV Turns One Today… Our Most Popular Posts from 2011

January 1, 2012
0

One year ago today, The Countertenor Voice published its first issue.  We have published around sixty articles on vocal technique and the singing life, as well as in depth reviews of recordings and artists.  THANKS TO EVERYONE who has read, shared, and commented on these pieces. Extra special thanks to my team of writers (Oliver Camacho, Nicholas Tamagna, Bryan DeSilva, Henry Lebedinsky, Tai Oney, Frank Richards, and Dr. Peter Hennen).  What a nice little countertenor community we have formed here :-) .

I want to re-share our top five most popular articles from 2011.  Maybe you missed them the first time around, maybe you will enjoy re-reading them now that some time has passed.

To all our readers across the internet world, happy new year, and best wishes for 2012.

Now go practice.

Seriously… go now… :-)

Read more…


Login/Register

Happy Holidays from TCV

December 21, 2011
0

Hello Dear Readers,

We have been hibernating for the past month or so, but will return in force mid-January with more articles and reviews!  Many thanks to those of you who have posted and responded to comments on our articles (Todd Gregory, I might be looking at you…)

You will find a little present in the form of my latest piece about performing, Some Thoughts on the Nature of Stage Fright, a.k.a How to Stand and Deliver.  I hope that it gives all you singers something to think about over break, and renews your commitment to the art of live performance.

As always, facebook and twitter shares are better than gifts this year :-) .

Sincerely,

Ian


Some Thoughts on the Nature of Stage Fright, a.k.a. How to Stand and Deliver

December 21, 2011
18

Most issues related to technique and performance are solved when we step back from the actual point of struggle and frame the question correctly. Stage fright is just such an issue. Debilitating and confusing, yes. Can we fight it in the moment? There are tricks that calm the body and mind, but it is difficult to rationalize your way past the bio-chemical experience of The Fear. The Fear laughs and sends another cold shot of cortisol through your tummy. However, change your thinking toward the act of performance and the roles that both you and the audience play in that extended series of present moments, and the brain’s natural defense mechanisms will have no need to kick in.

Read more…


Vocal Technique: An Organizing Principle for Singers, Part 1

October 6, 2011
3

What is the optimal approach to training the singing voice? Right at the root of it, what are the ideal conditions for optimal tone production and what thought patterns best exploit the physiological strengths of the voice while de-emphasizing (or at least respecting) the inherent limitations?

This month I begin a two part series explaining my concept of an Organizing Principle, a manner of organized thought that elicits a dependably optimal vocal response in the present moment, and that respects the inherent limitations of the neurophysiology of the singing mechanism. Part one introduces the concept. Part two will layout a specific method for implementing this approach in the practice studio.

Read more…


The Vocal Soloist as Ensemble Singer

October 6, 2011
1

I recently won an audition for a well-known Bach cantata series. For part of the audition, I was asked to read music with a few singers in an ensemble setting.  The conductor knew I could sing an aria, but wished to know more about how I collaborated with other singers and instrumentalists.  Did I, in other words, play well with others? So often I hear young singers-in-training complain about ensemble and choral singing, boldly stating that they are only interested in solo opportunities. I must admit that I held very similar opinions. Studying to be a solo singer (which can be much more lucrative a career than being a chorister) requires confidence commensurate with the risk you are taking…

Read more…


Bergamo European Countertenor Competition Winners Announced

October 6, 2011
7

The Gianni Bergamo Classical Music Award just crowned three prize winners in the first ever international competition open only to countertenors. We are proud to announce that an American, Andrew Rader, took third prize in a highly competitive field. Learn about the competition and the other prize-winners, and read what these innovative singers performed to earn their places in history…

Read more…


Watch This Now! Howell & Van Doren Sing Pergolesi

October 6, 2011
0

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd7QtPqsGQc
I have been hesitant to post clips on this blog of myself singing (this is for me an academic rather than PR outlet), but this often programmed piece, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, is a great example of what Bryan Desilva mentions in his recent article, The Vocal Soloist as Ensemble Singer. Notice how both Yulia Van Doren and I constantly modulate our vibratos to best serve the drama of the ensemble’s interpretation. Movement twelve, Quando Corpus from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater featuring the Seattle Baroque Orchestra.

~Ian


Social Media for the Classical Singer: An Interview with PR Guru Maura Lafferty

September 2, 2011
0

Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube; all of these social media streams offer an unprecedented level of connectivity for the budding classical singer, connecting artists to other artists, and artists to their audiences. It is noisy out there in social media land; how can we best compete in this Darwinian arena, especially when the ‘level’ playing field includes wealthy corporations and legacy arts institutions? I was fortunate enough to pose these questions to an expert in this field, the San Francisco Bay Area’s online PR Guru, Maura Lafferty. Her message for us? Focus on your story as an artist (something many of us never even think about!) and be smart with your social media streams…

Read more…


Opera Corner: Stile Recitativo

September 2, 2011
2

Welcome back to the Opera Corner. I was initially overwhelmed by the number of potential topics for this back-to-school month. However, I was inspired by a subject that not only takes you back to basics, but also requires time and study: Italian recitative. I will specifically be discussing recitative in the tradition of opera seria (the noble and serious style of Italian opera that was popular in Europe in the 18th century). This musical form, basically the dramatic declamation of text to music, is infused with a sense of poetic purpose, text, and character. Despite (or perhaps because of) this implied freedom, the word recitative can conjure a feeling of unease for many singers…

Read more…


Iestyn Davies at Wigmore Hall, in Vivaldi’s Griselda, and in Handel’s Messiah: A Review & Artist Overview

September 2, 2011
0

This summer, I was in one of the last great record stores in North America, (Manhattan’s Academy Records) and I came across both the Iestyn Davies 2009 recital at Wigmore Hall AND the 2009 Stephen Layton/Polyphony Messiah with Davies as alto soloist.  Earlier in that same visit to NY, the publicist for the sexy French record label Naïve gifted me the 2006 release of Vivaldi’s Griselda, boasting a freshman Iestyn Davies in the bit-role of Corrado. Either Handel on his heavenly throne was guiding me to listen to Davies, or I am easy prey for the marketing strategists behind this rising star countertenor…

Read more…


A Case Study: 28 Days to a Better Singing Technique

September 2, 2011
9

I am always looking for new exercises and technical warm-ups to include in my daily practice routine, so I decided to try the 28-day challenge of isotonic and isometric exercises as discussed in last month’s article by Ian Howell: Vocal Technique: Boring Exercises That Will Make You a Better Singer.  Over the past four weeks, I have noticed an improvement in my breath control, developed a greater sense of my intercostal muscles and the role they play in breathing for singing, and have strengthened the lower part of my range (B3-D4)…

Read more…


Vocal Technique: Boring Exercises That Will Make You a Better Singer

August 3, 2011
8

That exercises are non-musical/non-expressive could be obvious. How can one compare the expressive potential of a Bach Passion aria with an ascending and descending major triad? Dig a little deeper, though, and I hope that you will apprehend my point: It is technically valuable to exercise the voice without the imposed layer of an expressive construct, specifically because the desire to express something often engenders unnecessary layers of muscular tension.

With this in mind, this month I present a series of exercises initially designed by voice scientists to help rehabilitate the voices of non-singers. These exercises not only serve a “non-expressive” function, but also fill a likely gap in your practice routine, namely isometric exercises. Scientifically measured benefits to the inclusion of these exercises in a regular practice regimen includes increased awareness of breath control, increased sense of relaxation during both inhalation and exhalation, decreased rate of airflow while singing (and decreased sub-glottal pressure), increased phonation volume, increased maximum phonation time, and many more…

Read more…


Opera Corner: Young Artist Programs

August 3, 2011
5

Greetings from New York City, and welcome to the first article in a series called, Opera Corner.  Here you will find information on countertenors and their place in the opera world. I begin with a personal exploration of Regional Opera Apprenticeship programs in America. While YAPs exist to serve aspiring singers, those singers must also serve the needs of the program.

Read more…