Archive for March, 2011

Welcome to Our “Get Organized” Issue

March 1, 2011
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The budding trees are certainly confused here in Philadelphia. After a long and bitterly cold winter (my favorite forecast involved the phrase “destructive ice”), our spirits were briefly lifted by a week of 50-65 degree February weather (that’s 10-18 Celsius for our international friends). Weather like that towards the end of Winter (of course, it snowed a few days later) fills me with the sort of hope that produces long and generally completed to-do lists, mad spurts of paper filing, and a general sense that the complexities of life and my professional career could be tamed if I just had the right system…

This month we bring you articles and posts related to how singers (students, pre-professionals, and professionals alike) can get organized, stay organized, and set the kinds of priorities that create successful careers. We feature an artist-relevant introduction to the productivity system Getting Things Done, a primer on managing freelance income, and a personal account of the perils of putting off until tomorrow what could be done today!

Also this month: A zesty (I do enjoy Oliver’s food metaphors) multimedia review of Franco Fagioli’s Sophomore CD, and an impressive display of breath energy management by Spanish countertenor Carlos Mena.

You may also notice that we have begun selling advertising space; I hope that these ads will help support this project without being too visually distracting!

Thanks for joining us. Leave a comment and repost our articles on Facebook and Twitter if you like them.

~Ian


To Do-ing Well in your Singing Career

March 1, 2011
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The life of a freelancer, and a freelance singer especially, is hard to explain to someone with a regular job. You are all at once a product, a business manager, a negotiator, a public relations firm, a steering committee, a fundraiser, an accountant, a marketing director, a webmaster, an audio and video editor… the list goes on. The characteristics of a great performing artist, however – a tendency towards abstract and nonlinear thought, the ability to live in the present moment to the exclusion of future concerns, the desire to find connections between disparate ideas, and a recognition that an unaccountable passage of time must take place for your best work to emerge – tend to run counter to what you would want in an organized, reductionist-minded business manager. But, there you are, expected to direct your career regardless of your qualification to do so, ultimately accountable to no one but yourself.

You certainly have help along the way from teachers, conductors, mentors, and managers. A very few among us experience such success that the greatest challenge lies in picking which engagements to turn down. The average professional singer, however, will be significantly affected by their own ability to set goals, research opportunities, and follow projects through to completion.

So, how can artistically minded people get their sh*t together and work out the business of their art in a manageable, sustainable, and (gasp!) fulfilling way?

Read more…


Franco Fagioli Canzone e Cantate: A Review

March 1, 2011
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Argentinian Countertenor Franco Fagioli’s new recital disc, inconspicuously titled Canzone e Cantate, heralds the arrival of a world-class artist. This is an instant classic… a must-have.  Canzone e Cantate is a recording for fans of countertenors, the Italian baroque, continuo bands, bel canto vocal pyrotechnics, and especially for fans of Cecilia Bartoli. You read correctly – Cecilia Bartoli…

Read more…


A Day in the Life of… Bryan DeSilva, Emerging Artist

March 1, 2011
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Greetings once again from a somewhat frazzled Philadelphia countertenor!  I am in the midst of preparing for both my Master of Music Degree recital and an upcoming research and performance trip to England, all the while keeping up with coursework, working a part-time office job, and teaching private students as part of my graduate assistantship.  I am not fishing for pity, nor do I wish to complain; there are certainly less desirable things by which one might be kept so busy! I just submitted an audition CD for the London Handel Society’s 2011 Singing Competition, so the topic of Recording is still quite fresh for me.

It is here that I must make a confession.  I may or may not have a bit of an issue with procrastination…

Read more…


Some Thoughts on Managing Freelance Income

March 1, 2011
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Unless you are extremely successful – or have married a hedge fund manager – chances are that you think about money. The nature of the classical music industry (although this is true for freelancers in general) makes it difficult to budget very far into the future: Income is not only sporadic, but the larger these sporadic fees become, the easier it is to incorrectly view them as windfalls. There have been seasons that I made upwards of 30% of my income in the month of December alone! If you sing operas, you might make $15,000 in March and nothing for the next five months.

This can be problematic for obvious reasons. I would suggest, however, that most freelance singers run into problems not with their quantity of income, but rather with living within their means and managing their cash flow intelligently…

Read more…


Watch This Now! Carlos Mena Sings Vivaldi

March 1, 2011
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httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti6dGfXt-r0

Cum dederit dilectis, the slow movement from Vivaldi’s Nisi Dominus (RV 608), is a monstrous challenge of breath energy management for any singer. Spanish countertenor Carlos Mena handles it here with grace. Notice that his straight tone singing (always a color choice, not an imperative of his technique) never closes down his production, affects his intonation, saps energy from the phrase, or introduces extraneous tention.

Mr. Mena appears here with the Ricercar Consort under the direction of Philippe Pierlot.