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singing

Christmas Part 1: Patrick’s Concert

I had so much fun being in Rev. Patrick’s Christmas Concert at the Community Church of Hope last week. At the end of the show, I got one of the best compliments I’ve ever received in my singing career: “You looked so happy up there.”

Even though I don’t really celebrate Christmas, I love Christmas music. I can listen to it all year. The only person who loves it more than me is Patrick. When he asked me to be in his concert, I immediately said, “I’m in!”

Then I asked, “What am I singing?”

I’m a classically trained soprano so I figured he might want a classic Christmas ballad. He asked me to sing “Night Before Christmas” but then he also said he wanted me to sing “Welcome Christmas” from The Grinch and a new song – “Santa’s Solar Sleigh.”

Only Patrick can get away with asking me to sing such a ridiculous song. I practiced it so much I couldn’t walk my dog without running lyrics in my head.

Then Patrick said he wanted me to be dressed as Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch for the first half. I responded with “Do I get a petticoat with that?”

Singing in Patrick’s Concert 2016

Yes. Yes I did – a pink one.
(For the second half, I got to be a human and wear a simple sapphire blue velvet shift.)

The concert was so much fun. Unlike other shows I’ve done for Patrick, he had the vocalists on the stage the whole time. His piano was at center stage and the other vocalist, Joey, and I were off to the side on stools. I felt like we were the two old guys from The Muppets (without the jokes, just the occasional sideways glance at each other). When we weren’t singing, we had the best view in the house. From my vantage point, I could see Patrick’s eyes over his music, his foot on the pedal, and I could see inside the piano which is basically a reflection of his fingers. I was mesmerized when George played Ave Maria on his violin – his fingers and bow weaving a tapestry of sound. And it was all Christmas music so I knew every word, every note. I did everything but mouth the words – it was a fully body experience.

And then there was the sing-along. Patrick never rehearses this part with us in advance. They’re songs we all know so he plays and we sing with audience. I threw in the harmony whenever I felt like it. After the concert, a friend said even when everyone was singing, she could hear my voice over the crowd. (I’m not sure she knew that Joey and my microphones were on for the sing-along.)

I had as much fun experiencing others performing as I did singing in this show, and I can’t help but sway when I’m wearing a fluffy petticoat. I’m glad Patrick’s already put me on notice that he wants me in next year’s show.

My other favorite holiday tradition – Christmas Part 2: Phoestivus!

Over the Rainbow | Birthday Memories

Last year for my birthday, I asked my friends to send me stories related to our friendship. I spent my birthday taking a trip down memory lane, reading through all of them. This year, I asked some of my friends if I could share their memories with you.

Looking up in the ASU Law School rotunda - I think that's Calleros' office door on the right

Looking up in the ASU Law School rotunda – I think that’s Calleros’ office door on the right

Today’s memory comes from Professor Charles Calleros at ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. He was my professor for Contracts 1L year. His memory isn’t from the classroom, but from a late night at the law school.

In the fall of my 3L year, I attended an evening movie-and-discussion event that was facilitated by the LGBT law club at the school. I don’t remember what movie we watched, but we were all emotionally drained by the end. It was probably close to 9pm when we finished and emerged from the classroom where we’d been meeting. The rest of the building was quiet. Any students who were staying late to study were at the law library across the way.

My friend Stefi looked sad and exhausted, so I asked if she wanted me to sing for her, and she nodded. The middle of the law school building is a rotunda – a round two-story room with a glass dome ceiling that opens out to all the classrooms on the first floor. The second floor of the rotunda has a circular balcony overlooking the room below and is surrounded by faculty offices. The acoustics of this space are absolutely amazing and gorgeous.

Thinking that no one else was in the building, I positioned myself in the center of the rotunda, took a deep breath and started to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I had no idea that Professor Calleros was working late that night, until I saw him standing at the balcony railing as I started the second verse. As he remember it:

A few years ago, I was working after hours at ASU College of Law, in my office on the second floor, near the balcony that overlooks the rotunda. I stopped working when I heard a beautiful rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” coming from the first floor rotunda, sort of like Eva Cassidy come back to life. I left my office and walked the few steps to the balcony to take it in. It sounded like yearning, a dream, a heartfelt plea for justice. It was Ruth, and it was beautiful.  

As I finished the song, he silently nodded in thoughtful gratitude and retreated to his office. No words needed to be spoken.

Singing with Richard | Birthday Memories

Last year for my birthday, I asked my friends to send me stories related to our friendship. I spent my birthday taking a trip down memory lane, reading through all of them. This year, I asked some of my friends if I could share their memories with you.

Benton Hall - Music Department at OSU (Photo from wikimedia)

Benton Hall – Music Department at OSU (Photo from wikimedia)

Today’s memory comes from Dr. Richard Weidlich, one of my voice coaches when I studied at Oregon State University. (Fun fact: I was never a music major or minor but between my undergrad and masters degrees, I took twelve quarters of voice lessons at OSU.) I studied with Richard my senior year. Voice lessons at OSU are one-on-one classes – it was just him, me, and an accompanist every week.

Working with Richard was amazing. Not only is he a phenomenal opera and Broadway performer, but when he sings or teaches, he experiences the music with his whole body. It is such a joy to experience any aspect of music with him. And did I mention he’s drop-dead gorgeous? As a student, I was perpetually impressed and intimidated by him.

Here are some of Richard’s thoughts from that year:

Music helps us in so many ways, to communicate with more than just mere words, with a power that goes deeper than that. I loved working with you and seeing your voice grow and mature during that year at OSU! I remember your enthusiasm at your lessons and how excited you would get when you had the song down and were starting to communicate it to me. When you got something right, your excitement was infectious! I am hoping that you continue your love for music by singing and working with a teacher again at some point. We learn so much about ourselves in the process, and we stretch ourselves. My grandmother always talked about life-long learning and I now know what she means. It is the answer to boredom and the solution to a life with no purpose!

There is something so special about working with a coach – on any craft. They help you develop your skills; they mentor you through frustrations and they’re there to celebrate victories. I am truly lucky to have Richard as part of my musical family.

Day 65/90 – Car Concert

Day 65 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I sang all the way home from work.

One of my favorite shots of me singing (December 2013)

One of my favorite shots of me singing (December 2013)

I’ve been saying for a while now that I should sing more. I started singing publicly when I was 15, studied in voice in college, and was a member of Phoenix Women’s Chorus for years. But life got busy and I’ve gotten away from my musical roots.

It’s been a few years since I was affiliated with a group or taken singing lessons on a regular basis. And what I listen to on the radio is generally different than the type of music I sing, so I just got out of the habit of making singing a priority. It got to the point where I started to doubt that I have talent.

Today on the way home from work I switched my car stereo to my singing CD. Yes, I have a mix CD of songs that I like to sing. There are songs by Martina McBride, Josh Groban, and from the musical Wicked on there. I sang at the top of my lungs all the way home. It was awesome. I was glad when I hit red lights because it meant I got to sing more.

Part of the 90 Days of Awesome is to put more energy into the things that matter most to me, and that definitely includes music. Plus I’ve been extra inspired lately because I have a trip to New York coming up where I’ll get to reconnect with my former voice coach Richard Hartley Weidlich. Holy crap – this guy can sing – Broadway, opera, he’s amazing. The best compliment I’ve heard about Richard’s voice was a story from when he was in grad school. A fellow student said, “Every time I hear Richard sing, I need a cigarette.” I can’t wait to see him.

I have a feeling I’ll be testing how sound proof the walls of my condo are and my neighbors’ tolerance for show tunes and arias in the near future.

In case you missed it: Day 64 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I got to catch up with my world-traveling friend Kolby.