|"New York, New Yoooooork!"|
Manhattan. Naturally, I immediately sat at said piano to play and sing some jazz, because that's what it's there for, surely! It turns out there are about 50 pianos dotted all over New York, as an effort to increase creativity and increase the 'humanity' of the city, which I think is a great idea, and I love to see more of this everywhere - Guernsey has attempted something like this in the past, with one piano in the Market Square, but we really could do more - there's 10 parishes for crying out loud! One in every parish, open to the public to be played and enjoyed by all - I think it's worth doing! After my musical detour I decided to make my way to over the Brooklyn Bridge, which is a hell of a walk I can tell you, but absolutely worth doing if you're ever in NYC - the views alone are fantastic, and there is a tremendous sense of achievement when you get to the other side! After a brief rest I made my towards the financial district in order to see the 9/11 memorials: two large square shape pools, each with plaques around the outside to list the names of all the victims, from the towers, planes, and emergency services. There was something about these memorials that felt very respectful, tasteful, and powerful, and I'm not ashamed to admit I was moved to tears by them - perhaps the recent stream of attacks and horror we've had in the UK hit me while I was reading these names, because that's the power of a name: it puts a face, even a blurry one you can't see because you didn't know the person, onto the tragedy, which makes it terribly effecting. Continuing on my first day of exploration, I made a heroic charge through Greenwich Village, Soho, China Town and Little Italy, eventually giving in to the agony my feet were in and making my way back to Brooklyn via the Subway for a much needed night in of rest.
|One World Trade Centre|
|Just chilling out at Times Square|
Finally, after a hectic few days of touristing, it was time to get down to business with the start of the Choral Chameleon Institute. After a welcoming breakfast, there was no hanging around, it was straight down to business with a group singing session. One of the things which has already thrown itself at me as a challenge is the use of Solfege; a musical system by which to sing notes - many of you non-muso's will actually know it, as it is the lyrics in 'Do-Re-Mi' from the Sound of Music! And, although I have actually played the part of Maria in said musical, I didn't actually learn Solfege to do that song - I learned the notes and the Solfege was just 'lyrics' to me! There's also a whole other debate of 'Fixed Doh' and 'Moveable Doh' which I won't get into now, but will revisit at a later date after much needed processing and discussion! Following this session was brief one-to-one sessions to gauge our ear-training levels, followed by music analysis; a hardcore session revisiting Bach Chorales and their theoretical elements, many of which I have not done extensively since I did my GCSE music! I can only thank my mother for hammering that information into me so well, because boy was I rusty! My initial comparison to this course so far is, there's SO much more in the way of academic involvement, but at the same time, it is still a safe and welcoming space of learning and exploration, and the positive vibe is palpable for sure.
Now, I'm attending this course as dual concentration, which means I taking part as both a composer AND a conductor. The composing part I feel confident enough with that I can get a piece I'm happy with out in this week-long time frame, and, even with the Solfege quandary to get my head round, the theory side of things I also feel confident about..... but conducting... that is a whole other ball game right there. I've only been chorally conducting for 9 months, so I am feeling like a guppy in a sea of sharks, and safe to say, I've left my comfort zone on this one! But what's really great is that this Institute already has a vibe of safety about it - there is no judgement, just compassion and a will to do your best, and guide you. The staff are passionate and approachable, and there's just the right amount of eccentricity to make everything feel fun amidst all the intense work being thrown at us. That said, I need to do some serious alone time with my conducting scores and really find my 'conducting hat', so to speak - watch this space on that one!
|Time to get cracking! Scores, coffee - let's go!|