March 10, 2018
I was so proud of Solène after she sang Barber’s “Knoxville Summer of 1915” with the Princeton University Orchestra on their March concerts. We had worked on it a lot last fall in preparation for the concerto competition. I loved teaching the piece to such a sensitive and talented singer, sharing all my favorite moments of interpretation and expression. It was actually good vocal practice for Solène as well, focusing on the simple, sweet, childlike quality of the music and text, learning not to overload her voice and do more with less. She soaked it all up and gave a beautifully sung and dramatically moving performance. All this while she was running back and forth to NYC to be the cover for the soprano in the Broadway run of Rocktopia.
Another student, Ben, was also running back and forth to NYC for auditions for the national touring company of Dear Evan Hansen. Star of the triangle show and an amazing production of Next to Normal back in early February, he had gone to an open call for Dear Evan Hansen just on a lark, and a few days later got an email inviting him to a call back. Yikes, he was flying! We got together and went over some of the music he had to sing and he sounded great. I was trying not to check my email every hour looking for some news, but sure enough, the first call back went really well and he got called back a second time to sing for the director.
Ok, this feels so familiar – try not to think ahead, plan for what if, just take each day as it comes. Easy for me to say. Poor Ben, not to mention his mother, imagining what it would be like to take a year off from school and travel the country and who knows what else as he waited for the next audition day to arrive. Hard to concentrate on school when Broadway beckons. Again, we got together to work on more rep he had to sing at the call back- lots of impossibly high belting. I thought about him on the morning of his audition and observed my desire to check my email as I waited for news. Day by day passed and no email from Ben. When I saw him at his next lesson he said the high notes hadn’t been great. Well, in addition to everything else that has to be perfect, the directors need to see if you have the money notes, and if you can deliver them 8 shows a week.
Ok, we have more work to do. This actually may be the best thing that ever happens to Ben if it inspires him to really learn how to sing those power high notes with good vocal technique so they are secure and dependable. Ah, those crazy ups and downs. My heart goes squish for my students, and I am so glad it’s not me anymore.