The summer is winding down and I’m on the move again.
While packing for my upcoming move to Manhattan, I came across a journal from my first semester at Bard. Waiting outside of Sanford Sylvan’s voice studio on 72nd street, I would write in it to clear my mind before a lesson. Leafing through it today, this snippet resonated with me as I begin the infamous apartment search, and prepare to start at Juilliard in a few weeks.
Look I’ve found a routine – a ritual to center, or unbalance, sitting in this lobby- hearing the baritone before me, the hushed shuffling of a meditative dance class, distant echo of a soprano downstairs. The city, an arrangement of rooms and paths between. Here, what is a room? a place to elicit a certain spirit. In the voice studio, through the surprisingly thin door, it is bare – a grey floor and mirror-wall – not quite tuned piano; a shell to be filled with the intent of its inhabitants- for me, a shrine to craft and terrain for safe exploration. The city, a museum of contemporary life each room a gallery, a zoo of Homo sapiens boom ecology each room a habitat, a performance of Babylon reinterpreted. Is there an essence, a spirit squeezed from the materials that pass through here… (then my lesson started)
New York inspires me. New York terrifies me. Still.
I was at the beginning of getting into a rhythm with the New York City, figuring out what that was to me, how it might change me. I had spent time in the city before–to visit my younger sister in college; to see my first opera, Die Walküre at the Met (the trip was a high school graduation gift); and I had got to know the fifteen hour train ride from Prince, West Virginia to Penn Station while traveling to the auditions that got me into Aspen and Bard in 2013/4. It often felt like an anthropological expedition to see the distinctly urban ways of life carved out by millions where this vast river meets the Atlantic.
And now I am beginning to carve out my own path here. It is where I need to be, and I’m happy to say that after spending a summer living and making music in the city, that it is where I want to be. Now I am looking for a few rooms for me and my dog to call home in the midst of it
The Bel Canto at Caramoor Young Artist Program was an ideal introduction to the New York opera world. A week ago I performed in Beethoven’s Fidelio. It was a grand finale for the summer opera season at the Caramoor. The cast and orchestra were electric. I covered the opera’s main bass role, Rocco, which was performed by the great Kristinn Sigmundsson, and sang a brief solo as the Second Prisoner in Beethoven’s achingly beautiful chorus of political prisoners.
Earlier in the summer we performed Rossini’s Aureliano in Palmira, in which I had a brief scene as a shepherd offering rest to the opera’s war-weary hero. I also presented a set of Beethoven songs in a program shared with other Caramoor young artists. Happily, I was named in a few positive reviews. I’m thankful for the new colleagues and coaches, and to now be versed in the gospel of true legato (ask me about it).
Alright, time for me to get back to packing. PS ~ Obligatory dog photo…