Resident conductor of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. New Zealand native. Gemma New!
As of last evening, I am singing with the Saint Louis Symphony Chorus, one of several performing groups affiliated with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.
Since I’m on sabbatical, and since I’m not singing elsewhere right now, I thought this might be a good fit for the season. And I think it shall be!
This year’s programming:
- Bruckner Te Deum at the Cathedral Basilica
- Carmina Burana, that good ol’ barn-burner
- Verdi Requiem
- Bach Christmas Oratorio
And the big deal: Benjamin Britten’s first major opera, Peter Grimes, in concert at Powell Hall, and six days later at Carnegie Hall in NYC on Britten’s 100th birthday anniversary.
Random thoughts from the first rehearsal:
- I love being surrounded by people who know how to self-correct. A bunch of us basses sang a short little lick in correctly last evening, and then repeated the mistake, and then all of sudden, we were all hearing and fixing it. This happened over and over.
- Because so many sing and read well, the conductor is able to be fussy about other things like diction, clarity of rhythm, getting to the vowel. We were all sight-reading last evening, and not once did the conductor need to pound pitches as would happen in so many rehearsals.
- The chorus has SO many Webster people in it — faculty, students, alums. We got a special plug last evening, for which I was grateful.
- Amy Kaiser is a lovely conductor. She was warm, funny, demanding and insistent, clear in expectations, and full of vigor throughout the rehearsal. She knew what to fix, how to focus her attention, and how to get the results. She knew the score backwards and forwards too. And most tellingly, the micro-managing tone she set early led us to be more aware of what to do and how to view and sing the score later in the rehearsal, meaning that we could anticipate and be ahead of the expectations — and self-fix — later on.
- These folks are friends, and the atmosphere is friendly. I love that.
The chorus first performs this season on the Saturday, November 16 concert, in a one-night-only Peter Grimes.
Hyatt at the Arch, Saint Louis.–
We are at coffee break time at the League of American Orchestras annual conference. I’m attending a portion of today’s events as a first-time attendee. The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra made arrangements for partners to register free of charge; I took advantage, of course.
The exhibit hall is filled with agents and publishers. Pops and comic concerts seem to be a big deal! (I suppose that concerts of that ilk are great audience builders.) I visited for a while with a team who help in career development, and think we may have some opportunity to enrich our student experience with their help.
Rob Shay from Mizzou is here; we visited for a few minutes. And I spent a few seconds with Gene Dobbs Bradford, Executive Director of Jazz St. Louis. I waved at some SLSO folk; they’re out in full force, of course. And I talked to a few people who are piggy-backing from the Conductors Guild conference that concluded earlier this week.
My next event is a Digital Media workshop, after which I head to lunch at home and then to the office for a full afternoon of meetings and tasks. Rob Shay mentioned his ‘A’ list and ‘B’ list for the summer. I’m pretty much through my ‘A’ list, which is good, since I have only four more office days before departing for the UK. When I return, the run-up to the beginning of school is in full swing and any other planning and longer-term work will take a back seat.
Tonight = Spamalot at the Muny. Charlie Ingram (my senior music theatre major) is singing the pre-show at the gazebo. Jacob Lacopo (Webster alum and former student) is in the show. And I’m looking forward to seeing Eli Wedel, a former student from Ball State, in Saint Louis for a few days.
I’m delighted to announce that I will be joining the Saint Louis Symphony Chorus for the 2013-14 season, and will be singing with David Robertson, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, and others as conductors, all prepped by the inimitable Amy Kaiser as chorusmaster.
The season includes Verdi, Orff, Bach, Bruckner. And Britten, at both Powell Hall in Saint Louis and Carnegie Hall in NYC on Britten’s 100th birthday anniversary.
What joy this will be!
School this week feels more like week 5. We have MUCH going on!
I’m a bit sniffly tonight.
Unexpected health news from Lee’s Summit today has caused me to ponder and pray.
The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra takes off on a European tour later this week. I was privileged to hear their kick-off concert late this afternoon at Powell Hall. What fun Sibelius I was! Bon voyage to my friends in the SLSO….