That graphic is meant to represent my gasping mouth rising (if ever so briefly) above water. I guess it has been one of those weeks... or two... Which is not to say that things are going badly--it's just been really, really busy. And I got food poisoning. And Ryan had a bad cold. And... yeah, I guess it's just been one of those weeks.
School has started, and with it an entirely novel (to me, at least) way of structuring classes and coursework. I'm taking Spanish Diction, Opera Repertoire, 20th c. Repertoire, French Diction, Acting, Concert Repertoire, and of course lessons and coachings. Add to that master classes and my job, coincidentally as the master class assistant. Regular courses meet for two hours, but only once a week, and most classes actually span both semesters. In fact, I believe that only my French diction class will last for one semester (to be followed by Italian and German in the spring). Instead of the lecture/student participation format to which I am accustomed, almost all of the classes are structured around performance. You might say, "what a novel concept for a music school!", but it really does seem different from the traditional class, including those I've observed at other programs. In general, three or four students prepare materials to present in class, discussing salient features of the piece and composer before singing. Then it proceeds in a largely master class-type format: critique (based on the subject of the class), discussion, and eventually someone new to repeat the format. Consequently there is more self-directed research that forms the basis of study and what is discussed in class pertains more to the execution of the music practically than theoretically.
Ultimately it should all culminate with our regular master class series--a sort of heightened rendering of our regular classes. There are six regular masterclasses for the ADV students (and I think an equal number for the undergraduates), plus three "special" classes with Susan Graham, Ian Bostridge, and Sir Roger Norrington. (For the complete list of masterclasses offered at school this year, please follow this link.)
Otherwise, things are chugging along. Ryan was out of town part of this week to go work with Andrew McPherson in Philadelphia and Princeton (he's performing and subsequently recording a composition of McPherson's for piano with electromagnetic resonators). I've started figuring out the best places to shop for various items, from Economy Fruit to No Frills to Strictly Bulk, and hopefully that will become increasingly streamlined. While Ryan was gone I even visited Gasparros Meat Market--the butchers recommended to me by the Communists--and had a wonderful time chatting with them in Italian! Our room is finally coming together, too. We purchased a wardrobe, so I'm no longer living out of a suitcase, and even moved the big brown couch out of here, giving us a little more space. It was an adventure requiring the removal of two doors and a bannister, carrying the couch up a flight of stairs into the kitchen, out of the house and down some more stairs (around the corner) back to the basement, and then maneuvering it into the craft room, but we were successful! A woman from Comrade MM's church kindly gave us a bed frame...
...which naturally segues to another topic: the communists upstairs! I have decided to refer to them henceforth as Comrade MM and J, respectively the mother and father of the house, in honor of their craigslist advertisement and to protect their privacy, and their daughter as Mlle P. Comrades MM and J use this name in their own online musings, so it seemed fitting to continue it here. They're really not communists, you know. Though they did play the Internationale at the dinner party we had last night... (Reproduced here in the original French!)
Given the amount that has happened recently, this post should probably be even longer. Unfortunately there are errands to run and laundry to wash and practicing to do, so I think I'd better go do something productive. More later, I hope! And with less of a delay.
Actually, a brief update from the kitchen:
Photo credit: Comrade J