Saturday, December 26, 2009


Reflections on the meaning of "Hodie" at Christmastime, what it says about the role of Mary as the mother of God, and the context it had in my recital, Saints and Sirens: Women through Music History.

Hodie Christus natus est: hodie salvator apparuit:
Hodie in terra canunt angeli, laetantur archangeli:
Hodie exultant justi, dicentes: gloria in excelsis Deo: Alleluia.

Today Christ is born: Today the Saviour appeared:
Today on Earth the Angels sing, Archangels rejoice:
Today the righteous rejoice, saying: Glory to God in the highest: Alleluia.

These words have been sung at Christmas for as long as history has recorded the celebration of the day. Gregorian chant, a traditional carol, A Ceremony of Carols, and an entire cantatabears the name and announcement of "Hodie." From simple chants and hymns to works by such esteemed composers as Palestrina, Sweelinck, Britten, and Vaughan Williams, the idea of "Hodie" has been strongly associated with Christmas and celebrating the birth of Christ, seen throughout history in many musical representations and forms. Often, the original Gregorian chant is quoted or used as the basis for newer or polyphonic versions, the root from which newer branches stem.

Hildegard also honored the significance of the Christ Child born of Mary, but emphasized Mary's role in the incarnation and what it meant: the reversal of original sin, the redemption of Eve, the dawn of new life (in the role Jesus came to serve, to die and rise again) flowering in the womb of the Virgin.

Hodie aperuit nobis clausa porta
quod serpens in muliere suffocavit,
Unde lucet in aurora
flos de Virgine Maria.
Today opens for us
the door that had been closed
with which the serpent had stifled the first woman.
Hence, the flower of the Virgin Mary
shines forth in the dawn.

This original chant by Hildegard von Bingen was the first thing heard in my recital. The room was dark, with the only light coming from the open doors, leading to the foyer of the recital hall. This foyer, with its hard tiled floor and glass doors leading outside into the sunlight, provided a perfect reverberant space from which to begin my concert. With no visible origins, the sound of this chant, using the hallway's convincing imitation of a cathedral acoustic, wafted in with the sunlight to the listeners in the darkened auditorium, giving birth to this brain-child of mine that had been growing in thought for more than a year. This recital project was about the liberation of women's music, the discovery and exploration of who these women were who wrote and inspired so much beauty in the musical art form. Hildegard was the perfect way to both begin and end such an exploration, as she was such an extraordinary strong female figure who lived, taught, and thrived in her work and the proliferation of a unique sacred message (from a female perspective) during a time that did not encourage such an anomaly.

The message of "Today" had a very significant meaning, not just in its historical context relating to Christ and His Mother, but to the mystery and beauty of the past being revealed "now," at the very moment of my recital. "Nunc" (the Latin of "now"), was the word used to begin this same chant in the Reisenkodex manuscript, replacing the "Hodie" so that it would be usable in other contexts for other celebrations (since "Hodie" has such a specific connotation). Hildegard knew how unique her message was - it was visionary, channeled directly from God, which made it of paramount importance. It had to be recorded for posterity, collected and distributed, sermonized and sung, written and spoken as far as it could be communicated in the civilized world. Undoubtedly, in her support of the crusades of 1147-49, she may have had hopes for this message to even reach those the Catholic Church regarded as the barbarians who had made advances in Holy lands. The most important thing was that it was written down in manuscripts and has been preserved to this day as the first example of music of which the author is known. As a woman directly receiving the word of God, she was instructed to write down what she saw and heard. Although she was incredibly humble about her unworthy position as a conduit of the Most High, she still recognized (either through divine wisdom or her own foresight) the importance of connecting her name - the name of a woman with an incredible and miraculous history of power and strength amid adversity - to the works she produced, which were incredibly prolific. In a future post, her story will be explored in more depth.

A year ago, during the annual 'Tis the Season concerts with the Pacific Chorale at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, the women of the Chorale opened the concert with the "Hodie" from Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols. As I sang this introit chant, in unison with about 75 women, the mystery contained in this word was caught up with evocations of Hildegard and mystic chant. Although I had been listening to Hildegard for a long time and had many favorite chants already in consideration for my recital, something struck me about the complexity and depth of the word and the idea, "Hodie." A friend gave me a gift that same Christmas of the Hildegard CD entitled Vision: The Music of Hildegard von Bingen. This recording was created to accompany a biographical and historical summation of Hildegard (Vision: The Life and Music of Hildegard von Bingen, now out of print), which was the first I ever read on Hildegard. Although simple and brief, it is a good hook and introduction for someone who is searching for first-time information about this extraordinary woman and the legends and legacy surrounding her (after hearing her music for the first time, I was hungry for anything I could get my hands on, struck as I was by the unique nature of her music). Although I had heard about the recording, I had shied away from it - being the purist that I am - because of the contemporary "remix" style of interpretation I knew was used. However, since it was a gift specifically given because of my known love and scholarship of Hildegard (and in preparing my recital), I listened to it. I was also keen to listen to as many interpretations as possible - no matter how bizarre or unconventional they might have seemed - to get the broadest concept of contemporary performance perspectives of her music. If you can get past the sometimes awkward superfluousness surrounding the music, there is a kernel of integrity in what is presented. The chant seemed to come first - the performers allowed to sing unencumbered in an appropriately acoustic space - while the synthesized casement most probably was added in a studio, with minimal infringement upon the core monophony. When I came to the "Hodie" track on this CD, I was truly struck by the chant - presented at first in a surprisingly pure form, alone and almost in its entirety at the beginning of the track. I had found what would become the perfect opening piece for my recital, the prelude, welcoming and introducing the audience to the purpose that drove my recital, which is contained in the message of this chant:
Today opens for us
the door that has been closed upon womankind.
And so I celebrate this door through which I have been privileged to walk - today, at Christmas, and throughout my life.

NOTES: The opening "Hodie" from the Vaughan Williams cantata was also sung in last year's 'Tis the Season performance for Christmas of 2008. This year, I had the opportunity to perform the Sweelinck "Hodie" in our first Christmas with the John Alexander Singers performance with the 24-member professional ensemble. In the same concert, I participated in performing Hildegard's O virdissima virga with the women of the John Alexander Singers. Additionally, the "Personent Hodie" carol was used in John Alexander's "A Carol Fantasy," composed and performed as the opening selection for the Pacific Chorale's Christmas album on Gothic Records, Christmas Time is Here (2005).

The friend mentioned as having given me the gift of the Vision Hildegard CD last Christmas was David Reeder, who did the audio recording of my recital and was a fellow graduate student with me at UC Irvine as a composer.
He was also a fellow Medici Scholar in 2008. While my Medici Scholarship enabled me to join a concert tour with the Pacific Chorale as soloist and soprano in the chorus, performing in Southern France and Northern Italy, David was able to use the funding to participate in the EAMA Boulanger summer music program for composition at the Schola Cantorum in Paris.

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Images: (Top) Bottega di Sandro Botticelli, Vergine e il Bambino con Sei Angeli e San Giovanni Battista, circa 1488-1490. (End) Mary, the new Eve (from

Copyright © 2009. All textual and conceptual materials are the sole property of Lorraine Joy Welling and may not be reproduced, copied, or used in any way without permission.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Official Program (Revised)

Saints and Sirens: Women Through Music History - A Graduate Recital

Pulling together all my possibilities into a cohesive whole, while taking into consideration time limits and other realities, I present my program in its finalized format.

NOTE: Additional changes have occurred since the original posting of this article over a month ago. Most significantly, the date is now SATURDAY, JUNE 6th, at 11am; same location of Winifred Smith Hall in the School of the Arts on the University of California, Irvine campus. Admission and parking are both FREE on this day. Parking recommended in the Mesa Parking Structure.
Directions and maps to UCI are here.

An updated program appears below.

This recital is an exploration of Women Through Music History, "Saints and Sirens" - a project that in itself can barely touch the surface of a subject that runs very deep, but one that attempts profundity and fun at the same time, while retaining the possibility of expanding into future explorations. Women have a story that needs to be told, and their story has been told from countless perspectives and in innumerable ways, but much is still waiting to be heard in today's world. There is so much beauty to be found in rarely-performed gems from many periods of music history, and I have found some that fit well into this exploration, weaving a narrative concept out of many disparate bits and pieces.

The earliest composers we know of by name were women, and Hildegard von Bingen was one of these. It is her voice we hear first, speaking to us from almost a thousand years ago. Over the course of the recital, we will hear from both men and women, as composers and poets, speaking about women and the journeys they and their legends have taken, while exploring the possibilities of the future, until we realize that we're part a continuous cycle in life, and that we can make the choice to be forces of unity and growth in the gardens of Earth and eternity. This is an exploration of truth and stereotypes, of faith and frolic, the duality of sacred and secular, traveling over the course of time from some of the earliest written music (and even earlier saintly subjects) through the course of many centuries to the present day. Since it makes sense historically and thematically, the first half of the concert is sacred (Saints) and the second half secular (Sirens). The conclusion of the concert will hopefully inspire the propagation of this continued exploration and encourage others to share woman's story in music, while revealing the cyclic nature of the program's construction (and of history itself). The last piece heard is based on a chant by Hildegard, transcribed and set to an Anne Sexton text by contemporary composer, friend, and CSUF faculty member, Dr. Pamela Madsen. The concepts used in this final presentation bring together the whole program, with a final concept that encourages the dissemination of these ideas and ideals to the world.

And now, here is the program. Keep in mind, you may not have heard of some of these composers - one of my intents in this recital is to expose the beauty that can be found outside the typical mainstream repertoire in largely unknown works (that should be known). In fact, two of the pieces, written by Alessandro Della Ciaia for the nuns of Siena, haven't been heard for over 300 years, only recently having been transcribed by musicologist and member of the UCI facutly, Dr. Colleen Reardon, from the original manuscript (they are in essence "World Premieres" as such). Over the course of the weeks leading up the recital, I will post descriptions of each set as extended program notes here on this blog. Stay tuned.


Hodie aperuit
Selections from In matutinis laudibus
(Antiphons for St. Ursula and the 11,000 Virgins)
~ Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)

Ecce venio ad te Domine
~ Alessandro Della Ciaia (1600-c.1678)
Maria, dolce Maria
~ Francesca Caccini (1587-c.1641)
Dolcissimo Signore
~ Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (c.1580-1651)

Donne, voi ricercate... Se per colpa di donna infelice
from La Resurrezione
~ George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Gaudens gaudebo
~ Alessandro Della Ciaia (1600-c.1678)


Les Filles de Cadix
~ Leo Delibes (1836-1891)
Non, la fidelite
~ Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)
~ Pauline Viardot (1821-1910)

~ Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847)
Getauscht hat mich ein Schimmer
~ Josephine Lang (1815-1880)
~ Clara Schumann (1819-1896)

~ Cecile Chaminade (1857-1944)

Prayer II
from Politics of Quiet
~ Meredith Monk (b. 1944)
From the Garden
from We Are All Sibyls
~ Pamela Madsen

Note on Performers: Charles Welling will play the organ in the first half of the program, and Lukas Swidzinski will accompany on piano in the second half. Peter Fisk will also be joining me on lute in the Caccini and Kapsberger pieces. Rachel Bittner is flautist in the Chaminade "Portrait."

Image above depicting one of Hildegard's visions, "Werk Gottes," illustrated in her visionary written work, Liber Divinorum Operum (1163-1173), depicts the Earth in its constant cycle of seasons, with images of planting, harvesting, and the forces of nature. Hildegard understood circles and cycles as integral to understanding life and its divine source.

Copyright © 2009. All textual and conceptual materials are the sole property of Lorraine Joy Welling and may not be reproduced, copied, or used in any way without permission.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Most Highly Favored Lady

The birth of God as man and the reversal of original sin - through a woman.

Reflections on Mary, the Mother of God, and her historic texts, as her feast day arrives one week after Christmas, the first day of the New Year.

The two most famous texts associated with Mary, the Mother of God, are of Biblical origin and have inspired countless compositions. These, of course, are best known in their Latin forms: the "Ave Maria" and the "Magnificat." Both texts relate to the scene of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel told Mary she had been chosen to bear the Son of God, and that of the Visitation, when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth (who was miraculously pregnant in her old age with the child later to be known as John the Baptist). The Angel and Elizabeth both greeted Mary with the "Ave," or "Hail," acknowledging her exalted status, blessed and favored among all women. In both scenes, Mary responds with acceptance and praise of the Holy Will of God. Immediately after the message of Gabriel, according to the Gospel of Luke, Mary proclaimed: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to you word."

In this year's annual Pacific Chorale Christmas concert, 'Tis the Season, I had the honor of singing the solo verse in the carol, "Gabriel's Message," whose text reflects this biblical and historic moment. In the verse I sang, the text beautifully expresses both Mary's humility and exaltation: "Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head, 'To me be as it pleaseth God,' she said. 'My soul shall laud and magnify His holy name.' Most highly favored lady, Gloria." This last part of the verse (and the title of this post) is the refrain for every strophe, reminding us of the initial greeting of Gabriel and of Elizabeth - "Hail... the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women," as it is most often heard in the "Ave Maria" or the "Hail Mary."

A few selections from the December 21st concert were broadcast on local classical radio station,
91.5 FM KUSC, including Gabriel's Message. The morning of that concert, I had sung a version of the Magnificat at my church as a solo with choral response. The previous weekend, as ironic as it may seem, I had sung in the choir of another local church as a last-minute soprano sub for performances of Bach's Magnificat, and remembered performing the same work and the solo, "Quia respexit," for Dr. Gordon Paine while getting my Bachelor in Music at Cal State Fullerton.

The Magnificat seems to be a part of my own journey, as does the Ave Maria - only this morning, I sang the Schubert Ave Maria, and although I've sung it an innumerable amount of times, there is always new meaning to be found, especially when I look at the context of my own life and what surrounds me. In my recital, I will sing a song whose text bears strong resemblance to the Ave: "Maria, dolce Maria," by Francesca Caccini.

Here are the texts of these two (songs? prayers? poems? masterpieces of spiritual insight?) in the form generally used and recognized:

Text of the Ave Maria (also the Hail Mary prayer):

Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with thee,
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Hail/Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death.
(Hail Mary.)

Text of the Magnificat:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices
in God my savior,
For He has regarded the lowliness
of his handmaiden.

For behold, henceforth
all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty
has done great things for me,
and holy is His name.
And His mercy is from age to age
on those who fear Him.

He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in mind and heart.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he has sent away empty .
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of His mercy;
As He promised to our fathers,
Abraham and his descendants forever.

Image: "Annunciation," c.1660, by Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo (1618-1682).

Copyright © 2008. All textual materials are the sole property of Lorraine Joy Welling and may not be reproduced, copied, or used in any way without permission.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Cathedral Connection

From the Cathedrals of Europe to the Concert Halls of Orange County.

Bringing America to Europe and Europe to America. Connections in space and time.

This summer, I had the honor of joining the Pacific Chorale, with whom I regularly perform, in a tour of Southern France and Northern Italy. The trip spanned the first 15 days of July and traversed the coastal areas of Provence, the French and Italian Rivieras, and ended in Lake Como. Our performances were held in the Cathedral St. Sauveur in Aix-en-Provence, l'Eglise St. Laurent in Flayosc, Sant'Andrea in Levanto, and the Basilica di San Nicolo in Lecco. As the soprano soloist, I had the opportunity to experience the acoustics of the European Cathedrals in so many wonderful ways, with my own voice and the combined sound of the 50 singers representing the Chorale on this trip. Each Cathedral was different, yet special and unique, and ultimately wonderful. The true "Cathedrals" of Europe can sometimes be so large and segmented that some of the sound is lost, as in St. Sauveur, but even that church had little or no comparison to what we have here in the United States. Something about the ancient construction of these hallowed halls lended themselves to the most beautiful sounds when voices were raised in praise of their creator. In our tour, we represented Italian and French composers -- music that lived in this acoustic and was written for it -- alongside American composers (music such as that by Lauridsen and Whitacre, who have been doubtless inspired by the hope of such sound, but rarely have the pleasure of experiencing it in such a way) in a completely a cappella concert of sacred music.

Months later, to inaugerate the new William J. Gillespie Concert Organ (built by C. B. Fisk), the Chorale began the 2008-09 season with a concert entitled "Cathedral Echoes." Although the program itself bore no relation to the music with which we toured in the summer, the memory of that accoustic sound lingered. Since the new Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall opened two years ago, John Alexander (the inspired and inspiring world-renowned director of the Chorale) has struggled with the overly cautious staff to make adjustments needed (available and built in) to the hall to create a Cathedral-like sound. Finally, this year, after a full day of experiments between John and said staff, we entered a new world of sound for our concert hall, a sound we had always hoped for and been told was possible, but that we had not yet heard in that space. We were where we were supposed to be. All the doors to the acoustic chambers were wide open, and the shell above the stage was raised as high as it would go (consequently revealing the full visual and aural splendor of the new organ). Although we weren't in an actual Cathedral, we could finally compare the acoustics to something much closer than any concert hall has yet achieved.

And so, as I plan my recital, I think of these things -- of acoustics and organs, of the sacred and sublime -- and I wonder how I can achieve so much of what I aspire to with the materials I have to work with. I leave this as my thought for the day, and pray to find the means to fit all I imagine into the reality of my surroundings. I wonder and I pray...

Copyright © 2008. All textual materials are the sole property of Lorraine Joy Welling and may not be reproduced, copied, or used in any way without permission.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Recital Programming: Part II

Women desired, adored, and their relationships with men in a secular world.

The second half of my Graduate Recital: bringing women from the 17th century to the present day.

The first half of my recital explores women in relation to the divine, in a time and a world where religion was central to people's lives (see my article, Programming: Part I). In the second half of my recital, I find connections between women and men on many levels. Their connection as secular objects of adoration and desire, as well as literal connections between the female composers and the famous men in their lives -- as wives, sisters, and daughters. My recital follows a thematic story line and a line of interconnection and common relationships as it explores women in music history.

At the beginning of the second half of my recital, we see the wife of a British Lord and poet, the Lady Dering -- Mary Harvey by name -- whose husband actually wrote the text for two of the three songs in my set. (As the wife of an organist, I can appreciate the value of collaboration between two people with complimentary talents who share a relationship). Since the subject matter deals with an object of desire (one that proves unattainable, resulting in despair and perhaps even in death), the next set deals with a stereotypical view of the female temptress, set with a Spanish flavor by French composers in a time when exoticism was almost an obsession in France, and their closest neighbor, Spain, proved a fertile source of inspiration with their enticing, Flamenco-dancing women. It also deals with the stereotype from the female perspective, especially in the first song by Germaine Taillefaire - the only member of Les Six who was a woman - which sets a flipant and almost mocking tone. We then fully explore the male perspective of this stereotype from the perspective of a male composer, Leo Delibes, with "Les Filles des Cadix." The conclusion of the set is a beautiful "Havanaise" by Pauline Viardot-Garcia, who was herself married to the famous native Spanish composer, Manuel Garcia. This exquisite piece transitions between allure (as is remembered from its most famous incarnation in Bizet's Carmen), sarcasm, and sincere emotion.

The scene now changes slightly as we explore the Germanic view of the unattainable woman - the enlightening muse, the siren, and the mirage of folk lore. All are beautiful characters that utterly befuddle the men that love them, but although the point of view in each text is from the male perspective, the composers are all women - women who were connected via an intricate web of well-known men. The multiple and complex levels within this set must be explored in a later article, but you may guess some of them when you know the names of these women: Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, Clara Schumann, and Josephine Lang.

As we near the end of the recital, we reflect upon the destiny of women - what has been, what is now, and what potential the future may hold. We reflect upon the feminine "Portrait" that has been painted, before driving toward the future with two extraordinary contemporary women composers, with which I look to our origins in order to gain a perspective of the future. (They say that one can tell the future by remembering the past.) I chose Meredith Monk and Pamela Madsen because of my personal aquaintence and association with them and their music; from their repertory, I was able to choose pieces that integrated chant (which is always with us, as a wise advisor once said), connecting back to the beginning of the program and forming a complete circular connection and reflection of women in music that I can propel forward into the future and to the world.

Image above: Galatea, by Gustave Moreau, 1880. Photographic reproduction of oil painting, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Copyright © 2008. All textual materials are the sole property of Lorraine Joy Welling and may not be reproduced, copied, or used in any way without permission.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


What can we do about disappearing art?

The field of classical music is a hugely prolific one. Some people think that pop music is the largest recording field out there - it's all about record deals and "recording artists" and the latest winner of American Idol. In fact, most times now when I go into a media store that sells CDs, if it sells classical CDs at all (i.e. Borders or Barnes and Noble), it is most likely to be the smallest section in the store (there are some independent stores out there, but they're few and far between). But if you really think about it, a field that has only been around for maybe a century (pop music), localized within certain cultures of the world, can't possibly compete with that which dates back a millennia (or more) with countless genres, composers, countries, and eras to deal with. What we know of as the "classical music" field is really a record of the rich history of mankind's ability to make music. Recently, more and more performers are specializing in the earlier and more obscure fields of music (whereas only that of the most recent centuries - especially the 1800s - have been most often sung and recorded). This excites me, because there is still so much more out there to be explored, recorded, and generally brought to the attention of the mass public arena, and I hope to someday be a part of that effort.

However, although the discography of classical music is quite remarkable, going back through classic LP as well as CD recordings, availability is a difficult situation in many cases. Even on a popular and seemingly limitless website as (which I enjoy and use most often), many CDs that I have wanted to use in researching my recital have either had only one or two left in stock, were only available in used format, or were not available at all (often discontinued by manufacturer, even if the recording was only made two years ago!!). There can be many reasons for this, one of which is the general lack of interest or understanding in our rich musical history by the majority of the consuming public.

MUSIC EDUCATION is important! One possible reason for the public's general malaise or disinterest in classical music - which not only causes a lack of record sales by quality artists and labels, but also the decline in ticket sales for live performances - is a lack of education from early childhood. If people are exposed to and excited about classical music from an early age, they are more likely to become consumers, audience members, and even benefactors for the arts. Something to think about (in addition to all the other cognitive learning advantages to music education, which you can readily find elsewhere in many many studies).

Obviously, I plan on being a music educator in my life as well as a singer. Whenever I've introduced something new in the field of music to a student - be it at the elementary, high school, or collegiate level - the reaction (one that I've experienced myself countless times, especially in researching this recital) is one of absolute epiphany and wonder. Excitement is also infectious, as is passion, in regards to music - it needs to be spread around! Music without passion is like a book without imagination. Passion, imagination, depth of meaning and understanding - all good and important things... things to experience, things to encourage and share, things to work for and dedicate oneself to.

NOTE: Classical recordings that are difficult to find or have gone out of print can often be found at, the resource referred by KUSC (broadcasting classical music online via broadband and on the radio in Southern California - local Orange County station for KUSC is 91.5 FM). The link to the pictured CD above takes you to its ArkivMusic page. If you were to look for the same listing on Amazon, it would list one used CD set available, with no picture, reviews, or details. However, the used CDs are more likely to come with a booklet. University libraries can also be good places to find media (especially LPs) - however, most media items are non-circulating (particularly audio CDs and LPs).

Copyright © 2008. All textual materials are the sole property of Lorraine Joy Welling and may not be reproduced, copied, or used in any way without permission.

Friday, September 26, 2008

NEWS FLASH! Interconnection!

Voice and Movement Class -
an important discovery for this voice student.

Since I first began to seriously study voice at the University level, every vocal instructor I've crossed paths with has encouraged me to take a Voice and Movement class. A class like this is designed to aid in releasing tension in the body to facilitate the voice and the functions that need to happen to create beautiful sound, clearing away those that, consciously or unconsciously, get in the way of vocal production. Well, I had my first voice and movement class yesterday. Now, it just happened that I was in a fortunate position - ordinarily, this class is only available to graduates in the Drama department, but since I had the strong desire (and honestly the need) for this class and am willing to put in a lot of extra time for it in the first couple of weeks (and am also a graduate student), the instructors graciously allowed me admittance; the other students were also very welcoming.

I can't stress the importance of arts inter-collaboration enough. This is really a subject for a complete blog, but suffice it to say that I am a strong advocate of bringing together all the arts in collaborative ways. As a vocal performer, it seems obvious to me that instruction in drama and movement should be something that is automatically learned and applied, in addition to the standard vocal instruction, diction, and literature classes. However - somehow - the disciplines of music, drama, dance, and visual art can sometimes be exclusive. For example, when I did my undergraduate work at Cal State Fullerton, students outside the drama department were strongly discouraged from auditioning for the drama productions. Unfortunately, I no longer have enough time to audition for musicals or plays at UCIrvine, who has a much more open and inclusive Drama department.

Fortunately for me, I am able to experience this amazing class that is like a combination of yoga, Alexander Technique, vocal health and exercise, and movement derived from utmost flexibility (which is likewise a goal). I am so excited to be a part of something like this. Usually, all the mediums mentioned above are things only attainable as separate entities, sometimes difficult to find, and often requiring much from the pocketbook as well. Here is a great opportunity to experience something truly unique and helpful for my profession and my body, which will do wonderful things toward improving my vocal technique (and releasing my tension, of which I, like many singers, have quite a bit of). It's all about complete relaxation and using the freedom to attain vocal clarity. It's going to be great! And it's all about interconnection.

Copyright © 2008. All textual materials are the sole property of Lorraine Joy Welling and may not be reproduced, copied, or used in any way without permission.