Sunday, August 9, 2009

Berkshires, baby

Warning: sometimes I find REALLY positive blogs about how everyone is SO WONDERFUL really saccharine and hard to take. If you're the same, you should probably skip this entry. Although, I have to say, the stuff I'm about to write is all TOTALLY TRUE!! Really - sometimes even I can see how nice things are!

This past weekend I sang my first Dido (as in Dido and Aeneas of Purcell) at the Berkshire Choral festival in Sheffield, MA. This is the third time I've had the pleasure of singing with the Berkshire Choral Festival, and I always really enjoy myself there. First of all, the Berkshires are beautiful.

Second of all, the Berkshire Choral Festival is basically a place where people who adore singing choral music pay to have a choral vacation - where they go to practice and perfect a piece, and the week culminates in their performance of the piece. Normally, when you sing a concert piece, the chorus is made up of paid singers, often times solo singers just waiting for their turn in the spotlight and singing a chorus gig to pay the bills or bide their time until they have the chance to move on. The BCF however is filled with people who just love singing in a chorus so much that this experience is a wonderful and fulfilling vacation for them, and their enthusiasm for music making is contagious. The feeling the night of the performance is so positive and filled with passion and love for music that you can't help but be filled with inspiration.

Third, the people are all so happy to be doing what they are doing, that they are all incredibly nice and supportive. In all three concerts I've sung there, I've never met a single person that was anything other than positive and lovely and kind. There is no "opera drama" or negativity of any kind ever. Just pure, unadulterated enjoyment of music. Who wouldn't want to be a part of something like that?

Fourth, everything I've sung there has been music I have loved outrageously a lot. First, I sang Bach there, second Mozart's Mass in C, and this time Purcell's Dido. The Queen of Carthage might be really sad, but she sings some awfully purty music, and nothing quite compares to the beauty of "When I am laid in earth" followed by the celestial chorus that finishes the opera. If only Dido wasn't constantly complaining about wanting to kill herself, I would have been smiling all night during the concert because I was really enjoying myself. Ah, the exquisite pain.

The lovely people at the festival gave me one of their giant cargo vans to drive around so I wouldn't be stranded in the rural Berkshires without transportation, and I really wanted to get a photo of myself at the wheel of the monster van, but I never found the right opportunity to stop someone and force them to take my photograph. However, if someone could have witnessed my attempting (and repeatedly failing) to try to parallel park the gigantic vehicle just before the concert with my hair and make-up coiffed just so, and practically falling out of the high driver's seat only to have my suitcase spill open and my extra full water bottle go rolling down the hill, they would have noted the extreme lack of glamour that can often actually accompany a singer on their way to a concert. Here I was getting ready to sing the role of the Queen, and I was busy sweating bullets as I furiously spun the steering wheel full right and then full left trying to 50 point turn the massive 12-seater into a spot before practically falling out onto the pavement.

But it was all worth it to get to make music with those smiling, engaged faces, and to get to pull my big van over to the side of the road to snap moments like this one just before the sun set.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi Jenny,

Your blog about BCF was forwarded to me by Maggie Stearns. Thanks so much for the lovely sentiments and, especially, for "getting it" about BCF. We think it is pretty special, too, but made all the more special by soloists like you who are willing to come for our experience!
Thanks again,