Saturday, July 4, 2009

Taking A Break From Transformation/The Drunken Musings of a Recent Performer/ To Sing is to Love

Once more on the deck of the Stena Germanica, on the way in the other direstion (south through the islands of Sweden and Denmark to Kiel, Germany), I am drunk on Love. Or Rosee. Or through ROSEE colored glasses—HA! I never thought of that before....! Ohiveeeeeee.... I witnessed one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my entire life: my best friend Herta and her very wonderful husband Patrik were married before God and all of their families and friends in Gothenburg Free Church. What an event! What a party! What a reminder of what is important and precious in life! ...and what a PRIVILEDGE it was to be a part of the celebration!
Herta and I met nine years ago (it’s hard to believe) while I was working as secretary in the German and French Department at Calvin College in Michigan in order to support my voice lessons with baritone Mark Moliterno. This was a beautiful time in my life! Calvin is a very special, spiritual place, and I got to witness many other young people (not unlike me) on their paths to success, working toward finding meaning in life. Herta was one of the ones I intantly loved! She saw me as a person, as a friend even before I was her friend...and when she moved to Vienna a couple of years after I did, I felt that a long-lost sister had somehow appeared in my life out of Africa. She brought with her the huge heart of her homeland Africa, and my life was changed by knowing her!
What I recognized in Herta from the very beginning was love. And light. Jesus has filled her with these blessings over and over. To have her in your life is to have a flood light of love. And I think, in retrospect, and in the knowledge that I have now of vocal technique, being bestowed on my by JR,...she saw love in my singing all those years ago at Calvin, and in every time I sang in Vienna when she was there. Herta is one of the special people on Earth who can sincerely see love in most everything, regardless of how society or academia or who/whatever wants to define it and pull it apart into something understandable to reduce love to a few sentences. Herta says 'I always knew you were good.' And with her proclamation I sit back and stare in awe at a gift I have been given and know better than to ask 'why'.
The ceremony was 'simple'. The people there were 'ordinary'. You could have been in that church witnessing Patrik and Herta's love with me. But what happened there in that church today went beyond anything I have witnessed on Earth. Suddenly, it didn't matter what I sang or what I wore or who I was...Love ruled the day and if you could see that suddenly you understood---there are things that are communicated between us that take no words. They go beyond music and beyond fashion and beyond all that we strive to become. The essence of who we are has to do with who we have always been. In this context singing becomes incredible important and yet strangely unremarkable. All I did today was express my heart like every person clapping their hands or reading the verses or offering their prayers during the service.
Herta and Patrik, thank you for being you. Thank you for being beautiful expressions of the greatest kind of love. You are both my heroes and I wish you years and years of fun and intimacy and deep, deep love. I will visit you soon, and look forward to the future...I love you!!!


Thursday, July 2, 2009

On Being Positively ME: Transformation, Belief and Trust Part 2...A very important post

This is a very important post.

I am writing literally as the sun is slipping over the horizon, over Denmark, and into the ocean on the other side of some forest far away from our ship--there--after a few little peeks back, it's gone.

This is a very important post because I've decided it is time to come clean. 'What?' You ask. 'What has Rebecca had to hide, and why would she choose this moment, this blog post, on the Baltic Sea (or at least I think the Baltic Sea it is...among the islands of Denmark) to write it?'

Well, I would like to say that it is something hugely philosophical or psychological, or even twisted and quite dramatic, Freudian or Pavlovian. Anything would be more interesting than this proclamation of the painfully obvious. And yet, it must be done.

'Why?' You ask. 'Why is Rebecca proclaiming online that which we must already know?'...('has Rebecca eaten some Swedish fish that was off of ice a bit too long...?')

Actually, thanks to a wonderful Chinese chef onboard I had a scrumptious hunk of salmon with tomato compott and potato salad with greens. When I looked up from my meal at least ten people were staring at me, licking my chops. I think I was a good advertisement for the treasured grill stand I found. Possibly these Swedes and Germans have never seen an American Girl tuck in so well!

So, it isn't the fish.

It is, however, a million tiny and huge other things!

It is how I feel my body speaking to me in a language I never knew how to interpret in the context of LIFE until now.
It is me looking in the mirror and saying 'I love you' instead of any other alternative.
It is acknowledging, deep inside, what I am made to do.
It is understanding Love a little bit better Moment by Moment.
It is knowing that Forgiveness is Key and Compassion is too.

I could go on...but the individual things themselves are not really important. It's who, how I am NOW that matters.

I was planning on writing about singing...

...and yet I am writing about singing!

During my yoga class yesterday, where many of my self-judgmental thoughts seem to pop up (just give me a hot room, sweat running off each and every of my beautiful muscles, breathing steadily and concentrating, all the while staying relaxed--this is the PERFECT opportunity for my mind to jump up and try to poke a roaring lioness in her cage!), the thought came to me: that I 'should' have been blogging my voice lessons with Jean-Ronald LaFond, the teacher who has shown me the way to my true voice. It is along this way that I have come to the many tiny and huge realizations that I mentioned above. It is really 'a shame' that every little step was not chronicled in this grand experiment, this burning through all the impurities the past piled on my voice and heart, to the truth of my voice and the truth of who I am.

Shortly after class, when the energy was surging through my should-be exhausted body, I knew I was wrong to have expected this chronicling from myself. I equate it to a child trying to write about growing up. Trust me, I have re-read my old journals several times. No one wants to read something like that! (unless you are a fan of trashy novels...!)

No, it was too much to expect, and yet, as children often create, I find some striking art came out of the process. I wrote a few times about abstract things I was contemplating and about the Cosmos and about Life...and yet never about MY voice. Maybe I had to go through the minute and the obtuse, in a way proclaiming my Presence in the tiniest flower and the hugest star system, before I could feel safe in the 'normal' and 'common place'. Maybe, in my child-like enthusiasm I still wanted to see the most important 'Stuff' of life outside of me. Maybe I was scared to share the quiet stillness of me, that place where laughter and grief meet and leave me speechless and in awe of what it means to be alive.

Maybe I was not yet convinced that THAT is what the world needs and no substitute: Love which needs no action, no thought, no affirmation, confirmation, or definition...which belongs to everyone and which is everyone, all at once. Maybe I was not yet convinced, just teetering along that 'tipping point' I mentioned in Part 1 of this series of posts. Maybe I needed a feather-light shove over the edge so I could open my arms wide and fall headlong in to Love.

This feather-light shove came, not surprisingly to me now, in a voice lesson. It came quietly. It came, I recall, between a point in time when I wanted to make an obnoxious face at JR, and feeling my eyes were crossing because I was concentrating so hard. Suddenly I 'felt' (I think only singers know this kind of feeling that isn't really feeling at all...or maybe it isn't merely is awareness, and completely living, and ecstasy, and yes, when you've experienced it once you want to experience it over and over and over!) a fiery sparkling right between my eyes that had the color of molten silver or some ethereal metal I do not yet know of...and then it was gone...but I have found it since, don't worry! Indeed, I plan on staying in this place, curling up there with all that is beautiful and good in life and thriving there for eternity.........wait, I was telling you about my lesson!....

Unbeknownst to JR (I think...he has this funny way of knowing everything about me even if I think maybe he doesn't), after this experience, inside of me I stood still. That moment is frozen in my mind and in my heart: when I first experienced MY voice. It needed no affirmation or confirmation...its only definition from JR came as a resounding 'YES'. I was in love...with me. With who I am and who I always have been. This is 100% Rebecca. The strongest stuff you can buy. The best German Bier. The finest Italian red wine. No comparison. Take it or leave it, it's still here. It's still great. It's still real. It's still me.

So there. I've come clean!! You all know what you've known for years and years: that I am a singer, through and through! That that little sparkle of Love which I am learning to grow and grow with JR's guidance and expertise had enough power and inspired enough desire and curiosity in me to take me from continent to continent and country to country in search of it...and all the while it was RIGHT HERE!

And yet...the search is not yet over, even now! And yes, in some ways, it is just beginning. Ah, life!

In the context of this transformation, I am tempted to bring everything to a very practical, analytical dicussion: Where does life leave me NOW, practically speaking? After this what? I still have no steady job singing opera on stage (is this even more coming clean? Probably!). Though I have had fantastic performance opportunities all over the world, I've known for a long time that I would not be singing regularly in the 4-5 performances a week on the operatic stage sort of way until I knew how to sing as absolutely beautifully as I could. Now I feel I am very, very close and the dream job is just around the corner (stay tuned!).

The recording I recently released, 'Expressions of Love', is just one of the many forms of expression which my true voice is taking presently (as in within the last month). I am also preparing three concerts for the Smith Fine Arts Series at Western Oregon University which promise wonderful fun and pictures of Vienna for the audience. There are some opera roles at various places in Europe in discussion (more on them as they become concrete), and of course auditions, competitions, and more auditions!

As I sit here, feeling the slight rumble of the ship's engine and knowing that the depths of the sea are beneath me, I know that I could be happy just knowing this sparkle of love. I feel more complete now than I ever have in my life. And yet, a small secret like this needs to be shared. For it was, in retrospect, the great artists who found their own sparkles: Leontyne Price, Eleanor Steber, Jane Eaglen, Cecilia Bartoli, Frederica von Stade, Blanche Thebom, Christa Ludwig, Domingo, Pavarotti--like every singer, I could go on and on!...who showed me that I wanted to find mine. Without their willingness to share I would not now feel this happiness, this peace, and this assurance that who I am is all I need to be.

It is still, it is silent, it is sometimes just beyond the sunset...but love is always here, and this is the most important Secret-which-is-not-a-Secret on the face of our beautiful Earth.

Signing (and singing) out about half way to Gottenburg...