Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Long Distance Recitals

One of the benefits of being a relative neophyte in the collaborative arts is the constant opportunity to encounter new challenges in my profession.  I have been asked to collaborate with a close friend of mine who will be presenting his final graduate voice recital later this semester.  Rehearsals will be limited due to geographical separation;  he is working in Florida while I am currently in Arkansas.

Fortunately much of the program is comprised of chansons and American art songs that are familiar.  Despite their familiarity, there are numerous options in regard to phrasing and tempi.  In order to insure that our time together is as productive as possible, I am taking a few steps to make sure both performers are approaching the music from common ground.

First, I have asked for a CD containing performances that he is using in his own preparation.  While I generally do not like to listen to recordings when preparing a performance, in this case I see how it can be a time saver and give us both a standard performance that we can discuss via email.

Secondly, I am taking the score's metronome markings literally. There may be some fluctuation of tempo when we rehearse, but the published markings will give us both a common starting point.  For those pieces that include no metronome marking, I am listening to recordings online and sending him the metronome markings that I am rehearsing.  In both situations, he can alert me in advance if he plans to sing the work significantly faster or slower.

Lastly, I am spending time in my practice time to sing the vocal lines.  (Thankfully there are not many dogs around my piano;  the howls of horror would be rather frightening!)  This is not an attempt to achieve a high-level vocal performance on my part;  rather, it is to become intimately aware of those places where additional time may be needed for breathing.  While I may not catch them all, I will find the most obvious and be prepared to allow adequate time for the singer to reload.

How do you prepare for a recital when the soloist is not close enough to allow for rehearsals?  Fortunately, I have worked with this musician for several years and am acquainted with his preferences and musical interpretations.  I anticipate a successful recital -- and lots of fun -- as we return to the stage together.