February 2012

Exciting times!!!


There has been SO much going on …..things are GOOD.


I mean REALLY good. I did masterclasses at univerities in Virginia, California and Ohio. Have been on juries for a LOT of different competitions which I have enjoyed very much. Also did a wonderful class at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague on Liszt songs (which are some of my FAVORITE songs… heavens…some really beautiful gems!!!)


The conservatory in Rotterdam has survived a very, VERY bad time, but, thanks to the dedication of the faculty, staff and our ad-interim manager, seems to have turned the corner back from insanity. It was extremely hard to keep our morale up during the past two years when at every turn you were met with SUCH amateurism and down-right absurdity… I mean, HONESTLY... I could not believe what was being presented as the “new” (HA!!) way in which we were supposed to prepare people for their life during and after conservatory. (All hype and not an OUNCE of quality. MADDENING.) I hope that the professional upward trend continues. The students DESERVE that! I have been wondering about the trend that seems to be prevalent to dismiss all that has come before as irrelevant. I feel that it is important to impart what has come before to the new generation so that all that knowledge is not lost? I really hope I can keep doing that.


Right now am gearing up for a great concert in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, together with four other singers!! Rehearsals have been a nightmare to schedule. LOL The women's music marathon on March 8th!! I’m singing Amy Beach, Pauline Viardot, Anna Cramer and a VERY cool group of Black American women composers…. I am specially happy to be singing some of Undine Smith Moore songs. She was my parents theory teacher at Virginia State U. and I knew her as “Aunt Undine”!


Sometimes it amazes me the way things come back to you? I’ll take THAT karma thank you very much.


October 25, 2010

Oh my, Haven't been in here for quite some time. It has been a very busy year, and a LOT of fun.


Let's see, I had a WONDERFUL time at the conservatory in Kansas City, Missouri. An entire week giving lessons to some very talented young people. I also got to spend time with my good friend and colleague Vinson Cole! It always amazes me just HOW good the university conservatories in the USA are!


Then it was off to Dublin for a concert commemorating the 100th birthday of Samuel Barber. I had never been to Ireland, I had a lovely time. Also taught a Barber Master Class at the Royal conservatory there, which was really nice. Everyone there was incredibly kind. I'd go back in a heart beat.


London's Queen Elizabeth Hall was reeeeeeeally a VERY good night. Bernstein festival at the Southbank Center. Together with American Soprano Claron McFadden and pianist Reinild Mees, I did a Bernstein evening. We had SO much fun and all of us were on excellent form! It's also great to sing together with Claron. (need I say how much we laughed?) We repeated this concert several times in other places this year including during the International Vocal Competition in Den Bosch. Oh, and I did a workshop there in Den Bosch on podium presentation!!!! Mostly about what NOT to wear!!!! LOL


I just got back from giving master classes at the Salzburg Mozarteum! All I can say about THAT conservatory is... WOW! It's absolutely stunning in every way. I was GREEN with envy. :-) It was wonderful to be amidst such professionalism. The students I worked with were very gifted, willing to experiment with what I was asking them to try and although it WAS a pretty hard schedule? I enjoyed every minute. Whether working on Bolcom, or Fauré, or Mozart, Händel or Wolf, I found it exhilerating. It's a funny thing when you give your energy and get energy back? It's uplifting. (That's the whole point of doing these classes anyway.. giving BACK, so that all you have learned or experienced is passed on and is not lost. This is a very important part of our profession!)  My colleagues there were WONDERFUL! (I also LOVED the fact that the airport is called W.A. Mozart!)


In between all of these activities, my work at the Rotterdam Conservatory continues apace. I have a full roster this year and my students are making good progress. However, the cold wind of change has started to blow and I realize that change is (mostly) good. Though some of this change makes my heart heavy. It's indicative of the place we find ourselves in as professional classical musicians in the Netherlands. The new government is threatening to slash subsidies and this has people and institutions scrambling to come up with ways to re-invent themselves so as to remain viable. A dangerous and sad state of affairs that ultimately will lead to a reduction of quality. Strange that the word quality has become synonomous with old-fashioned. Since when is quality out-dated?


On a happier note my FAVORITE holiday is nearly upon us...HALLOWEEN!!! SO, Happy Halloween to all.  


January 1, 2010


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2009 literally FLEW by. An incredibly satisfying year on so many levels. Barak Obama being sworn in as POTUS has to be my absolute FAVE moment of 2009.  I felt like I was on cloud nine, and still do. He's doing a good job in awfully difficult times. People have ridiculously short memories, and in an age of instant gratification, his way of quietly getting things done is like a breath of fresh air. It will take a while for the turn-around to kick in, but I feel confident that it will. Patience is an under-rated virtue? My favorite male tennis player (Rafael Nadal) won the Austrailian Open, Serena Williams won Australian Open and Wimbledon. (things went a little wonky for them after that, but I am hopeful for 2010!)

I had an AMAZING time in Graz with Harnoncourt doing Maria in Porgy and Bess. Speaking of Harnoncourt; I was invited to his 80th birthday party in Vienna on December 6th. It was a wonderful affair, and I was mighty pleased to be seated at the table with he and his wife Alice. His children and grandchildren did a bang-up job of hosting the party which was held in the Brahms hall of the Musiekverein. A good time was had by all. Sony brought out the Porgy and Bess recording of those concerts in Graz to coincide with his birthday. Nice gesture. Oh, and up until now? No one has guessed that I also sang the Strawberry Lady. LOL

I, and my  dear friends, David Triestram and John Dawson all turned 60 in 2009!Too bad I had to miss David's bash in Paris, but I did make it to John's party in Berlin. LOT'S of concerts this past year as well. Mostly recitals. (which I adore doing) More coming up in 2010 as well. I am looking foward to those. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  Cheers, Roberta  




October 21,2009

Definitely need an update here. Now let’s see, All the concerts went extremely well. Starting with that Fabled Porgy and Bess at the Styriarte Festival in Graz this past July. Harnoncourt was conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the soloists were from all reaches of the earth! Had a really good time there, and Harnoncourt was awesome. (as always)We go back a lonnnng way. He was instrumental in furthering my career back in the early 80’s. I did all my Mozart roles with him, lot’s of Händel and even some Telemann!! And lot’s of recordings and concerts. (He really made me blush, when he kept saying that I was the BEST Fiordiligi he ever had. That certainly was nice to hear.) Let it suffice to say, that being re-united with him on this project was something I certainly did not want to miss. It was an extremely moving experience. I had multiple roles (NONE of which I had ever sung before)and I had my hands full with all that. I also had WONDERFUL colleagues, some who I knew, and others that were new to me. New friends were made, old friendships revived. Oh, AND, P & B HAS to be one of the greatest scores EVER. What glorious music. The rest of the summer passed in blissful hanging around doing NOTHING. Which I (kind of) enjoyed very much.


The new season started off with a bang.. I did a lovely concert at the Gergiev Festival in Rotterdam with Harpist Lavinia Meijer and on the program were the Ravel Greek Folk songs arranged for voice and harp. This was HUGE fun. I also sang for the newly appointed Ambassador from the USA, Mrs. Levin, which was an enormous honor. The IVC (International Vocal Competition) in Den Bosch was in full swing with their National Auditions. These auditions were for singers who are residents of the Netherlands. The singers who were chosen are automatically into the 1st round of the competition which will be held in September of 2010. I enjoyed hearing so many good young singers. (Whew, the competition is fierce!) I look forward to next years International pre-rounds, which I also get to judge. Oh yes, and the conservatory is also going well. (although I really have too many students!! LOL) I’m now gearing up for a few recitals, and learning some new songs. (American) Cheers! Roberta