What's it like to be a singer for the German National Anthem?

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The German Flag: schwarz, rot, goldWhen the lady sang another country's national anthem at the olympics and just sang "la la la," I thought that was really silly. A national anthem represents a country, just as the sports teams who are playing the game represent the country. And for an official meeting between countries that calls for music, it can set people at ease and give them a topic of conversation. Music bridges a lot between nations.

A couple of years ago I was asked to sing the German Nationalhymne (national anthem), known as Das Lied der Deutschen (The Song of the Germans) for Germany's Day of Unity celebrations (October 3rd) in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was an honor and I was floored. I enjoyed memorizing the words because they are tremendous.

(Would you believe I lived in Germany for five years without having learned the words?! More to that after the text.)

Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit für das deutsche Vaterland.

Danach lasst uns alle streben, brüderlich mit Herz und Hand.

Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit sind des Glückes Unterpfand:

Blüh im Glanze dieses Glückes, blühe, deutsches Vaterland!

 

Unity and justice and freedom for the German fatherland.

Let's all strive for that, brotherly with heart and hand.

Unity and justice and freedom are the pledge of happiness:

Blossom in the light of this joy, blossom, German Fatherland!

Translation (C) Nicole Warner, LLC 2017 All rights reserved.

 

You might have noticed that the German version rhymes, which is quite nice. And the ideas of unity, justice and freedom are qualities that are present in Germany's culture today.

The Neighbor and the Techno

on . Posted in Singing

The Neighbor and the Techno

Now that I've moved to Milwaukee it's safe to tell this story.

My former neighbor, whom I'll simply call "Neighbor," was not what you might call the "communicative" type. If I said "hello," he would do a double-take and then say, surprised, "Hello." If I didn't say hello, he would just walk awkwardly past me. And the woman that he lived with, she was even worse. I once saw her outside, turned to her to say hello, and she literally turned and ran in the other direction. (Needless to say I didn't miss her when she moved out. It took me months to notice.)

Neighbor had an affection for techno. Really bad techno. And of all the music types in the world, you'd think that there would be enough of it that he would find some good techno when he'd start playing it at, oh, 7:10 in the morning. But he didn't. And I don't know that he played anything new. He certainly didn't play any GOOD techno, and I wished to all that is good that I could have knocked on his door and made some recommendations...

I also don't know if he perhaps composed it himself. (No comment.)

It was really annoying, but not that bad, if I played my own music at a regular volume I couldn't hear it anymore. No problem! Sometimes you just gotta deal with the neighbors, especially if you're staying for a while.

 

Except when this happens:

It was a Monday and I was practicing for the Les Nuits d'été concert with the Mesabi Symphony. It was lunchtime and I had exactly one hour to practice before I had to get on the road to drive to Northern Minnesota to rehearse and then turn around and drive back.

I warmed up and starting running through the songs, concentrating on the texts which I found hard. I sang through the first song, the second...and then it started.

BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM

No...he didn't...

BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM

Oh, yes he did...

Why I Love Singing at Funerals

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WhyILoveSingingatFunerals

I love singing at funerals.

And I don't care if anyone thinks it's weird.

I love singing at funerals.

It's probably the most human and the most humane thing anyone can do, to sing to those who are grieving.

Funerals are for the living.

In a high school a student two years younger than my class died in a tragic accident; it was a horrible event and shocked our small town.The high school choir sang and I was so mad because I didn't want to go--I knew I'd cry through the whole service and I thought that would be so embarrassing. My dad advised me, "Funerals are for the living. They're for the families and for the friends to say good-bye." Although it was difficult, we all made it through the funeral and we were able to transition from the initial shock into some kind of acceptance.

Since funerals are for the living, now when I show up to sing at a funeral, it ultimately leads to the question "How did these folks know the deceased?" Sometimes I get to chat with the visitors, sometimes I sit on the side and am just another human dressed in black. Sometimes the family members all want to introduce themselves and talk about the details of the service and what their parent or sibling or friend would have wanted.

Bel Canto 2015 Regional Artists Competition

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Bel Canto Regional Artist Competition 2015

The Bel Canto Chorus is now accepting applications for their 2015 Regional Artist Competition. The postmark deadline for applications is Thursday, March 26, 2015.

The 26th Annual Bel Canto Regional Artists Competition is Saturday, May 9, 2015.

From the Bel Canto site:  "The competition was established to support and encourage singers with strong oratorio experience of any age who reside in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio.  Adjudicators come from a wide variety of performing arts organizations from throughout Southeastern Wisconsin.  The winner is awarded a solo performance contract with Bel Canto Chorus in the following season, which includes a $1000 cash award. Past winners have gone on to sing with recognized organizations throughout the United States and Europe, including the Metropolitan Opera.

The 2014 Regional Artists Competition winner is Mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Osowski will perform with Bel Canto Chorus in March 2015."

Read more and get application materials from the Bel Canto Chorus website here.

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I had a wonderful experience meeting the folks at the Bel Canto Chorus for the first time back in 2010 and I'm very happy to have worked with them every season since. It's an honor to be in their national ad this year, advertising the Regional Artist Competition, and I wish them every success and loads of fun listening to the singers on May 9!

Get your application in now!

Black History Month 2015

on . Posted in Singing

It's Black History Month. I'm into Social Justice. So here you go.

 

Oh, Nina Simone...what an incredible voice.

She wanted to attend Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, but she was denied...and she was not able to pursue her chosen career of becoming a concert pianist.

Ms Simone was able to turn another situation into an opportunity, and thank goodness she didn't let racism stop her from creating music.

Her voice has such a distinct quality it stops you in your tracks. Check this video out:

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Reginald Mobley, countertenor extraordinaire.

Reggie has one of the most beautiful voices I've ever heard. His ornamentation is exquisite, the result breath-taking.

I had a verbal agreement to do a St. John Passion once, and I lost it to a countertenor when the conductor found out he was getting a period orchestra. That burns me to this day.

If it had been Reggie that I had lost the gig to, however, I wouldn't mind. Not one bit.

Listen up here, and listen real good:

 

Camilla Williams, soprano

THIS is the soprano who sang the Star-Spangled Banner before Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. THAT would have been spectacular to witness.

Here is Ms. Williams in "Ritorna Vincitor" from Aida. A stunning beginning, incredible musicality, and she gave me goosebumps at 3:50.

 

What other African American singers do we need to know about? Post your links, comments, and video links below!