I would like to write in praise of loud mouths. And in particular, sovaldi those that found the time and guts to come to the Pfister recently to sing with gusto. Brava, bravi, tutti, toi toi, and just a basic plan old nice job all you highly tuned loud mouths.
The Milwaukee Opera Theatre recently held what they call a Voice Lab at Café Rouge. What Voice Lab isn’t, generic is a night when scientists use shiny stainless steel instruments to dissect vocal cords under the scrutinizing eyes of the public. What Voice Lab is, is a chance for brave singers to sing for other singers, get feedback from their peers on how to improve, and receive one of the nicest and most encouraging shows of encouragement from Milwaukee Opera Theatre’s smiles and sunshine Artistic Director, sovaldi sale Jill Anna Ponasik.
The idea for the event is simple. Milwaukee Opera Theatre puts the call out for singers to sign up to sing. The company then provides a pianist and a room, and singers get the chance to dig into pieces that they are working on for performances, auditions, or just for the pure love of singing a song. Anyone can take part in Voice Lab, and the night I observed, I saw singers who were seasoned pros and others who are more on the novice scale but have great heart and will.
Surrounded by the splendor of the marvelously ornamented Café Rouge, Ponasik began the evening by turning to pianist Ruben Piirainen who gently played a series of chords as the assembled singers and spectators raised their voices together for a calming and centering group harmony. Sweetness filled the hall, and I noticed that my fellow Pfister staff colleagues who had gathered to see what was taking place were doing the same thing I was—listening with wide open ears and feeling our shoulders relax as we witnessed a group of people gathering to beautifully celebrate something they love.
The nearly dozen singers shared everything from operatic arias, a new female take on a sweet song usually sung by a man, art music, and daring new interpretations of show tunes. After singing a vocal selection for their peers and the inquisitive audience that had gathered, Ponasik moderated an exploration of each singer’s work in a three-step question and answer process that allowed for affirmations, observations, feedback and self examination. As productive as it must have been for each of the singers, it was even more spectacularly fascinating for the onlookers.
What made the whole event so special was being able to witness the risk-taking creative process at work. Everyone who showed up stood and delivered and was ready for all the good and not so good feedback that came their way. I imagine it all seems worth it when you finish your assessment and you get a warm hug from the woman leading your examination.
My first inclination when I see something like Voice Lab is to write something down, express my thoughts, and try to tell the story of what I saw. But this time, I had a feeling that trumped that one. I walked away wanting to sing. Not in my shower, not in the car, not under my breath while cooking dinner, but out loud and proud. And maybe, just maybe, I’m looking forward to one of those hugs when all the notes have landed, however and wherever they they may fall on the scale.
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