Monday, December 05, 2005

Before Kindergarten

I've become somewhat obsessed with my friend David's piece Hariu L'Adonai. It's this crazy piece in shifting meter, mostly in 6/8 + 7/8... that is to saying roughly 13/8. Or so. It's just a great piece, and I suggested that our professional choir perform it at our choral concert this May. The choir will need to work it a bit, there are some tricky passages where it's a group of three, then a group of four, then a group of four followed by a group of three. You have to stay on your toes there. It reminds me of 2.5D's music (when I'm able, I will post some of my old rock and roll stuff on this blog) only with four-part harmony and a post-modern classical sensibility.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... here come my kindergartners.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Write song, Sing, Repeat

Well, Thanksgiving is over... On to Chanukah! (There's always something looming.) Jack and I made an elaborate meal yesterday. He handled the all-American stuff, like the turkey and gravy and stuffing. They were delicious (although I don't touch gravy, it smelled good). I did the pies, veggies, yams, and made an unbelievable pomegranate sauce that went with the turkey. It was one of those sauces that reduces more than once over long periods of time, with complex and deep flavors. It was exquisite.

And now I need to go back into frenzy mode preparing for our yearly Chanukah program at school. This year the highlights are a sweeping rap tune (15 verses) and a Chanukah gospel piece. I'm referring to the show as the African-American Chanukah. The kids are more thrilled this year than any previous year. The thing is, the pieces are complex, and I'm worried about pulling it all off. I've got each class divided into two-part harmony. This is tricky when a decent portion of the kids are relatively tone-deaf and have no musical independence ability. But I'm filling the parts out with strong singers, and crossing my fingers. At least they're enjoying the selections. I wrote the music for the chorus in the rap piece myself. The kids are finding it very catchy. (Could have something to do with repeating it 15 times..!)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Sweet and Low

So flow fear has been conquered, and piece has been penned. A few details still need working through, but I'm confident all will be well.

Meanwhile, yesterday on the way to work, I decided to do a very unusual warmup in the car. See, I have this strange ability to sing like a man. Really. If you closed your eyes, you would swear you were hearing a tenor, or even baritone, singing away. I even glanced at myself, all made up for work, in the rear view mirror to see what it would look like to see a relatively feminine-looking woman singing with those deep bellowy sounds coming out of her. It was almost unsettling. I can't explain it physiologically. I can sing the same exact note and sound like a woman, or change my stance a bit, and sound like the opposite gender. It has something to do with pushing my larynx competely down and out of the way, and then using my soft palette to resonate the sound in some crazy deep way.

I did this for a while, and it moved me into a strange emotional/spiritual place. After that, when I reached Sunset Boulevard, I started to sing in my upper register, and to draw my larynx back in a little. I was surprised that what had been a very clear sound, albiet unnaturally low, had suddenly become very raspy and blurry. To put it indelicately, phlegmy. I was a little worried that I wouldn't sound so good during the service because of it. I worked my way through this other voice over and over until some of the gunk buzzed away.

By the time I arrived at work, I felt other-worldy and rather service-ready. I remember when I first started this job, I was just pushing out notes that were generally between mezzo-forte and forte. Now I approach them in a more dynamic and emotional way. I mix in quite a bit of piano singing and I find this to be much more effective in terms of my connection to the pieces.

It was a really good day on the bimah.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This just in...

I just created this silly little thing. But I like it.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

So threatening, mostly cannot write in complete sentences

So, I'm in the beginning of the middle, or maybe the middle of the beginning, of putting a new piece together. One of import. One of weight. Seriousness. Gravitas. Yeah. No pressure. The bigness of it is daunting, and is thwarting my efforts at flow. Tomorrow morning I have a good hour to just not freak out and brain storm. Must be complete by Thursday. Or else.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Jack Wall Experience

What follows is an edit of an email sent to friends and family about the concerts this past weekend. Why reinvent the wheel?


The wife's-eye-view of the experience:

By the time Gracie and I arrived in Seattle it was early evening on Saturday, around two hours from show time. Jack had been gone for two days already at that point, and had been working on getting the show set and rehearsed technically. Since the show is in a theater, as opposed to a large outdoor venue like the Hollywood Bowl, many things has to be re-scaled and re-thought. Jack's been wearing at least two hats in setting up the show: executive producer, and music director. Just one of these roles would bring a strong man to his knees, but Jack, who is currently sound asleep in the next room, took on both responsibilities with complete dedication and focus, even amidst the sorrow and business chaos of the rest of the tour being cancelled.

Many technical things were very shaky, even up to the last minute. Jack remained calm throughout, even though snags in the way that crucial pieces of technology were working cost him hours of production time, and necessitated his constantly playing catchup on other fronts. He slaved until the wee hours of the morning in the days before the show, and woke up early to get back to the theater to see to major aspects of production. Meanwhile, there was the steady drumbeat of anxiety over ticket sales in the venue.

Over the last few weeks Jack has been "woodshedding" the pieces - going off to a quiet, private place to maniacally rehearse the music until it is perfect. Conducting a symphony orchestra on pieces as challenging as the ones in the show, that have to be perfectly synchronized to other show elements for the better of two and a half hours, is not for the faint of heart. With many eyes on this production judging its merit and future prospects, there was unbelievable pressure to bring it off with as much perfection and finesse as humanly possible.

On the day of the show, Saturday, Jack began his rehearsals with the orchestra and choir. This began at 1pm, and went, with a few breaks, until 5pm. Gracie and I arrived right after rehearsal ended. Luckily, the orchestra is supremely competent, and they sailed through the pieces. At this point in time our hero had been up for hours, had dealt with the many headaches and stresses of last minute putting-on-show-nightmares, and had rehearsed for four hours. What he needed was a hot bath, a bowl of soup, a massage and a good night's sleep. But no! He had a show to conduct. And, as we all know, the show must go on...

Tommy and Jack (and then Gracie and I) shared a dressing room at the theater. It was a posh place, and very comfy. The theater was a beautiful old deco structure with tons of architectural detail. (Just thought you'd like to know.) Jack and Tommy wandered around looking like very tired ghosts in the minutes before curtain. They were pale and shaky and nervous. Well, wouldn't you be?

Gracie and I took our places about four rows back in the audience. (We couldn't get up there in time for rehearsal, so we didn't perform.) I was pretty much a wreck. Jack came out in his beautiful pin stripe suit. He shook the concert master's hand, and bowed to the audience amidst thunderous applause. I was completely beside myself. Gracie and I were whooping and screaming and shouting. (Yes, at a symphony concert, whooping and screaming. Everyone else was too. Highly unusual, but not for this event.) The room was very crowded, not to capacity, but felt very full, and crackling with excitement and energy. I held my breath as Jack cued the video guy backstage to start the DVD, which hadn't worked reliably until very recently, and which held all of the synchronization information on it as well as video. If that failed at any point in the show all bets were off. Jack raised his baton -- oh my god this is actually happening -- and the video started to play. It was Pong, the very first video game ever created. The crowd erupted in applause and delighted laughter. Then the orchestra started playing along with the video, with Jack guiding them.

The pieces came, one after the other, with no serious technical problems, and with incredible beauty and quite a bit of pathos. It was a big moment when we got to the Myst section of the show because this was Jack's first time conducting his own works before a live audience. He pulled out a microphone that had been situated next to the podium, and addressed the audience about the piece about to be played. Myst comes some time into the second act. Up until this point in the show (at least an hour, maybe more, had lapsed) Jack hadn't uttered a word. He began speaking by saying something like, "Yes, I can actually talk." Which the audience found very funny. He took a moment to describe how the Myst franchise had affected him, and how it was what got him interested in composing for games. And then the orchestra and choir launched into the Myst suite. Stunning.

Jack's movements as a conductor were beautiful. His shoulders looked really broad in his perfectly cut suit, and his mien was very commanding and powerful. Jack's attention to detail on the podium, as well as his ability to clearly communicate what the music demanded from the players, and to cue everyone was just perfect. He was dramatic without being showy. He didn't overpower the other visual elements going on on the stage, but added to and created other interest for the eye. His hand movements were full of art and emotion. His arm movements were strong and steady. Wow. Okay. I know he's my husband, but I assure you, this is how it looked to even the most casual observer.

By the time the show ended, Jack had been waving his arms around for about eight straight hours. He and Tommy then went out to do a "meet and greet" signing. The line went on and on, and the signing lasted for hours. (Poor Jack's right arm.) I think he was too exhausted to appreciate what he had just achieved once the evening ended. I think that it's starting to sink in now. We left the venue at around 1 in the morning to begin the drive to the next venue, Vancouver. Rock and roll.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Picking up, and Examining, the Pieces

So, sadly, the tour has been cancelled -- all but two shows. It's been difficult, but everyone is still highly optimistic about the show's future, and the intention is to continue to build awareness of it, only city-by-city this time, instead of taking on all of North American in one large, indigestible bite.

Jack and Tommy have been extremely honest with their base about what happened. It seems that people are very forgiving when there is no artifice, only honesty. I've been skimming the VGL boards, and, generally, there seems to be an empathy from those people who are the ardent lovers of the show. There were feelings of betrayal in the beginning, but I think they are seeing how little Tommy and Jack had to do with the final decision to cut (and also the decision to postpone in the summer) and are demonstrating support for them.

Meanwhile, Jack took off today for Seattle. His conducting teacher phoned me last night after his coaching session to tell me how brilliant he thinks my husband is. What a lovely man. (Both of them. Jack, and his conducting coach, the wonderful Brad Keimach.)

Also, Gracie just announced that she'd like to sing at the shows in Seattle and Vancouver. Go figure. She's been insisting that she's done performing for good since July (which I whole-heartedly stood by) and now, she's ready for the glory all over again.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Distance Between Altar and Podium -- Apparently Exactly 10 Years!

Good thing I know how to peruse an orchestral score. With Jack down at Tommy's, I'm getting phone calls to check things on the scores and feed information to them down there. While this is relatively simple and purely mechanical, not requiring any insight whatsoever, I am pleased to be able to help out.

We fly out to Seattle on Saturday (Gracie and I, that is. Jack will already be there). Here's hoping that we make it in time for the 7pm show. We'll really be cutting it close to the bone. That night is our 10 year anniversary. The whole thing is a little surreal. Trying to understand the concept of one decade being a mere chapter in my life, while I remember clear as a bell thinking that achieving 10 years of age would in and of itself be miraculous. I could not imagine anything beyond my tenth year, that being the absolute conceptual age wall beyond which my thoughts of the future could not penetrate. And here I am walking into my ten-year anniversary in just a few days. And, what's more, it's on the opening night of my husband's show, with this being his first night on a podium in front of a live audience.

Jack is a skilled and emotional conductor, and I can't wait to see him shine on that stage. On our anniversary. Our tenth one.

What a wonderful man.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Sound of Music

Last night we a saw a still very vigorous Itzhak Perlman playing at Walt Disney Music Hall. He played the Barber Violin Concerto, Op. 14. The entire concerto was positively lush and luxurious. During the second movement I decided to try to find and analyze the score, because the melody sings so beautifully I felt that it should actually be sung. I'm thinking of working the melody into a song during the next few days. But the last movement, the Presto in Moto Perpetuo, was positively astonishing. Mr. Perlman's virtuosity is as explosive as ever. The whole thing seemed to be in 4/4, with sextuplets running all the way through at breakneck speed. What a thrill to be able to see him play live! (I love music.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Melismas in the Rain

It continued to rain in my bedroom all last night and this morning. It's really dampened the excitement of an LA rain for me. As it were. <-(And I apologize for that. Sincerely.)

I'm trying to put together a new service for our downtown temple, and have found a great band, Human Life Index, whom we will be hiring to work with us. They are an interesting rock and roll outfit consisting of an electric guitar player, who also plays ethnic string instruments like oud and balalaika, a hard-hitting drummer, and an electric violinist and cellist. Not your usual temple fare.

We're trying to pull together new pieces that fit their style better, and that will reflect the intensity that we're trying to bring to the service. The camp-oriented songs that we do at the Brentwood venue serve their purpose there quite nicely, but need to be reconsidered for this one. I'm hoping to incorporate the earthy, hassidic pieces, or sephardic ones, and hope that those on the receiving end find this musical approach as inspiring as I do.

Bring on the melismas! They feel the most human to me.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Singin' in the Rain

Still bone-tired after the marathon. Mercifully, I haven't noticed one bit of vocal fatigue since Thursday. My right foot still is aching, but my back feels fine now. After tomorrow I have three days off. My regular Tuesday, Wednesday for Sukkot, and my regular Thursday. How much music can I write in those days? Gracie has Tuesday and Wednesday off as well, so I will have to work around her social whirl to try to get something accomplished.

Meanwhile, I am falling in love with Death Cab for Cutie . First of all, those guys really aren't lookers, and that makes them even more attractive to me. And they aren't kids either. You can tell from their insightful and subtly sophisticated compositions. The production is wonderful as well. Those vocal octaves get me every time.

It actually rained today, and, if it weren't for the simultaneous rainfall in my bedroom, it would have felt like a perfect day, weather-wise. I like the closeness and cosiness of a rainy day. Southern California is not an optimal climate zone for a gloom-lover like myself. When the rainy days come, I really relish them.

Jack is hunkered down, honing his conducting for the show. All the craziness is starting again, and he'll be going in a little over a week to begin rehearsals. Stay tuned for more lunacy...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Have you been served?

So, the days of Awe are mercifully over. My right foot is rather swollen and sore from standing on it too long yesterday at Yom Kippur services. I'm deeply tired, but I don't feel like I need to be hospitalized like last year. I'm realizing that not climbing onto the bimah with fever and the flu kind of helps in the aftermath of that kind of marathon.

I thought it all went well. The Kol Nidre service still is intimidating. It's so incredibly reverential, and that's the one service that people seem to universally feel a spiritual longing to attend. Doing justice to it can feel overwhelming. My heart still feels like it's going to pound out of my chest during the introductory measures of the Kol Nidre prayer itself, even though I know the piece intimately.

[On Rosh Hashana day, some eleven days ago, I was wandering down in the dressing rooms before the service began, and saw affixed to the wall Robert Plant's call sheet. He had been the last artist to play the room before we came in to do our services. I asked the sound guy if I could take it, and it lay in between my sheets of aliyot and shofar blowing assignments, just for contrast I suppose.]

All I really wanted to do was to stop thinking about the sacredness of the moment, so that I could actually feel the sacredness of the moment. Being aware of it seems to bleed all of the connection to it completely away, as the task has such gravity. It's quite a mental trick, forgetting what you are doing, so that you can be perfectly aware of what you're doing. I did have moments when I knew that I was utterly enveloped in the experience, and in expressing for the community all of their angst and sorrow and hope so that their prayers could rise to where they needed to go.

I feel happy, and a bit hollowed out from the whole thing. As the Cantor, you must scrape out every bit of your insides to pour into the service in order to, well, serve.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


So, here I am, awake way to early. The dog can thump around, and scratch, and sigh and shift positions, and make all kinds of noise, and I don't hear a thing. But when Jack suggests to her, quietly, mind you, in the gentlest possible whisper, that she stop making such a racket, that's the thing that wakes me up.

Thursday I fulfilled my self-imposed obligation to write, and found it entirely possible to create a complete song over the course of a few hours. It, of course, needs to be further combed through, and then produced, but the lyric, harmonic structure and melody are all there in rough draft form. The piece is kind of a screed in 6/8. As the lyric flowed out, it became clear to me that it was a piece grappling with obsessions, or addictions, (or even possibly sin). Here are the opening lines:

Cancel my calling
Cancel my debt
Cancel my feelings of rue and regret
Cool hand on forehead will quiet me down
Take all of have, and don't let me drown in the (...)

The lyric goes on, with the ends of each verse attaching to the front of the next. (I'm sure there is a technical term for this kind of rhyme scheme, but I don't know what it is.)

After I was done, and had played through it and tweaked and modified it for several hours, I stood back to survey my work. I was suddenly struck by the confluence of the core concept of the piece and the timing of Elul and Selichot. Elul is the month leading up to the High Holy Days, culminating in Selichot services, which includes prayers petitioning for forgiveness, and for taking stock of one's own weaknesses and asking for cancellation of mistakes and sin. I attended Selichot services last night. This is a prelude to Kol Nidre. Believe me, the last thing I was attempting to do was to write religious music. I get enough of that every day in my work. During my Tuesday and Thursday writing sessions I want to create my own body of work that has nothing to do with religion or even matters of the spirit. I want to explore the secular, the dark, the impure. I have ample opportunities for expressions of the spirit in my work at the temple, and need some personal balance in my musical output. Creating touch points with the Jewish festival cycle is most definitely not a goal for this music. (It seems to fairly reek of uncool.) But spiritual matters are hard to disentangle from the topics I'm hoping to explore in this work, it seems. It appears that there is simply an Elul-ness in the air that I find inescapable on an unconscious level.

So now I’ve written a completely secular and unintentional Selichot piece. I wonder what's next. Perhaps a ditty concerning the particulars of Sukkah construction..?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Hardest Worker People Have Ever Seen - by Gracie

I wish I could have grades this year. But it's only third grade. But, good news! Next year, in fourth grade, we'll have grades! I dream every day that I would get an A+, an A++, an A, B+, and a B. I love school. Some people say, "I've never seen somebody so obsessed in school." I even like homework too! (Which a lot of people hate it.) I dream about grades for a very long time. Since first grade I've dreamed it. My Mom said that I would probably never get an F since I'm so smart and a hard worker.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Well, with school back in session, it's been a bit of a trick getting my footing in terms of my schedule and my energy. I now have a glorious two-days a week to myself, today, Tuesday, being one of them.

I have gotten my composition software back up and running, but am having severe problems with native audio on my computer, and need to have that addressed in short order. This by way of saying that Tuesdays and Thursdays are designated Composition Days. What will flow, I have really no idea. But I will write pieces until I come up with something that has some value of some sort, I hope. Maybe they will mesh together in some thematic way, as yet unknown, due to the confluence of ideas originated by the self-same artist living the the self-same life as herself. Or not.

The new tour was announced today. I think there are something like 28 cities. Gracie and I will be singing at only a handful of them. Corkscrewing myself mentally back into that performance VGL-mind might be a bit of a trick. Or maybe not so. After all, I will have recently completed my second year of High Holy Days services. Nothing could be more challenging than that! Meanwhile, I rehearse for that apace. It's the davening that I'm most worried about now. So many Hebrew syllables crammed into such a short space with no musical accompaniment. Nowhere to hide!

Monday, August 22, 2005

It's all about...

We started teacher orientation today. It was a lovely day. I was actually dreading going back, but Jack reminded me that I feel that way at the end of every summer, and, once it is time to return, I'm perfectly happy and content. (See me again about this next June when the cumulative effect of a year of teaching has set in!) We did a weekday morning service with all of the staff. The Rabbi explained the history of each prayer and the rationale for its place in the service before we recited each one. I decided to close the Amidah with a minimalistic and repetitive trance-inducing piece. The melody line dips and soars over the simple ostinato pattern of two arpeggiated chords, and is one a singer can really sink her teeth into. I always hesitate to do this piece, because it could be perceived as a way for the Cantor to show off her chops -- a real show-stopper. You know. And services are not about self-aggrandizement. (Tell that to your local Cantor!) But, this piece is so hypnotic, and I go to such a deep place when I deliver it, that I'm never sorry in the end when I elect to do it. People are willing to go on these journeys with me, and the group experience of the spiritul is palpable. So... a good day.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Jack of All Time and Space

Well, Jack is in his studio, going over his morning emails. We just read a RAVE review of his Jade Empire soundtrack. (I wonder, after words of praise like that, what one has to do to get a 10 over there... Well, it's nice to have high standards, I suppose.) And here is an interview...

I've already taken my morning constitutional, and Jack will be going for his walk momentarily. After which, we will be in the studio(!) working on our own stuff. This is deeply exciting to me. As the sessions unfold, I will catalog them here.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Dog Days

I'm trying to get myself back into the school frame of mind. Teacher orientation is just around the corner, and the end of summer is biting me in the behind. I have barely sung in the last few weeks. It's nice to have a vocal rest, but I just went into the other room to practice for High Holy Days and my throat was a bit tight. Daily warm-ups need to start pretty soon again. Wow. I've really been lax.

Gracie and I are going to try to do some of the shows on the new routing. It could be very tricky in the middle of the school year, but we're going to give it a go.

Jack and I spent most of the day at the dentist's office. These are truly the dog days of August, where all of my I'll-put-it-off-til-summer errands finally get done. Next week -- new glasses!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Not so fast

So, Jack and I just completed a two-day fast. We drank a lot of water with lemon and honey, and had nibbles of trail mix every now and then. I'm feeling pretty energized this morning, but the cleanse continues, with nutritional drinks in the morning and night, and larger, balanced lunches during the day. We're really trying to take advantage of this time that's been given to us while the tour gets re-routed. We're moving at a slower, summer-time pace and trying to get back in complete balance. Had a great couple of days on the bimah this weekend. Not teaching and lots of rest has given me vocal fuel to burn, it seems.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Only me

I know that most of you who are reading this blog are awaiting Gracie's next post with baited breath. However, it's only me right now. I can't seem to get her to sit still to dictate to me her actual Hollywood Bowl experiences, although at dinner last night she gave us a pretty good play by play of the thing which was quite interesting. You'll see.

We're back from a few days on a cruise. It took a few days back on land for me to feel like my house was not slowly listing back and forth. But my land legs seem to have taken today.

We're still coming down from the Event. Wow. VGL is in the process of restructuring the tour. Should be interesting to see what they do!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Rehearsal and Fear - by Gracie

Hello. I'm Cindy's daughter, Gracie. She has been talking about me in this website. I want to talk to you about the night when I was really scared and I didn't know if I would go to the Hollywood Bowl and sing, or just give up my career and leave it. So, one afternoon when me and Mom were having a little date, we were talking about how good I would be at the Hollywood Bowl. But, then I suddenly realized that if I would go to the Hollywood Bowl I would be pretty shy, but if I didn't, I would be pretty jealous about that because I really want to sing and do a career, and another person might sing if I don't. So I was whining at my Mom, and she was like, "Stop whining," and I was like, "But I don't know what to do for the Hollywood Bowl! I could either do it or not do it. But I don't know!" And my Mom said, "I know, it's a hard choice!" While I ate some chicken and potatoes my Mom was responding. And she said, "You're tired, I know that!" and I'm like, "I'm not tired! Can I have some ice cream? Because it makes me really feel better when I have some ice cream." And my Mom says, "Sure! But I don't think we have ice cream." So I said, "Uh oh, I'm still scared Mom. I don't know." So my Mom said, "Well then don't do it, honey, if you don't want to. I mean really. Your Dad said he could get another singer if you say no, or if you say yes, it's perfectly fine." "But I don't know what I should do! I mean, it may be a big girl thing, but I'm also shy about it, and I'll be pretty jealous of another girl singing that part!"

A few months passed. And then I was on my way to Irvine for rehearsals, and I said again, "I'm scared Mom. I don't want to go to the Hollywood Bowl." "Again?" "Yes, again! I keep saying Yes! No! Yes! No! It's a hard choice!" So I was totally scared and I was kind of shaking. "I know, but honey, really! You don't have to sing tonight if you don't want to." But then the day was getting to be the afternoon. Then I realized that I did have to sing that night. They had to sound check me. Then I was really scared.

So I went to my Mom and I said, "Mom, you didn't tell me that!" "Well, I didn't know!" Then I did the sound check thing, and it was fine. Then it was nighttime and I felt something really weird in my stomach. And I was sniffling. And my feet hurt. And I was like, "Uh oh. I'm sick." How am I going to sing at the Hollywood Bowl when I'm sick? "On no! Mom? I'm sick!" "Oh sweetie, I'm really sorry about that."

The next day I was sick so I was lying down in my Dad's office and I couldn't really sing. My throat was too weird to sing. So what I had to do was get a little rest. But when I woke up my throat was all meshugina and full of frogs. Then it was my turn to go sing. And I said, "On no. I'll sound horrible." Then I did it, but I sounded a little croaky.

The next day I didn't sing at all. I was totally awake. My Mom gave me some tea and some Sprite because I had a fever. So I was just resting. Feeling a little sad. I put my head against my shirt as a pillow and I had a jacket as a blanket. And I started to fall asleep. And I could hear voices in my mind that said, "You'll do well, Gracie."

Photos -- finally!

Here are some photos of us rehearsing at the Verizon Amphitheater in
Irvine, CA - 7/1/05.

Gracie rehearsing. Cool, no?

Conductor Mark Watters, Jack - seated, and orchestrator and good friend David Kates.

Our wonderful director Dori Sanchez, and Gracie.

Jack and Gracie in the production offices.

Laurie Robinson and me. She was a wonderful person to get to know throughout this process. My new partner in crime!

Laurie and me rehearsing.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Trying to make sense of the show now, and all of the ensuing commentary. There is my opinion, and then, 11000 others. My body is starting to function properly again. That's good news. Jack and I are doing well, and my relationship with my daughter is improving as well. It's the process.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Well, we did it. I can't quite believe that we did it, but we did it. The evening was amazing. An incredible calm overtook me as I got into the hair and makeup chair. I just internally wound myself all the way down. I felt better when I wasn't back in the dressing rooms waiting for my cue, but preferred to watch the whole show from the wings with Gracie. Being on stage felt like coming home. I loved every minute of it. All of the pieces went well for me, although I still did not make my Myst entrance correctly (must be some kind of mental block) but compensated quickly for it. Gracie was a joy on stage, and I think this experience will set her life on an interesting course. How many eight-year-olds get to make their debut at the Hollywood Bowl with the Los Angeles Philharmonic?

To any friends or family who may be reading this blog, I thank you all so much for your support and encouragement. I was nearly crippled with fear going into this, but everyone just kept nudging me along, until I had to do all the final nudging (well, and heavy lifting) for myself. Without that head of steam, I don't think I could have chugged up that mountain. My sister in particular was very helpful in those last minutes before curtain. Jack and Tommy were -- well, beyond words. How did they pull this enormous event off? My husband is my hero!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Jiggety Jog

Well, we're home now, and have been for a day and a half. We all were completely down yesterday. Gracie has a sinus infection that she's nursing, and Jack was past the point of exhaustion. I felt under the weather, so we all huddled around the TiVO and slept most of the day. Today we're all feeling revived and alive.

I spent the better part of this morning going through my phone book and calling friends and family across the country to let them know when we're going to be in their part of the country. It was great calling old friends whom I haven't seen in years, and reconnecting with them. I'm so excited for my family to come to the show.

Tomorrow the show is loaded into the Bowl, and Laurie and I have makeup consultations. Wednesday morning we have a rehearsal with the Phil. I'm going to go under hypnosis in the early afternoon, I hope. I need to just keep calm. Then... the show!

I lost around seven pounds in the last week just being nervous, which probably has adjusted my metabolism. Altogether, not a bad thing!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Birthday. Take a ch- ch- ch- chance.

Which I'm doing. Even with all of the support and kudos, I don't mind telling you that I'm a nervous wreck, beginning my day with a celebratory birthday throw-up. Lovely. We're going into a full rehearsal tonight, and I'm just trying to remain as calm as possible. Martin, the "Video Games Pianist" and boy genious who condensed an orchestral piece for piano and soprano and alto showed up a while ago while I was practicing our piece. Of course, the guy has perfect pitch, so I could quickly check with him to see if I was on. I think the piece has been successfully burned into my synapses, because I was on key and tempo, just pacing around backstage practicing.

Gracie has some kind of virus, poor thing. She is still languishing today on the couch in the production offices. One of the guys on the VGL crew has a PSP which he let her borrow. I see a PSP in our near future.

Jack is calm, and remembered my birthday, even in the midst of the chaos of his producing this show. I'm wearing a beautiful necklace at the moment. Gracie is even trying to be less contrary in honor of my birthday.

Well, I couldn't stop my birthday from arriving, and I can't stop the march of time toward the opening of the show. Why am I this nervous?

Thursday, June 30, 2005

We're here!

Gracie and I joined Jack yesterday evening in Irvine. We're rehearsing at an empty 20,000-seat outdoor arena. When we pulled in it looked like we were approching an abandoned carnival, which was cool and a little eerie.

It's an incredible thing, watching this show go up. We did an orchestra read-through last night at 8p. Based upon what I saw and heard this concert is going to be amazing! The video is beautiful. I had to break it to Gracie that we were singing yesterday, for sound-checking purposes. She was not happy. The moment is finally now upon all of us. Jack went into a detailed discussion with her about what exacly a sound-check is, and that seemed to help her get into the right frame of mind to sing. She sang her part at around 9:45 last night. She was brilliant singing with the orchestra, so my fears for her have been assuaged. I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be, and everyone seems to think it went well, although I think I have better performances in me than one I delivered last night. (Hopefully at the Bowl..!) I have pictures which I'll upload when I can.

This morning Gracie and I relaxed at the hotel and played a lot of Crazy Eights and War. Kings in the Corners next! We got to the stage around 1:30. Laurie and Martin arrived, and we have been woodshedding our Final Fantasy trio. It'll be pretty spectacular if we can pull it off.

Gracie is conked out on the production office couch right now. We go into a full blocking rehearsal in about an hour. Wow. We're really doing this...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Suspended Animation

Well, everything is eerily quiet around the house with G gone for a week. Jack and I went out to dinner last night. That was highly unusual these days. I've never seen him this busy. He's been rolling on around three or four hours of sleep, but he seems to be loving it.

I think that I found a dress for the show. I'm just waiting for approval from the director. Laurie is in Arizona, and we haven't even seen the score for the duet we're going to do yet. Ulp.

I spent several hours yesterday just woodshedding my brains out. Today I kind of collapsed. Tomorrow, back to the grindstone. I confess, I feel a little guilty with my post-school-year lolling, while my spouse is moving a mountain in a room twenty feet away. We all have our destinies...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

We're Stylin' Now

So, Jack is adding more and more pieces to my plate (well, it's not too much, just three), but I'm really going to be seriously woodshedding over the next few weeks. I've been doing Seth Riggs warm-ups sporadically over the past month or so, but will be hitting it daily from now to the show.

Laurie and I don't know whether we'll be getting costumes and makeup, or whether we'll be expected to style ourselves. We're going to hire a stylist together if we need to. It's been quite a while since I've had to deal with applying stage makeup, but I'll have to learn how for the road. It'll be fun though. There is a deepdown girlie-girl in me that's just crying to get out. Now's her chance!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Magic Bus

Traffic is starting to swell on the Video Games Live site. Interest is picking up, which is very exciting. G and I are starting to think about what we're going to pack for the tour. The asthetics of a bus tour are new to us, so we're winging it. We're excited to get to see so much of the US in such a compact period of time. She is counting how many states she's been in and how many states she will have been in by the end. Those second grade geography lessons are being quickly put to practical use!

Monday, June 06, 2005

High in the Sky

"Don't worry," my sister informed me. "No one will even be able to tell if it's a good or bad haircut from all the way out in the audience." (It's a nice haircut.) Which would be true, were it not for the gigantic screens that will project our faces and whatnot (look out for the whatnot) larger than larger than life, so the audience can assess not only the haircut, but possibly every hair, as well. So, off for a facial tomorrow that will probably be the first in a series. Vanity takes on gigantic proportions for, well, the gigantic proportions that, well, loom...

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Tones of Bones

I took G to a vocal coach yesterday. She was not very enthused as she walked in. A woman emerged who exuded encouragement, and instantly began to draw a fuller, rounder, and stronger sound out of her. She was sunny and optimistic, and G responded right away. The teacher discussed esoterica about the human voice, including the sound frequency of bones, resonators, and vocal registers. She managed to neither talk down to eight-year-old G, nor to make the subject so obscure and adult that she could not grasp the concepts. G's voice came out the top of her head and soared over the bush that sits next to the teacher's house. I'm feeling better about her participation in the show.

Friday, June 03, 2005

In perfect harmony...

Ever since someone told me that there was a slight problem in my harmonization one night when the sound was not good and I couldn't hear myself that well, I've sort of lost my ability to instantly put myself into harmony's space. It's so odd. I can still harmonize fine, but it's like I need a roadmap now to get there, whereas before I could plunge in and land where the music demanded with pinpoint accuracy. Words have power. Anyway, tonight is the Shabbat at the temple where I work as sideman with my guitar and my back vocals. It's a well-worn harmonic path, so it's not an issue. But I do miss the mindless zen of instant harmony. Tonight marks the first time Jack is officially off the gig. Gracie may not even join me. It's not the same without my family.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Beeps, Boops, Strings

Jack works in his studio, prepping for the show. Tonight he played selections from Frogger and Pong for me. We laughed and did goofy jigs to them, and I tried to imagine what they will sound like when swelling string sections join their silly noodling melody lines. This is what people really think video game music still sounds like. The pity people used to take on me when I informed them that my husband was a video games composer... It was subtle, but palpable. The asthetics are still emerging, and there is inherent beauty in video game scores being produced today. I'm pleased as punch to be a part of it.

Not the voices in my head... yet

So, after much consternation regarding the name of this blog, I finally found one I can live with for a while. It seems like it verges on the appropriate. I'm finding that I can hit the F#s better than I used to, due to head voice access. But this is not to be a technical blog about the mechanics of the voice. It is to be musings about the nature of using the voice as a spiritual communication tool, and all of the psycho/physio-logical issues attendant in that use. Also, I'm preparing to jump on the world stage, and I thought it would be interesting to try to chronicle it. In public. We are all shameless extroverts in the age of the blog.