Saturday, January 27, 2007

My Artic Mexico Adventure

Well, now that I have had a few days to reflect, I'm feeling a little better about my recent trip to Mexico. I'm looking at it this way: the highways were better then I expected (the road from Navajoa to Alamos was nicer then any American two lane highway I've ever seen), the UofA van did not break down and we were not run out of town for our inability to order breakfast. See, the trip went really well!

Well, it did. The concert was fine, we were safe. But it was COLD!!!! I have never been so unprepared for 40 degree weather! In short, we were dreadfully unprepared for the cold. There was nowhere, save the spot directly in front of a fireplace, to be warm. Anyway, I sound like a wimp from Arizona.

Eun Pa shows of the UofA van!

Brent Watches Sonora pass by.

So, on Sunday Prof. Roe drove us down to Alamos, about a 9 hour drive on the Mexican toll road, and we arrived in Alamos about 11 PM. We some luck, we found our guide and translator, Vilma, and she escorted us to our homes. I stayed with Brent in a home just a little ways up from the plaza that belonged to a lovely American couple from the Chicago area. (photos:)

The next day we all met at Las Palomas, a restuarant that was responsible for feeding us on the trip. We all were no faced with a day beiong unprepared for cold weather, in a place where there was no heat (you see, it wasn't suppose to be this cold there, ever!). Eun Pa and I liked the fireplace in the Resturant, today our table wasn't closer!

From there we headed off to a rehearsal space. The 'space' was in this beautiful home near the plaza. About these homes, they were amazing. They basically all consisted of a beautiful garden area, surrounded by rooms. You actually had to go outside to get from room to room. Usually this was never a problem, but today, it was cold (did I memtion that?). Anyway, we were given a room with a nice piano and a fireplace (probably the warmest place we were all day, after the fire place warmed the area up a bit) and we went through our program and hung out there until we were forced to move on.
Eun Pa ad Christi rehearse:

Brent tries to keep his fingers from freezing!

Cindy enjoys the fire!

From there, we went on to check out the performance venue. It was a beautiful Palacio (a courtyard with a stage and an ope roof (!!!!!!!!!!)) The people with the festival were really kind, and provided us with warm beverages, and the Radio Station interviewed Prof. Roe!

After the venue visit, we had some time to walk around town... a great way to keep warm!

Overall, it was a cold trip. And we sang pretty. And we had fun, see?

Did I mention my gas bill was astronomical this month?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Recital Time!

Wow! You should have been there!!! Tracy's recital was amazing. Coming in a close second to the recital was the reception, which featured Hazelnut Chocolate Fondue! Here's a shot of Ken, Tracy and I!
On to Mexico tomorrow!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Back to Work

Well, back in Tucson (for almost two weeks now), and things are already frantic around here!

I am singing a couple of my favorite songs tomorrow night on a recital given by pianist Tracy Perry. I am singing Ravel's "Histoires naturelles" (set to poems by Jules Renard. For those of you who were at my recital in Milwaukee, these were on the program there.

Then, on Sunday it's off to Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Alamos is about an eight hour drive from Tucson, and I will be headed down there in a mini-van with the Amelia Rieman Opera Quartet and our director, my teacher, Prof. Roe. Six adults in a min-van, that should be fun! We will be singing a concert as part of the Festival Dr. Alfonso Ortiz Tirado. To be honest, I don't know much about the festival, but here is a bit of info on a funny looking website (which indicates the performances of "opera stars," I guess that's us). You can see here a bio of the quartet on the website!

In addition to these two recitals this week, I'm preparing a role in the UofA spring opera, "Tartuffe"; and preparing for my Doctoral Solo recital on February 11th. More on those later!

Here are a few pictures from New Year's eve in Chicago!

Nathan and Dad at dinner:

Mollie and Dad outside the dinner place, Club Lucky:

The power went out at about 11 pm!

The ever-dangerous beer pong:

Happy New Year!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Best Albums of 2006

As many of you know, I spent a lot of myu free time this past year obsessed with eMusic and music in general. Reading about it, performing it, listening to it... I guess it's is my life. Having aquired all of this music, and observing how often I listen to it (thanks to iTunes), I feel it would go against my indie rock upbringing not to post a list of some sort. So here it goes.

20. Yo La Tengo "I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass"
19. Islands "Return to the Sea"
18. Herbert "Scale"
17. Bob Dylan "Modern Times"
16. Josh Rouse "Subtitulo"
15. Sunset Rubdown "Shut Up I Am Dreaming"
14. The Hold Steady "Boys and Girls in America"
13. Sufjan Stevens "The Avalanche"
12. Neko Case "Fox Confessor Brings the Flood"
11. Beirut "Gulag Orkestar"
10. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins "Rabbit Fur Coat"
This Album was really big with me early in the year. Simple song-writing, country/americana stylings and political and God-questioning lyrics.

9. The Decemberists "Crane Wife"

I was really looking forward to this album's release. In a way, it didn't dissappoint. Despite the indie world's fear that a major-label release would somehow dilute the band's artistic process, Colin Meloy and the gang delivered on great album full of great characters, great songs, and even some old fashioned prog rock!

8. Final Fantasy "He Poos Clouds"
This album, which won the Polaris prize in Canada for best album of the year, was a great find for me. I've always been irritated by the label of "champer pop". It seems, buy the industry writers, "chamber pop" was any music that had any instrumentation added to the traditional electrical instruments. Chamber music is really just music that can be performed in a small space (chamber, or room). I guess I take this to mean music without amplification. Well, Final Fantasy (aka Owen Pallet) is the first true chamber pop that I have ever heard. It's really a very interesting album, he uses strings, percusion and keyboard instruments to paint a lush musical landscape with stange 'fantastic' subjects. It really is a great listen.Oh yea, this is the guy who arranged strings for a bunch of indie artists, most noteably, The Arcade Fire.

7. Califone "Roots & Crowns"
I've always been a big fans of these guys from Chicago. I've heard them described many ways, but my favorite is "freak folk". What doesn that mean? Well, I'm not sure, but their music is wonderful. It's melodic and soothing, haunting and minimalistic, and, most importantly creativly consturcted. I hear more of a blues influence then their past efforts, but it is not, by any means, a blues recorded. Can't help but hear a little Tom Waits influence either (especially "Rain Dogs")

6. TV on the Radio "Return to Cookie Mountain"
This was probably the most-hyped album of the year (next to The Decemberists) and by all accounts, it lived up to the hype. This album took sometime for me. I instantly liked the soul that this album had. But, in addition to that, its innovative, fun, dark and melodic. It really is an album in the purest sense, I prefer to listen to the whole thing from start to finish, rather then select songs in the car an the way to school.

5. Cat Power "The Greatest"
One of the first albums I downloaded on eMusic last year, Cat Power's (aka Chan Marshal) most recent album really impressed me. I always liked her song writing, but was never all that impressed with her arranging skills or performance on her previous records. However, she cleaned herself up and recorded this album with some old Memphis sessions players (who have recorded with artists like Al Green); the result, a great record with some heart-wrenching songs all played by a handful of great musicians.

4. Joanna Newsom "Ys"
What do you get when you have a girl who studied creative writing and composition at Mills College, who always thought that she couldn't sing, and who's main instrument is the harp? Well, a album of interesting songs composed on a harp; with creative, allegorical lyrics, sung in a strange, yet charming, voice. The 5 tracks on this album each run between 7 and 15 minutes and feature Newsom on her harp with orchestral accompianment arrange by Van Dyke Parks. However, the symphonic scope of this album just masks its simplicity. The music is simple, but the result is like candy to the ears.

3. The Format "Dog Problems"
This album just makes me smile. Not all of the lyrics are as happy as the songs, but I still just smile. With cues from 1970s pop (Queen) and a wide vareity of songs styles (including a waltz), this albums is by far the funnest album of the year! What else can I say?

2. M. Ward "Post-War"

Listen to this!

1. Destroyer "Destroyer's Rubies"
Buy this!!

Want to hear songs from some of the Albums? Well, click on the links above, search for them on MySpace, or on