Terry arrived at the beginning of this week, so the vocal music students have been especially busy this week. On Monday, all of the singers performed a solo piece and their scenes in progress for Terry, which was a great way to check in on their progress thus far. Now, at the end of the second week, all of their music is memorized for scenes, and we’ve added staging to the mix. This week, we really dug into character work, particularly focusing on the word-for-word translations of the Italian texts so that all of the singers are able to express the meanings fully as they perform. We have an absolutely fantastic group of singers this year, and it has been wonderful to observe them working together beautifully in their duet pairings. Each singer brings something unique to their performances, and those unique qualities are then shared with their duet partners, so that each singer is inspired by their partner to stretch in new ways. This evening, two of our singers will present solo pieces in Italian on our student showcase, sharing what they have been working on with students from other disciplines.
This week, all of our musicians had the chance to learn about the history of opera from Lorenzo and continue their movement classes (including a challenging yoga practice Monday morning!). They also continue daily choir rehearsals, and they are beginning to develop a lovely sound as a group. In the first week, we did lots of sight-singing of new pieces, so this second week has involved more polishing work as we prepare for the final performance.
The string players have been spending their second week in Spoleto exploring the many technical aspects of playing, such as standing with healthful posture, addressing tension and how it effects expressivity, and practicing with mindfulness, i.e. maintaining an impartial evaluation of their progress. We have also been working to construct a beneficial practice regimen. Time spent in the practice room is precious and fleeting, and a player must constantly push herself to approach concepts from different angles, in order to avoid mindless repetition. Patience is essential when practicing, as the brain needs time to organize this new information, and pervasive negative criticism will only hinder the process.
We have been considering the idea that the instrument is our means of calling upon our innermost thoughts, and to not shy away from sounds or gestures that are conventionally ugly or distasteful. By embracing the grotesque quality of nature that coexists alongside beauty, we can come to a more complete sense of who we are, and how we can find that identity through music.