Sunday, August 23, 2020

Garageband for Accompanist for singers Janette Miller

This is an excellent article on Choosing Your Vocal Coach-Pianist but this relies on finding and being able to afford this luxury. This is a big problem for singers especially like me if you cannot play the piano. It can also be expensive and sometimes impossible to find an accompanist who can play difficult accompaniments. 
I could never find one to play "The Songs of the Auvergne". My answer was to make sure I married a man who loved music and could play the piano. He was not perfect, could not transpose and was not "performance proof" but every day for 30 years we sang together. He could not manage "The Songs of the Auvergne".Then he died. I lost my husband and my accompanist. I did try with the locals but they were expensive and you have guessed it could not even start on "The Songs of the Auvergne". This was in 2002 and I thought I should never sing again either in private or in public. Then a miracle happened. Computers arrived in 2007 and Garageband. I started to play with the "loops" and one day I added with great difficulty one or two notes of my own using The Keyboard and the Piano Roll. It as not until a few weeks later that I thought if I can write out a few notes, then possibly I could write out a Schubert Song. I tried first using the conventional notation but found the Piano Roll easier. It was a success. It took me over a week but I had an accompaniment, one that did what I wanted exactly. No wrong notes, right tempo and could transpose at a click and is on hand when convenient to me. 
I have never looked back. Garageband could also handle "The Songs of The Auvergne". I wrote it out as a piano accompaniment at first but then I decided to orchestrate and bingo! It was easy. It now takes me about 2 hours to write out a song. I put up "The Songs of the Auvergne" on YouTube. Yes, it was a challenge but if I had had this tool when I was young it would have made all the difference. It is difficult when you can sing but for reasons cannot play an instrument. It means one can learn difficult roles and learn with the orchestration. I had to learn "The Turn of the Screw" for Britten at the age of 15 with no help from anyone. I then had to sing it on British TV live with only one orchestral rehearsal. That was truly scary. Had I had Garageband and could have written out my part and practised it when I needed life would have been better and my fear of performing made easier. I could not find an accompanist who could tackle this is 1959. Today one can get many classical songs as midis. You just have to know how to use them. 
Obviously, a real pianist is preferable but they are expensive and not always available but worth it if you are like me who loves to sing but needs an accompanist. Then when you find a wonderful accompanist, mine was Britten we sang Schubert together you can enjoy it. He let me sing in English and was willing to transpose when needed or even when I didn't know as he chose keys for me!

Friday, August 21, 2020

Sir Bob Elliot a tribute from a grateful patient.

Sir Bob Elliot died today

This amazing man has just died. I have to thank him for saving me from becoming a Type 1 diabetic. I never met him but about 20 years ago I was put on one of his research programmes to prevent diabetes. Both my parents and my cousin have diabetes and so I qualified for this research. When I was tested it was found that I had a six out of ten chance of becoming a Type 1 diabetic but Sir Bob thought that large amount of Vitamin B3. Nicotinamide could prevent this. 

For three years I took huge amounts of B 3 each day and slowly like a miracle my platelet levels returned to normal so normal that I have a 99.99% chance of not becoming a diabetic. I kept all the lab test results so you can see it happen. Sadly this has not been taken up universally by the medical profession who were very jealous of his success and NZ hates "tall poppies" but it did work for me and I was so lucky as he has saved me from needles and injections for life. How many other pre-diabetics could be cured?
I am so grateful to this man I have never met.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ditch Overseas Travel and Eliminate Covid 19 in UK

UK Guardian 30 July 2020

At last! The first commonsense article that I have seen about how to deal with Covid 19. in UK, eliminate it!
UK is an island like New Zealand where I live. NZ has eliminated Covid 19 and let me tell you life here is normal, very normal. NZ is now taking its holidays at home for the immediate future but no masks, no social distancing and life as normal.
The UK could do this as it is an Island and at last, even a very slow Boris has got around contemplating doing this too. A bit late but it can still be done. Do it UK! Then I can come home and visit you and you can visit me. You can't at the moment. You are all too dangerous for NZ, in the nicest possible way.
It takes about five weeks. It does mean going to abroad for holidays is out for a bit till other countries get their Covid 19 under control but the benefits are enormous. No more 30,000 deaths and masks and the inconvenience of it all. I have never had to wear a mask, I feel safe and I can go and shop anywhere. NZ just has to police those coming in as they bring it and if the UK cannot see it yet that is where the infections come from. One infected passenger is one infection too many. I realise lots of my FB friends have homes in France and Spain and have visited but one has to make a few sacrifices. NZ did this. It was tough but the rewards are worth it. If everyone is in the same boat it is not so bad.
So if elimination of Covid 19 is suggested and not just control, go for it otherwise your life is going to be ghastly for the next few years and UK theatres, sports and cafes will never get going again.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

What is Received English? Janette Miller

Received English. 

Who speaks it these days. I do but I am one of the last to do so.
The UK has lots of regional accents but the strangest of all is known as Received English which foxes everyone. It is the typical BBC English which is going out of fashion but it what I speak. In my day you had and it is "strange"!
I have only just found out.
You have to learn this accent. In my day it was taught in schools. It hides brilliantly your social class and in a class-ridden country like UK this is very useful.
Today Received English is taught in language schools and weirdly many expats children who never set foot in UK speak it too. Richard E Grant is one and Freddie Mercury. It is absolutely impossible to tell which class they belong to.
So does my accent hide my class? Yes it does. To a lower-class person I sound "posh" but to aristocrats they cannot place me, they know by the way I say "often" and "cat" I am not one of them but am I upper-middle or working class? I could be either.
So what am I? I am not sure. I was raised in what I thought was a middle-class household but my grandfathers were of the people who rose from the working class and to succeed both families spoke "Received English". I am me! 
Possibly "Trade" which was unfashionable, did not do to be a banker but now is very fashionable. Both the working and upper classes look down on "Trade"
So now you know.

2009 Falstaff Verdi Covid Live Streaming from Glyndebourne in 2020

Falstaff Verdi Glyndebourne 2009

Just watched a totally "delicious" Falstaff, 2009 Glyndebourne. This was Verdi's last opera, written at the age of 80, his only comedy and for once a decent libretto and what a difference that made. There are sections when Verdi could not resist "I'm a scale going down, I'm a scale going down"  but it is very high class, quality and according to Britten and my husband and they certainly should know Verdi's best opera and the only one either would deign to go and see. 

This production is set in Windsor in about 1947 just after the Second World War with loads of cabbages in the garden and very dull clothes.

No coupons for clothes or furniture at that time and no bottles of Scotch either. I was born in Windsor so I know and love it well and was leaving nearby in Taplow at that time and our garden was full of cabbages that none of us ate. I lived in that type of Middle-class house too so it was very nostalgic. The curtains looked rather new though. Nobody had new curtains until after 1953!

The "Falstaff" was superb. Best I have ever seen and I have seen quite a few and I liked the resetting. It worked very well. Loved the production, no clinging to the furniture, perhaps just once but on this occasion allowable.

I could even take the stuffed, puppet cat on the counter which was quite cute however there were two more stuffed cats possibly more later on that failed to amuse. Please note one stuffed cat is enough.

I could happily watch this again as it was so enjoyable and I probably shall. That is praise from me indeed.  Bravo Glyndebourne and a big thank you for making it available to those of us who could never get in in better days. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Metropolitan Opera New York's magnificent response to the Covid 19 Virus 2020

Metropolitan Opera New York's magnificent response to the Covid 19 Virus 2020

This virus is a tragedy for opera and opera lovers. The live performing arts have taken the biggest hit and it will take a tremendous effort to recover. The Met is doing a fantastic job. I live in Auckland, New Zealand and I am impressed and grateful at the Mets swift action and generosity. The last weeks have been a feast for me and I have watched an opera virtually every day. The Met has allowed me to "catch up" in a way that I could never have imagined at the beginning of this year. 
This week is no exception with a feast of operatic masterpieces including Gounod's "Romeo & Juliet" which is one of the few operas I have actually seen live at the Met. I am not sure if it is the same production that I saw. We shall see.
I was in New York to sell my Children's Ballet series "Dance Tales Story Ballets" made with the help of the Royal Ballet Covent Garden and the BBC but I could only afford the gallery which was tremendous as I could go every night to an opera for 10 days. In the interval, I went to buy a souvenir from the stall on the first-floor foyer and the woman who served me got into conversation. I told her about my visit and gave her my business card.
She asked where I was sitting, the gallery and immediately I was invited to watch the rest of the production from her box! It was dead centre but one to Stage Left. I have no idea who she was and she would not give me her name but it was a truly wonderful gesture, one which I shall never forget.
The next interval I was invited into the special room to see the special guests meet but really only just to look not to mingle. Pity because my project could have done with a bit of help. So Gounod's "Romeo & Juliet" has very special memories.
What happened to "Dance Tales"? Well, it was made and shown all over the world but not in the USA as I was told patronisingly by CBS and ABC that USA television only did cartoons for children! Nobody was interested in live ballet! I was suitably humbled by this experience. The series did finish as a finalist in the LA Monitor Awards for best-edited programme so it did deserve to be seen but not in USA as it appears ballet is not suitable for children. We never saw USA Tv in 1986 so I had no idea that this was the USA policy.
The three USA TV channels did love a character in my project which I have yet to present to the world and went quite mad about it. I was taken out to breakfast at The Hollywood Hotel on the strength of it. It was and is that good but that is another story.
I had no intention of writing this, this morning but now seems a good time. Please continue to review as it is so good for opera. Reviews like this take time and effort and I am, for one extremely grateful.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Separating the art from the artist" BBC World, Y-Factor Presenter Edwina Pitman

"Separating the art from the artist" BBC World, Y-Factor Presenter Edwina Pitman.

Yesterday I heard this programme on the BBC and the presenter, Edwina Pitman explained so beautifully exactly how I have felt about artists real lives and their work ever since I read the appalling behaviour, child abuse misogyny practised by Beethoven who if he did today makes Epstein look like the Archangel Gabriel!
Beethoven's unacceptable behaviour is well documented in the official court papers and in his communication notebooks so it is all true. Many find this hard to believe but the evidence is there in black and white. Read the book Beethoven and his Nephew for the whole grisly tale. You will never be able to hear the music in the same light again knowing how Beethoven got the effect.
This year, 2020 Beethoven has been worshipped again as it is an anniversary but would people enjoy the "Ode to Joy" so much if they realised that Beethoven stole his nephew from his mother, stopped composing for years and only wrote the 9th Symphony when he had won his case against the mother. The "Ode to Joy" corresponds with this tainted victory over a woman
The whole discussion brings this strange human trait into focus. It is happening all the time.