Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Janette-Miller's new Adobe Muse web site First reveal

Welcome to  My World and to my brand new Adobe Muse Website.

Janette-Miller/Heffernan welcomes you to her company and personal website. Here you will learn all the passions of the owner. Opera and ballet, bookbinding and philately,  croquet, computers, gardening and trying  unsuccessfullly to encourage all to make Do It Yourself Movies to share your passions. This is a site in progress and experimentation is the  keyword. Nothing ventured nothing learned. Enjoy.

About three months ago Google decided it didn't like the way my www.janetteheffernan.com, website translated onto tablets and smartphones and dire consequences would ensue if I didn't do something about it. This of course did not happen but I did take a look at my old website, which still looks OK on Desktops  and gave it a think! I can see if I ought to do something and mature enough to take action.

For a couple of years I have subscribed to Adobe Cloud as I did not like the new Final Cut Pro. I can use it but personally I don't like it so I made the decision to move to Adobe Premier Pro. I already used Dreamweaver , which authors websites a long time ago as that is where I made my first website in about 2008 and it has lasted well and looks good. As an opening page it points newcomers where they want to go and I may have to go back to that format.

The about three months ago Google said anything with Adobe Flash was out. As my first website is full of Adobe Flash this was the death knell so reluctantly I decided the time had come. I have better things to do than start coding again. So I have experimented with Adobe Muse and I have enjoyed every second. It is a dream when compared to Dreamweaver and for me as I am  video editor I don't mind playing with it. This must be a nightmare for coders as they like things lean and simple and not unstable and creative.

 I sell Bookbinding DVDs on the company site and am preparing to HD Stream but the image above is the home page of My World which is the personal section of my site where I feature all the things that interest me. Muse allows web designers to do things they never could before, like twirling cubes and angels that float in, this one dances if you click on it, she is the Angel of Life, below is a video time lapse and tabs for all my interests which will hopefully slowly get filled up. The Flash presentation will have to be replaced by a boring slideshow. Not all is progress.

So today or tomorrow www.janette-miller.com gets published. It will still be very much a work in progress. As well as a Desktop version it will have a tablet and smartphone versions too and these may need some sorting out as I do not need either of these devices so I have to rely on friends to help me out with the Beta testing stage. I might even get a tablet as Apple is making a new one in November with a pencil that sounds intriguing.

This is a special page as I need a landing stage for my Janette Miller Blog. This page will change as I move on. So Welcome to My World.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jackie Collins, my old school friend - Janette Miller

I had the luck to be at school with Jackie Collins who has just died of breast cancer. We were in the same class but it appears she was much older than me. We became students together at Aida Foster and we all knew her as the sister of Joan Collins who had been at the school and that, secret, secret, she had been expelled from her previous school.

I arrived at the age of 15 at Aida Foster Stage School in Golders Green. My ballet school AES which I loved was threatening to close down and my mother loathed the headmistress there because she felt she was cruel that I was taken away and dumped at Aida Foster as mother wanted me in musicals not ballet. There was nothing I could do.

Adia Foster was not academic. I was put in the GCE class to find that they were on page one of the arithmetic book and I am not joking. My education came to a full stop. I knew I was good at English and could put myself through GCE English with not too much problem and I decided to have a go at GCE English grammar, literature and history as I reckoned I could do those myself.

I was seated beside the only other two girls who it was thought might get a GCE, one was called Anne Flack and the other Jackie Collins both became firm friends although I had little hope of either being able to actually take the exams. Jackie had a penchant for yellow legal pads which were covered with a large childish handwriting and never seemed to do any work at all. I never thought anything of it at the time but I pitied both.

They might not have been good at English literature but both were good at life. My education began at the local Italian restaurant where we were allowed to go for lunch. Yes, we were allowed out for lunch and introduced to Italian Food for the first time spaghetti bolognaise of which I became particularly fond either that or my other and really best friend Marti Webb but she took me to the Wimpy Bar in Golders Green.

The restaurant was next door to the local police station but it was where the local flashers held out. Stupid really but they did and each day the three of us ran the gauntlet of the flashing gentlemen. Jackie had a thing about flashing gentleman and I see even to this day one of her last Tweets was on this subject. She used to yell at them not too subtle remarks, Like Ooo what a little one put it away. I was sort of shocked but these gentlemen did not shock Jackie Collins.

Jackie did not take the exam when I was there. I did. I got 87% for English Lit but was helped for 3 weeks by the most brilliant teacher I have ever met. A Mrs. Payne, who was tough and beautiful and taught me how to learn.  I have a blog on her too. Jackie was beautiful and was a great model.  I liked her. I left soon after as I was sexually assaulted by a student and just could not face going back. My father was furious with the school. I went to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and never gave Jackie Collins another thought.

Then years later I saw an article about this well known author in a New Zealand magazine and I saw the yellow legal, pad and the childish handwriting and I thought Hey I know that  writing! I should recognise it anyway. As I went on a read that Jackie Collins had become a bestseller of lurid novels and one thing Jackie described in detail was our encounters with the flashers of Golder Green and I knew it was her. She was a million dollar writer without a GCE and I was an impoverished opera ballet producer with one.

Such is life. Nowhere in her biographies does Jackie mention her stint at Aida Foster although the Fosters were Joan's first agent and in fact one of the Baker Twins a student of the school and a friend of mine ruined Joan Collins's marriage to Antony Newly.

Maybe it was all too painful. It was for me. I am grateful  to the Fosters for giving me confidence and make the best of myself. The Fosters did this for all their students and we all did well considering none of us had an education. What we all could have achieved if we had had one. Jackie Collins knew about life and her father could help her get started which was a great advantage. I admire her courage.

Brian Sewell witty, acidic, misogynist but a unforgettable character, Janette Miller

“There has never been a first-rank woman artist. Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness. Women make up 50% or more of classes at art school. Yet they fade away in their late 20s or 30s. Maybe it’s something to do with bearing children.” Guardian

The above quote is taken from the UK Guardian obituary for the art critic Brian Sewell. (pronounced Theweul). He was a one off, a character who had the most witty and cruel repartee that was administered with a spoonful of sugar that no one could take offence. It was almost an honour to be criticised by him unlike Bernard Levin, the theatre critic in the 1960s who was generally hated.

Sewell is so witty and sharp as a razor that I can almost forgive him for being a misogynist. Almost but not quite.

Like Sewell my mother at the age of 9 took me to The National Gallery to look at art and when I got home I announced to my Major in British Army father that I should like to be a fine artist like Rembrandt.

To this day I can still recall his answer. He said, Look at history, there has never been a great woman painter. Women are not great  painters! I became a ballet dancer. In my day women were the best at that.

But  my father was wrong. Women were not great painters because they were not given a chance. Michael Angelo would not have done a thing if he had been a woman. Time will tell but the world of art is still biased against women.

Still Sewell will be missed. He had a delicious and amusing way of being horrid that sort of appeals to the worst in us. We are all so glad it was not us at the end of his very acidic pen.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Britten, Sexuality and The Turn of the Screw - Janette Miller

      Queer pitch: Is there such a thing?
Does a composer's sexual identity influence their music?
          Rolf Hind examines what it means to be a queer composer. UK Guardian

Nice picture of Britten and Pears to illustrate the article by Rolf Hind but nowhere does Britten appear in the actual text itself. Britten was an enigma. Britten never came out during his lifetime and would have sued anyone who said he was gay.

Many of his friends and colleagues who knew him well, Graham, Reiss, Duncan, Katherine Mitchell and myself consider Britten to be bisexual. He was confused about his sexuality all his life and could never choose. Pears, Auden and others chose for him and Britten was always a good little boy.

It is only now that I am approaching the end of my life that I feel I must write for posterity what I have known for years. Humphrey Carpenter, Britten's official biographer, told me that I had to do this.  I was to write down everything. He was going to do this for me but he died before it was published. I have his letters.

Because Britten was stuck for a young Flora I got to know him very well. He liked me and  I liked him. I was 19 and it was allowed. Britten admired me and I  admired him.  Britten went out of his way to get to know me. Nobody noticed at Aldeburgh. It was as if I didn't exist until one night Peter Pears noticed and after that it was difficult but not impossible to be alone with Britten as Pears was  always there! But that is another story.

In Britten's masterpiece, The Turn of the Screw Britten explores the theme of the choice of sexuality with considerable insight. It is as if Britten were Miles who cannot choose between the heterosexual love of The Governess or the homosexual love of Peter Quint both of whom Miles loved and at the same time hated to hurt in any way. At the end being forced to make the choice kills him. Britten never did make the choice himself. That is why this work is so compelling on all levels.

Never has the music of a homosexual lover sounded so enticing as the music Britten writes for Quint when wooing Miles and never has Britten written such beautiful arias as he did for The Governess in The Tower and Letter scenes. The song Malo he wrote for Miles too poignantly illustrates the dilemma Miles/Britten finds himself in when forced to choose.

The drama of this opera is mirrored in the cast. Britten loved  Peter Pears/Quint but he also loved Miles/David Hemmings and he loved The Governess/Jennifer Vyvyan. Little importance is given to this remarkable woman in Britten's life but she had a hand in the completion of The Screw. It was at her suggestion that Britten ended the opera with Miles's song Malo. She told me.

How do I know this? In later years I played Flora. Flora is the forgotten character of The Screw but just as important as the other three. She is bisexual if the ghosts are real. Flora is loved by both Quint and Miss Jessel. James in his novella is at pains to point this out. The difference is Flora accepts the situation and gets on with life. Miles was never able to do this and it kills him. Britten admired Flora. The music he gave her to sing is adult and difficult, too difficult for the child. It needs someone special and Britten knew I was special.

The interesting deviation from the plot was in the novella when the great confrontation with Quint comes and The Governess forces Miles to say his name, in the book Miles shouts Peter Quint you devil and then adds the word Where? Britten deliberately left this word out.  In fact, in the opera, it could be said that Miles may have chosen The Governess. The Earl of Harewood noticed this too and confronted Britten about it as to whether the ghosts were real. Britten is said to have said One must take a stand! What the stand was we shall never know. Years later as I corresponded with Pears. I like him too, and asked him often Pears would never reply.

Did Britten really love Pears? We shall never know. They had their rough patches in their relationship. When I was at Aldeburgh was one of them. Never once did Britten cast Pears as a lover. When a nice heroic part, like Mr Noye, came up Britten gave it to someone else. The rest are murderers, child molesters, rapists, tyrants and simpletons.

So it is right that Britten is not included in the article even though the omission is possibly accidental. Sadly Britten may never have known heterosexual love. The women he chose and I was one, were all remarkable and unattainable, I was too young and wise. As Lord Harewood told me I was lucky to come out unscathed but Britten was always the perfect English gentleman and years later I married a Miles very like Mr Britten so who knows. The women are there and documented if you look and Pears was a jealous lover and guarded him well. The women, me too, all knew our place in the scheme of things. We were there but out of sight.

We were all exceptional. Believe me, I was exceptional! At the age of 19, I could have danced the lead role in Swan Lake and sung Erwartung. I had already won the Production Prize at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and I disliked Puccini and Brahms! I knew most of Britten's music having attended one of the first performance of Gloriana at Covent Garden in 1953. I also like fast sports cars and Gaudia Bretska. I gave way to Galina Vysnevskya, the Russian Opera star and wife of Rostropovitch the cellist. When Britten visited Russia for Christmas it was not Rostropovitch that Britten went to see.

In The Turn of the Screw  Britten says it all about his sexuality if you care to look. I should get a PhD for this!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Stage Fright and me - Janette Miller

Soloists at the Proms perform in front of a live audience of 6,000 people and thousands more on radio,TV and online. How do musicians deal with nerves when playing to large audiences in public. UK Guardian.

I have always suffered from stage fright I didn't always but three performances early in my career were so traumatic that  all joy in live performance turned to terror. I was asked to take on tasks which would have daunted the most mature and experienced performer with no help and little understanding. It is amazing I survived. At 16 after the opera  The Turn of the Screw on Associated Rediffusion TV in 1959 which we did live was my third really horrifying experience that coloured the rest of my life.  A camera went wrong in performance I vowed never to do anything like this again.

Having worked in the live theatre and on live television, for in my day everything went out live, I think and still think the amount of preparation and understanding that a performer is given by the management has a lot to do with the nerves. Regretfully, the fact is, that most of the time performers are thrown on with little preparation and expected to give a first rate, perfect performance. Some of the lucky ones can insist on adequate rehearsal but most of us are not given this luxury.

For most of my performing life my success came from the ability to take over lead roles on the shortest of notice and do it better than the original performer with little or no rehearsal. Doing this is terrifying. Going on with no rehearsal when the original artist had at least 6 weeks is enough to give anyone stagefright. Doing this in the West End is frankly terrifying. Once had to take over major role in four days but circumstances cut this down to one and a half days most of which was taken on by costume fittings. One morning run through and on that night. Anyone would be scared. One was just expected to do it. This was not necessary as the previous artists could have stayed on for a couple of days to give me the opportunity to learn the role properly but due to personal circumstances she was forced to leave. No consideration was given to the fact I had just 48 hours to take over. One run through and I was on.

I remember I had to wait till the performance that night as no time to go home, the management was so mean that they shut the theatre in the afternoon to save electricity  so I took myself off to the cinema to get my mind off it. Nobody really helped.  The wait in the dressing room was unbearable and I just didn't want to do it and then the orchestra began and I made myself go on. I can remember being terrified all through the performance and when it got to the end I just sat down on the stage exhausted and cried. I felt I had done it so badly. The whole cast just stood and applauded but I was desolated. I knew I had to do the whole thing again the next day and I just didn't want to do it. It appears I stole the show but that was little consolation at that moment. Nobody should be asked to do this without help and it was unnecessary.

Artists need help and understanding, especially singers. Union rules mean that singers get little chance to rehearse with full orchestras, usually just one sitz probe and the a full dress rehearsal which is rushed because orchestra's overtime is prohibitive. The BBC Proms is possibly like this so it is understandable that you need a very special type of personality to be able to cope.

I can do it. I have had to but I hate it and now I am so pleased I do not have to do it anymore. But I was forced to perform by circumstances. I was good at it. The fear of performing live has never really left me that is why I became an director. I never asked any artist to do what I could not do myself.

Some artists really enjoy performing but those are the ones who have adequate rehearsal time and help from management. Some artists take it in their all stride and enjoy the performance and feel free to give their best. These are few and far between and I envy their confidence. Ballet dancers are taught not to be nervous and have years of training and adequate rehearsal even if they have to take over quickly as they know the work.  Others are better in rehearsal than performance. Nerves gets the better of them and they never perform to their full potential which is such a pity.

Today I still sing but only record and with the technology available I can at last have full control of my performance which I never did. I do find this type of performance satisfying. Now I like the way I sound and the way I sing because I have the freedom and time to do it and I am not thrown on.