In February & March our entire world changed carrying us to “the summer of our discontent”, abruptly closing down the performing arts world both for the artist and audiences.
Each artist must face these realities individually and collectively. Of course, there are many ways to do this. The most important of them is to be more dedicated than ever in assuring that great music will be heard, be it virtually or realistically, by todays artists . The question to ask ourselves is: How am I using the pandemic in order to be prepared to take my place when the new reality begins to move forward.
“IT I S NOT ABOUT YOU IN THE ART – IT IS ABOUT THE ART IN YOU” (Constantine Stanislazski (Stage Director). This important distinction will make the difference between feeling sorry for ourselves or help us keep alive the momentum of our art and craft in order to be an important part of the new reality that will, without doubt, come. It is already beginning to happen.
Music cannot be completely silenced. It has always been and always will be one of the essential things we need to endure life`s complex journey.
THE CLASSICAL SINGER`S ROLE: The sound of the fully developed, classically trained singing voice is the most powerful instrument to profoundly express all the dynamics of human emotions. And that is why singers of the magnificent classical repertoire have a special responsibility. This takes total dedication to continue developing technically, musically, linguistically, expressively.
NEW CHALLENGES: It is apparent that the major, international opera companies of the world will be the last to come back to what they were up until March 2020. It makes sense that smaller works will be performed. It will be chamber music, the song literature, operas with 2 or 3 characters, accompanied by piano or small ensemble.
New works will abound. Throughout history creative artists have produced great works during pandemics, wars, freedom fighting, natural and man-made tragedies. And this will happen in our own unique time in history.
The young singer will need to be able to encompass vocally and musically an ever wider variety of musical styles in many languages.
The use of microphones, speakers, cameras will be a part of the performance world. Singers will need to be technically savvy in order to be their own technicians in making audition videos, etc.
INNOVATION FOLLOWS DISRUPTION: There are advantages to the inevitable changes that are being developed as we speak. A singer will reach a much larger audience when performing virtually as well as realistically. Many more people will be able to hear great music sung and played by important new and established artists.
New audiences will find they have developed an appetite for the vast range of classical music available in their own homes. Classical music will no longer be considered only for the “elite”. With the skillful use of YouTube, Facebook, Zoom, etc. a singer performing in New York, London, Bejing or in some small town somewhere in the world is able to reach an international audience.
IMAGINATION & INNOVATION: There will be no end to the many new and innovative ways we will bring music to the public. The evolution from pre Covid-19 to the virus free new era is inevitable and exciting.
Developing one`s imagination in many directions will be essential. More intimate venues, virtual or in smaller spaces will be the order of the day for quite a long time to come. All it takes is imaginative programming and performing.
There is no end to the amount of repertoire you are able to perform. Look to no only the tried and true, but rather to various styles: Folk Songs from the lands of your ancestors, The American Song Book. Neglected Composers in all languages. America is made up of so many cultures that there is a treasure trove of music to be performed. Doing programs that are not of the traditional format also will be popular with the music loving audiences. You are able to match poetry readings and song performances. There virtually is no end to what we can put together that will represent our new era.
The highest performance standards must always be in place before presenting anything virtually or realistically. It is tempting to put “something” online just to keep performing. That will not do if the classical music world is to survive in a healthy way. Remember – it is not about you – it is about the music.
Learning to sing for the camera and the microphone is a skill to be developed, The distance between live performance on stage and the audience is greatly diminished. When in a virtual performance style the singer, who is used to singing in large halls, will learn to do what the stage actor does when making a film. What the camera requires is greater specificity of gesture. We do not change our vocal technique to acquire this new skill. In fact, the challenge is to use the principles of the Italian school of classical singing. The microphone is sensitive and that means the technical skill must be honed and secure.
We are indeed deriving from the past to prepare for the future.