Ouroboros: Seasons of Life

November 23, 2008

1994. I sang in the chorus in the premiere of Kay Gardner’s seminal work, Ouroboros: Seasons of Life. This is still one of the most memorable experiences of my performance life. The rehearsals were held at the IU music school, which I hadn’t set foot in since leaving 7 years before. The healing power of the music and my sister singers helped me release the bitterness of the past and embrace the present.

We worked with the intensely talented Cathy Roma of Cincinnatti’s Anna Crusis Women’s Choir. None of the singers were auditioned, and the music was quite challenging, so Cathy pulled off a minor miracle by pulling us all up to performance grade in under four days.

Since the performance was going to be recorded, and it was a classical oratorio, the audience (packed to the gills in the Indiana University Auditorium) was asked not to clap. By the second movement, they were desperate to give back some of the energy they were receiving. Some began to make the ASL sign for applause. By the third movement, each pause in music brought a sussurrus of thousands of hands waving in the air, a shimmering field in our vision.

Kay’s piece ended with every singer crooning a comforting song from her childhood. I choose Poor Robin Is Dead, an old Irish Pagan children’s song of death and resurrection that’s a family tradition handed down through my (namesake) grandfather. The overall effect of the hundred-odd whispered songs is unlike anything I’ve heard in music—unforgettable.

The entire production was created and executed by women, down to the stagehands. I’d never experienced such a positive, can-do, committed sisterhood and was my introduction to the power of women’s mysteries. I was intensely proud of our achievement and became attuned to the different energies of same-gender and mixed-gender settings (all of which are good!).

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Gregorian chant

November 23, 2008

Approximately 8 million years ago, I recorded several Gregorian chants for a community theatre production of Agnes of God. My mentor, a former nun, helped me with the Latin pronunciation. I was surprised to discover that the R is not flipped in Latin but is pronounced as it is in English. But since everyone expects to hear it flipped, vocalists sing it that way in the Ave Maria and everything else in the canon!

The recording process was delightful: a choral mic was suspended in the middle of our huge auditorium stage so it sounded like I was in a cathedral. And I was, indeed, in the cathedral of my choice.

As far as I know, all traces of these recordings have disappeared.


Demo reels

November 23, 2008

Approximately 8 million years ago, I made a number of demo reels for a professional songwriter in the Chicagoland area. Everyone’s favorite piece was I Think I Know, a lovely ballad that I once performed with my boyfriend playing flute.