Night Songs & Love Waltzes

47384327_2047790578644245_8302776883930464256_oValentine’s Day may have just passed, but that’s no reason to let that lovin’ feeling wilt away like the dessicated bouquet of flowers you’ve got dropping petals all over your table. Keep the love alive by coming to hear MasterVoices’ Night Songs & Love Waltzes, a night of Liebeslieder (German love songs) by the masters of Romantic music! (Here’s the official MasterVoices promotional text):

This evening of songs and piano works will feature the music of such influential Romantic era composers as Felix Mendelssohn, Clara and Robert Schumann, Franz Schubert, and Johannes Brahms, as well as today’s Ricky Ian Gordon and Stephen Sondheim, and the poetry that inspired them. With soloists including soprano Nicole Cabell, mezzo Kate Aldrich, tenor Nicholas Phan, baritone Nmon Ford, and duo pianists Anderson & Roe, Night Songs and Love Waltzes will display multiple musical configurations, including vocal solos, duets, trios, and quartets; men’s chorus, women’s chorus, and the full MasterVoices chorus; as well as arrangements featuring cellos, horns and duo pianists. 

In the days ahead I’ll post video links to the various artists we’ll be working with, but don’t wait for that in order to buy your tickets. Get them here, and we’ll see you on March 1st!

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Scholarship for Student Travel

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Students in front of St. Paul’s, 2015  (the second time I was in the UK with students on a trip that traveled from London to Paris to Florence (& Assisi) to Rome

 

Greetings, Readers!

During Spring Break 2018 I’ll be leading a group of students to Ireland and the UK. I’m really excited about this particular trip because I’m planning to align my English curriculum to it, unlike the first trip I planned in 2010.  That trip abroad was to London and should have linked effortlessly to what I teach, but, being my first student trip, I was too much of a newbie organizer to connect it with my teaching — I just wanted to make sure it went off without a hitch.

Only six students attended that particular trip, and this trip already has sixteen — I’ve gotten better at recruiting.  But I want to take even more than that, especially since so many of my English students will be studying curriculum designed especially for the trip, it would be a waste if I couldn’t bring as many of them along as possible.

So I’ve established a scholarship that will allow us to bring two to four more students along for the ride.

Please consider making a donation to the cause and helping students experience the world.  You can do so by visiting our GoFundMe page.  And click here if you’re interested in seeing our itinerary (just don’t enroll, please, without permission!).

And while you’re at it, check out this video from our trip to Greece in 2016 so you can get a sense of what an enriching experience student travel can be.

 

 

 

Novel Progress

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Here’s a pic of me not doing my writing (BAD, Stephen!), but kayaking alongside dolphins (not pictured) in Hilton Head, SC, July 2017.

I recently visited a friend I hadn’t seen in almost twenty years and one of the things she asked me was how my novel was coming along, and I realized this is exactly the reason why I need to post about this process on social media.  If everyone knows I’m writing it, even friends I rarely get a chance to see, then it helps keep me focused.

So here’s an update.

In March I presented my draft to my writing group, the excellent and talented members of Jersey City Writers, and got some really useful feedback.  I was slow in implementing it due to the demands at school, but once summer started it became my main focus.  So help me God, I will have a revised draft finished by the end of summer, one that is ready to present to agents and publishers, or ready to publish on my own.  We’ll see…

Part of the problem with my original draft was that I wrote it for NaNoWriMo without planning much of it out.  Now, I love NaNoWriMo for all the enthusiasm it generates for writing, as well as the bonhomie it stirs up among those crazy enough to attempt writing a novel in a month.  However, I am not a pantser in any other aspect of my life, so I shouldn’t have supposed I could be one as I novelist.  I should have begun the process of writing this book with a formidably well-parsed outline.

But I didn’t.

So now I’ve taken the feedback from my writing group along with what I know of my characters and their general story, and I’ve spent quite a bit of time organizing the flow of their tale to address some of the readers’ issues, adding some rather dramatic plot points that seem so obvious now that I’m ashamed I left them out initially.

I did quite a bit of searching online for useful ideas as part of my outlining reformation, and  I want to give a shout out to Katytastic, a YouTuber (kat_tastic on Twitter) whose video I found particularly helpful.  I use Scrivener for most of my longer works of writing, and this video demonstrated a really smart way to outline using Scrivener’s features that I hadn’t used before.  After watching her video and putting her strategies to work, my story seemed so much more solid.

Now that I’ve got it fleshed out a bit better, I’m back to writing it.  And trust me, if you’re reading this blog right now, then I will let you and all the rest of the world know when it is finished, because as much as I love my dear little fictional Ohio town of Villandry, I’ve already got three more novels I’m itching to write and as many protagonists getting pissed off at me for taking so long.

And a memoir.

And maybe a play.  We’ll see.

For now, though, please check out Katytastic’s “Outlining with Scrivener.”  (BTW, I really can’t figure out why the link starts the video in the middle.  I don’t seem to be able to correct it…but you can manage to drag it back to the beginning, right?)

 

 

‘Babes’ in Review

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Look two heads to the right of Kelli O’Hara, hovering over the female cellist in the second row of the chorus: c’est moi! 

Our two performances of Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland took place this past week at Carnegie Hall and the Tilles Center; the reviews are in, and — by and large — they’re all great!  I want to contribute my thoughts to the conversation with the chorister’s-eye-view of the experience, but it’s late on a school night, so for the moment let it suffice that I merely round up the official opinions.

Broadway World

Theaterscene

Berkshire Fine Arts

Classical Source

La Scena

Huffington Post

Voce di Meche

ZealNYC

 

Babes in Toyland

Toyland” is possibly the first song I ever learned.  I’m not sure.  I only know that it entered my repertoire at some time before I have memory of it doing so.  I don’t remember if it was a snow globe or a music box or what it was that put it there, but that tune has been in my head for a very long time.

Which isn’t to say I ever imagined getting to sing on stage at Carnegie Hall in the company of Broadway and theater legends like Bill Irwin and Kelli O’Hara, but that’s exactly what will happen later this month when my choir, MasterVoices, presents Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland as part of our 75th anniversary season.  Babes is a show that has remained popular since its creation in 1903, yet hasn’t had a showing in NYC in over 80 years.

Might be 80 more before you get another chance to see and hear this fun show with its iconic score, so don’t miss it!

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