Thursday, March 30, 2006

Cadence goes to the Junos

Last night was soooo much fun! Celebrating Cadence's Juno nominations was just great. The group's popularity has grown so much over the past couple of years and it's such a joy to watch it all happen. Those guys never fail to disappoint with their amazing talent and great humour.
What's really extra special is seeing Ross up on that stage living his dream. Ross was one of my buds in music school. He was always the class clown, the fun guy, the guy who knew how to make light of any serious moment. He was there through it all, cracking jokes in 1st year musicianship, making us die of laughter in harmony and counterpoint and constantly playing practical jokes on Virginia:) It was always nice to pass Ross in the hallway, cause he'd always give the most encouraging smile, and some days after sitting in a practice room for hours on end that was all I needed to brighten my day. As big of a ham as Ross was he loved his music and took learning seriously. He was always so talented and explored all the different music styles. At the time he never really had a vision for his music, he just knew that he loved it and wanted to pursue some kind of music career. I don't know if he ever saw himself where he is today, but now everytime I see him on stage performing with CADENCE it's so apparent that he has found his niche in acapella vocal jazz. He has even managed to incorporate his "class clown" personality as part of the show:) I just can't help but feel so proud of him. I see how far Ross has come and it gives me a bit of hope! It's cool to see that some people from those crazy undergrad days are actually making a living at the music thang, and now even being nominated for Juno's. Wow!! Very Inspiring.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Restore my soul

I'm having such a hard time praying lately. The spiritual exhaustion that I'm experiencing is making it more difficult to find the words to express what's truly on my heart.
So often, worship songs speak for me the words that my heart is longing to express to my lord yet can't. This one from the downpour CD couldn't be a better prayer for me right now. I don't know who wrote the words or even who is singing the song on the CD, but they are an exact expression of my soul right now, a soul that so desperately needs and longs to be restored.

Restore my soul,
Refresh my heart,
Renew my life in every part.
Reveal to me what sin remains
then lead me to the cross again.

Relight the fire
that burned so strong.
Reminding me what you have done
My one request is to be changed
so lead me to the cross again.

And at the cross I'll find a way
to live the life your hand has made.
So find me there lord, then help me stay
in true surrender with you my saviour.

Oh come and change me Lord, in the deepest place. Come and change my ways.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Time for a name change?

I've just come to yet another fantastic diva decision: I think I might officially change my last name by hyphenating it : Andrea McNeil-Soprano :) How very divaesque!! It looked so good as I was labeling all of my audition package materials tonight. It was written everywhere; on the CV's, Bios, CD's, Headshots, applications, etc. Of course if I'm gonna go as far as hyphenating I might as well just go all out and change my entire name:
Diva McNeil-Coloratura Soprano
Now that has a nice ring to it :)
hmmmmmm. . . . . I wonder where one would go to officially change her name?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Recording Session #1

Last night was so exciting! I finally headed over to Jack's studio to do some recording. I was a little nervous about the process as I've never actually done any studio recording before. All recordings up till now have been done in a live acoustic with a live accompanist. I think I could really get used to this whole studio business though. There are so many perks to recording in a studio, it's like my eyes have been opened to a whole new art form. First there's the ability to completely be comfortable, no gowns or crowns required. (as much as I love the diva accessories it was nice to replace the gown with comfy clothes and the crown with the studio headphones. (I think I've already established that it never hurts to wear a tiara, but I really didn't want to overwhem Jack with too many of my diva quirks last night :) Not having to put on a show, yet still being able to create a performance with excellence can really be a great thing. With recording it's really all about the singing. I had the luxury of being able to pull out all of my technical tricks to enhance the sound and not have to worry about looking like a nutbar, cause there was no one watching. Well except Jack, and I'm sure he's seen it all. He did comment on the way in which I looked when attempting the high F in Der Holle Rache, it was something like "it looked as though I was attempting to "give birth" to my high F " :) Poor Jack having to witness that!!

There’s real beauty in being able to digitally manipulate the balance, acoustic and a few vocal issues in a piece. I am just so amazed at how much can be done in the studio. I'm even more amazed at how much Jack can do. I've always been wowed by what a super talented musician Jack is, but really it's insane how at home he is with all those buttons, cables and computers. You've got to know so much about music in order to edit like that. It really requires such attention to detail. It can be a lot of fun too. I'm really excited about the final product. I was concerned about doing any editing because I didn't want to lose the integrity or natural sound of my voice. The edit decisions that we made really just enhanced what was there, (or not there in a few cases :) Now I know why it's so hard to live up to the standards of some of the recordings that are out there, in the studio perfection can be attained, on stage it's impossible to attain perfection, even for a diva :) That's why I've concluded that they are two very different art forms -same talent- completely different executions.

Jack successfully gives birth to a super F:)

The best part of last night was just being able to spend time with Jack. Jack has always been such a blessing to me. He's always encouraging, last night being no exception. And even though he's never studied opera, he gets the struggles of being a musician which is really special just knowing that someone else gets it, especially another Christian. Jack has some great advice to give and I so value his experience and his complete willingness to help in whatever way he can. Jack is a man who truly models humility. With all his talent and musical knowledge he could just turn around and laugh in my face, but he has never made me feel inferior. He's a man who strives for excellence in all that He does and inspires the rest of us to do the same. Jack is such a blessing to me and to so many others. This week in particular as we've planned the recording session, God has used Jack to remind me of Christ's love. Jack's willingness to help me,to serve me and to encourage me with a joyful heart (even with my diva communication issues:) is just so incredible to me. I've been a little down lately, discouraged and just feeling really spiritually worn out. I praise God for the way in which He has revealed His love to me through Jack. This is why we need our brothers and sisters. God used Jack to make it so clear. I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving and praise, for how my Lord uses others to reveal Christ's unending Love for me. I can truly do nothing but praise God for Jack !

What an uplifting recording session. Soli Deo Gloria!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Burning Bridges

I have often been trapped by the bridges that I have built in my life.
I can start on the side that is causing me to stumble;
I can build a bridge to get away from it;
I can cross that bridge;
and I can wind up on the other side in a better place.
So often though, I'll find myself on that bridge again
heading back to the other side,
or I'll indecisively run back and forth from one side to another.
Somehow I fool myself as I look back and focus on the bridge.
The bridge seems to be my excuse to return to my old ways.
Maybe after a bridge is built and I have finally moved on to a better place,
it might be best to pull out a match and
watch that bridge go up in flames.
Burning bridges may not be such a bad thing afterall.
Right now it looks like I've got several bridges that I've gotta burn.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Climbing a Hill

Climbing up a hill,
the Sun is warm
as I strive to reach the top.
Such anticipation
as I wait for the joy that comes from being up so high.

Arriving at the top of the hill,
the Sun is radiant
as I dwell at the highest height.
Such exhileration
as I find the joy that comes from being so near to the Sun.

Descending the hill,
the Sun is strong
even as I wander away.
Such indifference
as I grasp for the joy that was experienced at the top.

The Sun will always be shining even when I am descending.
Oh how I long to constantly find joy in
the warmth, the radiance, and the strength of the Son,
no matter where I am on the hill.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Green for Tutty

I always wear green on Mar 17. For the longest time I didn't realize that people wore green because it was St.Patrick's day. March 17 was Tutty's birthday, and his favorite colour was green. He was actually pretty crazy about green. He painted the boathouse, the shack, and the little house at the cottage an embarrassing bright green, he drove a green car, the carpet in his old house was green. Green seemed to be everywhere with him. For the longest time I thought that everyone wore green on March 17 because it was Tutty's birthday. It's funny how naive I was as a kid. I guess I just assumed that the world loved Tutty as much as I did cause it also took me a while to figure out that Lake Joseph, where our cottage was, wasn't really named after him (his real name was Joseph).
I still wear green on Mar 17. Yea I've got some Irish blood in me, but the real reason I'll always wear green is because it was Tutty's favorite colour. Tutty used to always smile when I told him that I was wearing green for his birthday. I miss that smile, especially today.