400 Audience Members and Little Me

Hello everyone, I hope everyone is enjoying some nice weather. Summer is almost over and I am so glad I get to share my musical experiences with you all. 

I have put performing on the back burners for now and have shifted my focus to practicing! So much practicing and it never seems to end! While I have some fun music to share soon let’s chat about my performance that almost made me pee-my-pants (is that professional to say, even if its true?) On May 13th I had the incredible opportunity to perform at Benaroya Hall in Seattle for Cornish College of the Art’s Graduation ceremony. For those who are not familiar with the Seattle area, Benaroya Hall is where the Seattle symphony plays. It seats a LOT of people. It is in the heart of Seattle, near Pike’s Market and near my favorite Target. As you can see from the pictures, the hall is pretty large. Many big names in the classical world have performed here, technically I shared the stage with Renee Fleming even if it was about a year apart. 

Benaroya Hall 

Benaroya Hall 

To be honest, I did not think the hall would be very full because the school I attend is small, but I was wrong. The bottom floor was completely full, somewhere around 400 people where there. Now, I have performed in front of a crowd this large, but this experience was a bit different. The last time I performed in a hall this large I was one of many sopranos for Faure’s Requiem back at Eastern Illinois University. This performance at Benaroya Hall, I was singing one of four different parts of a SSSA a cappella piece. So I was all along on my part and this piece was difficult.

The piece, “The Sleepers” was composed by my very talented and dear friend Ashley Hickey. She fortunately has experience writing for voices so the lines that she wrote for each part made sense. Each line had their own melody and drive, certain sections would line up together, and the tempo was much slower, which made learning the piece easy. While I might be painting this picture of effortlessness, that was not the case. Many different phrases would start on a very “crunchy” chord. Some of those would be stacked minor seconds, or for people familiar in set theory it would be a (0123). So I had to be very confident on my own part. I could not even second guess myself or I knew my intonation would suffer badly. 

 

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I got together with the other members once before the day of the performance. To me this was a test to see if I really could pull my part together quickly. I threw myself in the ocean and told myself I had to swim. Pretty scary, but folks THIS DIVA SWAM. The rehearsal was just several different run-throughs of the piece. Occasionally, we would spend more time on certain sections. In my opinion when working on new music with different performers, it is best to do a complete run through first. This way everyone knows what needs work and the group can focus on the harder sections. After the one AND only rehearsal I was dissatisfied with my progress, but it gave me perspective. I was able to see what needed the most work and gained even more knowledge on how to practice. 

The day of the performance I was pretty calm until about three hours before the event started. I had to plant myself in a chair to make sure I would not pace back-and-forth backstage. All of us gathered about twenty-five minutes before it was our time to shine. Somehow I was able to pull myself together and walk out there, center stage, with total confidence. I felt excited and a bit nervous, but ready to share my gift with others. I, then open my binder and looked up. For a nanosecond, the blood drained from my face and I felt my hands get clammy. 

 

So

Many

People

 

The second I started to sing I pushed all those fears behind me and was somehow able to focus. In my opinion it was very successful performance and we made some beautiful music. The second I walked off stage I was fueled by adrenaline, honestly in the moment I thought I could lift a car. 

Honestly, I cannot believe I was given such an opportunity to sing in front of so many people. It was truly humbling and almost an out of body experience. Part of me doesn’t believe I actually performed, but I did. I am pretty proud of myself and I hope this opportunity helps keep me on my path to success. 

Much Love and Joy <3

Sarah-Jane