Friday, February 19, 2010

Opera Apprentice Programs for Pianists, Updated

This is an updated list of apprentice programs that train pianists (and whatever else I can find that pays and gives performing experience). These are specifically not summer gigs, which I've listed here.

Des Moines Metro Opera - OPERA Iowa Touring Group goes from Jan-April

Kentucky Opera Artist Program - Aug-Nov

LA Opera - Full Season

Metropolitan Opera - Lindemann Young Artist program - 1+ years

Minnesota Opera - Full Season

Nashville Opera - Jan-March

Opera Colorado - Sept-May

Pensacola Opera - Jan-April

Utah Opera - Aug-May

Virginia Opera - Full Season

Washington National Opera - 2 year program

Other Random or Related Gigs:
Cleveland Baroque Orchestra Young Artist Apprenticeship Program - Full Season

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Over the past few years, I have heard several people claim to attend concerts featuring 'Carmen Miranda'. I'm relatively certain they actually meant 'Carmina Burana', and would like to offer a brief example of the two for comparison.

Carmina Burana sounds like this.

This is Carmen Miranda.

Just sayin'.

*Additional Silliness:

Natalie Dee has several genius moments, including her recent impression of an American Carmen Miranda:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Two Collaborative Pianists Walk Into a Bar . . .

Among musicians, personality stereotyping is rampant. Whatever traits driving someone to choose say, the tuba, combined with quirks enabling excellence in the tuba, ultimately form a set of idiosyncrasies that are often, um, mocked. There aren't that many stereotypes about pianists, though, and I have yet to find anything for collaborative pianists/accompanists. After jotting down tendencies I've noticed, I realized they weren't really traits as much as weird learned behaviors, probably significant only to those familiar with the CP 'breed'. I've observed several pianists who tend to:
  • Unconsciously cue entrances with a head gesture, sniff or deep breath
  • Constantly rearrange sheet music to eliminate page turns
  • Possess strong opinions on the 'use of plastic music protectors' debate
  • (females) Often opt to yank one's hair back in an 'I-don't-have-time-for-this' ponytail
  • Experience total glee upon discovering the IMSLP database
  • Possess multiple music binders, toted in something the size of a suitcase with wheels
  • Eat meals in bar form
  • Wear engagement and wedding rings on a neck chain
  • Maintain a strong affection for 44 oz caffeinated drinks
  • Easily keep a straight face if a singer has forgotten their lyrics and begun scatting German
  • Possess advanced photocopier skills
  • Regularly agree to some piece or performance that is diabolically intricate or really inconvenient, then kick themself for saying yes
  • Notice that 90% of male CPs specializing in vocal music are straight and married to a singer, or are gay
Sometimes I wonder about my own quirks, such as the tendency to:
  • Keep a small, piano-friendly, crook-necked lamp (and extension cord) in my car
  • Bring an empty 3-ring binder, 3-hole punch, scotch tape and highlighter to juries and auditions
  • Keep a metronome in my purse at all times
  • Suffer from recurring nightmares that I'm handed new music 20 minutes before a performance
Clearly, pianists just don't make good joke material. We'll probably never find out how many collaborative pianists it takes to screw in a light bulb. I did like this joke, however, which plays on the know-it-all nature of pianists:

A pianist and singer are rehearsing "Autumn Leaves" for a concert and the pianist says:
"OK. We will start in g minor and then on the third bar, modulate to B major and go into 5/4. When you get to the bridge, modulate back down to f# minor and alternate a 4/4 bar with a 7/4 bar. On the last A section go into double time and slowly modulate back to g minor."
The singer says: "Wow, I don't think I can remember all of that."
The pianist says: "Well, that's what you did last time."

Related article: Musician Racism

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Collaborative Piano Opportunities for High School

Credo Summer Program - string rep and piano

Interlochen High School Piano Summer Program - vocal rep, chamber music, piano

NYU Steinhardt The Art of Solo and Collaborative Piano - college prep, chamber music
Washington National Opera Opera Institute - vocal rep and piano

Collaborative piano for high school students sounds a bit strange, but it is a great alternative to keep a talented (yet burnt out on solo rep) student from quitting altogether. A growing number of summer opportunities for young pianists are available. All of the following study collaborative piano to some degree:

Bravo! Institute - string rep and piano

Monday, February 1, 2010

Musical Theatre and Music Directing

Musician is a great site in general, but I wanted to call attention to this article about musical theatre performing and music directing, Tips for the Piano-Conductor by Dave Hahn. It's rare to find actual written advice about the field, so I appreciate when professionals take the time to write about what they've learned through trial-and-error. Enjoy!