Posts Tagged ‘undone’

looking back, looking forward

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Hey there.

So it’s 2013. Where did last year go?

2012 brought so much live music into my life, and I drank it all up like a thirsty man finding water in the desert. I have two young kids, so getting out of the house at all, let alone seeing tons of live music, is nothing short of manna. I went to Hillside Festival in Guelph, and to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, in, well, Edmonton. Got to see Merill Garbus and the incredible tUnE-yArDs (watch this video for a sample of her crazy/raw/fun aesthetic), and I fulfilled a life-long dream of seeing kd lang perform—my expectations were high and she blew them away. Oh, and Leonard Cohen! He was unbelievably amazing. It’s been a big year for seeing live acts. And so much of it was so inventive, I felt really fired up listening to these exciting boundary-crossing kinds of musical works and performances.

Professionally, I was also extremely lucky to conduct Echo Women’s Choir in the Spring of 2012—a fantastic group of 80 women from various backgrounds and professions, all coming together to sing some pretty wonderful and at times pretty challenging songs from many singing traditions. The honour of conducting Echo was one of the two professional highlights of my 2012.

The other was the growth of my singing studio—some new students came in last year that have just been incredible to watch and work with. And students who have studied with me for longer all seem to have found newer and deeper growth in their vocal journeys this past year. I’ve learned so much from my students, and am so proud of what they’ve accomplished, and inspired by their willingness to risk and put themselves out there.

So in many aspects a good year for music. But still.

I miss singing.

Watching all that music and watching the work of my students gave me lots of ideas for some musical projects moving forward. Now that I’m in the throes of my dissertation work, I hesitate. Do I have enough time to take on another project, in addition to being a student and a teacher and a mom? I’m not sure but I think I have to try. I think my first order of business is upload some clips from my 2010 cabaret ‘Undone’ with Jen Cook. I was proud of that work, and I think I’m ready to share it, or at least pieces of it, with the world.

Next, deciding which musical project to start with. Stay tuned…hopefully by summer I’ll have something more to say here. I guess this is my New Year’s Resolution, though it feels like more. A commitment to singing, my own passion. But here it is: in 2013, I’m going to work towards more performance.

And may I be so bold as make a request of you for 2013? Go see live stuff. See some live music. See a play. See a dance show. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on big ticket concerts and broadway-style plays. In fact, it’s in many ways better to see the band at your local pub, or see the innovative work of your local theatre companies. Nothing compares to the live experience, not even in the digital age of facebooking and tweeting and youtubing. You have to be there.

OK, 2013. Bring it on.

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the joy and agony of performance

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
Jen and Deanna dancing

Deanna teaches Jen to two-step

We just finished our two-night run of the east-end edition of the Undone Cabaret. It was, literally, a full house both nights.  Without suggesting that our performance was awesome, I would like to state that, in general,  house concerts are a wonderful thing.  The set-up is cozy, personal, and full of sparkle. It makes everyday living extraordinary, turning intimate personal space into a public performance space.

And houses are weird performance spaces. When Jen and I first performed the cabaret at a house concert in the West End, we were confronted with a space that simply couldn’t be set up as a traditional musical concert space, with audience over here watching the performers over there.  Audience members had to sit all over the room, almost facing each other.  We needed help to figure out how to perform in this space. Under the gifted direction of Fides Krucker, Jen and I stopped thinking of the house as a challenge to overcome and more as an opportunity to be inventive with how we performed this show. And so we sang in the kitchen. We sang on the stairs. We stood on sofas, and held on to basement door handles. By really using the house as a performance space, our little musical cabaret became a full performance that straddles theatrical performance and music concert.

me singing In the Still of the Night

"In the Still of the Night"

And this weekend’s performance built on that work.  I feel proud of what I accomplished. My performance wasn’t flawless. Man, dealing with performance nerves and production anxieties meant that my challenges were cut out for me.  There were moments, though, in both nights, where I got to that sweet spot of just fully inhabiting the music in the space. Just a few moments. But they were there.  The other moments were filled with the constant running internal narration, wondering if people were enjoying themselves, wondering if I should have reviewed the words to my next song, wondering if I could chicken out and not lie across strangers’ laps while singing. Does this happen to you when you perform?  How do you move yourself out of that space to be more fully present in the performance? I found that a few check-ins with my body and voice structure sometimes helped.  Like trying to keep my palate lifted and my tongue soft. Chin down.  Soft knees.  Another useful approach was simply to listen to what was happening. Pull my attention outside of myself, and really listen to Jen as she was singing, to Tania on piano, and Chris on bass.  Truly listen and let the sound drop into my body, discover how it affected me. To be fully present in the here and now.

These weren’t fail-safe techniques, but they sure helped. I did have a fantastic time overall!

Thanks to everyone who came out to see us perform. Thanks to Chris and Tania: it’s such a blessing to perform with such accomplished musicians. Thanks to my family, including my mom who flew in from Edmonton and was affixing labels to CDs all day Friday, and my partner who took care of the food and the space and our boys AND me. And above all, thanks to Jen, my singing partner and friend.  I never would have done this show without her and I never would have discovered as much about singing and performing without sharing this journey.

Stay tuned for the next iterations of the Undone Cabaret!

Deanna and Chris

Chris and Deanna

By the way, the pics here were taken by Matthew Piers at our dress rehearsal. (Thanks, Matthew!)

If you’d like to see a few more, check out “undone cabaret” on facebook and look for our August photo album.


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undone recordings

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Woot!  We’re going to go into the studio on Monday to record our favourite songs from the Undone Cabaret.  By “we,” I mean Jen Cook, Tania Gill (on piano), and Chris Banks (on bass). By “the studio,” I mean a big empty room that used to be a dining hall, in which my amazing colleague Augusto Monk will use his equipment to capture our magic. And maybe add some percussion?  What’d’ya say, Augusto?

I like the idea of undone recordings.  Really, I just meant recording songs from the Undone Cabaret show.  But isn’t it a bit of a mind-twister to think of a recording as unfinished?  Can we go into that old dining hall and remain open and raw and unfinished and record what emerges?  My hope is that we’ll be able to more closely capture the feel of a live performance, rather than the pinnacle of recorded perfection.

With a lot of sweat labour and some luck, we’ll have some CDs at the show on Aug 27 and 28! Have you reserved tickets yet?  Saturday is close to selling out, and Friday isn’t too far behind.  I’ve started cleaning the house–well, the front porch. But it’s a start. We’ve got a line on some chairs.  The sangria recipe is selected and the mini-cheesecakes have been identified for purchase.  Yep, the show is shaping up!

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undone cabaret: new performance dates!

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Jen and I are thrilled to announce that we’ve got two more end-of-summer performances planned for the undone cabaret.  Mark your calendars for Aug 27 and 28 in Leslieville–east end Toronto.  Come and see the show that has been described as “a hedonistically divine evening capable of stoking a lustful fire, and healing a broken heart.”

I’m so excited to work with Jen again–such an incredibly bright, warm, intoxicating voice. Yes, I could easily drink a case of her.  And accompanied  by Tania Gill on piano and Chris Banks on bass?  As if that isn’t total awesomeness right there.

We’ll announce more details as we’ve got them, and check upcoming performances for details.

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