Our Last Day :(

I can’t believe today is already our last day in London!  We’ve been so busy that time has just flown by!  I know I haven’t updated you in the past couple of days, so let me highlight some of the important things I’ve neglected to mention.

First, Michael and I got to coach with Eiddwen Harrhy, which was absolutely fantastic.  She had some really interesting tricks regarding approaching Handelian coloratura, and she helped me explore some new ornamentation, which I always appreciate.  Between mine and Michael’s scheduled sessions with her, the three of us ran to Harrod’s for a quick shopping trip.  We were incredibly stupid and separated without a way to call each other, as the three of us are sharing one UK mobile phone.  This resulted in me actually running back to the college and calling them from Sophie Hussey’s phone, telling them to come meet me there.  We were totally unprepared for what Harrod’s has to offer, and we didn’t get to explore more than a couple rooms.  I’ll have to come back and spend a week or two just wandering around that place!

Once we reconvened and finished up with Eiddwen, we attended the finals of the Handel Competition at St. Georges.  That was tons of fun, especially since the audience is given voting cards to pick the “Audience Favorite.”  We all took copious notes critiquing the 6 performers, and we compared our votes which were almost identical between the 3 of us. Unfortunately, our favorite singer didn’t win any awards at all, but our second place pick won several prizes, so we were fairly satisfied with the results.

The following morning, we attended the run-through of “Riccardo, primo” at the RCM, which was fabulous!  By now, we’ve met several of the singers, and it was fun to see these people we’re getting to know actually perform.  After that, we got to tour Covent Garden with Simona, as she was a young artist there.  She and another woman from the company took us backstage, to the dressing rooms, costume and set construction, and through several rehearsal spaces.  This was absolutely one of the highlights of the trip, and we got to see some truly life-changing ballet dancing.  The Royal Ballet principals were rehearsing and coaching their upcoming show “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”  If you get the chance, you MUST see it.  The choreography is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, and the dancers are simply exquisite.  I’m not a big fan of ballet, but this show is absolutely riveting.  All of us, including Simona and the tour guide Caroline, were crying while we observed some of the dress rehearsal on the mainstage.  That was a completely unexpected and wonderful perk of the tour!

We finally collected ourselves and headed out for a delicious lunch with Simona in the Covent Garden Market.  Before it got dark, Simona took us to Abbey Road, and we took the picture I posted earlier.  It was SO much fun, and despite the fact that we made several drivers very angry, we got an absolutely perfect picture of the 4 of us in the crosswalk, just like the Beatles!

We ended the day with a brief meeting with the Director of RCM, a wonderful Baroque orchestra and choir concert, and dinner with Simona and George.  All in all, it was yet another day filled with inspiration, fun, and delectable food!

Today was quite eventful, and equally inspiring.  We hit the Handel House Museum, and literally got to stand in the room where Handel wrote the Messiah.  We then went to the Foundling Museum and rehearsed the 4 Coronation Anthems with Maesto Laurence Cummings, which was a pleasure and privilege.  The ensemble was mainly consisting of older men and women, and he had them sounding quite unified in under 2 hours.  I love working with efficient and knowledgeable choral conductors, and despite our exhaustion (and the sound of hearing aids whistling for the whole 2 hour rehearsal) it was a fairly enjoyable rehearsal.

The best part of today by far was our visit to Westminster Abbey.  Jessica’s father knows the director of the choir there, James O’Donnell.  He allowed us to sit in the stalls for both the rehearsal and evensong service today, and it was simply breathtaking.  The boys in the choir are absolutely adorable, and it was remarkable to see how disciplined and accurate they are.  I couldn’t believe they allowed us to actually sit in the stalls where diplomats and Royalty sit when they attend services there!  I felt like a princess 🙂

I’m simply exhausted, and I can’t believe that we’ve seen and done so much in only a week!  It’s been an immeasurable privilege to be here and do all these things, and I am eternally grateful to Mr. Joshi for giving us this opportunity.  I also wish to extend thanks to Sophie Hussey, Nina Akif, Jonathan Kenny, Eiddwen Harrhy, Steven Johns, Nick Sears, and especially to Sophie and George for spending so much time with us and showing us some of Georgina’s favorite parts of London.  I sincerely hope I get to spend time with each and every one of you again, and if you’re ever in the States, you’d better look us up!

We love you all from the bottom of our hearts, and thank you so much for all your support!  Bonsoir, et au revoir, London!

-Olivia

feeling royal…

I know I haven’t been blogging the past few days on here, but that’s because we have been busy from break of dawn until late at night. We have been packed with days of music, touring, museums, singing, observing rehearsals, eating great food and walking. A lot of walking.

On Wednesday we finally did some shoe shopping and each of us bought great shoes! That was exciting. Then we sat in on an opera workshop class- the students sang all of their arias back to back and afterwards gave constructive criticism. It was good to observe that and see a student-professor collaboration. We then had more coachings with Jonathan Kenny. He is a pleasure to work with, very energetic, good sense of humor and intuitive to Handel.

After a day of singing, we ran home to get changed for the evening concert. This was a great concert, in a very ROYAL way. We had exclusive tickets to attend a ceremony in which HRH (his royal highness) Prince Charles was attending! The security all day was intense- dogs sniffing bombs, policemen everywhere and everyone in an excited mood to see the Prince. When he walked through the door in the ceremony, he walked right by us! I took a really good picture and he literally was 3 feet from where we were standing. It was a great moment for us no doubt. The concert was great! After presenting all of the awards the concert music began and it was very entertaining.

After the ceremony, we went home and I got to relax with my parents and grandparents who are here visiting. It was a long day and we were exhausted but so excited from all of our experiences thus far!

We are now running to catch breakfast before our rehearsal with Lawrence Cummings, so I will post later today about Thursday and Friday. Needless to say, this trip has been life-changing for us, and we do not want this trip to end.

More to come…

Jessica

 

Quick catch-up

I’m super behind and will post lots of details and pictures later, but I just had to post this before I forgot.  That’s Simona on the far left…Enjoy 🙂

-Olivia

HRH – an important acronym

Eiddwen Harrhy and His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales

Today was another mind-blowing day, and yet again, the lovely RCM folks placed us in the presence of greatness with graciousness and the utmost generosity.  Allow me to delay gratification for a few paragraphs and outline the slightly less life-changing but still fantastically educational moments of our day first before divulging the juiciest info.

We started our day with a tasty hotel breakfast with Simona and yet another gorgeous morning walk through Hyde Park.  We watched a mock-auditions class with some of the RCM masters students with Sally Burgess, and then lunched with Abby Mitchell.  I had my first “bangers and mash”, and it was super tasty.  I’m proud of myself for being very adventurous and trying as many traditional English dishes I can get my hands on.  So far, it’s worked out in my favor!  We three each had another session with Jonathan Kenny, and I got to revive some Handel I haven’t touched for a few years.  It’s always lovely to sing something you haven’t worked on in a while and still be able to wail on it without old bad habits creeping back 🙂

Now, all these things were great, but the best part BY FAR was getting to attend the President’s Visit at the RCM.  Now, RCM stands for ROYAL College of Music, and as you might have guessed, the Royal family has something to do with the College.  The President of the college is His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.  In essence, we got to attend an event with a PRINCE!  For those of us who don’t have Royal figures (unless you count Britney Spears or Kim Kardashian), this was a big deal.  The most amazing part of the whole event was when Eiddwen Harrhy got an award, and during her introduction, they discussed her visits to IU, her work with Georgina Joshi, and the scholarship between the institutions.  As you can imagine, we all fist-pumped at this point, and the fact that our school was mentioned in front of the Prince was completely unbelievable.  Go IU, and go Eiddwen!!!

After this glorious moment for which we claim eternal bragging rights, we had a delicious dinner with Simona and George at Wagamama, and then while Jessica spent some time with her lovely family, Michael and I got some dessert and turned in early for some skype time with our loved ones back home.  As you can imagine, we’re starting to be a little homesick, but we’re loving every minute here and can’t believe the trip is already half over 🙁

More excellent things to come tomorrow!  Goodnight, and enjoy the pictures!

-Olivia

Another Surreal Moment in London

Today was another full day for the three of us! We all had fantastic coachings with Jonathan Kenny at the RCM. It was soooooooo much fun…again! All of these mind-blowing experiences can make one very sleepy……After coachings were all done we went back to the hotel to change because….drum roll………..WE GOT TO SEE THE PRINCE OF WALES!! It was so crazy!! He came to the RCM fo present awards and fellowships to some former students and faculty members. Prince Charles walked about 5 feet away from us, and he smiled at us!! We finished the evening with two of our favorite people, George and Simona. They told us stories of coming to the states as we shared a meal at one of Georgina’s favorite restaurants. It was like eating at a fancy, ethnic Chipotle……SO GOOD! Georgina had great taste in food and people! Once again, we have loved every minute during this day. Hopefully we can all get some rest before the next day begins!

Late Update

I don’t think I have ever taken a trip like this one; almost every single moment has been so incredible, it’s kind of hard to believe that this is still happening. Monday was so full of mind-blowing activities….I still can’t believe I actually got to touch an original copy of a Mozart piano concerto….Olivia put it best when she said that shivers were literally traveling down the spine all day! Sooooooooooooo Cooooooooooool!! The Royal College of Music is so incredible. There is so much history in the building. It was such an honor to be able to walk around and see their collection of music, art, instruments, etc. It was also a really cool thing to see the rehearsal to the Handel opera they will be performing next week. There was so much talent on the stage, and the hall was absolutely gorgeous.
We also were able to go see The Magic Flute at the Royal Academy of Music (thanks to Simona and George!). This was a blast! We met several incredible people at this academy, saw a collection of original Stradivari violins (and a cello!), poked around at some famous pianos, and we ended the evening by watching the opera. It was really interesting to see the opera set in the 80’s, but it was a very fun show overall!
Today was another trip to the Royal College of Music where we met with Georgina’s incredible voice teacher Eiddwen Harrhy and a very distinguished early music coach/singer named Jonathan Kenny. Jessica had a lesson with Eiddwen, and Olivia and I had coachings with Jonathan. It was sooooooo much fun! I learned a ton from Mr. Kenny, and I can’t wait for my lesson with Eiddwen.
I am so excited to see what the coming days will bring us!!

Loving London…

So this has been our third full day here in London. Quite frankly, I don’t want this trip to end. Every day so far has been nothing but pure amazement. As you read in Olivia’s post- yesterday was a day full of geeking out and having mind-blowing musical moments. From touring RCM, meeting faculty/staff, seeing the amazing establishment, to sitting in on Handel’s ‘Riccardo Primo’ rehearsal, seeing/touching the Mozart manuscript (highlight of the day for us), seeing the museum filled with historical instruments, seeing a museum of Stradivari instruments, meeting Simona and Yorgos (such sweet, kind people), seeing The Magic Flute at the Royal Academy, meeting Jane Glover!, meeting Neil Mackie!, and ending the day with some IU bonding time in our rooms; it was more than we could have asked for.

Today was a blast. My parents and grandparents arrived early this morning, and it was so great to see them! I am so lucky to have such a supportive family. We went to school to have some coachings.. I had a great 90 minute coaching with Eiddwen Harrhy. She is wonderful, and it was a pleasure to work with her. Olivia and Michael had a coaching with Baroque ornamentation specialist Jonathan Kenny. After our great coachings, we had a nice dinner at the Greek restaurant ‘Santorini’ with my family. It was really great to catch up with them and relax after a long day. I’m so happy my family is here in London with us! Then we met up with Simon, the aussie tenor at RCM, and watched a game of football at a nearby pub. It was nice meeting him and his friends to discuss the differences between our schools, and our musical experiences. Needless to say, everyone has been really hospitable to us so far, and we feel VERY welcomed.

Tomorrow we are up for another day of coachings, observing opera rehearsals and meeting with more faculty of the RCM school. There’s so much we want to do while here, and every day so far has been filled with wonderful events! We are so blessed and grateful for this opportunity, and are living up every moment of it!

More to come….

Jessica 🙂

When in London…

First, and most importantly, our contacts at RCM are quite fired up about the fact that we haven’t posted any pictures featuring their facilities or faculty.  So please view our wonderful photos attached to this post, many of which where photographed by the lovely Nina Akif (Nina, we love you!!)

We got to lunch with Eiddwen Harhhy, which was lovely (and tasty!).  We had a delicious meal in the Royal Albert Hall cafe.  Jessica had an absolutely fantastic coaching with her, and after that, both Michael and I got to work with Jonathan Kenny.  We all sang Mozart today, and they both had very constructive comments.  We walked out of RCM feeling quite confident and rejuvenated, which if you ask me, is how one should feel after singing…no matter what!

We had a delicious Greek dinner with Jessica’s family, and then went to a small British dive with Simon, one of our “RCM buddies”.  It was great getting to know him and his friends, and also to experience a bunch of locals watching a football match in a pub!  (translation: watching soccer in a bar).

Tomorrow is yet another full day of work and learning.  We’re hoping that our jetlag has finally waned enough that we’ll be able to fall asleep and get up at normal times feeling rested and ready to work!

G’nite <3

-Olivia

Geeking out

Sorry for the radio silence…the internet service our hotel uses was down all over London yesterday for about 12 hours, and we were pretty much without a way to communicate with both the RCM people here and our friends and family in the States for most of the evening.  But we’re back online now, and I’m so excited to share our experiences from yesterday with you.

Yesterday at RCM was a geek’s paradise.  I cannot emphasize this enough…PARADISE.  We started out observing the “Riccardo, primo” staging rehearsal, which was really inspiring.  These students are no joke…they’re killing this Handel, and I heard some of the most beautiful countertenor voices I’ve ever experienced.  We had lunch with our student buddies who are really fantastic, and I got to meet Abigail Mitchell, the IU Joshi international fellow.  Also, every music student in the States, be prepared to be very jealous: these kids have a lounge called BaRCM (Bar RCM).  Yes, it is a bar with ALCOHOL IN SCHOOL, but they also have video games, a pool table, a DJ set up, and a little mini stage where students will put on concerts and have jam sessions.  What an amazing idea…I’m pretty green with envy.

Now, here’s where it gets geek-tastic.  We went to the RCM library and had a consultation with one of the head honchos there.  He pulled several extremely rare manuscripts for us to look at, and we got to touch pieces of music worth more than the school itself.  Here’s the kicker – we touched…yes, TOUCHED a Mozart manuscript of a piano concerto.  We literally touched paper that Mozart wrote on.  I had chills, and was almost brought to tears.  It was probably one of the most significant moments of my career, and certainly of my life.  I can’t thank everyone who made this trip possible enough, because that moment was so flipping perfect, and I will probably never get another chance like that again.

After having our lives changed, we met Simona and George, friends of Georgina’s, and they took us to the Royal Academy’s production of “Magic Flute”, which was really fantastic.  They updated it to the 80’s and the opening scene was in Studio 54.  They did a really good job overall, and the staging was a bit bizzare, but very engaging nonetheless.

Overall, the day was absolutely wonderful, and I still can’t get over the fact that we touched something Mozart touched!!!!!!  Happy geek over here…very happy geek indeed 😀

By the way, this thing is worth about $160 million. Yeah.

-Olivia

Our first day!

This day has been absolutely surreal…which is due in large part, I’m sure, to our extreme jetlag.  We wandered sleepily through Heathrow and customs, met our driver, and pulled up to our quaint hotel in Notting Hill.  We packed away a GIGANTIC traditional English breakfast and then headed to St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church for noon communion.  It was a very traditional and private service, and it was unexpectedly moving.  After receiving communion, I looked to Jessica and saw tears trickling down her face.  She had dreamed of attending a mass in a London cathedral since she was a little girl, and the beauty of this little church was simply overwhelming for all of us.  But then again, so was this fantastic little shoe store we found a few blocks away from our hotel.  Maybe the exhaustion is getting to us more than we anticipated…

In addition to our English breakfast, we had a dinner at a pub, where we shared an assortment of pies, fish and chips, and peas.  It was super tasty, and I’m looking forward to chowing down on a lot more traditional English fare!

Tomorrow, we get to go to the Royal College of Music campus and meet with one of Georgina Joshi’s good friends, Simona.  I’m so excited to take a ton more pictures and attend the RCM library and museum.  But now, after several hours of travel and almost no sleep, we’re ready to pass out at about 8:30pm London time.  Looking forward to a good night’s rest and a fantastic day tomorrow!

Cheerio!

-Olivia