Monthly Archives: March 2014

Nuvoletta

Taken from a text by James Joyce and turned into music by Samuel Barber, no song has ever meant more to me. Nuvoletta has been my song since I was 16, and it also embraces the very moment I discovered my passion for singing.

It was my senior year of high school, in the WA State competition. My mother was at the piano, and I was singing. Time seemed to slow down, and I could feel my blood pulsing. But I let it pulse into the song, and poured all of my nervous energy into conveying the importance of this story to the audience. Cymehemricomp Towards the end, Nuvoletta jumps off of a balcony with a swirling crescendo/decrescendo. To my astonishment, the audience had become as wrapped-up as I in the music, and some people leaned forward as the music increased intensity. I saw them settle back in as I finished “she was gone…”, and I knew from that moment forward that I would sing. I had been able to touch people with the beauty of music, and it made me glow inside with purpose.

My goal since that day has been to reach the audience. I don’t believe in stagnant beauty in music- rather, I believe in dynamic beauty and contrast, which create an overall story and sense of journey that the singer and audience take.

I’m uploading four versions of Nuvoletta. I wish I had that first time, back in high school, but I don’t. Instead, I give you Nuvoletta: in 2008 at Oberlin, in 2011 at Curtis, in 2013 with Rachel Chao, and 2014 in live concert in Houston, with Ana Maria Ottamendi at the piano.

Oberlin 2008:

 

Curtis 2011, with Don St. Pierre:

 

2013 with Rachel Chao:

 

2014 live performance in Houston, with Ana Maria Ottamendi:     Nuvoletta – Houston

Wenatchee: tractors, trios, and true love

There has to be a post about where I come from. Some people would think that boring, some artists would think they are SO beyond that, but me— I frickin’ love my hometown.

I’m from central Washington. STATE. (this is for those of you on the East Coast who think that “Washington” automatically means DC) Also, let’s clarify: this isn’t the western side of the state where it’s always rainy. It’s on the other side of the Cascade Mountain Range, which blocks all of those dreary clouds. Central Washington boasts 300 days of sunshine per year. And the culture is a strange mixture of Pacific Northwest, Midwest, and, uh… Aturtedseruc Texas. Yeah- I know that’s strange, but a lot of people seem to have roots from Texas in the area.

What’s even more strange is that the Wenatchee Valley actually has some pretty good music- even though only 60,000 people live there. I was lucky enough to be the daughter of one of the many people who is partly responsible for bringing music to the Valley. Patsy Ford (Mom) taught me voice and piano, starting before I could speak or reach the pedal. Rick Ford (Dad) taught me modesty and humor, and how to shoot birds.

Home
Dad & Mom, the dogs, the orchard, and the lake

My brother, sister and I grew up on a 25-acre orchard by a lake, which was less than a mile from my grandparents’ 40-acre orchard and my cousins. My mother’s side of grandparents and cousins also have orchards, and the whole lot of us can bellow out hymns like only born-again Southern Baptists can. Our family is incredibly close and always, ALWAYS loves each other- even when we don’t like each other. Here’s a picture of the Ford grandkids (I’m sitting on the left tire):

MalagaTractor
Ford Grandkids

I sang in just about every choir, festival, and church in Wenatchee, but the best experience singing in groups while growing up was the Rhapsodies. This was a trio that Casey Thomas, Becca Schuster and I formed our freshmen year of high school, and we continued it until graduation. We sang for community events, retirement homes, cancer fundraisers, competitions, even the fourth of july fireworks show. We even went to Disneyland our senior year at Christmas time and sang there. :-) Our most “famous” song was about a Muddy Puddle… seriously. Listen to it.

Rhapsodies
The Rhapsodies (Me, Casey, and Becca)

Since graduation, I’ve made it a point to stay connected to my roots. Last year, I had a chance I’d always dreamed of– to sing Knoxville: Summer of 1915 by Samuel Barber with my hometown symphony. The way this masterpiece recognizes the simple, yet perfect pleasures of a small-town life– the languorous pace, the nearness of kin, and the backyard stargazing– made it the ideal vessel to thank my community.

Leslie&Me
My former voice teacher, Leslie, & me- after Knoxville