Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Do you select the music you sing or does the repertoire select you? Successful young singer stories and repertoire selection. With whom do you identify? Part 2 – Tony Arnold

Do you select the music you sing or does the repertoire select you?  Successful young singer stories and repertoire selection.  With whom do you identify? Part 2 – Tony Arnold 

Soprano, Tony Arnold, is another musician turned singer whose singing path has been defined by what her voice naturally does well.  Tony also started as a piano student at a young age.  She started study at Oberlin in piano which quickly changed as she had so many things to fix.  She then auditioned 3 times for the voice program there and finally got in.  Oberlin is a place for many fine voices and Tony admits that she was not one of them.  She learned a lot and decided that she would study conducting in graduate school and pursued singing just for herself. 

While in school for her doctorate in conducting she sang the contemporary vocal piece, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Lukas Foss with musical group, eighth blackbird, in concert.  Within days, she made the decision to quit school and follow her passion of singing contemporary music.  In this style of music, one must have ‘perfect pitch’ for it all revolves around how the vocal line fits into the piece as a whole.  You must be an excellent musician to sing this style of music as you are busy trying to sing notes not phrases or harmonies, but the exact pitch.  It is all about the ‘sound and the relationship to the body’ ( , November 2011).  The music released something in her that made her want to sing and use her voice for her profession, not conduct.

Another example of a piece which Tony Arnold sings well is the obscure Ancient Voices of Children by George Crumb.  She realized in singing this piece that it was not about singing notes, but singing sounds.  Her body responded by relaxing and she found her voice by singing things that few people had sung and that few people had any expectations for what they are supposed to sound like.  (Tony Arnold, CS 2011).  A change happened to her when singing this style of music and she developed a passion for it.

Contemporary vocal music is a very different style of music not focused on the beauty of the voice and vocal line, but on how the voice fits into the rest of the musical piece.  Tony Arnold chose to take this path with her singing voice after her experiences, but the repertoire also chose her as only a musician with perfect pitch can sing it.

How would you follow your path to singing different music?  Did the music you sing select you? 

Stay tuned for another singing sensation following where their unique voice took them, Keith Phares.

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