This month we asked our bloggers to respond to the following question:
When have you used your ingenuity, creativity, and willpower to create an opportunity that is in line with your values? What role did your mindset/the mental game play in accomplishing this? What advice can you give to musicians to forge ahead and open doors for themselves
One of my favorite lines from the movie The Sound of Music is, “Where God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.” I’m a soprano. While in school in NY, I realized the odds were against me. I’d attend auditions listing 248 sopranos, 23 mezzos, 7 tenors, 18 baritones, and a bass-maybe. What that meant to me was I needed to do something differently. I needed to find a window, not to jump out of, but to climb through.
I worked for the outreach department of Manhattan School of Music while I was in school. I taught 3rd graders in Harlem and the Bronx about opera. But I received the better education from them. For some of these kids, my visits were some of the most stable moments in their lives. Through this experience I realized that everyone needs some sort of creative outlet. Their needs gave me the determination to do something, someday, to bring the arts into communities and homes.
Over the past few years, I’ve been developing a few different projects that work toward this end. The first is for communities around the nation. It’s called ANTHEM. It is a musical dramatization of the night Francis Scott Key penned the lyrics to what later became our national anthem. The story unfolds through letters written to and from soldiers during times of war. This show is highly portable, with a small cast and it is a beautifully written, moving piece. My goal is to perform ANTHEM at the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library of Congress in September of 2014. The two hundred year anniversary of the poem’s birth.
Another project I’ve been developing is a TV show about opera for kids. One of the things I love about Los Angeles, is that if you come here with a great idea and a lot of enthusiasm, you can find people who are willing to give you and your idea a chance. Right now my producer is fundraising to film the pilot. If you know anyone interested in supporting kids classical music education, do send them my way! I firmly believe we’re moving along because, as Victor Hugo said, “nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Not only will this show give kids the chance to learn about music before they have preconceived ideas about classical tunes, it maintains an outlet for their own creativity to flourish all the while providing performance opportunities to, say, a soprano or two who are ready for the challenges this cross medium platform offers.
More recently I’ve begun collaborating with a harpist, Marielle McLaren. We call ourselves; SHARP: A Soprano & Harp duo. We perform romantic, classical and modern pieces for your party or wedding, or holiday shin dig. I mean, who doesn’t want a beautiful harp and singer in their living room or out on the patio?
Remember: nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. Find your window.
– Rachel Payne, Soprano