Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept it… – Rachel Payne

One of my earliest memories in college was sitting in a circle with my freshman classmates discussing why we were there. What training had led us to this place. (Because let’s face it, not many youngsters are saying, “Gee, I want to perform music that’s 400 years old!”) I found that even among this elite group, I was in the minority with my answer.  I am a performer.  That’s what I know.  It’s part of what I do and a part of my identity. My gifts have the ability to touch people. Beyond that, the world was one big ball of mystery for me. And to some degree, it still is.

I have discovered a few things about myself.  In my undergrad, I never believed that I could be an opera singer.  I thought opera was ugly.  Montserrat Caballé, and Renata Tebaldi could go sing on a tiny island somewhere in the middle of the Pacific far away from me for all I cared.  And then I heard it. A recording of Anna Moffo singing Caro Nome.  And my perspective on what the human voice was capable of communicating completely shifted.  It was like this angelic bird, something otherworldly had come into my sphere of understanding and said, “what if opera, were like this?” Oh yes I thought. I could do that.  I could sing that.  I could communicate that.

So what about all of the people who feel the same way I did?  What about all of the friends I have who have no interest in opera or classical music because they see a horned-helmet-breastplated woman wolfing disjointed German phrases into the ether?  I believe there is an “angelic bird” of sorts for most everyone when it comes to this music. So that is my mission.  In everything that I perform, in everything that I promote, in everything that teaches about this art form, I strive to transform an audience’s experience of music – from something foreign, to something intriguing. I cultivate through exceptional performance a genuine sense of relevance and impact.  My mission – is to make music matter.

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