Archive for the ‘podcasts’ Category

Photo Sep 03, 12 13 48 AM

This is for you opera/theatrical types out there.  After being in an acting class this summer, I was curious if iTunes U had any courses on related topics. I discovered that the National Theatre has a collection of video clips on iTunes U on every aspect of theatre, including:

Also, I found these other iTunes U courses and podcasts:

Remember, even if you’re not an Apple user, you can still access iTunes U content for free on a PC or Android device.

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I was inspired to compile a list of streaming internet radio stations that are of interest to classical singers, after reading a thread on this topic on Facebook some weeks back.  You can listen to these audio streams on your computer using your web browser; on mobile devices, you can use an app like TuneIn to access most (not all) of these audio streams.  For some channels, e.g. Operavore, the player on their website provides more real-time information about the work, performers, and composer than you get through an app like TuneIn.  Other channels do display that information within the TuneIn interface.

If you have suggestions for streaming audio channels that belong in this list, let me know in the comments section.

VivaLaVoce (WETA, Washington DC)

Description from their website: “VivaLaVoce presents classical vocal music in all its forms, from the Middle Ages to the present, 24 hours per day. Featuring Opera, Choral Music, and Art Song, the station offers something for everyone who loves vocal classical music.”

Operavore (WQXR, New York City)

Click on the “Operavore” tab at the top of their website to listen to the streaming audio.  Description from their website: “Operavore is WQXR’s digital 24/7 audio stream, blog and weekly radio show devoted to Opera. The Operavore blog features breaking news, expert commentary and reviews by writers Fred Plotkin, David Patrick Stearns, Marion Lignana Rosenberg and Amanda Angel. The stream features a continuous, carefully programmed mix of classic and contemporary opera recordings. The show, which launches Jan. 19, 2013, features opera news bulletins from the around the globe, previews of new recordings, and interviews with the players and personalities on the scene.”

MPR Choral Stream (Minnesota Public Radio)

Listen from your web browser, TuneIn, or the MPR Radio App for iPhone.  Description from their website: “We’ve created our 24/7 choral stream for one reason: we love this music. We want to share our favorites and some beautiful surprises with you. What’ll you hear? A big range from Palestrina to Pärt, spirituals to Schubert, and new work by Whitacre, Lauridsen, Paulus, and more wonderful contemporaries. You’ll discover great professional choirs, college choirs, amateur choirs, church choirs… anytime you want!”

radio_opera_logo Rádio Ópera (São Paulo, Brazil)

Description from their website: “Full-length operas 24 hours a day.”

King FM Opera Channel (Seattle, WA)

Description from their website: “All Opera, all the time – only a mouseclick away! Featuring operas 24/7, hosted by Seattle Opera General Director Speight Jenkins.”

King FM Choral Music Channel (Seattle, WA)

Description from their website: “Choral Channel in partnership with Chorus America”

NDR Kultur – Belcanto (NDR, Hamburg, Germany)

Listen to this stream at ndrkulturbelcanto.rad.io.  Description from their website: “NDR Kultur presents the most famous arias from the world of Italian opera. The stars of the international opera stage for an hour draw the listener into the realm of dreams and the ‘dolce vita’.”

http://www.swissradio.ch/menu/discography/klassik/opern/index.htm Swissradio.ch Opera (Switzerland)

Description from their website: “Opera and Operetta: Enjoy with swissradio Opera legendary and rare opera recordings in full length.”

GotRadio – Classical Voices

Description from their website: “Opera and choral music”

ottos_opera_house_logo 1.FM – Otto’s Opera House

Description from their website: “Listen to over 1000 complete and uninterrupted operas from the baroque era to modern days [sic] performances. You will be dazzled by the greatest singers and composers. A great collection of operatic music!”

rd_opera Diveky Radio – Opera (Budapest, Hungary)

Description from their website: “The premier opera recordings from Hungary and around the world”

rd_operetta Diveky Radio – Operetta (Budapest, Hungary)

Description from their website: “Famous operettas from Budapest and Vienna, augmented by well known French and English works”

Radio Caprice (Russia)

Their channels include OperaMass/Chorus/Cantata, and even a station devoted to popera, if that’s your cup of tea.  The TuneIn app was the most straightforward way for me to listen to these channels, since the web page required browser plug-ins that I was unsuccessful in installing.  If you do use the TuneIn app, you’ll need to search on the exact title of the channel in order to find it, due to the large number of Radio Caprice channels, so search for “Radio Caprice Opera” or “Radio Caprice Mass/Chorus/Cantata”.  Speaking of which, the Radio Caprice website lists a huge number of musical genres for which they have channels, 2/3rds of which I have no idea what they are (what is “funeral doom metal”?).

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fachme

The other day, my friend Katia H. told me about a website I wish I’d built, called FachMe.com.  The premise is simple: you enter roles you’ve sung and found well-suited to your voice, and the website suggests other roles for you, based on its database.  As the websites states: “FachMe uses a database of over 16,000 real opera singers’ careers to recommend characters which are statistically likely to suit your voice.”

Over at Stack Exchange, the creator of the site, Jordan Eldredge, explains a bit more about what he was trying to accomplish with it:

Unfortunately, much like musical genres often do a poor job of defining the subtitles of music, the human body and composer’s imaginations don’t conform very tightly to our categorical constructs [of fach]. That being said, we need a vocabulary to discuss and even internally process the qualities that make a voice suit a role and, like musical genres, this is the best method we have.

When I was doing my undergraduate degree in voice, I became very frustrated with singers over-identifying with a fach and either limiting themselves, over-extending themselves, or trying to learn repertoire that would probably be in their future but was not yet healthy for their voice. To help combat that trend, I started a website that skips the system of fach pigeon-holes and helps singers find appropriate roles directly.

The website asks a singer for roles which they feel suit their voice right now, and then searches through its database of over 16,000 singers careers for singers who sang those roles. The site then lists other roles most commonly performed by those singers.

It’s not a silver bullet but it’s a useful tool for brainstorming and it has the advantage that it’s based on actual data.

Eldredge also posts a link to an episode of KALW’s VoiceBox podcast called “The Fachs of Life” which mentions FachMe.com and also features Nathan Gunn, Nicola Luisotti, and Sheri Greenwald discussing the topic of fach.  (Play the episode online or download it as an MP3 file.)

I played with FachMe.com a little bit – I wasn’t familiar with all of the roles it suggested, but the ones I knew seemed reasonable.  I’ve heard that the website tries to take various factors into account in order to make sane recommendations – for example, if you enter a role that a singer in the database did very early in her career as a young singer, it will not necessarily recommend roles performed late in that singer’s life.  I am interested to hear others’ opinions on the quality of the recommendations they get.  This is the sort of tool that I would approach with the standard disclaimers (your mileage may vary, take it with a grain of salt, each singer is individual, etc. etc.) but it might be fun to play with and at least glean a few interesting role suggestions.

Credit: iTunes U / Apple

Credit: iTunes U / Apple

I’m starting to explore iTunes U as a learning resource for all of those subjects relevant to the music I perform: art, literature, poetry, history, mythology, language, etc. etc.  The wealth of free course videos, notes, and audio lectures from respected universities is impressive.

This is all well and good on my iPad.  However, by choice, I live in a mixed ecosystem when it comes to tech (iPad, Android phone, laptop running Ubuntu Linux with Windows courtesy of VirtualBox), and I really prefer to listen to audio tracks and podcasts on my phone as opposed to the tablet.  So how to access iTunes U resources on my Android phone?

Enter TunesViewer.  TunesViewer is free software that lets you browse and download iTunes U course resources on the Android and Linux platforms.  Last I checked, the Android version is not available from the Google Play store, but you can follow these instructions to install the Android app (and you’ll want the latest version of the actual .apk file here – scroll to the “Installation” section at the bottom, click on the “.apk” link and save the downloaded file to your Android device).  I am liking TunesViewer so far.

Note that if you’re using TunesViewer and want to subscribe to iTunes U podcasts, you’ll need to install a full-fledged podcast manager app too.  (My preferred podcast app on Android is DoggCatcher.)

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Last Thursday I had the pleasure of meeting for coffee with Dan Molkentin, co-founder and co-artistic director of SingersBabel, the subscription-based website with lyric diction resources. He happened to be in town for the Music Library Association conference, so we took the opportunity to get together and talk shop. I knew at once that he was a kindred spirit when our conversation ranged from web technology stacks, media workflows, and website project management, to textual discrepancies in different composers’ setting of the same poems, Italianate vs. German Latin, and whether we should be rolling or vanishing our final R’s in German.

One piece of SingersBabel news that Dan shared was that they will be introducing Russian resources to the website in coming weeks. The resources will include multimedia guides for learning the basic sounds of the language, as well as guides for specific texts and repertoire. Speaking of repertoire, Dan tells me that the repertoire guides on the site will focus on choral works and oratorio, with a bit of art song to boot. (Although I REALLLLY hope – pretty please – that they’ll consider bringing some opera people on board to produce diction resources for the operatic repertoire and Italian. There’s an untapped market there, and even if they just did the arias from those ubiquitous Larsen anthologies, I bet they’d get business from a bunch of vocal performance majors and the like.)

We also talked about the recent SingersBabel website testing program, which I participated in.  One thing that I discovered in the course of testing is that the website has many more resources than I thought; it’s just that they’re hard to find (and the SingersBabel team is working to rectify that).  A sampling of notable resources:

Dan shared some other online music resources with me as well.  One of them, Peachnote, is something I’ve been meaning to check out for a while.  From what I’ve gathered, Peachnote is a provider of a number of interesting music technologies, but one that particularly attracted Dan’s interest was Peachnote’s platform for collaborative online multimedia annotation of music scores.  In plain English, that means that you can use Peachnote’s score viewer to annotate the score with your own text, audio, or video notes and also view annotations that others have added.  Here’s a screen capture of Peachnote’s score viewer with annotations:

peachnote_score_viewer

Peachnote also makes it possible to embed the score viewer in your own website, and in fact the viewer is already in use over at IMSLP with a number of scores.  For example, you can go to the IMSLP page for Le nozze di Figaro, navigate to the full score for the overture, and click the “View” button:

peachnote_viewer_on_imslp

The Peachnote viewer then displays the score, which someone has annotated with a YouTube video recording of a performance of the overture:

figaro_overture_in_peachnote

Dan also tipped me off to the Sparks and Wiry Cries blog and e-zine about art song.  (I can’t believe I’ve never stumbled upon this.)  From their masthead: “Our mission is to provide a virtual home for the art song community: performers, students, scholars and fans. We endeavor to provoke thoughtful discussion about the extraordinary art of song.”  One of their contributors is Emily Ezust, creator and maintainer of The Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Archive, and they have a number of other notable contributors as well.

sparks_and_wiry_cries

Lastly, Dan mentioned Medici TV, a French website which offers free live broadcasting of concerts, operas, and ballets along with video on demand from their catalog of concerts and classical music documentaries.

medici_tv

Thank you, Dan, for our engaging and enlightening conversation, and best of luck with the SingersBabel venture!

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https://i1.wp.com/thedictionpolice.podbean.com/mf/web/w9q6kx/The_Diction_Police-R-green_250x250.jpg

I’ve been catching up on listening to the latest Diction Police podcast episodes.  I really liked this episode and thought it deserved a special mention:

Episode #65: Special Edition for Young Coaches

For budding coaches, there’s advice on:

  • What skills you need to acquire
  • How to get experience while still in university
  • How to get work
  • The different things that are expected of you in different kinds of rehearsal/audition/performance situations, and the different skills you’ll draw on in each of those settings
  • How to deal with difficult personalities and sticky situations
  • Audition repertoire
  • What singers want and need from you during a coaching

For singers, this podcast provides some insight on how to work with coaches most effectively.  It also helped deepen my appreciation of how much skill, hard work, experience, knowledge, and talent it takes for coaches to do what they do.

Budding choral conductor/pianist types, this podcast might be helpful for you too.  Obviously the repertoire will be different, but there’s a lot of overlap in the skill set – languages, styles, rehearsal skills, people skills, playing open score and/or from a reduction, etc.

Credit: Cleartune / Bitcount Ltd.

I recently fielded a great question on the New Forum for Classical Singers.  Forum member TRGareau posted:

I use an iPhone for languages/ear training/keyboards/metronome but scores don’t really carry over well. Are there any other things the smaller screen is good for that I’m forgetting?

Here’s what I posted in response:

  • Listen to recordings, watch YouTube clips of performances (says Captain Obvious)
  • Use WorldCat app or mobile website to locate scores at libraries and make interlibrary loan requests
  • YAP Tracker has an app (haven’t tried it myself)
  • Music theory apps (I haven’t checked these out either)
  • Practice with MP3 accompaniment tracks when you’re away from your pianist (you can get these from YourAccompanist.com and other websites)
  • Store song texts and libretti to memorize on the go
  • Make a spoken recording of your lines/text and listen to it ad nauseum, as a memorization aid
  • Make recordings of lessons/coachings/rehearsals in a pinch, if you don’t have another recording device on hand
  • Quick and dirty audio/video recording of your performances, to evaluate later
  • Make a cheat sheet of staging notes
  • Scan scores and reference materials at the music library
  • Subscribe and listen to podcasts on opera, history, language, literature, diction, the biz, etc.
  • Protect your hearing – see TooLoud app
  • Visualize the overtones in your voice – e.g. see MeionSpector app
  • Use a flash card app with pre-made flash cards, or make your own cards, to study languages, IPA, theory, or any other topic. I’ve always thought that the OperaWorks attitude/gesture cards would be interesting to enter into a flash card app.
  • Cleartune is a cool app, mainly for instrumentalists but I found it too cool not to get…

Some of the app mentioned above are iOS-only, but many have Android versions (or close equivalents).