Life is GOOD!
WARNING: This post may overwhelm you due to the many talented, creative people that surround me.
First of all, welcome to the world of MR NASTI, a great band out of Murfreesboro, TN. I met these guys this summer when their van broke down north of Ames, IA. They were on tour as Nicholas’s other band, Children of Spy but were stuck for the whole weekend in Des Moines (with me). We had one of the most memorable weekends ever and have been friends ever since. Children of Spy came back to Iowa in the fall for Maximum Ames Fest and MR NASTI will be in Des Moines in April! I’m so excited for that tour. MR NASTI is doing a couple of release shows on March 4th and 5th in Murfreesboro, and then in Springfield, MO which I’m hoping I’ll be able to get to!! It’s hard with school to make trip like that, though.
Anyway, my great friend Spencer helped me record vocals for a few songs on the new MR NASTI album, which was a really fun time. This video is a promo for the album, to the song called “Innovation.” I sing on the second verse and some harmonies throughout. I LOVE all the songs I’ve heard and cannot WAIT to dance/rock to the album when it comes out!!
Spencer Harris, the gentleman who helped me record those vocals for MR NASTI, just released his own album, which you can buy on all the Itunes/Amazon websites OR download FOR FREE at his bandcamp and on this sweet review by music critic blog Crack In the Road:
Seriously, his album is SO GOOD, especially if you like shoegaze. Spence and I are going to be doing a lot of recording in the last few months before Drake graduation, trying to make the most of our last months before we end up in different cities post-graduation. He’s already done some awesome things with my songs (his bedroom recording studio is so much more legitimate than my own).
In other news, I’ve been playing a few shows with the local artist (and one of my best friends) Elizabeth Arynn, who also has a new album in the works which should be done in April. The next show I’m doing with her is on March 22nd at the Vaudeville Mews. http://www.elizabetharynn.com/
We are playing with Johnny Corndawg and it is going to be a super fun night!
Stay with me here. I’ve been asked to play a show on April 5th with the local band the River Monks, fronted by my love, Ryan Stier. They will have just gotten back from a month long tour of the Southwest, check out their tourdates here:
Their live show is excellent— all the members of this band are very talented musicians and they are some of the best people you’ll ever meet, which shows through in their music. Don’t miss them on this tour!!!!!
I’ll be playing my very own set at a house show in Urbandale on April 23rd with MR NASTI and The River Monks, so come and see these awesome bands and my first solo show ever.
My pal Alexis Gideon is a multi-talented avant garde composer who makes stop-motion videos to accompany the music of his project Alexis the Band. http://alexisgideon.com/
His music is really interesting; he combines Bohemian folklore with rap, as well as dozens of other influences. Just take a listen and you’ll understand how awesome it is. He is also one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, and we have similar backgrounds and musical aspirations. I’m hoping to record my debut album with him in Seattle when he gets back from his three month residency in Le Vigan (north of Montpelier, France). His residency starts in March, and I’m very excited for him!
I think that’s pretty much it for that particular category of exciting things. Now, for the exciting things on the academic side of my life!
I’m in two choral ensembles at Drake University. Drake Choir is doing a concert this weekend, which is a fundraiser for our upcoming tour to Ireland and Wales as well as a reunion for past alumni. It’s this Saturday at 7:30 in Sheslow Auditorium. I’m pretty pumped about the choral program at Drake right now because I realized this weekend how good we are. Exactly a week ago, Drake’s Chamber Choir sang at the American Choral Director’s Assocation North Central regional conference in Madison, WI as one of the fourteen (selected from 90 auditioned choirs) selected. Of all fourteen, we were the only one that got a standing ovation! Oh, and out of the blue my brother, Cole, became a vocal major this semester at Nebraska Wesleyan this semester and was asked to join their amazing choir, which just happened to be singing the AMAZING oratorio (which Drake did with the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra my freshman year) To Be Certain of the Dawn, composed by Stephen Paulus, libreto by Michael Dennis Browne, at ACDA!! My parents drove all the way from our hometown, St. Paul, NE to see me and my brother singing together at the main choral event of the year. Crazy! Drake’s choral director, Dr. Aimee Beckmann-Collier, is possibly the most amazing woman I have ever met. Come to our choir concerts— you won’t regret it!
Speaking of Michael Dennis Browne, I’m going to try to do a poetry workshop he’s doing this summer at the Writer’s Workshop Festival in Iowa City. First, I have to find an extra five-hundred dollars lying around somewhere though… He is coming to work with Drake Choir this April, along with a few other poets. Dr. ABC has put together yet another amazing opportunity for us to engage with/reflect on the work we do in a new way. More to come on these things later!
Speaking of Iowa City….(I know, I keep doing the “speaking of” thing…) First, I’m excited to visit Jenna Harmon, my beloved musicology/writing/Sacred Harp nerd friend who is deciding where she’s going to pursue her PhD in musicology. She’s looking at some awesome schools, and we had a great time talking about them this past Sunday at Zanzibar’s. I’m going to visit the music department at the U of IA sometime this spring; the professors, graduate program and Writer’s Workshop reputation are attractive and perfectly suited to my ambitions! My best friend Kaili, who’s currently pursuing a Master’s in Physics at the U of Southern IL, said she might go to medical school there, so I’m kind of hoping our paths cross again in that town…
Speaking of good friends… (last one, I promise) my other best friend (and three-year roomate) Emily Anne Meyer is in the midst of her student teaching experience. She’s a fabulous writer and one of the most inspiring people I know. I’m so glad we got to spend most of our college years inhabiting the same space— I’ve learned so much from her about how to live life. Here’s her blog, you should read it: http://missemilymeyer.tumblr.com/
My education at Drake has been so comprehensive! I feel really good about my music degree. The professors I’ve worked with are all great teachers, wonderful people, and top professionals in their fields. My musicianship and writing have improved SO MUCH, thanks especially to Dr. Eric Saylor. He took the time to help me write my thesis during his sabbatical this year, and I’m happy to say that it’s done as of this week. The subject of my thesis is the Dorman Hundling Silent Film Sheet Music Collection, which is a giant collection of silent film music held in Cowles Library at Drake. If you’re interested in reading it, I’ll be happy to send it to you. I’m excited because I think I’ll be able to publish a version of it in a scholarly music journal.
I’ve also been studying classical voice with the amazing mezzo-soprano, Ann Cravero, who has helped me build my confidence and work through singing difficulties with asthma and stage fright. I’ll be showcasing what she’s taught me over four years at my recital in Sheslow Auditorium on March 10 at 7:30. If you want to hear songs and arias by Mozart, Bellini, Rorem, Schubert, Verdi, Donizetti, Quilter, and Fauré, then don’t miss it! Hopefully we can have a party afterwards too. Dr. Cravero is also the director of Drake Opera Theatre, and I’m in the chorus (and the understudy for Adina) this year in Donizetti’s Elixir of Love which we are performing at the end of April. It’s going to be awesome, so please consider coming to that as well. Don’t worry, we’re doing it in English.
I’m doing a few auditions for various opera companies in the next couple of months. Very excited to make an audition video with my accompanist Francine Griffith and my talented videographer friend, Ben Pappenheimer this upcoming week.
So yeah, I’m really $*%&ing excited for a lot of #*$^ right now! But wait! There’s more! I’m taking a bunch of really interesting classes during my last semester as an undergraduate. One, a literature seminar in which we just read Hannah Foster’s The Coquette. I wrote a song based on my reaction to the novel, which I used for a project in that class; I’ll share it on here eventually. There were a lot of really great projects presented in class on Wednesday. Next up— Frankenstein by Mary Shelley! Loving it so far!!
Also, I’m taking a writing seminar with Megan Browne, a wonderful teacher in the English department here at Drake. She’s been leading some powerful discussions on what we value in good writing and I really appreciate her open-minded approach to writing. More on this later.
Beethoven Beethoven Beethoven. An all-Beethoven class with Dr. Dougherty. This class has been on the back burner while I have been preparing for my recital and finishing up my thesis, but now I’m ready to immerse myself in the life and music of this genius. These subjects are going to be the source of hopefully more frequent blog posts, because I want to continue my upward trajectory of improvement as a writer. I doubt anyone will read this far down this 5-mile long post, but if you do, thanks for reading.
2 notes, February 17, 2012