Tag Archives: Serendipity

Crows

Three weeks into my Berlin adventure: the golden leaves of Goethe poems have all but fallen off the trees making my bike rides slippery and perilous and the excitement of seeing jugglers and fire-eaters on my approach to the Sigerssäule has been replaced by the sadness of seeing 3 or 4 prostitutes that line the same road on my return journey.  The golden light that bathed the beginning of this journey has been replaced by a perpetual grey and I have it on good authority that this colour is with us till March (long after my scholarship has run out and returned me to London – which also sports a fetching grey coat till Easter).  

Of course this was to be expected.  Having moved to London from Australia in mid-2002 I have already lived through many a claustrophobic winter while longing for the high heat filled skies of my home.  The excitement of a white Christmas has long since warn off and while I don’t want the Christmas of my childhood where it was too hot to bake a turkey (but the attempt was made regardless) I do dream of being under a high wide sky, near a salty rough ocean sharing bowls of stonefruit and shelling buckets of prawns with the people I love.  I know very well the feeling of not quite being homesick, but being sick for the people I’m missing (this little turn of phrase is I think lifted from the Finn Brothers song “Homesick” or from a song by the front man from Men at Work – I can only find the Finn Brothers track…but maybe someone out there can help me out with the other one):

Yet I am still here in Europe still following my dream of being a singer and not ready yet to leave and trade all the culture and learning I am experiencing here for a high wide sky.  The people I love are in almost daily contact via email and skype keeping me up to date with news from home and reminding me that I am in their thoughts and giving me the strength to keep struggling and striving to find my voice as a singer and as a person – letting me know that although I must do the work of finding my voice alone they are supporting me on this journey.

And of course I am not really alone.  I have a wonderful and supportive mentor in Liane Keegan, who knows too well the compromise of wanting to achieve in opera and realising this is not possible if you stay in Australia.  I also keep meeting other artists who are not from Germany and who are here for the same reasons I am, to find their voices in the art forms they love.

These meetings with other artists almost always fell serendipitous and remind me why I am here.

Last weekend I had an email from a singer-friend in New Zealand who encouraged me to see a cabaret in Berlin being performed by an Australian she had studied with in Queensland (really how did we survive before the internet?). Like so many things connected with this adventure I have been having in Berlin, this turned out to be another serendipitous event.  

 

Basil - potentially part of one's family in Berlin

 

Montmorensy and the Montmorensy Orchestra sang songs that had tears of recognition running down my face and into my glass of Weißweine, particularly when he sang about moving to Berlin and living by himself for the first time in his life and realising that his Basil plant was the only living thing in his apartment aside from himself and as this was now his only family he would have to look after it well (I sighed as I realised I did not even have a basil plant).

I laughed in recognition as he sang of the difficulties of being in a new country and knowing no one, but going religiously to sit in an internet cafe with a dozen other people in the same situation who connected not with each other, but with a myriad of friends through the internet.  

My favourite moment was when he compared the songs of the German crow and the Australian crow.  Both birds have distinctive, but very different cries, the Australian crow sounds like he is crying out “Art, Art, Art”.  

 

Such an evil looking bird, but he might just have a message...

 

It took the sound of an Australian crow and an Australian boy from Grafton (my mother’s home town) to remind me why I am here in Germany far away from the high wide skies and the noise of the birds that fly in them.  I am here for Art, Art, Art – and for the moment that is enough.

Please head to Montmorensy’s myspace page to hear “Crow” and other songs that somehow mix an Australian sense of humour with a German sensibility:

http://www.myspace.com/montmorensy

Serendipity: Small World-Large Currywurst

The operatic world is tiny!  Last night I went to a performance of Falstaff at the Deutsche Oper (my third opera in 1 week, others being Die Frau Ohne Schatten and Die Zauberöte für die Kinder – information to come!).  In the loo after the performance, while assessing the damage of riding to the performance by bike, I realised I was sharing the mirror with an American singer I worked with in 2006 on a performance of Falstaff on Belle-Ile, France.  

After catching up on what each of us had been doing for the last 3 years and what had brought us to Berlin, we did what most singers do – spent several hours talking shop: dissecting the performance, comparing singing techniques and discussing the different requirements for singers in Europe compared to America and England and Australia.  We were also joined by another American singer (fresh off the boat and ready to do European auditions) and an American double bass player from the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper.

Wheat beer with green cordial

Wheat beer with green cordial

This lead to a fabulous night of discussion about music and life and a sampling of some of the more delightful parts of German cuisine: Berliner Weisse mit Schuss grün und Currywurst.

Currywurst

Currywurst


Essentially this is a wheat beer with green cordial and a sausage with tomato sauce and curry powder, both acclaimed delicacies of Berlin (I think like Doner Kebabs you need the beer in order to eat the Wurst).  I have added pictures as seeing is believing.

Aside from the food, this was a wonderful night.  Singers and musicians are, on the whole, a welcoming bunch, particularly in Europe where so many of us are strangers in a strange land. The work is often transitory – friendships are made quickly, stories are shared and even before we know anything about the other person we relate through our love of opera and are genuinely excited by the capacity of the human voice to tell human stories and emotions.

My entire journey to Berlin from meeting Liane Keegan at the same time as my mentors at ENO were discussing my change of voice type to the very first application I made to the Finzi Trust, to the interview stage, to securing my accommodation here has felt serendipitous.  Last night’s meeting also felt like another occasion of serendipity.  I think I am definitely meant to be here and am so grateful to the Finzi Trust for the time I have here to learn about singing in Germany, to meet with colleagues new and old and to enjoy changing repertoire.