Hello, everybody! I'm just loving this spring weather- just not the allergies. BUT after that five-month winter, I ain't complaining.
My allergies have really hit me hard last week especially. AND I had a sore throat.
It was particularly inconvenient for an event I was going to.
Okay, get ready for this: I got a $3000 scholarship from the Anthony Quinn Foundation for the Bel Canto institute!
I think I've told all ye about the Bel Canto Institute. In case you don't remember, it's a summer program IN FLORENCE, ITALY, where I get to study classical singing with a very prodigious voice coach (not assigned to me yet), tour the city (the cradle of the Renaissance!), eat fantastic food, and have intense Italian classes. I feel that when I come back to New York, I'm going to be fluent or close to fluent in Italian; at the moment, I've been studying Italian like crazy, but I'm at the point where I can have really derpy conversations with people.
I'm hearing SUCH many things about Florence, everything from "You absolutely must go to the Uffizzi Gallery!" to "Italian men like to pinch girls,". But mostly good things.
I am going to miss my friends SO much, though! I'll only have a free day
One of my closest friends, Valentina, plays the piano (jazz!) but wants some slightly more formal lessons for a performance that's coming up. So her mom (Jackie) and my mom have come up with an ingenious solution. My mom exchanges piano lessons for Valentina, while Jackie gives me an Italian lesson! In one of my earlier blog posts, I introduced this family as the people who I made pasta and had an Italian conversation with.
Last week, they even came to see me get my award in Rhode Island! Anthony Quinn was a writer, screenplaywright, book collector, sculptor, painter, and actor. He passed away a few years ago, and his wife runs the (enormous!) house and the foundation. The house was beautiful! We got to see his sculptures, and were even told we could touch them cos "His art is a sensory experience, too!"
There were some truly maginificent sculptures, many of them depicting abstract female figures growing out of raw rock. He loved collecting crystals and statues, and even had a Philosopher's Stone on display!
Kathy (his wife) led us around the garden and grounds. I loved how the grass was long and soft, splashed by the yellow and purple of violets and dandelions. She said she much preferred it this was because it was naturally pretty. Anthony was laid to rest in a circular garden with a pond in the center, huge windchimes making soft gonging sounds emit from a plane tree. His grave was under an enormous stone which he apparently brought back from Italy. He loved stones.
Before the award ceremony, I met several delightful people who sponsor the Anthony Foundation. Many of them were interested in musical theater, so I had something to talk about! They all seemed genuinely pleased for me.
Several people were present to give out the awards to the four of us. They said a brief speech about each person's accomplishments, and then presented the award. After I got mine, I had a brief interview for a video for the website, and then I went back to the public area. I made friends with a girl who agreed that high heels shouldn't be mandatory for public events, because they mess up your feet and hurt like hell, so why should women have to wear them?? Then we had the idea that if there MUST be high heels, they should be some kind of multipurpose item that you wear, like yeah, they're shoes, but you can use them to plant corn! It's a self defence weapon!
Unscrew the heel and it's an awl! Detach the other and it's a lighter! And with the heels off, NOW you can dance.
Seriously; this has to be a thing.
After the event, my dad summoned me to the car. He was sitting in the front seat; didn't say a whole lot, but he gave me a pendant necklace with a bear made of jet, carved in a native american style. My dad wears an elaborate turquoise and pipestone necklace, also with a bear on it, because of his Choctaw heritage, I think. My dad said I reminded him of Bear. When I wear it, I not only feel connected to my indigenous ancestors, but to my dad. I don't really think I could have been accepted by the Anthony Quinn foundation had it not been for my parents. My dad gives me vocal lessons twice a week- he's one of the best opera singers currently in the classical world, so he really knows his stuff. AND he treats me as a singer, not as his daughter, so he doesn't mince words!
My mom works even harder for me. She helps me tune up my voice nearly every day, and helps me memorize the songs, too.
My aunt was visiting (the sassy foodie aunt) and she, my grandma, my mom, Quintin, Valentina, and her family went to a lobster restaurant for dinner (I had a salad). Valentina's grandma lived nearby, and had arranged for us to stay at her house. Her house was BEAUTIFUL!! It was, without a doubt, THE biggest house I've ever seen. She loves Morocco, so the walls were hung with painting depicting scenes in the Middle East, and the tile work was, I think, from Morocco. There was a swimming pool, a sauna, and many bedrooms whose luxury was only surpassed by those at the palace of Versailles.
On Mother's Day morning, all the moms, grandmas, and aunties had breakfast on the front porch with a shimmering view of the ocean. We had mostly sweets for breakfast. After thanking our hosts and saying goodbye to our friends, we drove back to New York. But first, had a DEElicious lunch at my mom's favorite destination in New England; Mystic Pizza.
Right now, I am slightly nervous. Why? Well, tomorrow, I'm going to audition for a pre-college vocal program at Juilliard (my college of choice, and if I get accepted, then I'm more apt to get accepted to go to the ACTUAL college.) I feel like this year is a HUGE turning point for me, and my path is very, very clear. It's all starting with my audition, which is tomorrow. Did I mention that already? So I have been singing literally every day, and thank god my allergies are nearly over with this year, cos I get asthma from the pollens!
I've come up with a great way to make money; I have to sing every day, right? Doesn't matter where, right? Well, I've been singing classical music in the subway stations, a capella, with a bag open at my feet. And I make at least 30 dollars an hour! Sure beats my last time busking; it was in March, and with a ukulele, and I made eight dollars in two hours. I spent the money from my first time busking seriously at the Steampunk World's Fair, but that's a whole other blog post.