Today, I have sad news to report. Legendary Italian soprano, Mirella Freni, has died.
I first discovered Mirella Freni when I was in high school. I watched her perform as Susanna in a TV film adaptation of Mozart’s Le Nozze Di Figaro. Almost immediately, I was captivated by her effortlessly beautiful voice. As I checked out more of her work, I grew to love her for not just her voice, but for her incredible artistry, dynamic range, and deep, emotional depth. Above all, it is that emotional depth and her ability to move me to tears that has kept me coming back to her work after all this time. Even when I listened to her recordings without seeing her face expressions, I could always sense the little pauses and shifts in thoughts and expressions that she used to fully inhabit her characters and communicate with her audiences. It was like I could sense her communicating directly to my heart.
Now, I would like to share one of her performances. I have decided to post her singing, “Si Mi Chiamano Mimi”, since the role of Mimi in Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème is perhaps her most famous role. In this video, she is performing with conductor Herbert von Karajan, with whom she had a special, musical chemistry with. They worked together numerous times throughout their careers.
Rest in peace, Mirella Freni. You will be missed, but never forgotten. And I know that I will keep returning to your work for years to come.
Tomorrow is Bell Let’s Talk Day. When it comes to mental health, there is definitely much more education about it than there was thirty years ago. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to break down the stigma. That is why I would like to talk about it today.
In my view, I feel like some of the stigma comes from the fact that people get scared of those who have a mental illness. Throughout my life, I have met people who shun others that are mentally unstable, as if that equates to them being horrible liars and/or monsters who should be punished and locked away from the world. But the truth is, even though some of those mentally unstable individuals have recurring, violent thoughts, many of them are not psychopaths with violent intentions. In fact, a lot of those individuals are ashamed of themselves for thinking such things, to the point where they feel humiliated in front of other people. This causes them to become cold and distant to society, which leads to them isolating themselves from the world. This isolation can be physical, in which they just stay in their homes and not go outside, or mental, in which they go outside, but their minds have been completely detached from the rest of their bodies. As a result, they go through the motions of life, but inside, they are dead and frozen in a coma devoid of feelings. Activities that they once enjoyed may no longer bring them pleasure. But worst of all, they may feel like they are incapable of caring for the people that they love, which leads to them questioning why their love appears to be gone and why they are now cold, unfeeling individuals that cannot care for others.
Therefore, I challenge you to be compassionate to those individuals who are deeply suffering from mental illnesses. If someone you know says he or she is fine, but you notice that this person has been absent a lot from school, work, or social gatherings, or if they seem withdrawn and distant from other people, that could be a sign that that person is suffering from a mental illness. This person may also be irritable and constantly tired, because the illness takes their energy away or makes them unable to sleep well. If you notice individuals with these symptoms, do not be afraid to reach out to them, because those individuals need love and caring. They do not want to be isolated in shame away from the world; they just want someone to show them that they love them and that their struggles are understood. Most of all, tell them that they are good people who deserve to be loved, because often, individuals with these illnesses do not feel that they are worthy of love. Let them know that they matter to this world, and that there is someone in their lives who cares for them.
And now, since this is my music page, I would like to share a song with you. This is called, “Seems So Long Ago, Nancy”, and it is by Leonard Cohen. Cohen wrote this song about a real woman who was deeply depressed. Sadly, she took her own life. For me, this song paints a truly moving and accurate picture of someone who is suffering from depression, loneliness, and/or isolation. Give it a listen, before you go.
Happy Friday! I hope you are all staying warm and that Christmas plans are going smoothly.
I have decided to share a little sneak peek into the lullaby project. During a recent rehearsal, Cynthia and I recorded a few pieces together, and since one of them is a Christmas song, I figured that you would love to hear it. This selection is called “Huron Carol”, and it is a traditional French Canadian Christmas song. For our rendition, Cynthia incorporated Huron words into the English text, and I made the musical arrangement. I hope you enjoy it!
Can you believe it’s almost Christmas? Time flies, doesn’t it?
Things have been very busy, both in music and in my life. But I am pleased to say that my music rehearsals with Cynthia Ganga on the lullaby project are going very well, and we are almost ready to start recording! We will have some great music coming your way in the new year, so stay tuned!
In the meantime though, I actually want to spotlight a recently released album with you. My brother, Anders Muskens, has recently released his new album on Spotify. It is titled, Mozart & CPE Bach Fantasias on a 1791 Fortepiano. Anders recorded all of these classical keyboard fantasias on an authentic 18th century period fortepiano. Before you go, please give this wonderful album a listen!
In my last post, I promised updates, and I told you to stay tuned. Well, I think I have kept you all waiting long enough. Here we go!
I am excited to announce that I have begun a new musical project! I am currently working with soprano Cynthia Ganga on some lullabies. The lullabies range from classics like Schubert’s “Ave Maria” and Brahms’ “Wiegenlied” to modern lullabies like Menotti’s “Lullaby” from The Consul and Fauré’s “Pie Jesu”. Later in the year, Cynthia and I will record the lullabies. We are very excited to work together on this wonderful mix of music.
Also, Cynthia has quite a beautiful voice! She is a wonderful singer, both to listen to and to play for. Before you go, make sure to check out this video of her performing “One Kiss” by Sigmund Romberg. It is from the musical New Moon.
It’s been a while since my last post, since I’ve had more changes happen in my life. But now, I’m starting to get back into music and a couple of projects. Stay tuned for more on those!
In the meantime, I discovered this interesting and entertaining YouTube channel hosted by David Bruce, who is a composer himself. This particular video that I am going to share is about the best and worst endings in classical music. In this video, Bruce gives a lot of insight and in-depth analysis on how to end a piece and the different ways that composers did so throughout history (as well as what works and what didn’t quite work, from a compositional point of view). I definitely gained a lot of insight and thought more about the little details and nuances of the endings of pieces that I never noticed before. Give this video a watch; it’s worth it! And while you’re there, check out more of Bruce’s channel; I know I will!
After a long hiatus, I am finally back! Things have been very busy lately, especially in my library program, so I have taken a break from music. This semester, I had three amazing library experiences. Along with coursework, I worked as a shelver at MacEwan University, worked as a Library Collection Assessment Intern for the Alberta Museums Association, and did a fantastic practicum at the University of Alberta Cameron (Science and Technology) Library. And now, as of today, I am now a shiny new graduate of the Library and Information Technology (LIT) program! I feel amazing, like I am ready to take on the world!
Despite my new blossoming career, I will definitely continue taking on music gigs and being there for all your music needs. Remember that for a wedding, show, or concert, if you need a pianist, I’ve got you covered!
And in the meantime, make sure to check out my latest video, “Let me call you sweetheart”.
It has been a long time since my last blog entry. I have been focusing on my career. But now, I am back!
Very soon, springtime will be upon us, and we know what that means. Wedding season!! I am very excited to be practicing some old favorites but also learning new wedding music as well.
On that note, I have a treat for you! Recently, I recorded a classic song, “Let me call you sweetheart”; composed by Leo Friedman in 1911 with lyrics by Beth Slater Whitson, it is the perfect wedding song; vintage, classic, and romantic. I have uploaded my recording to this website, both as an MP3 file and as a YouTube slideshow video. You can listen to it here.
I hope to have some more recordings for you in the coming months. Until then, take care!
It has been a long hiatus since my last blog entry. I’ve put music aside for my post-secondary studies, but now, with recent performances at the 2018 Edmonton Kiwanis Festival, I am back in it!
Next month will be the month of May, which means that wedding season is upon us! I am available to play at weddings, both for the ceremony and for the reception. If you know someone who is getting married, they can contact me by email or through my Facebook page (links on the website).
Also, I am hoping that I will be able to make some recordings and upload them to Youtube. I will keep you posted on the process.
And so, the curtain has come down on Murder Mime the Musical! Working on this show has been a blast; it has truly been an amazing experience. This year is my twentieth year of music, so this opportunity could not have happened at a better time.
First of all, I would like to thank our wonderful writer, lyricist, and director, Erin Hutchison, for her hard work, energy, and commitment in bringing this show to life. Erin, thank you for giving me the opportunity to play for this show and for trusting me with playing great music that was so worth working on. You were great to work with.
Next, I would like to thank the cast. All of you gave amazing performances filled with talent, energy, and commitment. Getting to be your piano accompanist has been an absolute joy. I enjoyed every moment of working with you, and I hope that we will get to work together again in the future.
And of course, let us not forget the rest of the crew for their hard work on this show. All of you did a great job.
So, thank you all for an incredible experience. I am so grateful that I got to do this show with you, and I hope that there will be more collaborations in the future. Bye for now!