I'm headed to Australia next week for the Australian Festival of Chamber Music in Townsville, NSW. I was recently sent a series of questions to answer for festival's e-newsletter, so I thought I'd share my answers here as well.
What are you looking forward to about AFCM 2014?
--I'm looking forward to so many things about AFCM 2014: returning to beautiful Townsville, hiking up Castle Hill a few times, and hopefully fitting in a bit of sightseeing. I'm excited to reunite with old colleagues and friends, and make some new ones. I'm also looking forward to enjoying some Vegemite on my toast in the mornings -- I really do like the stuff, though I only seem to crave it when I'm in Australia. Oh yeah, the MUSIC! It really is a special kind of gratification and excitement to give so many performances in a short period -- often one is still buzzing from the previous night's concert while being excited about tonight's concert. One's head spins, and the days fly by because they're so action packed.
When was the last time you were in Australia?
--In November of 2011, when I sang at the Huntington Estate Music Festival in Mudgee.
What are some of your recent performance highlights?
--This past May I made my Carnegie Hall debut singing the bass arias in the St. Matthew Passion with the Oratorio Society of New York. I've also been singing a lot of Charles Ives songs in my recitals this past season, in preparation for recording an album in the near future. He is such a unique composer -- one of my favorites -- and I'm really looking forward to singing some of his songs at the festival.
When did you start singing the Eight Songs for a Mad King?
--I first performed the Eight Songs for a Mad King in 2010 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I hesitated for a while before accepting that engagement because the piece is so freakishly demanding -- to the point of being potentially dangerous to sing! -- and I also wasn't enjoying listening to any recordings of it. But so many of my friends who had either performed the piece or seen it in person said that it was one of the most powerful concert experiences they'd ever had, so I decided to take it on. It's now it's one of my favorite pieces to perform.
What inspired you to start singing?
--From my early childhood, I obsessively sang along with the record player in the privacy of my bedroom -- I would press my ear to the speaker and try to make my voice sound exactly like whoever was on the recording. (No classical music whatsoever, but stuff like the Beatles, Elvis, U2, Linda Ronstadt, The Police, Johnny Cash, the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack, Talking Heads, AC/DC, etc.). It never occurred to me to sing in public until my mid-teens when I saw my high school's production of West Side Story. I thought it looked like fun, and that inspired me to take the first steps toward bringing my singing out of the bedroom.
Where are you based?
--I live on the island of Manhattan.