Saturday, November 10, 2007

AIMS Graz 2007, My Experience - PART II - GRAZ (Arrival & First Couple of Weeks)

The hardest part about traveling from London to Graz was the layover in Frankfurt. I grew up in Heidelberg just an hour away, and it was really hard to be so close and not be able to visit. My Oma also lives just about an hour away in Worms, but unfortunately we had a layover just long enough to run through security and get to our connecting flight.

Luckily everything went fine, and we arrived in Graz ready to go. I was surprised by the shabby quality of the Studentenheim, but we had our own sinks and got used to the smell pretty quickly. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that I am allergic to mold, and there was a ton of it in those dorms. I didn't identify the problem until about half-way through my trip to Austria, but it was very difficult to sing right from the start.

They kept things pretty low-key for the first week, allowing time for everyone to get over jet-lag and look around Graz. Having grown up in Germany and also having visited Austria several times I thought I knew what to expect. Interestingly enough Graz was much flatter and much more Italian than I expected. Everyone speaks German there, but they have thick dialects and the buildings and shops seemed much less German than I'm used to. The town does have a lot of culture even though it is very small, and I especially enjoyed going downtown.

Shortly after we arrived we auditioned, and it was from those auditions that they selected which performances we would participate in for the rest of the program. I didn't feel spectacular about my audition, particularly because it felt like I was singing through a brick wall. But luckily for me the room we auditioned in was extremely live, and the reverberation covered up some of my sickness.

I also began working with my teacher, which was probably the best part of the entire experience. I was assigned Dr. Alfonse Anderson from UNLV. He is a wonderful singer in his own right, and having a tenor who has a real ear for technique was very rewarding. He had ton of great advice right from the beginning, and also went right to work on my issues with legato. He is a kind, gracious man who is full of loving support.

I was also assigned a coach--Wei-Zhi Weng, and he also was full of great advice. He was particularly excited about my potential for singing German literature. He coached a ton of pieces with me, several coaching sessions happening outside of those scheduled on his own time. He is a conductor and music mentor in Berlin. For anyone wanting help who is singing in Berlin, you can link to his site here.

I also have to mention what a great support group all the girls from BYU were to me while I was there. It was a stressful time for me and for them, missing our families and having all of our own singing issues. The were full of good advice and were always available to talk to. Right from the beginning we developed a real family relationship.

Here are some photos! Enjoy!

Fountain, Downtown Graz

Statue representing the defeat of the Turks at Graz (notice how the statue is standing on a crescent)

My Graz Girls

View of the fortress of Graz

Church spires, note the Asian influence

How do you really feel? :)

Graz town center

Wow, Graz is the place for ice cream!

One of the many court yards in Graz

Graz's oldest bakery

on a tour of Graz


Deanna at out Strassenbahn stop

One of Graz's many clocks

Downtown Graz

The girls studying for BYU's Fall Opera (Marriage of Figaro)

These street performers were particularly fun--they played some really good Schubert

Room in the Graz University where we were welcomed by city officials
Party at the Palace (Me, Natalie, Rachel Cox, Deanna, Rachel Willis)

Rachel and her teacher Mary-Jane Johnson

The path leading to the palace

The Glasses

The AIMS Chorus

The room in the palace where the AIMS Chorus performed

To be continued...

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