I was going to be a good boy and head to bed early tonight. But having just learned that Mistress Tongue (nee Lisa Hirsch) has graciously included TSR in her Litany of the Blogs cover story, I figured I should probably put something up quickly so that Tuesday's SFCV visitors can be greeted hospitably.
After all, Christmas, Christmastime is here! Time for joy and time for cheer! Also, as a singer it's time to make some serious cash—or, as one colleague says, it's time to fleece the goyim. In addition to all the Christmassy concert work and the extra church jobs and the endless supply of Messiahs, a shocking number of singers I know pad their December schedules with caroling in ersatz Dickensian costumes. You know that embarrassing quartet of carolers you just dodged at the mall? That bass could have been me. The soprano might have been a Met regional finalist; the alto, an internationally touring cabaret singer; the tenor, an SF Opera chorister... Really, there are some seriously skilled folks out there doing some terribly unskilled work this month.
I've always found the booking process to be somewhat of a curiosity. Prior to the start of the season, the various agents fill their stables of singers, several on each part (soprano, alto, tenor, bass). When a booking comes in, the agent puts the call out for singers' availability, and one person from each voice part gets sent off to some office party in San Jose, or an outrageously rich family's fete in Pac Heights, or a shopping center in Corte Madera, or a golf club in Livermore. You never know who you're going to be thrown in with until you get there, but it doesn't really matter 'cause all that's involved is singing Jingle Bells about 40 times with a big smile on your face, and then you split up and go your separate ways again. I've always thought of it as something like taxi dispatch meets an old-school Chinese menu meets escort service. With top hats.
Today's job entailed singing Frosty the Snowman at Davies while people dressed up as Christmas trees were tapdancing. Last weekend's highlight was singing Up on the Rooftop next to the sorriest-looking Santa I ever did see. He had a pink Baskin-Robbins slurpee-like thing in a massive cup sitting next to him.
But one of the things I sort of look forward to each December is the hundreds and hundreds of miles of driving I have to do. Not the parking situations that arise, of course—oy! But all the solitary car time allows me the opportunity to listen to all sorts of stuff that's been piling up on my desk.
And as a bonus, this Saturday's itinerary took my right past the Berkeley Amoeba, so of course I had to stop in. (Looks like I missed you by a day, Robert!) No Tsontakis to be found, unfortunately, but I did pick up the new Soft Pink Truth; used copies of Penderecki's Credo, Ades's Powder Her Face and a CD of Jon Leifs's music (on Alex Ross's recommendation); and an album that's been on my Treo's to-get list for so long I had even forgotten why I had put it on there: Luciano Perrone's Batucada Fantastica vol. 3. From the liner notes:
This LP, 'Batucada Fantastica Volume 3' dating from 1972, is perhaps the most interesting [of the series] from a listener's perspective. Normally very tiring to listen to, batucada recordings are not most people's home listening favourites...
Don't you feel wooed by such a welcoming description?