Reflections: CLA France 2018

A snapshot of the countryside by the chateau.

A snapshot of the countryside by the chateau.

Reflections:  CLA France 2018

Life is loud.  In the city, working a graduate program, running errands, the daily stuff of life, it is all part of a rhythm.  I am thankful for all of it, because the routine is part of happiness and a life as a singer.  We are always up and moving, meeting new people, acquainting ourselves with new repertoire, blending backgrounds to make some good music.  

I was down in Charleston recently for a series of performances during the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.  We did a send-out concert at the beautiful Mepkin Abbey, a place rich with musical history.  The leading monk there was a career organist and pianist before turning to monastery life.  On the way back to our cars, we walked down the pathway lined with live oak trees. One of us commented on how quiet such a life would be.  No technology, no connection to the outside world — just the work.  Folks go on meditation retreats to have this great escape.  A place to reset, a haven.  In the life of an artist, we rarely get the chance.

When I woke up today, I opened my window out to the Dordogne hills.  Other than the birds singing, the occasional distant car driving down the country road, and the voices of the 10-12 singers that have come here to the chateau, it’s just us.  There is still the intensity of learning all the new repertoire, but the hassle is gone.  Food is provided, we don’t have to go anywhere (only to go for morning jogs next to the cow pastures...)  It is a retreat, and there is nothing but the language, the music, and the landscape.  

June 6, 2018


Spring 2016 Newsletter: A Letter From Glenn Morton

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Working with singers is an endless journey of discovery. Is it possible that a particular quality of voice that catches your ear and dazzles you with its facets of color is yet to be heard, or an artistry that sparks your imagination and touches you in un- expected and inexplicable ways exists in a budding voice student? I often say that coaching singers is the best job in the world because it is a treasure hunt. All that's required is to find the key that unlocks a free, unobstructed, pure human sound that is by its very nature, a sound we've never heard before. The job of someone who works with singers is to wait for that quality to appear, to coax it out, shine a light on it, celebrate it, and to watch it unfold.


When I was a student, working with opera singers for the first time, I saw these little miracles happen most often through diction--the detailed study of vowels, consonants, the shaping of words, the gesture of a phrase, the telling of a story.  When a singer happens upon what can only be called the "sweet spot", it is undeniable, breathtaking, life-changing. This treasure hunt became my vocation, my daily work, and the spark that created Classic Lyric Arts as I eventually found colleagues equally fascinated by the relationship between words and music, friends and supporters who love this art form and are committed to its future, and young singers who know that they have something inside of them that can only be expressed through their voice, and are willing to dedicate their lives to finding a way to bring this out through the masterpieces of opera and song. 


Three quotes beautifully encompass our mission at CLA. The first two are from the mentor/teachers whose work is at the heart of these programs. The third is from Shakespeare, who knew at thing or two about words (and music!). 


"The French sing more through their words than through their music. The unique strength of French song is in the music of the words, the painting of words. The singer becomes a painter, describing a landscape, suggesting an emotion...One must use the entire palette of colors of the voice."

Michel Sénéchal, principal coach, CLA France


"The great singers who become true legends are, not by coincidence, those who have an impeccable diction, one that is intrinsically connected to their vocal technique." 

Ubaldo Fabbri, principal coach, CLA Italy  


"Words without thoughts never to Heaven go."

Shakespeare, Hamlet


Excerpts from January Newsletter 2017: A Letter from Glenn Morton

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Mentoring an emerging generation of exceptional singers is the mission of Classic Lyric Arts. Illuminating a path to understanding the music of language is our method. 2016 marked our 8th year of CLA Italy and our 5th of CLA France. Each new season brings a group of extraordinary young singers to Europe to study the techniques and traditions of French and Italian opera and song with master teachers focused on the interconnection of language and great singing. We believe that a singer, authentically and honestly telling a story through music, has the power to move us, inspire us and illuminate our common humanity. Our conviction is that the keys to beautiful, engaging and powerful singing lie hidden in language itself. Within words exist the elements of song--the colors of vowels, the expression of consonants, the gesture of a phrase, the telling of a story--elements that are part of a journey without end. 


Excerpts from December Newsletter 2017: A Letter from Glenn Morton


Celebrating CLA '17/Preparing CLA '18

As we wrap up an extraordinary year at Classic Lyric Arts, having now accomplished 15 summer training programs in Italy and France, and approaching the milestone of our 10th year at CLA Italy, the question at the heart of our work is: what does it mean for each of us to be part of the journey of a young artist? How important is it for us to help an aspiring musician realize their potential to find a unique way to impact their world? I myself can't imagine anything more crucial. 

     It's fascinating to observe the diverse career paths of our participants; for some it's about top graduate schools, coveted young artist programs, competition prizes, professional contracts; for others it's about creating new opera companies and lecture series, obtaining professorships, a Broadway debut, a Fulbright scholarship, and even teaching music to children in the Bronx.  Success in music has a thousand pathways, but dedication to quality is the common denominator. 

     I'm starting to see that Classic Lyric Arts, as an organization, is taking on an energy of its own, fueled by the very good people who are attracted to our mission and are consequently helping us to impact the careers of our young artists more powerfully. I feel that my personal title should perhaps be curator--like someone in a gallery who chooses fine paintings and presents them at their splendid best. The curator is neither the painter nor the painting, but simply the person who understands and loves what's beautiful about them. That's how I feel about this music, these languages, these cultures, and most especially about these young artists that give us hope for the future. I'm glad to have you with us on this journey.