Mezzo soprano Elizabeth Harris shares a mid-semester update from the Manhattan School of Music where she is coming to the end of a Master of Music majoring in Classical Performance Voice.
A few weeks ago I had a wonderful time hearing Sofie von Otter in concert at the Lincoln Centre. Maestro Nicolas McGegan (from the NZSO Messiah) was conducting and had given me a ticket, and also an invitation backstage to meet Sofie – wow! Such a beautiful evening of music from such a compelling artist and it was so special to be talk to her as well. Sofie was the first international artist I heard in concert many years ago in Auckland and back then I never imagined I would one day be studying and singing in New York!
Last Friday evening I had my final Masters recital and I am delighted to report that I think it was the best recital I have ever done. On the evening I set myself a couple of personal goals, and as a result my voice was free and I enjoyed focusing on how and what I wanted to communicate. I sang a number of Duparc and Brahms songs; an American set about the First Ladies of America; (premiered by Susan Graham) ‘Una voce poco fa;’ and my new German aria, Octavian’s ‘Wie du Warst.’ Audience members shared with me that my encore of ‘Hine e Hine’ was particularly meaningful for them and it felt really special being able to share a small taste of New Zealand with my American friends.
Staging rehearsals are well underway for Emmeline now. What an incredible experience it is getting to work with the composer – I’ve never done anything like that before. I definitely think it is the most complex music I have ever sung – lots of leaps and tricky rhythms, but I love that it has stretched me as a musician and I can’t wait to perform the role of Aunt Hannah in the school’s new theatre in a few weeks.
A few weeks ago I had a very positive audition experience for the Martina Arroyo Foundation in New York. It is one of the few summer programs in the city that not only is tuition free, but gives the opportunity to singers to perform in a fully staged opera with orchestra. Its reputation makes it highly sought after! This summer they are doing Die Fledermaus, and I am so excited to have been cast in the role of Orlofsky.
We have also filed for my Green Card application. At the moment, our lawyer has told us that the wait time for my temporary work and travel permit is about 7-9 months, and then at least a year for an interview. But we are hoping that because it is spousal, their shouldn’t be too many issues. We are also hoping that my travel permit comes through in time to be able to come home to New Zealand for Christmas this year.
I am profoundly grateful to the Dame Malvina Major Foundation for their incredible support which has enabled me to grow so much as a singer, artist and musician in New York. My time at the Manhattan School of Music has surpassed all my expectations in terms of the roles I have learned and performed, the language studies I have taken, and the wonderful staff on faculty that I have been fortunate enough to work with. I am so excited to see what the future holds.