Our first coaching session together had been in January 2016 after my disastrous audition in Houston that previous December. My confidence level was shaky, at best, and that is not the singer that belonged in this rehearsal. Wanting to please this living legend was the overwhelming urge. I am a huge fan girl of Ricky Ian Gordon, and I mean fan girl. Many of my friends talk about certain albums that helped them move through dark times in their life. For me, it wasn’t a record album, but a book of music by this particular composer. Ricky’s music helped move me through some of the most difficult parts of my life and shone light on even on the darkest corners to give me hope, and help me move through the heaviness I felt through most of my 20’s. His choice in poetry and the poems he wrote himself spoke to me on a level I couldn’t articulate, they caused me go inward, to find my way, to evolve.
My job this day was was NOT to spew this story at him, but to be completely present in each moment available and to do the work. Calming my anxious energy and easing the the urge to please him was no easy task. I prepped all morning mentally to just try and keep it together, and then upon arriving, the anxiety all fell away. A hug was given and received, and his generosity of spirit permeated the space. Our session was filled with joy and laughter. Ricky’s knowledge about the operatic voice, about how to work with singers, and about how to make a singer feel more confident in the moment is mind blowing. His loving kindness was palpable as we worked and I felt that I needed just to breathe.
There were even times when Ricky was thrilled with choices I made. Certain tempos or vocal colors that surprised him. I was giddy as a school girl! I soaked up every moment we had together and knew I would take it all back to CA and work it out. I left the 2 hour session still not completely happy with how I was singing, but no longer consumed with the overly self critical part of my being. I knew what I needed to do in order to interpret these pieces the way I wished to, and it felt possible.
Schedules swirled. The Fresno Grand Opera and Townsend Opera seasons were well under way, but getting a little too packed. April recitals were not happening. The recital would now be delayed to the Fall of 2016 as season opening Gala. Thankfully I had more time to let it settle. Can I get one more session in with Ricky before hand? YES! The week prior to the concerts.
During this session, I shared the fact that “Will There Really Be a Morning?” was the song that carried me through, that my mom played it for me even when I was on singing hiatus, and that this was a huge honor. My mom would’ve been so proud. We sang that song and I had tears streaming down my face. It was worth the airfare just for that moment. Allowing myself to be that vulnerable in that working environment speaks volumes to Ricky Ian Gordon’s deep human connection through music, voice and text.
I left with a deep yearning to remain present and to live in that vulnerability, to shed the masks I had unconsciously allowed to cover the parts of me I see as undesirable. After leaving his studio, I have worked tirelessly to remain that open.