Jena = passion + technical mastery

Jena and Kelly

By Val Friesen

Music lovers enjoyed a superb evening on Friday, April 10th, when lyric soprano Jenavieve Moore and her accompanist, Victoria pianist Kelly Charlton, performed a program of arias, lieder and art songs in the Venables Theatre.

Jenavieve’s mastery of technique and beautiful tone were evident from the very first piece, a magnificent aria from an early Mozart opera, “Mitridate, Re di Ponto,” (written when he was 14!). Jena emotionally inhabits the persona of the young queen, Aspasia, who is torn between love and duty, and presents her to us. Beautiful.

This was followed by three whimsical Poulenc songs, the rather haunting “Die Loreley” by Franz Liszt, and then a set of five Richard Strauss lieder. These latter pieces set poetry to music, are filled with images and emotions that touch the soul, particularly when the music so completely matches the mood of the poetry, and most particularly when sung with the sensitivity and perceptivity of a gifted singer such as Jenavieve Moore. And much credit to the overall effectiveness must be given to pianist Kelly Charlton, a truly consummate musician. How incredible that he and Jena had never worked together before, and had only a few hours of rehearsal time to prepare this marvellous program.

Kelly Charlton took the stage following intermission to play two Brahms pieces, the deeply reflective Intermezzo in E major, followed by the turbulent Capriccio in D minor. Thank you, Kelly.

Having given us songs in German and French, Jena now sang Prokofiev’s “Five Poems of Anna Akhmatova Opus 27” in Russian. The poet was no stranger to multiple romances, and her poems are filled with the sunlight, darkness, secrets (those grey eyes!), bleakness, and telling images drawn from nature and her own intimate experiences that Prokofiev vividly explores in his music. Jena brought them to life for us.

A soulful aria in English from Stravinsky’s opera “The Rake’s Progress” was followed by the concluding piece of the evening, John Duke’s delightful little art song, “Penguin Geometry.”

The audience was then invited to meet the artists and renew acquaintances in a reception in the atrium of the Venables Theatre.

Thank you for a wonderful evening, Jena and Kelly! We have the South Okangan Concert Society to thank for bringing Jenavieve Moore home to us from her ongoing studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and her busy performance schedule around the world. Very best wishes for ongoing success in your exciting career, Jena.

And by the way, Early Bird prices for next season’s SOCS flex pass ($60) are available until April 30th. Tickets are on sale at Beyond Bliss in Oliver and Imperial Office Pro in Osoyoos.

Photo Credit : Bob Park

Opera student delights crowd with stories and song

Oliver’s Jenavieve Moore, an opera student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London entertained a standing-room only crowd at a fundraising concert on Sunday August 14. The concert was supported by Oliver Word of Life church and members of the Oliver Community Arts Council.

The lyric soprano performed a generous set of nine pieces, interspersed with some lively entertaining chat about her music studies. Arts council member Stephanie Salsnek acted as mistress of ceremonies, with Val Friesen working hard behind the scenes as producer.

Opening the concert unannounced, Jena sang the Bach-Gounod arrangement of Ave Maria, accompanied by her mother Dorothy Moore on piano. Her final number was to be the equally famous arrangement of the same text by Franz Schubert. Her singing voice was unaffected, warm, and surprisingly rich given her youth and light speaking voice.

Pastor Henry Wiebe, who has known the soprano from childhood, asked a series of questions about Jena’s musical beginnings. She shared some delightful anecdotes from her lessons in piano, flute and voice. She revealed that, far from finding music practice a chore as most children do, music was used as a reward for completing her schoolwork.

In an inspired bit of Friesen’s programming, Jena treated the audience to a behind-the-scenes look at the rehearsal process between soprano and accompanist. Oliver piano students Hanna and Paul Ellis took turns accompanying Jena (pictured). First was the delicate Si mes vers avaient des ailes (“If my verses had wings”) by Reynaldo Hahn followed by the dramatic Zueignung (“Dedication”) by Richard Strauss.

Jena explained how difficult it is to accompany solo voice. “Unlike most instruments, the human voice must breathe. And the singer has the job of conveying the text, as well as music. An accompanist is normally expected to have not only rehearsed the music, but also studied the text. They need to know the breath marks, the translation of the words, their context in the opera, the history of how that piece is performed by that voice.” While the Ellis siblings were not expected to have prepared the texts, it was clear from Moore’s reaction that she was impressed with their piano technique.

After each performance Jena chatted with the Ellises about how to better phrase the music to match her voice and style. At times, she needed a measure to slow down, or a pause inserted, or the volume changed, or a note delayed until she had sung a particular consonant. After listening in on this dialogue between vocalist and accompanist the audience was treated to sections of each song once more. Judging from the gasps, murmurs and nods in the crowd, the audience could well appreciate the improvements in performance when piano and voice collaborated.

“When the pianist understands my voice and the music, I feel incredibly supported, and my performance can improve dramatically,” Jena explained. It was a unique and insightful moment for the audience.

MC Stephanie Salsnek continued the interview asking questions about Jena’s gruelling class schedule at Guildhall. The audience was intrigued to learn that the instructional format focuses almost exclusively on performance, not study. Instructors prepare the students for the rigorous life as a professional artist by surprising them daily with changes to their class schedule, unannounced performances, sight readings, and other stress-inducing challenges. Students must be ready at a moment’s notice to sing on demand in a foreign language, give an interview, conduct a seminar on some operatic topic, and so on, all with a calm professional demeanour. The process is designed to weed out students who cannot handle the typical pressures of a performance artist.

The audience also had an opportunity to question Jena about her voice and education. The young student remained poised and eloquent, already displaying her Guildhall training. In response to a question about caring for her voice, Jena explained that excellent voice coaching in childhood prevented strain and injury. “Common sense” keeps her voice in shape: plenty of sleep, balanced diet, exercise, prompt medical care — and no vices!

She dispelled the stereotype about “fat opera singers standing and singing on stage” by sharing anecdotes about her stage movement classes. Being an opera singer is physically demanding. She must learn a variety of dance styles from stately Renaissance to hip hop. “Many operas are updated to modern settings, so we must be prepared for anything.” She is scheduled to learn stage fighting next year, including hand to hand combat and swordplay. With a shy smile she admitted that opera singers must be prepared to act with passion, not only fight scenes but mad scenes and love scenes as well.

Jena demonstrated the differences in interpretation between two composers who use the same text. Robert Schumann, using the text Du bist wie eine Blume (“You are like the flower”), created a passionate score that reflected a lover’s restrained desire. The ascetic Franz Liszt took the same text but gave it a sacred musical treatment, complete with bell-like chords. The resulting interpretation was a prayer for a young girl’s innocence.

President Penelope Johnson, on behalf of the Oliver Community Arts Council, presented a cheque for $1000 towards Jena’s second-year tuition. She encouraged others to meet that challenge, explaining that expenses continue to skyrocket after graduation. “Between gigs a struggling artist must still pay for rent in high-priced cities, travel, fancy frocks, and fees for voice coaching, accompanists, publicity agent and photographer,” explained Johnson, adding wryly, “and there’s more ‘between’ than ‘gig’”. Many talented hopefuls quit while waiting for their first big break.

To date, Jena has received sponsorship for half of her staggering $26,000 tuition. A free-will collection was held while Jena played John Denver’s Annie’s Song on flute, netting another $1250. In addition, some audience members picked up forms for monthly donations to Jena’s bank account.

Despite the heat of the afternoon, the audience was reluctant to leave, and more than willing to be treated to one final selection. As an encore, Moore displayed her multi-tasking abilities by accompanying herself on the piano while singing the lush Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém (Song to the Moon) from the fairy-tale opera Rusalka by Antonin Dvorak.

The audience recognized Jenavieve’s talent with a standing ovation, and many lingered to speak with her at a reception in the church hall.

For more information about contributing to Jena’s tuition, contact the arts council at olivercac @gmail.com

Photo Credits: Val Friesen (encore Rusalka photo) and Heather Fink

Jenavieve Moore: Can you match this?!

The Oliver Community Arts Council was pleased to award Oliver’s Jenavieve Moore $1000 towards her tuition and related expenses at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England. Now in her second year of studies in this prestigious programme, the operatic soprano incurs huge expenses for accommodation, performance costumes, and music, in addition to her schooling costs.  

During this past year, Jenavieve was one of eight singers personally chosen by the Metropolitan Opera’s Thomas Hampson to participate in the first ever Heidelberg Lieder Akademie. In May, she sang the role of the First Lady in Mozart’s Magic Flute at Guildhall. Jena will be the featured soloist in a new music project with the BBC Symphony Orchestra next spring.

While Moore has potential as a professional artist one day, she must first manage a massive debt load, and will continue to rack up expenses just to gain exposure in the world of opera.

Moore may have “unmatched” talent, but she shouldn’t have unmatched funding support! The Oliver Community Arts Council challenges other businesses, service organizations, and individuals to match our donation!

The public is invited to attend the

Jena Moore Fundraiser and Reception
Sunday August 14
3:00 p.m.
Oliver Word of Life Church
35025 – 119th Street (off 350th Ave. near the cemetery)
Information and pledges: 250-498-6473
Donations of all sizes gratefully accepted!

Jena is realizing a dream to take her place in one of the most competitive roles on the world stage, and to share her rare gift with music lovers everywhere. The reception/fund-raiser is one way for our community to show generous support to one of our own.

Jena will demonstrate some vocal techniques she is learning at Guildhall, and perform a selection of her favourite pieces. It is also a chance to meet Jena, hear more about her experiences studying, and performing in London. And get an autograph! Who knows, it may be a priceless memento one day… 

Why?

Because Jenavieve + Opera = a match made in heaven!

More about Jena: http://jenavievemoore.com/

Original press release submitted by Val Friesen (adapted)

Soprano Jenavieve Moore performs

Jenevieve Moore, soprano, will perform a recital Wednesday July 14th at 7:30 pm at First Baptist Church 1498 Government St., Penticton. Roslyn Frantz will accompany her on piano and Antonia Mahon on flute.

Jena grew up in Oliver and by 12 years of age she was already winning local and provincial music competitions. Sue Gay was one of her early teachers. She sang with the Oliver Yuletide Singers and the Sage Valley Voices and performed with her brothers for a silent auction of the Oliver Arts Council. She got her musical start here.

Recently Jena’s career has taken flight! She has been accepted to the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England, directly into year three of their B.Mus. (Hons.) Voice Performance degree. She was accepted on the spot at her audition in New York City last February which is a very rare achievement. Guildhall is one of the top music schools in the world.

This is Jena’s big opportunity to join other famous alumni including Jacqueline du Pre and move onto the world stage. She enjoyed support from the Oliver Community Arts Council when she was growing up. Now we can support her by attending her recital and enjoying an evening of amazing vocal music. Admission is by donation and proceeds will help with expenses in London. Her program includes works by Strauss, Rachmaninoff, Dvorak, and Mozart. This is your chance to hear a rising star!!

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