I don’t even know where to begin to talk about my dear friend Rick Walters.  Rick passed away late last week.  I’ve lost one of my best friends, the world has lost one of its most brilliant, quirky, and individual minds, the music world has lost one of its most important creatives and advocates for music, art, teaching of music, and music publishing.

I still can’t believe it as I write this.  I can’t believe I can’t text or call him with a question or a silly observation or memory.  I can’t believe I won’t get a voicemail, an email or text with a video clip of one of his recordings, or one of ours, or of Carol Stuart.  Oh my God, we did so many recordings together: Britten Folk Songs, his own folk song arrangements, Musical Theatre, his arrangements of Spirituals he remembered hearing being sung when he was a kid in the South, Christmas songs, Wedding songs, Ballads for Classical Singers, arias, John Jacob Niles, French songs, Bolcom, Lekberg, Barber….  As Steven Stolen said, that he trusted us with the publishing projects he was working on.…  Those recording projects - making music together, laughing in the studio, out to dinner after; even crying in the studio.  Then singing at the NATS Conventions. The Bolcom Mini Cabs with Steven Stolen and Kurt Ollman in Orlando one year.  So much fun! 

Rick had such a deep connection to people who touched him.  He was incredibly loyal.  In a way, he came off as unsentimental and matter-of-fact (which he was VERY matter of fact! :-) ), but he was so true to people who had helped mold and shape him as a musician; people who moved him. He was true to their memories - Sven Lekberg,  Dominick Argento, Robert Larsen, Anne Larson, Carol Stuart, to name a few.  He was very giving of his time, talent, and knowledge!   I guess one could say he loved “sharing his opinion”!!! :-D. He was very opinionated, that he was, but he was so freaking SMART! We had our share of disagreements as I think every one of his friends did.  But there’d come a time when he would often at least accept my feelings. (Not my Catholicism!  Lol. He was never EVER condescending in that, but he loved saying things like…. “I don’t get you Catholics…..” And then he’d give that funny laugh) But he was deeply spiritual and we had our share of talks about religion and spirituality.

I made a folder of pictures I have with Rick.  I have, digitally alone, 55.  I have more before digital days. The memories come FLOODING back!!  Times in Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, Indianola, my wedding in Iowa, his family cruise!….  Rick, along with Bill Fraher and my husband, came to more shows of mine than anyone!  He saw me sing “Blanche” in STREETCAR three times!  - the Kennedy Center, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Grand Rapids, MI.  He came to the Kennedy Center to see “Magda” in THE CONSUL, “Susannah” at DMMO, “Abigail” in THE CRUCIBLE at DMMO, “Erste Dame in ZAUBRTFLÖTE at Lyric Opera of Chicago!  I don’t think he made City Opera’s but his mom and stepdad did!! “Therese Raquin” at Dacapo Opera in NYC, my Trinity Church Recital in NYC when I sang some of his folksong arrangements.  He played through and listened to my “Kat’a Kabanová” when I was in Chicago covering it at Lyric, just to hear me sing it.  It’s too bad he didn’t make it to Germany - omg, we would have had fun.   He came to my Graduate Recital at Northwestern!!  

We often talked about wondering WHEN our friendship began.  We met when I was at Simpson and we sang his arrangements, then I guess, his coming to my Grad recital and then I was at Lyric in Chicago - we did recordings and our friendship grew.  We didn’t remember any “beginning”.  ALL the music we made together - all the recordings!, the museums, talking bike rides (he rode some MS Bike Rides, a tour in Italy) he borrowed a bike from a friend when I was in Milwaukee once and we got in a long bike ride on the lake front and in town), I tried and tried to convince him to do RAGBRAI with Team Simpson but he wouldn’t budge on that no matter how much fun I told him it was!, all the Broadway shows we saw together, some concerts.  He stayed with us I think three different times - once before his first long trip to work in Italy, we celebrated with a fire outside, champagne and s’mores; the last two years he came to NYC and we went to B’way shows and then he stayed at our place for New Year’s Eve.  

One of the greatest gifts was the work he did for the music for my wedding.  I like to say he “arranged the Planets for me”!!  HE chose “Jupiter” from Holst’s “The Planets” for my Procession!  He made an arrangement of the string quartet playing for my brides maids and when it was time for me, Bill Fraher started playing the organ with the quartet.  He arranged that music for me.  He also conducted all of the Mass parts and songs.  (“Your wedding was a lot of WORK!!” he laughed). and then he said later, “I’m so glad you got married!  It really gave Chuck (Garmen) and me a chance to catch up….”  Lol. Only Rick would give so much for a wedding gift and tell the bride he’s happy for the day so he could catchup with an old friend!  I love that about him.  Between him, Sharon Garvey and myself, we laughed our proverbial ARSES off!!  The last time we all got together in Chicago some years back, we laughed nonstop.  And thank God for Sharon, through this wrenching heartache, we were able to laugh at all of the memories we had OF laughing.  

I love you, Rick.  I simply cannot imagine life without you.  I don’t know how I can ever thank you for your believing in me the way you did, for your ever generous friendship and spirit, sharing your knowledge.  I never dreamed of my life without you and without your IMMENSE recourse of knowledge!!!  You never got to write that book I was always after you to write.  Our loss.  And you never wrote your opera.  Your opera about the Prodigal Son.  Well. You may not have been a Prodigal Son, but you are Home.

CHANGE OF SELF. Hagen Exercise 3, Pt. 2 

Hagen Exercise Three: Changes of Self


Earlier his Fall, my husband and I went to Nashville!  For the flight, I wore a pair of flare-cut jeans, a henley, denim jacket, cowboy hat and Frye boots.  As we were waiting around the airport, I was just browsing some magazines and Bill took these pictures of me, telling me how he could see I was in my “Country Western” mode.  You bet I was!  I was feeling very laid back and completely comfortable, and if I may say, pretty cool. :-).  It took me back to the days I…

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Actively listening in real life is a desired skill, even an art, in and of itself.  In this age of “SQUIRREL!!!”: multi tasking, reading and watching little snippets on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, streaming shows, etc., I think many of us find ourselves realizing we miss some real content in our listening.  It’s actually something we can practice for better personal and professional relationships. 

The same thing can be said for our work onstage as performers.  We all know it’s imperative to translate…

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A week ago today, June 20th, 2022, a musical virtuoso left this world.  A musical genius, one of the most “musical” musicians I know, one of the most talented, most musically-giving, and a lover of the worst musical jokes there are…. And who loved to laugh at this own stupid jokes as he watched the recipient’s face for their reaction, still laughing.   Bill and I lost a dear friend and I lost a mentor. 

His music hasn’t left this world, nor will it ever.  It will never leave the souls of those whom he…

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Opera Fan: “You work at the Met?! How COOL! What do you do?” 

Stagehand: “I make the magic happen!” 

I ask that people will take the time to read the recent article from METOPERANEWS.COM on the labor disputes happening at the Metropolitan Opera that I shared on my Facebook page. Not just opera fans, but anyone interested in labor rights, decent and safe working conditions and fair wages. Anyone who has ever been moved by any kind of music, theatre, dance, painting, photography or sculpture…

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Acting 4 Opera Singers 

ACTING THOUGHTS (Sort of like SNL's "Deep Thoughts" LOL)

I've taken to rewriting smaller sections of some of my blog on my professional FB page, groups that I'm in and my LinkedIn.  Let's face it, the one on acting the audition was just too long.  So...  I'm doing smaller bits :-). 

When it comes to "props" start thinking of them and using them more as objects in your life!  "Your" - your character - the "new you".  Spend time with them to really give them a history and connection to "yourself".  Think…

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Acting the Audition 


The opera audition season is in full swing! I hope it’s going really well for you and you feel good about your auditions. 

Singers are so often unsure about how little or how much to “act” their arias in auditions. Auditions are their own crazy animal and can seem to unrealistic. I remember hearing that quite a bit - “auditions are so unnatural.... so awkward...”. Let’s try to think differently. If you think they are unnatural and awkward, you will come off as such. It is up to you to make them feel as…

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Toi Toi Toi: Here's to a Wonderful New Season  

Well here goes....!  My first blog.  I've been thinking of doing a blog for quite some time and I've known what the general idea would be, but I have so many ideas, I just didn't really know what I'd write about first.  With September being the "opening of the season" in general and tonight being the opening night at the Met , I thought this would be a good time to start!  I don't know how often I'll post but I do want to write.  

This particular blog entry will be geared toward young artists.  I find…

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