Listening Party Podcast Episode 15
Feb 05, 2021 1:00pm
Friday, February 5, 2021 | 1 pm | On Demand
Join Rebecca Hass as she chats with Civic Engagement Quartet members Simran Claire, Charlotte Siegel, and local teacher Jenn Treble about the experience of having Simran and Charlotte virtually join Jenn’s music class to speak to and mentor students. After listening to the podcast, enjoy the accompanying Spotify Playlist!
As Rebecca and Jenn chat about what barriers in music students are facing today, Jenn explains that not only are there major socioeconomic and access challenges, but also that high school students are being pulled in so many directions in their life between school, work, friends, and their family. This caused the students to really love how Charlotte and Simran were open and didn’t sugarcoat their experiences, instead telling their real stories and sharing what it is like to have a passion and face adversity and to prevail. Her students appreciated seeing people with careers in classical music that they didn’t expect. That they were young and closer in age to the students, telling stories about their journey through university that were relatable for the students. That they didn’t come from musical families, that they aren’t white, that they faced so many challenges to get to where they are today and continue to overcome the difficulties that they face.
Image: Jenn Treble
Not only did Charlotte and Simran have an impact on the students, but the students had an impact on them. Charlotte speaks to how inspired and encouraged they made her feel through their openness to her story. Saying that she couldn’t believe how interested and receptive they were when listening to her that it gave her hope for the future of classical music, defying the current idea that both classical music and opera are dying art forms. For Simran, it brought up memories of her time in high school. She recollects on the pressure that she felt, and that many high school students feel, to decide on her future and set herself on the right path despite the impossibility of doing so at that age, when you know so little about yourself and the world.
Image: Charlotte Siegel
Jenn, Charlotte, and Simran all share hopes for what programs such as this one can do to help students navigate their own lives. Jenn’s wish is that they help students move through difficult situations, allows them to take ownership of their stories, to feel empowered to share them, and to be inspired to take these important pieces of their identities and to do something special. Charlotte wants to help students expand their experiences and open their horizons to things that they might not have known about or felt like they could do, like she did with classical music. Simran explained how when she walks into an opera room that she is often the only brown person and how she does not want that to be the future. Sharing her inspiration for being a part of programs such as this one, Simran tells us: “I sing so others can sing as well.”
Image: Simran Claire
This episode of the podcast included three guests, soprano Charlotte Siegel, mezzo-soprano Simran Claire and high school music teacher, Jennifer Treble. The conversations were focused around diversity in the world of classical music, and mentoring and supporting youth and their interest in music. Both Simran and Charlotte were virtual guests in the classroom in October 2021.
I invited all three of my guests to submit playlists and to focus on sharing music they love and that’s important to them. Below you will learn more about my guests through these musical choices, and find a pretty eclectic playlist to enjoy on a Saturday morning.
I also wanted to include the links to the video and podcast that featured Syrian Canadian singer Miriam Khalil. She was referenced in the podcast as the catalyst for the pilot program that brings emerging artists into the classroom as mentors and role models. If you missed these when they were released, they are well worth taking the time to watch and listen to.
Jenn Treble, Music teacher at Esquimalt High School
My paternal grandparents were musicians. They both grew up on the farm at a time where it was expected that everyone would play an instrument. Both of my parents love music, but my father was constantly playing the guitar when I was growing up. He would sing too, so much of what I heard were Eagles and Doobie Brothers tunes, a little Fleetwood Mac, Buddy Holly and Patsy Cline.
Peaceful Easy Feeling by Eagles immediately takes me back to any day of the week in my mom’s place in Regina. I love playing this song on the guitar today to get in touch with that feeling.
When high school ended, I distinctly remember that there was an expectation that I would attend a post- secondary institution, but it was up to me to figure out what I wanted to do (and how to pay for it). I don’t remember feeling especially passionate about becoming a music teacher, but I thought that it was the closest thing I had to knowing what to do. I did my undergrad at the University of Regina and then began teaching band and English at a large high school in Regina. During this time, I fell more deeply in love with wind band music, orchestra music, and jazz. I loved listening to Count Basie, John Coltrane, Percy Grainger, and one artist that I found myself scream singing-along with a lot was Pat Metheny, in particular Have You Heard by Pat Metheny (Letter From Home). By the way this song has no words!
I started grad school only three years later, mostly because I felt like I didn’t do a great job absorbing all the lessons in my undergrad and was feeling deeply insecure as a musician. I began studying wind band conducting at the University of Minnesota and a short time later, with Craig Kirchhoff. This experience was intense. Being immersed in an environment with such dedicated musicians was gift and I learned a great deal not only from my teachers but also my classmates and Teaching Assistant colleagues. My only exposure to Stravinsky before grad school was through orchestra music. One term we studied the Stravinsky Octet in conducting studio, and I was mesmerized with the range of colour and emotional vibrancy of this piece. I absolutely love the slow, and beautiful build to the ultimate climax at the end of the third movement, it is perfection! Octet for Wind Instruments: III Finale conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen with the London Sinfonietta.
Cold in the Summer by Dan Mangan (More or Less) I first heard Dan Mangan at the Dawson City music festival in 2010. I love all of Dan’s music, and have heard him perform live several times since Dawson City. I can relate to this song so much because it has a sense of humour about comparing life before and after having kids. I think many parents can relate to this feeling. I definitely caught a cold the first summer after my son was born and remember feeling keenly aware what a wimp I was with any cold or illness before having kids.
Pacific Opera Victoria hosted Jeremy Dutcher a few years ago. I couldn’t attend the presentation due to two small children and a partner that had an evening commitment, but when I heard him sing, I remember just standing in my kitchen transfixed as I watched his performance online. I think he is such a beautiful singer! I am inspired by how he has created music alongside, accompanied, and created new harmonies, all inspired by the music of his ancestors. The entire album is phenomenal, but I really love Ultestakon by Jeremy Dutcher (Wolastoqiyik Lintawakonawa)
Simran Claire, mezzo-soprano and Civic Engagement Artist with Pacific Opera
Dola Re from Devdas
Bollywood music was the soundtrack of my childhood. In the movies, each song is treated as an opportunity for an elaborate dance number, often suspending the storyline of the film for eight minutes at a time. My siblings and I grew up watching compilation DVDs of all the best Bollywood songs, copying the dances in front of the TV. The score from Devdas (2002), is iconic in our household; the CD is still in steady rotation, 18 years on. l love the music because it is so nuanced, drawing from Indian classical tradition. I chose Dola Re because it features Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit, two of my favourite actresses and true QUEENS of Bollywood.
Party (feat. Andre 300)- Beyonce
I, like many others, am a huge fan of Beyonce. I’ve loved her since I was a preteen and have gone whole years of my life listening exclusively to her music. She’s an incredible singer (with a low C!!!!! goals), and her music is excellent, but what I find most inspiring about Beyonce is her stage presence. The way she commands a stage is second to none. Her Coachella set in 2018 (which I watched via livestream the morning after it happened) is one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.
A Case of You- Joni Mitchell
A Case of You by Joni Mitchell is probably my favourite song ever. Everything about it is beautiful. “Love is touching souls.” I could cry just thinking about it. Also it is an amazing road trip song for when you’ve been in the car all day and your voice is hoarse from talking and singing and the sun is gone but the moon isn’t out yet. (Me??? A romantic??)
Dopo notte from Ariodante by G.F. Handel with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and the Freiburger Barockorchester, conducted by Nicholas McGegan
I had to include Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in this playlist because she is someone whose singing I really admire. Lorraine’s voice was warm, flexible, and filled with soul, which is everything I’m trying to be. I chose her recording of Dopo Notte because a) I think the singing is magic and b) Handel is the king of bops.
Honey – Robyn and forever – Charli XCX
I mostly listen to pop music, and these two albums have been in heavy rotation for the last while. Honey by Robyn is one of my all-time favourite songs, the synths are so lush!! And forever by Charli XCX has played on a loop in my brain for the past six months. When I was in Victoria for Garden of Alice, this is what I played on my daily walk to rehearsal.
Charlotte Siegel, Soprano and Civic Engagement Artist with Pacific Opera
Choosing just six pieces that have meaning to me was nearly impossible! I owe so many of my favourite memories to different songs and musical experiences. I’ve chosen a playlist of firsts.
First distinctive emotional reactions – Unchained Melody by The Righteous Brothers
This song was the first to make me realize I was a romantic. I spent a lot of free time during my teens watching rom-coms, and wishing Patrick Swayze made more movies.
Hearing Sugar Bum Bum by Lord Kitchener at my first concert in Trinidad made me realize how much I loved and respected my Trinidadian culture.
Will I from Rent, by Pascal and Larson featuring Aaron Lohr, Wayne Wilcos and the Cast of the Motion Picture
Rent will always have a special place in my heart. I remember first watching it at my friend’s house at eight years old. It changed how I saw the world, and also sparked my love of musical theatre.
Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op.24 by Samuel Barber, with Leontyne Price, soprano
This is one of the first classical pieces that took me out of myself. I just understood every part of it. I used to have it on repeat during my hour commute to and from school in undergrad. It’s still what I listen to when I need reminding of why I love what I do.
Addio, del passato from La Traviata by G. Verdi with Maria Callas, soprano
La Traviata was the first opera I saw that made me feel the power of classical music and singing. I remember gasping and almost falling out of my chair as the final curtain came down in Act three. I desperately wanted more and fell in love with the captivating music Violetta sings.
Last but not least, is Shania Twain’s Man, I Feel like a Woman. It’s one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of my Zaidie. He loved music and singing this song. My mom always says he knew I would end up on stage, turns out he was right!
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