A Little Update about the Past Few Months

Fall is finally here. Leaves are changing colors, Halloween decorations are being put up in stores, and people are chugging pumpkin spice lattes. It’s a great time of the year, but I still need to update everyone on my summer season!

At the beginning of June, I was honored to perform in a benefit for the late Nate Ellis. Nate was the Director of Education and Training at Contra Costa Association of REALTORS and Director of Education at CCAR. He was a very inspirational man who touched the lives of many. Sadly, 2 years ago, Nate started to develop weakness throughout his body that worsened over time. After he passed, his friends and family organized a benefit event featuring music, raffles, and auctions with the goal of creating a perpetual scholarship in Nate’s name through Contra Costa Association of Realtors, and I’m happy to say it was very successful! You can watch my performance here:

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A few days later, the city of Berkeley celebrated their Festival of Early Music. I sang with San Francisco Renaissance Voices to celebrate Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church’s sixth annual Boar’s Head Festival. I love this event – it’s a blast for both performers and the audience alike! This year, we had Susan Gundunas join us as our Queen Elizabeth I, the San Francisco Renaissance Dancers entertained with some nice moves, and Celtic/Early Music band Broceliande provided instrumental music. Juggler Douglas McNeely entertained the crowds with his impressive skills, and we even had a visit by Master Will Shakespeare himself 😉

I recently performed with the San Francisco Renaissance Singers, Volti, and other early music groups for a benefit concert. On September 30th, the historic First Congregational Church in Berkeley was engulfed in flames. Most of church complex was destroyed, but, miraculously, the Sanctuary, which has hosted literally hundreds of Early Music performances over the years and one of the main venues for the Berkeley Festival and Exhibition of Early Music, survived but will be unusable for quite some time to come. Derek Tam, music director of First Congregational Church (and also our Director of Educational Programs) has pulled together a benefit concert the evening of October 18th that included some of our singers from San Francisco Renaissance Voices as well as other Early Music musicians from around the Bay Area that use the church as a performance and rehearsal space.

On June 17th, I participated in a show called “Divas and Divos: Arias and Art Songs from around the World.” My wonderful colleagues Meghan Michelle McGovern, Susan Thampi, Mason Gates Neipp, David Zelenka, and I performed pieces from Italy, Norway, France, Sweden, and the US at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek, California. I performed 10 pieces ranging from Mozart’s Et exultavit to Cherubino’s aria from Le Nozze di Figaro to Solveigs Sang by Grieg. There’s something special about performing in a church. The acoustics are very different from an opera house. The reverb is a hauntingly beautiful sound in person. We are fortunate that the concert was filmed, and I’m excited to share parts with you! Below are some highlights, but you can also see the playlist of all the pieces I performed here.

July was spent with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. At the beginning of the month, we performed Mahler’s beautiful Resurrection Symphony. Bachtrack gave the chorus a glowing review:

The SF Symphony Chorus, prepared by Ragnar Bohlin, Chorus Director since 2007, was a revelation. They did a spectacular job in every respect, and in every vocal section. During the excellent pre-concert talk given by Laura Stanfield Prichard she explained that Mahler emphatically insisted that the four-part chorus for this symphony be sung by equal parts male and female singers rather than by all-male choruses employing boy sopranos/altos, as was the custom of the time. Ms Stanfield-Prichard connected this to Mahler’s support for Universalist beliefs that only men and women together, as equals, could fully represent humanity and build unity through sound. And indeed, the sheer power of these final choral segments with the orchestra must have been (even more!) completely overwhelming for his early listeners, due to social, cultural and spiritual reasons even beyond the musical ones.

The San Francisco Symphony Chorus with Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, in rehearsal at Davies Symphony Hall on Tuesday, May 12, 2015.

The San Francisco Symphony Chorus with Chorus Director Ragnar Bohlin, in rehearsal at Davies Symphony Hall.

Here are 2 pictures from the concert including a picture by my colleague John A. Vlahides where you can see the stage as the chorus sees it!

How do you top a performance of Mahler? Well, it’s hard, but we tried with Beethoven’s very famous 9th Symphony a week later. Even those who aren’t familiar with classical music know the 4th movement, Ode to Joy. Don’t know it by name? Give it a listen here! Fun fact: Mozart was the first major composer to include a chorus and vocal soloists in a symphony. Thanks, Maestro 😉

Here are some pictures from our curtain call. Our soloists included soprano Wendy Bryn Harmer, mezzo-soprano Zanda Švēde, tenor Mario Chang, and bass Adam Lau.

My summer season ended with Janácek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen” at West Edge Opera. The company was looking for an established chorus and contacted Volti to see if there would be any interest. Needless to say, we were all elated to take on roles in an opera. I was assigned the role of the rooster – he wasn’t a very nice rooster and I had to die on stage, but he was certainly fun to play! “The Cunning Little Vixen” was given rave reviews! Here’s what the press had to say about me:

“Three choristers ably filled small solo roles—most notably Leandra Ramm, whose clear soprano and exaggerated strut were perfect for the rooster.” – Ilana Walder-Biesanz for Bachtrack

“In the supporting roles…Deborah Rosengaus earned laughs as the old dog Lapak, and Leandra Ramm strutted with purpose as the hormonal Rooster.” – Georgia Rowe for Mercury News

Something unique about performing with West Edge is that their whole summer season was performed in Oakland’s abandoned train station. Music knows no bounds!

You can see pictures from the production here.

 

The fall season has started, and it’s been nothing but fun. Can’t wait to tell you all about that in my next post!

Stay tuned for a special announcement soon!

Paging Through the Northern Lights

May was a busy month! Rehearsals, concerts, recording sessions, and semi-staged events with the San Francisco Symphony! So much to do, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The music we performed last month has all been vastly different, but music has a special power in that it can touch people in different ways, and May’s music was no exception.

For the past 2 seasons, I’ve been fortunate enough to sing with some of the Bay Area’s best singers in different ensembles. One of which is an a cappella group called Volti. Chamber choirs are sometimes a dime a dozen, but what I love about Volti is that we focus on composers who are still alive. Don’t get me wrong, I love the classics – after all, they’re classic for a reason – but to work with the composers themselves allows for us interpreters to uncover new aspects of a piece from the source himself. It’s the ultimate master class!

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Earlier this month, Volti finished out our 37th season when we performed 2 concerts called “Paging Through” and introduced our CAL composer for 2016, Tonia Ko, a Hong Kong-born, Honolulu-raised composer and visual artist. Tonia wrote a beautiful piece based on Virginia Woolf’s short story Monday and Tuesday, and it was one of my favorite pieces of the evening. We also reprised a work we’d premiered in 2011: Kui Dong’s “Painted Lights.” This piece was staged and implemented by our Executive Director Barbara Heroux.

 

Here is also a soundcloud link to “Monday” and “Tuesday” performances:

We finished out our evening with works by John Muehleisen, Eric Banks and Paolo Longo. We were also lucky enough to be joined by the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir who performed “Ikikaiku (Eternal Echo)” by Finnish composer Olli Kortekangas.

The marathon weekend continued on Sunday when Grammy Award winning-choral director Ragnar Bohlin and his top notch group Cappella SF presented an all-Norwegian concert in collaboration with the Norwegian community here in the Bay Area to honor the 202nd Norwegian Constitution Day (Nasjonaldagen). The Cappella SF concert was such a beautiful experience in a very beautiful church with great acoustics to a very appreciative audience. We had a lovely reception downstairs afterwards in which we sang a second encore as well.

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Voice students at conservatories are traditionally trained to sing in Italian, French, German, and Russian, so Norwegian was something different. It isn’t my first time singing in a Scandinavian language, though. Last year, I gave a mini recital in Swedish at the Palace of Fine Arts. Swedish and Norwegian are similar languages, but they’re also different and require specific diction for each. It takes time to get comfortable singing in a foreign language, but it’s a fantastic way to connect with someone’s culture. It’s much more personable than singing a translation.

A few weeks prior to the May Cappella SF concert, I had the honor of singing a few Norwegian songs at the Norwegian Consulate. Here are some more pictures from the evening:

 

After a busy weekend performing 3 concerts, I started up my next week in the recording studio with Volti. There, we recorded the Dong piece, “Painted Lights,” that we’d performed just 2 days prior. Looking forward to hearing how that turns out!

A few days later, the members of Volti took a little boat trip around the Bay to celebrate a successful season! Here’s me and Rachel Rush enjoying the cool breeze:

Who run the world? Altos! (feat. Volti altos Rachel Rush and @leandraramm)

A photo posted by Volti (@voltisf) on

 

I’m so lucky to perform with such talented musicians at such a high musical level (and so lucky as well the schedule worked out to allow me to perform with both groups in one weekend). I believe I am working with the Ivy League equivalent of musicians these past two seasons and it’s so rewarding! Now on to June, with many more musical adventures!

Hugs,
Leandra

I’m on CNN this weekend!

My family’s story will be told on “This is Life with Lisa Ling” on CNN. The episode originally aired this past Sunday and there will be 3 reruns this weekend! It will rerun tonight, Friday, October 17th at 9 PM Eastern Time/6 PM Pacific time and then again tomorrow, Saturday, October 18th at 10 PM Eastern Time/7 PM Pacific time and one final time 1 AM Eastern Time/10 PM Pacific time on CNN. As always, please check your local listings. Read more about the series here. Here’s a commercial for the upcoming episode.

P.S. From now on I will be blogging here, directly on my website. I have archived all my past newsletters as PDF’s and please click on the links below to view all 30 previous newsletters I have written since 2012! Happy fall! Enjoy this wonderful time of year!

Hugs,

Leandra

 

Archived Newsletter 1 Hot off the Press! Newsweek Article on cyber stalking

Archived Newsletter 2 Leandra Ramm – No Promises- Urban Tracks Records

Archived Newsletter 3 Performance TONIGHT at 8pm, wedding videos, and recent TV appearance videos

Archived Newsletter 4 Katie Couric Show, Obsession: Dark Desires, and Viewing Party

Archived Newsletter 5 Let’s end 2013 with a BANG

Archived Newsletter 6 Performance TOMORROW NIGHT at The Hatch Presenting Series and other news…

Archived Newsletter 7 New version of my book STALKING A DIVA, Performances at La Mama this weekend!

Archived Newsletter 8 _Leandra’s End of Summer Newsletter!

Archived Newsletter 9 Half price tickets to Figaro! (90210)…one day sale only!

Archived Newsletter 10 Holiday Party Tomorrow AND my Christmas Song!

Archived Newsletter 11 Watch me on Lifetime Television TONIGHT! Join us for tonight’s party!

Archived Newsletters 12_I am THANKFUL for YOU!

Archived Newsletter 13_My One Woman Show! TODAY at 6pm!

Archived Newsletter 14 My One Woman Show! THIS SUNDAY at 6pm!

Archived Newsletter 15_A Memorable November: A book, a Lifetime Movie, a One Woman Show, three singles!

Archived Newsletter 16_A book, a Lifetime Movie, a One Woman Show!

Archived Newsletter 17_A FOR ADULTERY-One more weekend of performances left!

Archived Newsletter 18_Performance TOMORROW night at Don’t Tell Mama’s!

Archived Newsletter 19_Performances with the New York International Fringe Festival

Archived Newsletter 20_Strong September Newsletter from Leandra Ramm

Archived Newsletter 21_Performance TONIGHT at Don’t Tell Mama’s!

Archived Newsletter 22_UPDATED Energetic July 2012 News from Leandra Ramm

Archived Newsletter 23_Energetic July 2012 News from Leandra Ramm

Archived Newsletter 24_Beautiful June 2012 News from Leandra Ramm

Archived Newsletter 25_FREE Performance this Saturday! I hope you can come!

Archived Newsletter 26_Wonderful May 2012 News from Leandra Ramm

Archived Newsletter 27_Exciting April 2012 News from Leandra Ramm

Archived Newsletter 28_PERFORMANCE TONIGHT Big Jim and The Small Time Investors

Archived Newsletter 29_March News from Leandra Ramm

Archived Newsletter 30_News from Leandra Ramm