by Dr. Luis Dias

 

An historic event for music in Goa took place this week. Internationally acclaimed soprano Patricia Rozario conducted a three-day voice workshop for eight fortunate local participants, the first of what promises to be an ongoing commitment on her part to return at regular intervals, as often as four times a year, to follow through with what she has set in motion. 

The workshop covered singing technique, and a basic guide to pronouncing the main operatic languages (French, German and Italian). The workshop focussed also on technique, song/opera interpretation and phrasing and language, as well as posture and breathing. 

Pianist Mark Troop, who collaborated with Rozario at the workshop, elaborated: “The aim of the course for us was to promote ideas on Style and Interpretation of western music – art music, folk and light, and secondly, to inculcate sound technical principles of singing”. His themes for the three days were: How do you speak the phrase – how do you then SING the phrase, but with the same intention. Second – what is the CONTEXT for the song – is it dramatic, or folk, or a musical, or an art song, or devotional?  

“The emotion of the song has to be delivered, but HOW you deliver depends on this context. Likewise with style (Period). Most songs are love songs – what you have to change is the appropriate style (Handel aria is different to The Sound of Music!!).” 

Troop was very happy that the students made considerable progress in the three days – by the end they had assimilated many of the core ideas. “They were all projecting better, and had the music more ‘in their bodies’. This is an excellent start”, he said. 

The participants ranged from beginners to professionals. All were unanimous in their endorsement of the benefits gained from the workshop.  

Sonia Shirsat,  fado queen of Goa, said “It was indeed an eye opener to first timers like me.” She found the workshop really helpful in “tapping the head voice”, as she put it. Fadistas essentially use mainly the “chest voice”. 

Carolyn Nunes, a 17 year old student, added, “I became aware of my vocal range for the first time in my life. I never knew I could go up to a high D sharp, until now.” Virginia Vales, almost 15, too felt that the experience had helped her greatly. Ms. Rozario was particularly pleased with the progress she had made in the course of the workshop. 

Danica da Silva Pereira, budding fadista and a recent winner at the Fundação Oriente competition, felt that she really improved her range. “Both Patricia and Mark explained themselves in a way that was so easy to understand. I gained so much information about singing the repertoire, from Mark”, she said. 

Mareike Kruse, 20, a German national currently in Goa as a social work volunteer, also participated in the workshop. “I’ve never done something like this before. I really benefited from the lessons with Ms Rozario”, she said. Kruse was also very impressed by Troop’s ability to sight-read anything set before him. She also felt that the workshop fee was a bargain compared to what one would have had to pay in Germany. 

Sisters Preethi and Deepti Coutinho had positive things to say as well. “I gained such a lot of knowledge. It was educational listening to one another sing”, said Preethi. 

 “I discovered the higher end of my vocal register. It is so important to study a work well before attempting to sing it. I would love future workshops to be longer”, Deepti added. 

Brother Mathew Rebello, a seminarian at Rachol, who will be ordained next year, felt that they were fortunate to have had training from a world-renowned singer like Ms Rozario. “I really feel that this workshop would be good for anyone interested in improving their singing technique and developing their voice”, he said. 

All of the participants found that the breathing exercises they learnt were most helpful. They all expressed their wish to attend an even longer workshop the next time round, in April 2010. 

And what did Ms Rozario herself have to say? “I loved every minute of the workshop Mark and I conducted here in Goa. I am absolutely delighted by the response from the participants, their enthusiasm and their eagerness to learn. They made tremendous progress in such a short time. Some of them had never ventured beyond an octave in range, and were quite excited when they discovered they could extend it. We covered a lot of ground, and this is a good solid base for us to work on when we next come here” 

Rozario sees this initiative as a means of giving back to the country of her roots. Hopefully it will soon open windows of opportunity to our young talent, to follow in her illustrious footsteps, and raise the bar for music in general, and singing in particular, not only in Goa, but all over India. 

Heartfelt thanks are due to the Kala Academy for the generous use of their facilities for this ambitious endeavour.

This article was published in the Herald, Goa on 2 January, 2010

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