News & notes from Claudia Hommel

Past notes are linked through the front page of News & Notes, bottom of column.

May 1, 2014

Hello again friends and fans!

These news reports seem to function as a semi-annual diary entry, a measuring stick of my activity, a way to distill what's going on in this creative and usually chaotic life.

It's not clear to me that anyone else is reading this note. Some of the text has been posted in my email blasts to Chicago area fans. Like the radio host who sends his voice out on the airwaves, you gotta have faith that someone out there is listening.

All to say that I'm looking forward to my WBEZ radio interview on May 5, where I'll be speaking with Tony Sarabia, host of the Morning Shift, about the upcoming Singers' Jazz Workshop in Paris among other things.

And as I start to enumerate the "other things" I realize how chaotic and creative this year is turning out to be.

We just wrapped up last week the two concerts in two venues with 18 other singers of my SongShop. And the work is glorious and growing as we project moving our Saturday workshop sessions to the PianoForte Studios, and to sharing another intensive weekend in August with Dawn Arnold's Michael Chekhov Studio.

Then I get a call to perform May 19 at Mayne Stage for the benefit of the SAG-AFTRA-Equity Kaufherr Members Resource Center, and all of sudden, this really matters. It's like being asked to sing for an award show.

And there are long-past midnight hours when I'm writing new lyrics, new dialogue, new scenes for the Jazz Fauré musical that I'm compelled to write and rewrite, never having imagined myself as a playwright, but being encouraged by Cheri Coons and Chicago Dramatists classmates and colleagues and my assistant Laley Lippard (herself a wonderful theatre director) and my husband Cappy, another great collaborator.

I get a rush when a DePaul University professor finds me, not by asking her dean who happens to be my neighbor, but by googling "Paris Jazz Age Chicago singer", because she needs a speaker about French history, culture, music and art. I AM the perfect fit. I'll be in Paris while the class studies the Jazz Age, so instead we'll meet on May 8th to talk about French impressionism. We'll listen to excerpts of the Jazz Fauré recordings, read a scene or two of my new play and look at slides of impressionist paintings.

And then the news comes that my Vocal Canvas film project with filmmaker Jason Madeja and singer-composer Elizabeth Doyle has been awarded a $5000 grant by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, so I'm going to have to kick ass to get a good part of that done (a concert, the initial filming) by the end of August. But in the meantime...

I go to Paris at the end of May with fifteen travelers and stay on another week to help lead the first Chicago-Paris-Zagreb Singers Jazz Workshop with Keri Chryst and Maja Savic.

The day after I get home, I've been selected to participate in a seven-day Summer Voice Intensive at Northwestern with W. Stephen Smith. I just started voice lessons with him and already my voice is getting better. The process is like reconditioning the vocal reflexes. I find myself thinking about the process all through the day.

And as I write this, at a breathless pace, I realize that it's quite a lot to do and it's exciting and I'm glad to be sharing this news with you.