NEWSLETTER – 2015 No. 1
by Elena Greco
April 4, 2015
Milestones! 2015 is a year of many milestones in my life, so please forgive me if I indulge in a bit of personal reminiscence. Contemplating these milestones reminds me of the inevitable ebb and flow of life, the transitions we all make throughout our lives. Of the many anniversaries happening for me this year, some represent things that will endure in my life, some represent things just now coming to fruition after a long struggle, and others are things that will fall away, as new things come into my life to replace them. We all go through transitions. I believe it’s very important to honor them by naming them, contemplating the work that we have contributed to them, and releasing them to the past, at the same time we create our future with intention.
I’m at the point where I feel a compelling desire to use the vast and varied experiences of my life to contribute to those younger than myself and to leave something of value for the next generation. We are at a crucial point in our history, I believe, and I want to contribute what I know in my best effort to make certain the next chapter is a good one for the planet and the people on it – and, of course, for the important role of arts in our lives.
A new life. This month makes one year since I was laid off my legal computer job, which resulted in an unexpectedly early retirement from that profession. I worked in law firms for 32 years, doing everything one can do with a computer within that profession, from graphics, word processing and technical writing, to teaching and applications administration. While I am relieved to be free of an environment that was damaging to me on many levels, it has been much more of an adjustment than I would have thought in structuring a life free from external timetables and deadlines. While it sounds delicious (and ultimately is), it has taken a full year for me to construct a new life, complete with my own schedule, a set of new goals, and a restructuring of my existing skills toward professions that are in line with my values and my commitments in life. Now I’m ready for the next chapter!
60! It’s the year of my 60th birthday – six decades on this planet! Amazing! The experience of turning 60 is not at all what I had expected. That sounds like such a huge number to me, but I honestly do not feel in the least bit old, not even middle-aged yet. I really feel as though I’m finally getting started with the life I was meant to live. As indicated in many of my previous blog posts, I am taking a stand against ageism in the arts – or anywhere else, for that matter – and I hope to be an excellent representative of a performing artist in her 60s. I will continue doing what I can, quietly but with conviction, and maybe it will make a difference in the perception people have of performers and maturity. I plan on having a major birthday celebration, complete with live music (of course) and all of my friends!
Singing. As of this year I have been singing professionally for 45 years! And this year will make 10 years since I started singing again after a 10-year layoff. I intend to keep singing until I drop … or until the voice is not willing. I really want to be an example for younger singers, so that they know that performing life and artistry do not end at any particular age. The voice changes as time goes by, and we simply need to adapt and adjust to those changes in a healthy manner; there is no need to stop performing. Look at Tony Bennett! Almost 90, and he still practices consistently and is able to sing well and entertain an audience – and he clearly loves life.
New York City. Next year will mark 30 years since I moved to New York City! I live in the wonderful Big Apple, which now has 102 billionaires and 40,000 people who live in homeless shelters. I’m not sure that there’s going to be any place for the rest of us to live before long. The city is being completely covered over with chain stores and new luxury super-high-rises. They are all UGLY! (Are there any architects out there with an eye for beauty?!) The grittiness and creative energy and unique character of the city are disappearing. Small businesses are almost a thing of the past here already, a result of greedy and unscrupulous landlords and developers raising rents (which are no longer rent-stabilized) to astronomical levels that virtually no one other than large retail chains or banks can afford. This is completely changing the feel of the city. This is also apparently happening in a number of other great cities around the world. So I guess it’s no surprise that unwelcome change would come to my humble abode, as well.
I am now living in what increasingly feels like a prison cell, a result of the owner of the brownstone next door at 49 West 92nd Street building an additional story on top of his newly-acquired brownstone, a story which is the same level as my apartment. My formerly bright, sunny apartment is now a tomb. My view, instead of looking out at blue skies and birds bathing in the puddles on the roof below my apartment, looks out at a grey cement-block wall about 10 feet from my apartment. When wet, the cement blocks are almost black. I live in a studio, and the windows are all on the same side. The construction that has been done blocks almost all of my light. Now I see that the owner/developer, a Russian financial broker at a major financial institution here, is building an extension to the back of the brownstone, which was built in 1901, replacing half of the lovely garden area there. (We can’t have any greenery showing, can we? Must cover everything with concrete, must cover everything with concrete….) I sincerely hope that he will not chop down the beautiful old tree there, whose graceful branches are blocking the rise of the extension on the final two floors. My apartment windows face the side of the brownstone, so the extension, if it goes as high as my floor, will block my remaining tiny sliver of light, and I will see absolutely nothing out the windows in my entire apartment but grey cement blocks.
So, unlike the lead character in Rear Window, I will not be observing my neighbors – or the birds – out my window any more, and will instead be living a monk-like existence in the dark. I feel grief for my lost view, and I worry for Sally, my fern, whose home in the kitchen is now almost completely dark, and soon might be entirely so. She is a mere shadow of her former self, and I do not know if she will survive.
Please note: I am happy to see that there is a movement afoot to save what is left of our city. Do check out Jeremiah’s Save NYC campaign (#SaveNYC, https://www.facebook.com/pages/JeremiahsVanishingNewYork/ 224773690470, http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com and http://www.savenyc.nyc). This campaign offers information and sheer numbers of people to support this movement, which advocates two things which I think are essential to stop the destruction: 1) the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, which protects small businesses from being driven out by greedy landlords (https://www.change.org/p/savenycsupportthesmallbusinessjobssurvivalact) and 2) a move to create law to limit the numbers of chain stores that can be built within an area (other cities have similar laws, but New York does not).
THE MUSIC SALON™. This month marks eight years since I started THE MUSIC SALON™! I began the Salon because I wanted to provide a place for performers to perform for each other in a relaxed setting that promoted creativity. Most of all, as I mention at the start of every Salon, I want to provide a place for community, something that is often difficult to find in the performing world. I believe we need each other in order to experience joy in our performing. Now that The Music Salon offers not only performing opportunities, but groups such as MEDITATION FOR CREATIVES™ and informational workshops such as the SPANISH ART SONG WORKSHOP™, there’s a chance to experience community in a variety of settings, and many opportunities to expand creatively as a performer. I hope that The Music Salon™ continues to provide these opportunities for years to come. Your continued participation will ensure that it does. If you haven’t tried it yet, take a look at The Music Salon page (www.elenagreco.com/music/egmp/salon), or Like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/EGMPTheMusicSalon) to see the next opportunity.
ELENA GRECO MULTIMEDIA PRODUCTIONS™ is three years old this year! As I’ve mentioned previously, it has always been my intention that EGMP be a repertory company – a small, merry band of performers who love to perform with each other and to entertain an audience! I’m happy that that intention is finally coming to fruition. And next year will see some of the developments I mentioned in my last Newsletter, particularly community outreach. More on that in the next EGMP News!
EGMP News is published in a separate newsletter in this blog (under the EGMP News Category) and on the EGMP Facebook page. Please do come on over and join us on Facebook to see all the news: https://www.facebook.com/ElenaGrecoMultimedia. That way you won’t miss out on future job openings and upcoming events. Please Like the EGMP page and get Notifications on the news (rest your cursor on the Like button and click Get Notifications; this means that Notifications will be listed under the Notifications (“world”) button on the upper right of the Facebook page). If you prefer to receive an email instead of a Facebook notification, write to me at email@example.com.
Back. It’s been six months since I sustained a serious spinal injury, which of necessity slowed me and my work down in all areas for a while. This was not entirely negative, however. First, I have been forced to learn what I need to do to keep myself structurally healthy, and have created and am executing a plan to keep my body flexible and fit for the next four decades (yes, I’ll still be writing this Newsletter at 100!), and second – I finally slowed down. I had been in a hurry since I was born! The injury insisted that I come to a full stop. Until I did, I had had no idea what that felt like. Interesting! Life looks different at this speed, and I believe that maintaining a slower pace now will allow the adrenal issue that has plagued me for the last four years to finally improve. The injury is about 90% healed now, and I look forward to a full recovery within another month or so. I am grateful to have a background in holistic health (including physiology, health systems and nutrition), which has served me well in my recovery, and the help of a wonderful chiropractor (Dr. Joe Adler) and some skilled Tui Na massage practitioners (Sincere Qigong TuiNa on West 85th) who have contributed a lot.
During the first few months after the injury, I was unable to move or walk very much, and as a result, I gained ten pounds! Now I’m hard at work exercising to regain lost muscle function, and most of all to make myself fit, flexible and fabulous! A big thank you to my cyberspace exercise buddy, who keeps me motivated and inspired – I couldn’t do it without you, Celia! (Hope you get as much out of our exchange as I do.) By next Fall, I expect to have a completely new body, one which allows me to perform at my best.
Savannah. I have realized for some time that I am increasingly uncomfortable in cold weather, and that I require a certain amount of beach time throughout the year. OK, maybe a lot of beach time. So I decided to find a spot on the coast to call my second home. I was looking for a place that is warm in the winter, has a beach, bike-riding and an arts scene, and is easy to get to from New York. After some searching I found my place! My soon-to-be second home is Savannah, Georgia. Savannah is a lovely small city right on the beach, only a couple of hours from both Charleston and St. Augustine. They have an avid cycling community, a lively arts scene, and I love the live oaks, the Spanish moss, the azaleas, the architecture and the beach!
Actually, I think Savannah will feel like home to me for a couple more reasons. I moved to the Baton Rouge / New Orleans area in the 80s, and stayed there for eight years because I loved the music, the food, the architecture and the landscape. Well, those things are very similar in Savannah, and also in nearby Charleston. In addition, we moved every year or two when I was growing up, and a lot of that time was spent in Georgia (Atlanta and Gainesville) and South Carolina (Greenville and Spartanburg), so Southern culture is not foreign to me. I was a bit concerned that the area might be too conservative for me to feel comfortable, until I saw a local article featuring a parade of men in hot pink Speedos and funny hats. Ahhh, I thought, I will feel right at home! And Savannah might just tolerate me, as well. Now all I need is to find an affordable hotel or B&B, and a good accompanist. (Recommendations are welcome!)
Elena’s Voice Studio. It seems that at a certain point in life, most of us develop the desire to give back or assist others who are traveling the same path. In my case, that has always been my calling (I have a Counseling degree and have been a holistic health practitioner for many years), but the desire has increased over time, especially now that I have been released from an ill-fitting office job and have the time and energy to fully be there for someone else. I am more committed than ever to helping others, particularly singers. To that end, in addition to offering advice or coaching to young singers whenever they cross my path, I have reopened my voice studio for the first time in many years, and will resume teaching singers of all ages and levels. I do not teach a “named” technique, but one that I have gathered from my work with many of the top teachers and coaches in the business, together with my own discoveries in using and experimenting with my vocal instrument with great awareness and attention. My technique is an organic one that encourages freedom of expression and longevity of the voice. It also encourages exploration of the connection of voice-body-psyche as instrument. As I am still singing multiple genres (I am equally comfortable singing opera, musical theater, art song, folk, pop and jazz, and am regarded as “authentic” in all of those genres) at the age of almost 60, I think the effectiveness of my technique speaks for itself. If you’re interested in learning how I cross over so easily and in exploring how your own singing could be freer so that it’s easier to express yourself musically, please feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out Elena’s Voice Studio web page or Elena’s Voice Studio Facebook page.
|KALEIDOSCOPE™. I’m very excited that the KALEIDOSCOPE™ concert (www.elenagreco.com/kaleidoscope) will be presented in Midtown Manhattan on Wednesday, June 3, at 8:00 p.m. I’m thrilled that we have added some incredibly wonderful performers to the EGMP roster in time for this concert, the sort of performers I truly feel privileged to work with. Look for more information to come soon about the performance and the performers in the EGMP News (posted on this Blog at http://blog.elenagreco.com/category/egmpnews) and in posts to the EGMP Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ElenaGrecoMultimedia).
The KALEIDOSCOPE™ concert (www.elenagreco.com/music/egmp/kaleidoscope) explores the kaleidoscope of human emotions, the highs and lows of human existence, the changing hues of our moods, and how we can support our own mental health and that of our communities through simple, everyday actions. The music encompasses the kaleidoscope of human emotions through multiple genres – musical theater, jazz standards, folk and pop. To be notified of developments, please Like the CONCERTS FOR HEALING™ Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/concertsforhealing) or the EGMP Facebook page (see above), or write to me at email@example.com.
|SPANISH ART SONG WORKSHOP™. This Spanish Art Song Workshop will be presented again in Fall 2015 as a joint production of THE FLAVOR OF SPAIN™ concert series and THE MUSIC SALON™. Performance practice, style and a history of Spanish art song will be discussed, in addition to performance of Spanish art songs. This is a performer’s workshop for singers, pianists and guitarists. Come explore the wonderful world of Spanish art song with us! Perform, gain in-depth knowledge of this genre and enjoy listening to the exquisitely beautiful music of Spain. More information will follow in the EGMP News.|
|VOCAL COLLABORATORS. I hope you have had a chance to read Part 1 of the VOCAL COLLABORATORS series, Give Me a Little Credit! If you haven’t, check it out quickly before the next installment comes out: http://blog.elenagreco.com/singing/vocalcollaboratorspart1givemealittlecredit (updated link coming soon). I’ll be posting Part 2, Many Hats, which explores the many roles of the vocal coach-accompanist, very shortly.
Free Publicity! I would like nothing better than to offer some free publicity to singers and vocal collaborators. To that end, please feel free to pass on to me any pictures of your performances to exhibit in the Vocal Collaborators series, pictures which are colorful and show you at your most animated and engaged – and particularly if you are, or work with, a female accompanist! I realized after publishing Part 1 that I had used images of mostly male accompanists. Of course we need to represent the many illustrious women who choose that profession. To those who have already shared your images with me, thank you so very much for the wonderful pictures, and I look forward to more! As most of you who know me know, I am a big advocate of reciprocal or mutual promotion, a very effective way to promote our work that doesn’t cost a cent.
|LIVING HEALTH. I will soon be publishing small tidbits of health-promoting information about holistic nutrition, physiology, psychology and balanced living in the Living Health part of the blog. I really want us all to be healthy! There is a lot of misinformation out there, and a lot of promotion by certain industries that deliberately obscures the facts at times, and I want to be a clear voice of reason in this area. I began studying nutrition, physiology and health more than 40 years ago due to a passionate interest in those subjects. My Bachelor’s degree in Counseling Psychology required the study of Human Biology and Neuroscience, plus I have Statistics and Research Methods courses to my credit, so I have a lot of solid science to serve as a foundation for my own particular interests and longtime study in this field. These small posts will not be research papers – no lengthy bibliography or complex studies to read – but just useful facts, along with a few links to further information. I already have a few topics in mind based on questions I’ve seen posed on Facebook recently by singers who were inquiring about health issues (and getting loads of misinformation by well-meaning colleagues), so I have an idea what might be useful. If there are any topics you are particularly interested in learning about, let me know!|
So that’s all the news! Please let me know what’s going on your corner of the universe!