Defying Gravity

When I was a kid, I always loved singing the highest parts of songs, just because I could. Singing Jasmine’s part in A Whole New World was way more fun than singing Aladdin’s part. As a result, I sang with my falsetto throughout puberty and beyond, so my singing voice never cracked the way many boys’ voices do. I had good control over my voice, which is probably why I transitioned into a deeper speaking voice without noticing it.

Sometime during high school I joined the high school choir. While I could easily sing the soprano notes, my high school choir director stuck me in the baritone section because of the common shortage of guys in choirs. In college, I again joined the choir. After a couple terms as a baritone, I asked my college choir director if I could sing with the women instead. Once I transitioned into the soprano section in college, I never went back to singing in my baritone voice. Besides the mixed choir in college, I also eventually joined the women’s choir as the only guy in the group. During the two years I was in the women’s choir, they never changed the name!

When I was in graduate school for math, I always thought I didn’t have time to join a choir, so I waited two years before I joined a community choir (not affiliated with my university). Since I had been out of organized singing for a while, I joined as an alto as a way to restrengthen my voice before jumping back into the soprano section. Singing alto is fun, but I don’t have much power behind the lower notes in the alto/tenor range.

Now, after three years without participating in a choir, I decided to audition for the university choir here. Since this was orientation week, the music department had a table set up outside the music building to answer any questions the incoming students had. Even though I had already researched the department online, I was able to meet and chat with the choir director with whom I would be auditioning.

My audition was yesterday afternoon. The audition began with singing scales to determine my vocal range. The director tested both my falsetto and my normal baritone voice. He didn’t test my limits too far, but he got a good sense that my voice is most comfortable in the soprano range (compared to an alto range).

We also did some rhythm exercises and sight singing. The rhythm exercises, which involved the director clapping rhythms and me clapping them back, were fine, but I’m terrible at sight singing. The conductor later even told me that sight singing was the weakest part of my audition. Since I haven’t been in a choir in three years, I definitely feel like some of my skills have waned a bit.

The last part of my audition was that I had to sing a short clip of any song of my choosing. Since I’ve been addicted to the Wicked soundtrack for weeks now (no idea why, besides that it’s amazing), I decided to sing the first verse of Defying Gravity. I had never sung Defying Gravity to anyone besides my family (in the car with the soundtrack blasting through the speakers), so I was quite nervous.

Apparently, the director liked my voice! There are actually five university-run choirs here (there are student groups too) which offer a wide variety of styles and eras of music to sing, and the director gave me the choice of four of them! The director even said that no matter if I wanted to sing as a baritone or as a male soprano, he would love to have me in the group either way!

Side note: The fifth choir is the most advanced choir that requires much stronger sight singing. It would have been a huge time commitment, so I was never shooting for that choir anyway.

I’m interested in only two of the choirs, as their repertoires interest me and they have low time commitments. One has only about 30 singers, while the other has close to 200. I’m going to attend the first rehearsals for both groups and see which one (or both) I prefer.

Yay! I’m officially a member of at least one of the choirs on campus!

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Hallelujah

I can’t even begin to say how amazing this video is to me. It’s like it was tailor made for me.

Hallelujah is already one of my favorite songs (mostly because my best friend from graduate school got me hooked on the original Leonard Cohen version), and they have four cute/hot Canadian singers (The Canadian Tenors) performing it! I love Canada! And then Celine Dion (probably my favorite singer ever)! All that goodness rolled into an appearance on Oprah (who I also love, another guilty pleasure) and you have magic.

Side note: I love the reaction that the tenor playing the guitar has when he sees Celine Dion. He’s too cute!

Bieber Fever

I tried resisting, but I couldn’t. I caught Bieber Fever. I did my homework tonight with his My World 2.0 album on repeat.

I should make a list of all of my guilty pleasures. It must be pretty long by now.

Side note: If you look closely, Drake (aka Aubrey Graham) is in the music video. It’s really weird to see him as a rapper now. I still think of him as Jimmy from Degrassi: TNG. I love teen Canadian shows (another guilty pleasure).

Ordinary Miracle

Monday is Presidents Day (is it “President’s”, “Presidents'”, or “Presidents”? I can’t tell), so I get a rare three day weekend. This weekend is interesting for other reasons too. Besides President(‘s,s’,s) Day on Monday, the Vancouver Olympics started yesterday and both Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day are tomorrow! Celebrations all around!

I watched the opening ceremony to the Olympics last night. I love the Olympics (and Canada!). I might be naive, but I like the idea of the world coming together for a global event. The athletes may be competing against other countries, but at the end of the day, they are all taking part in an international symbol of unity. The whole idea seems to coincide with my recent optimistic perspective.

Meanwhile, my sister is coming over tomorrow to celebrate Chinese New Year with my parents and me! She got a new chihuahua puppy less than a month ago who I have yet to meet, and my sister said she would bring her puppy with her! So cute!

The opening ceremony included Sarah McLachlan singing a song called “Ordinary Miracle.” I did some research, and the song was actually from 2006 for the live-action movie remake of Charlotte’s Web. Sarah McLachlan is amazing, and I think the song has some great lyrics, so I’m posting the music video for it (even though it’s about the movie and not the Olympics). Hopefully the footage from the Olympics will be available someday, in which case I will update this. Enjoy!

Finite Simple Group (of Order Two)

I was listening to my iPod nano today and stumbled upon this song I haven’t heard in a while. I first heard this song from my old roommate in graduate school. It’s called “Finite Simple Group (of Order Two)” by The Klein Four. Years later and this song still makes me laugh. The lyrics are only funny to math geeks like me, though.

I still reminisce about the days when I was math graduate student. I had a lengthy phone call with my two best friends from graduate school yesterday, so I’ve been in a nostalgic mood. I definitely need to visit them.

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Thank You Love

I’m currently immensely addicted to the Taiwanese soap opera 花樣少年少女 (also commonly known as the Taiwanese version of Hana Kimi). I actually watched the entire series last week (15 episodes, each over an hour long), and I’ve been listening to the soundtrack every chance I get. The show is so amazing, largely because I like the idea of the person you secretly love protecting you against all odds and secretly loving you back. It’s such a romantic concept, and I’m a hopeless romantic. Also, I love the main actors (they’re popular Taiwanese singers). Just watching this series makes me want to brush up on my Mandarin and visit Taiwan again!

If anyone’s interested, you can download the entire series subtitled in English from here. Awesome!

There’s a great song on the soundtrack that has beautiful lyrics. Actually, this describes multiple songs on the soundtrack, but in this case I’m referring to the song 謝謝愛 (Thank You Love) by Garden Sister (花園精靈). These are the lyrics (from Chinese Music Blog):

雨下好亂 半個夜晚 你不在身邊怎麼 晚安
yu xia hao luan; ban ge ye wan ni bu zai shen bian zen me wan an
The rain is falling heavily into the middle of the night; I cannot sleep as you’re not by my side

天好藍 要和你一起看
tian hao lan yao he ni yi qi kan
I want to watch the clear blue sky with you

起風時由你來温暖
qi feng shi you ni lai wen nuan
You are the one who gives me warmth when a wind blows over

心事簡單 一句說完
xin shi jian dan yi ju shuo wan
feelings from my heart are so simple that a simple sentence says all

要我們永遠不會 分開
yao wo men yong yuan bu hui fen kai
wanting us to never separate

有眼淚 也因為你燦爛
you yan lei; ye yin wei ni can lan
tears are present but they glisten for you

你微笑因為我盛開
ni wei xiao yin wei wo sheng kai
Your smile is because of me

要謝謝愛讓你 在我身邊守護我的未來
yao xie xie ai, rang ni zai wo shen bian shou hu wo de wei lai
I thank love for letting you stay by me and guard my future

有多少美麗奇跡 你手心里全都記载 好期待
you duo shao mei li qi ji ni shou xin li quan dou ji zai, hao qi dai
how many beautiful miracles, in the palm of your hand is where they are kept

要謝謝愛讓我 學會寬容學會體諒 關懷
yao xie xie ai, rang wo xue hui kuan rong, xue hui ti liang guan huai
I thank you for letting me learn generosity, respect and care

像陽光陪着大海 是平靜還是澎湃 都是愛
xiang yang guang pei zhe da hai shi ping jing hai shi peng pai dou shi ai
similar to how the sun will accompany the sea, whether it is calm or rough, it is still love

Finally, here’s a YouTube link to let you hear the song. Enjoy!

I’m Not That Shallow

A small rant: Why is it that just because I think all the guys in Star Trek are cute/hot means that’s the only reason why I liked the movie and why I want to see it again? I hate that assumption.

I’ve actually had to defend myself on this point before. Back during the boy band craze in the ’90s, I really liked (and still do like) the songs from Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, etc. Westlife is still one of my favorite groups. Yes, I admit to liking boy bands. But no matter how hard I try to convince otherwise, people always assume that I only like boy bands because I think the guys are cute. As if it’s unfathomable to actually like the music that boy bands produce.

Yes, I’m gay. Yes, I think the guys in movies are cute, but watching eye candy only goes so far. If a movie has a terrible story or bad acting, I wouldn’t be willing to spend my hard earned cash on watching it multiple times, even if it has a really hot guy in it. I can be shallow when I want to be, but I’m not that shallow.

Anyway, this rant has been brewing in my head for a couple days ever since I had a conversation with a friend about wanting to see Star Trek again. Honestly, I don’t have the intense urge to see a movie in theatres multiple times very often. The last time I had such an urge was back in 2003 for my favorite movie, The Return of the King. I watched it six times in theatres. That’s 21 hours of epic awesomeness.

I don’t think I’m willing to spend the money to see Star Trek quite so times in theatres (though I’m definitely buying it on Blu-ray when it comes out), but the fact that I’m even comparing it to The Return of the King at all shows how much I liked it. I hate when people think I’m so superficial that I would only like a movie because of the actors. I don’t deny that I think Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Anton Yelchin, and John Cho are all very good looking. But the triumph and tragedy in the story are what keep playing back in my head, not the faces of cute/hot actors.