An alternative résumé
I was born into a family that sang freely. I remember big family gatherings, where after the enormous meals I would sit on the lap of an uncle or aunt, and listen with amusement, how my tipsy relatives sang four part madrigals and spirituals, and as the level of alcohol rose in their blood, they would sing operettas and naughty folksongs. Eventually I had to join in their singing.
I loved dancing. Be it folkdance in my brand new red boots at the age of four, or in a dress of a princess that was found in the corner of the attic, I would elegantly glide across the rooms of our house.
When all I wanted was to sing,
I was accorded the honour of living
This sentence was on a postcard I got from my friend Jennie and became my motto. Later I found out it was written by Antonio Machado.
It was in my hometown, Székesfehérvár. The grand era of socialism. Our singing teacher came to classes with his guitar, and we regularly went to sing to the various ceremonies held at companies or institutions.
Children’s camp with campfires and singing along to the sound of guitar. To this very day I can still feed upon the beautiful memories of these eight years, and the clean, innocent love of music.
Teacher Training College of the Liszt Academy of Music
I applied for two courses. I intended to do jazz singing as well, but at the end I didn’t dare to audition. It had to be this way, I’m sure. Jazz and especially musical singing remains my big and yet unfulfilled love.
The first word that pops into my mind about those years at college is struggle. I was way too young when I got accepted. I was full of inhibitions, I thought that all the other singers were more talented and more experienced than me. I owe thanks and gratitude to Katalin Alter, who always believed in me, and whose love and guidance accompanied me even after college, for many more years.
My teachers there were Zsuzsa Forrai and Judit Németh, and I also have to mention Melánia Králik Rosner who gave acting classes, and who was fearsome but filled with deep art and passion for music.
Guildhall School of Music and Drama
In 94 I won the scholarship of the Guildhall School for Post Diploma Vocal Training and Early Music. I left my country with very poor English and full of fear and returned being more self confident and strong. I could write a thousand pages about my adventures in London, but one thing is for sure: that year infected me with a life-long devotion to early music. It opened up a new world; the previously unknown possibilities of musical expression, the music serving the text, the freedom of performance, the careful listening and aim of perfection of the musicians was astonishing and humbling.
I had wonderful teachers. My greatest experience was how much they respected, appreciated and encouraged our different personalities and ways of making music. They let us develop in complete freedom.
Emma Kirkby gave us masterclasses. It was always such a pleasure to sing for her, because she was kind and gentle in her teaching.
Nancy Argenta was my real helper, my master. I received a lot from her. I learned about technique, profession and humanity. We are still keeping in touch and I’m immensely grateful for her friendship.
Nigel North taught lute and chamber music. I owe him thanks for introducing me to John Toll, who was harpsichord teacher at the Royal Academy of Music. These two men made the best continuo group in the world. The early death of John put an end to our musical relationship, but their effect on my singing remains in my heart and I always try to sing with the hope that they would be delighted to hear me.
I obtained my diploma after returning from London. I never auditioned for the opera course of the Liszt Academy, it was somehow clear that my path would not lead in that direction. My career started off slowly. I met György Vashegyi who gave me my first jobs.
Our relationship, though not without conflicts, has been a success for the past ten years. Though I’m working with various conductors, most of my engagements in Hungary come through Gyuri, and I’m grateful for them.
Jessica Cash and kinesiology
There had been a few years at the beginning of my career, when I suffered a lot. Singing seemed to be an incredibly difficult and endlessly complicated thing, which I had lots of trouble coping with. I had many emotional problems, but tried very hard to surpress them, because I had been told practicing and working hard would make them disappear. Then, one day on a course in Innsbruck I met Jessica, who had a reputation of a sorceress. She had a huge white bun of hair and a big laughing tummy. I was told crying and big spiritual talks were not rare during her lessons.
OK, I thought, this is my place. Jessie believes very strongly that behind all our physical problems, bad body patterns, tense muscles, there is an emotional trauma. A trauma that could be a childhood accident, a bad memory, or some past life experience that lies stored in our minds and bodies. The release of these traumas cures the tension in our bodies as well. Jessica completed several courses in kinesiology and applies its methods in her teaching because she believes that the body knows its job perfectly well during singing, so our task is to free the body so it can work for us.
This method attracted me very much, and because I saw how successful it was on my body, I packed up my suitcase and moved to London once again, to study and work with Jessica.
I didn’t have a scholarship this time, so I cleaned, washed up and babysat to survive and to be able to pay for my voice lessons. It was a wonderful experience; successful, hard work not without tears sometimes. I learned a lot, and have been learning ever since I’ve come home, now going to London time to time, whenever I can.
I like it a lot. Now I am doing it in two schools. For three years I’ve been the classical singing teacher in the Gyula Lauschmann Jazz Conservatory at Székesfehérvár. This job is particularly dear to me, because it’s very different to other music schools. Working with these young jazz singers reminds me of the occasional stiffness of the world of classical music and all the unnecessary worries I have about my own singing. It always fills me with new energy. I learn a lot from my pupils. Sometimes it’s quite astonishing how they approach classical repertoire with their fresh views, lots of power and beautiful music making, free from conventions. It’s very touching and humbling for me.
I always dreamed that by the age of 30 I would have a voice that serves me well and enables me to stand on stage free of fear and work as much as possible. My career is a ship that proceeds slowly but all of her stops fill me with nice memories and love. I never worked with a hysterical conductor, a bad orchestra, or terrible colleagues. I don’t have an agency that takes care of my engagements – well, not yet anyway. My singing life develops and changes through contacts and friendships; sometimes all very well, sometimes less so. There could always be better and more work, and I honestly desire it to be that way. I’d love to sing many things, try myself in new fields, to improve, to learn. I spent a lot of time in the past; I look very much forward to the future. Sometimes a bit worried, sometimes curious. But to live the present with joy, take pleasure in the now, enjoy being on the road without seeing the end of it is the real challenge for me.