Updated: May 28, 2021
Hello OOPS MN friends!!
I have put together some songs for today’s playlist and it’s going to be a wild ride!
Discovering I had ADD as an adult has been a wild ride indeed, but I am really happy to find out this part of myself that is both challenging but also incredibly exciting at the same time. I am sure many of us artists and creative minds have this special trait which makes us great at what we do as performers despite all of the challenges, and I hope it helps to name it.
My playlist for this week will follow my life story. *Warning - a lot of 80s music!
I was born in Tokyo, Japan. My mother, who is the founder of Heinrich Schütz-Chor, Tokyo (circa 1968- Taro Tanno, my brother is the Director of now) negotiated the first ever permission to perform at the Cathedral of St. Mary’s in Tokyo with her very pregnant belly, had a performance, gave birth, then flew with me all the way to the other end of the globe, San Paolo, Brazil, where my father was beginning his work, waiting for his family to arrive.
I could not find any videos of my mother’s performances online of Heinrich Schütz, so here I will share one of the very few videos Mr. Nakamura, our natural trumpet player posted of a Bach Cantata performance at the Cathedral of St. Mary’s in Tokyo. It is not the best quality recording, but it will give you an idea of my upbringing.
My mother continued her work in Brazil, won an orchestral conducting competition, founded a Heinrich Schütz-Chor in Rio de Janeiro when we moved there, and there my brother was born.
Meanwhile, I was basking in the sun running around naked on the beach, but the huge Jesus on the hill of Rio was baked into my baby mind and caught me forever. My parents took me to the Carnivals and this is my root of being a Glocal (Global + Local = our whole mindset) with my parents being Glocal appreciating all of the diversity that was in the land we resided in. This is when we had acquired the percussion instruments in Brazil such as the agogo and cuica which brings me to Sergio Mendes’ Mas Que Nada
We moved back to Japan when I was 3, then moved again the USA to the Washington DC area when I was 6 and lived there for 3 years. My memories are blurred but I remember my mother singing at the Basilica as a cantor, my father singing with the Choral Arts Society, and the Suzuki Violin performances we heard at the Kennedy Center. My mother taught me this song from the Handel’s Messiah when I was in DC, but I had no idea I would actually sing this and become a singer later...
Then we went back to Japan where I would face a lot of difficulties being free-spirited and not fit in the ways of the world in Japan. I became very depressed not feeling good about myself as a Japanese nor an American. I would get sick a lot and not be able to go to school a lot of days secretly listening to J-POP idols (!). Here is a taste of what I loved: Kita-Wing by Akina Nakamori
I was focused on dance from 6-15 years old and was very quiet and became pretty introverted after being bullied a lot since our return to Japan. But once I quit ballet, I decided to sing! When I entered high school, I started a rock band, joined another, and pretty soon became very busy playing the electric bass and singing songs such as this:
And I copied bass lines and played songs such as:
Eventually, my love for singing brought me to Heinrich Schütz-Chor, and voice lessons with my mother, which didn’t go so well. My brother had been singing with the choir since he was 8 years old and there was no way I would be good as he was! Nevertheless, I just loved to sing and sang in the rock band as well as sing early music such as Schütz, Monteverdi, Handel, Bach, and then decided to study voice in college. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to study early music on a daily basis focusing on the art of ensemble singing intensively. I have had some painful memories of auditioning for solo parts in Amor della Ninfa and other songs, but here it is!
Monteverdi Madrigali Guerrieri et Amorosi (Libro Ottavo)
I was always told I should sing mezzo-soprano repertoire because of the darker tone and the lower extension of my voice. It was going to be easier to get accepted into college or get roles if I were a mezzo. This continues on until I go to graduate school at the U of MN, and by the time I graduated from the U of MN with a MM degree, I have learned and performed roles such as Principessa in Suor Angelica, Third Lady in Magic Flute, Second Witch in Dido and Aeneas, and Orfeo in Orfeo ed Euridice!! Hmmmmmm? After rounds of disappointing outcomes for Young Artist programs, I ran out of my student visa status, and my love for the French Melodies brought me to Paris to study with this under-rated master Baryton Martin, Camille Maurane. He is my dear teacher now gone from this earth but always alive in my heart. Thanks to his tutelage, I learned to sing all of the major soprano repertoire that I had never had a chance to explore while I was put in the “mezzo” category before. I learned La Bonne Chanson and performed a recital in Paris before returning to the US. It is still my dream to perform a recital of Mélodies Françaises. Would anyone please hire me please?
In 2000, I returned to MN to get married, and recover from another depressive bout. I started the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and rediscovered my love for dancing, and got a dancing role in Brigadoon with a local community theater, then auditioned for Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ Camelot and got my first professional job as a singer/actor. During that time, I also had reconnected with my colleague from graduate school - Jennifer Baldwin Peden, now a dear friend - and was invited to a workshop at Theatre de la Jeune Lune working on Figaro as a theater/opera piece using Beaumarchais’s book and Mozart’s music. Thanks to this workshop I had worked with them for the next 5 years on theater/operas such as Figaro, Carmen, and Don Juan Giovanni. This is where I had began to learn about theater as social justice work. I hope to turn my rage about injustice into burning love.
That’s it for today! Thank you for joining me in my journey.
Up next is Pickup Truck Opera with Mixed Precipitation!
Peace and Love to you all,
You can find Momoko's full playlist on YouTube.