The 3 Year Journey starts
In August 2007, I left home in the SF Bay Area to attend the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University for my Master of Music in Classical Voice. When I graduated in May 2009, I had started networking within the local classical singing community and decided that I’d give it a go singing in Chicagoland. After all, I had just finished a summer gig covering a role in Wisconsin, I was a section leader at a church in the suburbs and had already sung a few concerts with paying chamber choirs. In order for me to stay (since I exhausted all of my financial aid money) I got a serving/bartender job and kept up with the church and choir gigs. I had the grand notion that I’d use the money from my restaurant job to help pay for things such as lessons, coachings, application fees (more on those in another rant), etc.
I auditioned for 3 companies that fall and was able to get an invitation to spend June/July 2010 in Princeton, NJ, hanging around a bunch of young, eager opera singers like me. Of course, all of this was unpaid (minus a $150 check as a ‘ringer’ for Orff‘s Carmina Burana) but I gained a lot of valuable experience and also bonded with my fellow singers, many of whom were in the same boat as me: post grad school, auditioning for everyone who’d hear them, hustling jobs here and there to make ends up meet, homeless (as some of us were between leases) but hungry and appreciative of the opportunity to get a chance to sing.
I returned to Chicago in August 2010 and went right back to the restaurant job and my church job. Two chamber choirs invited me to sing with them again and so my usual routine started up again. I auditioned for and got a part in another local opera company’s production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” (we sang it in English) which went up in early 2011. That summer I had the chance to perform my first musical theater role as Jack from Sondheim‘s “Into the Woods”. The bonus was that a lot of my castmates were my musical family from San Francisco State University, where I completed my undergrad degrees.
It was after this production, and talking to a lot of my friends from back home, that I started contemplating a move back home. Despite the fact that: I had a weekly church job, I was a paid chorister, and I had done 4 productions since graduating, I still felt that I was not fulfilling the main reason I moved away from home. Yes, I was getting paid to sing. Yes, I was doing some shows. But I also hadn’t taken more than 2 lessons a year since graduating. And with the exception of the summer of 2010, hadn’t gotten one coaching since May 2009.
So I made a decision to just sublet for a few months and then move home to SF for a month. It wasn’t a huge length of time, but enough for me to get away from what ended up being a routine in Chicago that I wasn’t trying to get out of. Luckily, industry jobs (serving/hosting/bartender) are full of people who will jump at the chance to pick up a shift or two so my manager had no problem with me leaving for a month or so. I was able to pawn off the rest of my big stuff (dresser, futon, sleeper sofa, bookshelves) and basically just had clothes, books and music to move.
I boarded the plane and took my first extended leave from Chicago since finishing grad school.