You may or may not be able to go home again, but if you get the opportunity to return to the auditorium of some of your first performances, hey, why not?
That’s what’s in store for soprano Sasha Massey, who, as a member of Lyrica Baroque, will do just that at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 in the Lafayette Middle School auditorium, 1301 W. University Ave.
Lyrica Baroque, a two-time winner of Best Chamber Music Performance in Gambit Magazine's Tribute to the Classical Arts, will include Handel's four-movement Trio Sonata No. 3 and Let the Bright Seraphim; In mezzo all'onde irate by L. Vinci and other pieces in the program.
Massey, known for her local operatic work and as a cantor at at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, said her experience in LMS’s choir with Lerone Rubin at the helm sent her on her way.
“I got to really blossom and develop more what I was already so interested in,” said Massey. “Lerone Rubin really helped to bring that out of us, so that whatever was going on outside of class we really just had to focus on making really good music together.”
Her initial interest in singing, however, came from her grandmother and Louisiana Public Broadcasting.
“Me and my grandmother faithfully watched the Lawrence Welk shows,” Massey said. “I could sing along with most every song. Later on I found this Ella Fitzgerald CD at the Lafayette Public Library, and I memorized every single song.”
In the process, in due time, and, inspired by Ella Fitzgerald, Massey learned there’s more to singing than, well, singing.
“For once, I had to really start working on technique — not just sounding like somebody else but doing what I had to do to protect my voice,” said Massey. “I learned I didn’t have to scream and holler like some people did on the radio or like what happens with gospel music because you don’t get to sing for the rest of your life if you don’t take a more cautious approach.
“So I started learning I could add to my skill set rather than give up something entirely, like something, say, pop music or musical theater which involves a lot more belting.”
Take show tunes, for instance.
“So it’s a more muscular sound that has less oxygen in it, actually,” Massey said and went into the science of the matter. “It’s a less oxygenated sound. There’s an absence of air because your voice is riding on the air you inhale but your chest voice is so much more involved.”
And that’s why she sings like she does and I don’t.
When it comes to baroque music and opera, “the further along I got, the more I had to learn about classical technique and how I could sing for the rest of my life if I learned how to do that,” Massey said.
“So just be in command all the time,” she said. “That’s essentially what I wanted, even though I was told by my teacher pretty much no matter how awesome your voice is, what you look like is going to largely determine what you’ll be cast as.”
It all comes down to taking charge.
“When you’re in control, you can sing the music and be that character,” said Massey. “And when you’re programming, you can program aggressively. You can keep things simple and you can still show off artistry and interpretation. You can still show off athleticism in your voice.”
Lyrica Baroque, with Jaren Atherholt, oboe; Gaabrielle Fischler, violin; Benjamin Atherholt, bassoon; and Robert Holm, piano, represents a new expression of classical music, one that appeals to chamber music lovers, opera lovers, and symphony lovers — and perhaps, people who’ve never even heard of the genres.
“People need to be exposed to as much music that helps inspire their imagination as possible,” Massey said, adding that in country such as ours, the opportunities are endless.
“We’re such a varied group of people. America was founded by immigrants. We are so different and so vibrant and we can pick up and learn so much from each other and help advance everything we do to continue to improve and maintain a level of sustainability in arts, education and the environment.”
As an African American woman, there’s an opportunity at hand that Massey doesn’t want to waste.
“So, showing kids that look like me they can do it, too,” she said. “That they can keep their clothes on, which is a bonus. I’m not telling you you can’t wear shorts. I’m not telling what to wear. I’m just saying you don’t have to take away one of the ways that people see you in order for them to see all of you and value your ability.”
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You may or may not be able to go home again, but if you get the opportunity to return to the auditorium of some of your first performances, he…