I didn’t know anything about Carmen Mehta, but Alec Baldwin talks to her in his interview with her husband, Zarin, recently retired executive director of the NY Philharmonic. She’s a former singer, now voice teacher. And she talks about teaching voice:
“The main thing is to attack it from music instead of only from the voice.”
Woo! Yes. Thanks for putting it so clearly, Carmen Mehta! Because the technique of singing comes more cleanly, clearly, and naturally when it has a musical goal instead of just a technical goal. Because the voice is built to express emotion, so when you engage the expressive intention of imagination, the voice responds in its most efficiently.
She also fights for clarity and accuracy of understanding of something non-singers like Alec find mysterious
Alec: “I have the vocal cords of a crossing guard or something.”
Carmen: “No, you don’t–excuse me, may I interrupt you? You have the vocal cords of an actor.”
Talking of managing an ensemble:
“Make sure that your musicians are happy. Make sure that everything that goes on in their lives… is working well and your respect for them, your respect for the musicians and Charlie’s [the conductor, Charles Dutoit] expertise and he [Zarin, as manager] was so adamant they make a great sound.”
I suspect it’s easier for a singer to come to this conclusion than an instrumentalist. More than any instrumentalist, singers are dependent on physical health and emotional balance for their instruments to function, but all musicians rely on the proper functioning of their muscles, which depend to various degrees on physical health and emotional balance.
I was very excited about her insistence. A woman after my own heart.