LIBRARY - Reference(s)

Principles and Art of Singing: Review by Joe Armstrong.

AT Focus: 
Alexander Technique
Article, essay
Article, citation and copright
Article Text: 
Principles and Art of Singing by the distinguished soprano Olga Averino should be read by all those Alexander teachers who work with singers - or with any other performers, for that matter. Her approach is remarkably harmonious with the Alexander Technique; in fact, the book was brought to publication as a result of the enthusiastic interest in the manuscript by a group of Alexander teachers both in the US and Denmark. They have found that her message contains important understandings for carrying Alexander's concepts about respiratory re-education further toward actual expression and communication.

Madame Averino's method is concerned chiefly with that central element which distinguishes a skilful and correct performance from a truly electrifying one. She identifies this central element as the Òinflux of vital energyÓ, which she calls ÒimpulseÓ. In her book she describes how impulse can be connected to the breath by way of the imagination to express the feeling of the musical phrase and text. To her, the performer is the imagination, and the imagination alone.

As Alexander teachers, many of us have seen the results that a mechanical approach to the elements of respiration and vocal production can sometimes have on performers. We are often at a loss when it comes to leading our pupils toward the kind of Òcompletely communicable and contagious performanceÓ that Madame Averino makes her goal. This book provides a refreshing vocabulary for the process, and we are extremely grateful for phrases like: Ò'Quality always needs time, not only in music but also in life itself.Ó

Madame Averino performed and taught in Boston for most of her life after escaping the Russian revolution in 1918. She sang lieder, oratorio, and opera as well as pioneering in early and modem music. The Boston Symphony, as well as other major American orchestras, engaged her frequently as soloist, She sang her last full recital in 1971 at the age of 76, while her teaching career extended until her recent death at the age of 93, which also seems to say something for the efficacy of her approach.

1991 © Joe Armstrong ( Reproduced with permission.

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