"Even though the loud sound may be beautiful, rather listen to the fine vibration of the heart." (Upanishad)
Orfeas John Munsey, an accomplished performer, choir conductor and voice instructor, who studied Music of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance at the world famous Oberlin College in the U.S. and classical Hindustani singing with the Dagar Brothers in New Delhi in India, has had his debut as a teacher on Paros.
His vocal training course "The Joyously Singing Body" started mid-January with a small group: Loni, Chris, Jane, Tilly, Franka, Angelica, Isabella and Sonja.
None of us really knew what to expect...and so it began...with a lot of fun exercises, body work (from yoga and bio-energetics), the most precious breathing exercises (we are all determined to become non-smokers by now!), special voice training, and the discovery of the body as an instrument of resonance.
And that was just(!) the method. What truly touched us were the aspects of team spirit and self-discovery which we experienced throughout the course.
Singing canons together allowed us to witness our voices being beautifully interwoven into a colourful tapestry of warm vibrations that lifted our spirits and opened our hearts - an authentic feeling of communion ( in the best sense of the word) - creation in progress.
Chris: "I was most impressed with Orfeas' ability to make us all feel accepted and 'safe', regardless of our individual capabilities."
Loni: "A wonderful method that helps you focus on the essential...and brings out the best in each of us."
Jane: "Although all of us are at different levels, there was no competitiveness and everybody was motivated to advance at their own pace and therefore improve at their own rate. A wonderful introduction to what a voice can become and to explore our own potential to grow in voice."
Tilly: "I loved the sense of 'togetherness'. We centred in the voice and the singing went right to the heart."
Franka: "Orfeas, who has been my teacher for many years now, brought me back to the pleasure of singing after a period when I was not able to sing at all any more."
Isabella: "Not only is Orfeas a lovely person, but he is also a magician who makes you discover new possibilities within yourself."
Sonja: "What moves me is the discovery that I can sing at all - and that this happened in such a short time - so directly, intense and convincing, in an easy, playful way. This is only the beginning of something very beautiful."
Orfeas (His Master's Voice): "Studying singing is a continuous state of self-discovery. There are so many sounds we can make. When you sing, you want to make the most beautiful sounds with the greatest ease. Why does the sound have to be beautiful? Because singing expresses human emotions, and when they are expressed beautifully, the sound goes right to the heart. It has to touch you.
In all cultures and at all times singers had a special position in society. This was because they had the keys to opening the heart of the listener. And as a singing teacher I am busy nurturing the ability to touch other people with sound. In the beauty of the voice, the sound is ninety-nine percent of the message and if the ear is sharp, everybody can sing.
I see teaching singing as a spiritual discipline to help you discover yourself, find your voice, connect to your creativity and ultimately change the world by singing. What I want is to live in the music and to devote it to the Divine."
Orfeas, who strongly feels that on Paros he reconnects with his spiritual roots (Welcome to the club, Dear!) is planning to be back in spring 2003. He has been invited by John and Jane Pack to teach at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts (see: www.aegeancenter.org) and will also be available for private lessons.
Orfeas, it was a blessing for us to have you here on the island -
THANK YOU FROM ALL OUR HEARTS !
"Gyate gyate hara gyate hara so gyate bodhi so waka." (You, who went, who crossed over to the other shore, may honour be with you.)