For Good

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Duet from “Wicked” with Emily Starnes Charleton!

My dear friend Emily is visiting NYC right now and we managed to squeeze in an impromptu duet!! And such a special one to celebrate a decade of friendship! 💗 Today’s #WeeklyWednesday is “For Good” from Stephen Schwartz’s “Wicked” ☺️ 

It meant a lot to get to sing with Emily again! She’s a big reason I’m at NYU right now (she’s an alumna of the program)! We were planning to get together today and decided to sing this! I hope you enjoy it, even though we didn’t have time to polish it (we literally ran through it once and then recorded this one take 😉). 

I hope this finds you well, and thank you for watching!

#AshleyWagnerArts

Si mes vers avaient des ailes

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My first year of grad school at #NYU is done :-0  While I’m ready for a rest, I’m also sad for most of my courses to be over! My voice jury was yesterday (it went well!) and I began it with this piece, which I hope you enjoy hearing!

Music is by Reynaldo Hahn, poetry by Victor Hugo, and my accompaniment is from Free Pianist. You can also download my version for free 🙂 

One trick with art songs/poetic lyrics is that you don’t have outside context and often the lyrics aren’t the way you would naturally speak – so interpretation can be harder than with something from a book musical or opera.

I decided to base my story/circumstance for this piece on the Héloise and Abelard love story (if you’re not familiar with that, here’s a nice synopsis). I imagined Héloise may have sung it after she and Pierre were separated and before she decided to continue their forbidden relationship through correspondence (and that this song is what ultimately spurred her to write to him). I hope you enjoy that take!

Here's a great translation by Richard Stokes:
My verses would flee, sweet and frail,
To your garden so fair,
If my verses had wings,
Like a bird.

They would fly, like sparks,
To your smiling hearth,
If my verses had wings,
Like the mind.

Pure and faithful, to your side
They’d hasten night and day,
If my verses had wings,
Like love!

Thank you, as always, for watching this #WeeklyWednesday! I hope it finds you well – and I look forward to seeing you next week 🙂

#AshleyWagnerArts

“Like Other Girls”

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It’s my last #WeeklyWednesday of the #NYU semester! I hope you enjoy this really sweet song from the musical “Daddy Long Legs,” with music and lyrics by Paul Gordon and book by John Caird, based on the charming 1912 novel by Jean Webster!

You can sing along to the accompaniment I used here: https://youtu.be/VB0bWun_Vbk  Thanks to MusicalPracticeTracks for the great track!

Thank you for watching, and see you next week!#AshleyWagnerArts

They’ll Know We Are [Human] by our LOVE

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“They’ll Know We Are Christians” by Peter Scholtes; arranged, performed, and produced by Ashley Wagner. The initial sound clip is from the documentary “Afro-American Work Songs in a Texas Prison,” recorded in March 1966 by Pete, Toshi, and Daniel Seeger, and Bruce Jackson. The inmates are from the Ellis Unit at a Huntsville, Texas, prison.

The political, social, and emotional turbulence I felt during the fall of 2016 is what brought this (highly personal) arrangement into existence. I altered the lyrics (particularly from “Christians” to “Human”) because I wanted to convey a universal message.

I appreciate your letting me share some of my experience with you this way. Please know this was produced with only the best intentions. We are all equal and valuable human beings, and I hope that by each person working to treat others well, we can make a difference.

Other notes:
This video was filmed during a family vacation in New Zealand at the natural hot springs in the Maori village of Whakarewarewa. We had just been touring the area, but were overwhelmed by the unusual landscape – and so, decided to try filming there and hope it turned out. I traded some hiking gear for the black jacket and did my best to (quietly) lip sync to the recording, which I played on my phone in my pocket 😉 Special thanks to my wonderful boyfriend, Christopher Wesson, who was my cameraman and director! Though I had imagined a different direction with the video (e.g., footage of people mirroring the lyrics), I’m pleased to finally be able to share something; and the scenery certainly is worth experiencing.

A technical note for “discerning ears” – I recorded most of the audio with my old equipment (primarily, a USB mic). Most of the way through working on the arrangement, I upgraded my equipment (including my mic and interface) and learned more about reverb (but was unable to alter this on my tracks without re-recording). I decided not to re-record most of the tracks because I felt the heart of the song was in the emotion expressed at the moment when I initially recorded – and that’s what I wanted to share.

#AshleyWagnerArts #WeeklyWednesday

“The Fear” (Lily Allen cover)

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I recorded today’s #WeeklyWednesday a little over a year ago when I needed a pop song for an audition. Finally sharing it (on this stressful/emotional/sore throat kind of day). I think the cultural messaging is important to consider.

“The Fear” was released on Lily Allen’s album “It’s Not Me, It’s You” and was written by Allen and Greg Kurstin. My accompaniment is on YouTube and you can also get my version free.

Thank you for continuing to support my channel and me as an artist – I hope this finds you well 😊 

#AshleyWagnerArts

Happy Working Song! (Disney’s “Enchanted”)

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Springtime is finally here in the Northeast!! School is busy, so for this #WeeklyWednesday, I’m throwing it back to a performance I had so much fun doing at the National Cherry Blossom Festival! Washington, DC, is particularly beautiful when the cherry blossoms are blooming!

“Happy Working Song” is from the Disney movie “Enchanted,” with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Giselle sings this piece à la Snow White, but with some slightly less cuddly helpers 😉

My version here is only a cut of the song, as I sang it as part of a medley (and the other songs from that medley are already online) – someday I’ll do a full version of this adorable piece!

Thank you for taking the time to watch, and I hope you’re having a good week!

#AshleyWagnerArts

“Thank You for the Music”

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I resonate strongly with the sentiment in this ABBA song and hope I’ve adequately communicated the joy and honor it is to me to be able to make music. Thank you for the role you play in helping me – I very much appreciate your support and your taking the time to watch my videos!

“Thank You for the Music” was written by ABBA members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, and included in the “Mamma Mia” stage and screen musicals (and if you haven’t seen those, check them out! They’re a lot of fun, with poignant moments, too).

Thank you to breinie17xq for this beautiful accompaniment! You can sing along here: https://youtu.be/hx1K9P-Kw_A

Looking forward to seeing you next #WeeklyWednesday 😊 
#AshleyWagnerArts

“What Does He Want of Me?”

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Today’s #WeeklyWednesday is from a story I love… to me it symbolizes the conflict we all face between idealism and reality. The musical “Man of La Mancha” is based on the life of Miguel de Cervantes and his beloved novel Don Quixote. 

Aldonza sings “What Does He Want of Me” in response to “Don Quixote”’s way of viewing the world and treating her with dignity, respect, and honor – possibly the first time in her life someone has shown her such love. I think she sings it with a mixture of disbelief and hope that the world could be different from the way it seems to be. 

Thank you for your support and for watching this video! 💜 
#AshleyWagnerArts

Shakespeare: Queen Margaret

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from Henry VI, Part III ~ Act 1, Scene 1

Today’s #WeeklyWednesday comes straight out of the #NYU Acting Lab! We’re working on Shakespeare this semester and I’m loving it! We’ve only coached these twice (and just performed them today), but I thought I’d show you my progress so far. I really love this monologue!

From Henry VI, Part III, this is Queen Margaret’s first monologue (Act 1, Scene 1). It’s 1455, and England is in the bloodbath of the War of the Roses, with rival families vying for power (King Henry VI, House of Lancaster, versus Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York). Recovering from the loss of a battle, King Henry attempts to appease the Yorkists and maintain the crown for himself, by agreeing to cede the crown to the Duke of York upon Henry’s natural death. Upon hearing this news, Queen Margaret storms into the Parliamentary Chambers to confront the king and to find a way to reinstate their son (Edward) as heir to the throne.

I’ve been playing around with my delivery a bit and included a portion of this monologue in a different style (starts at 2:10). And apparently, I just love monologues about queens! 👸🏻 If you’d like to see a contemporary comedic one, check out Queen Lucy (You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown) 😉

I hope you enjoy this monologue! I’m so grateful to Jessica Bashline for her excellent instruction and coaching! If you’re looking for private or group coaching in NYC, you should contact her!

Thank you for your support 💜 

“Stay With Me”

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Today’s #WeeklyWednesday video comes from Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s “Into the Woods,” and focuses on parental love. In the stories of most characters in this show, we see the complications of decisions, viewpoints, and our own familial histories. I believe the Witch deeply loves and wants the best for Rapunzel, and tries to protect her in a way the Witch’s own mother never did.

I hope you enjoy my rendition of “Stay with Me”! I really enjoyed coaching this piece in my NYU Song Analysis class last semester and found insights into the character I had never before considered. Thank you very much for watching and supporting me – and I hope this finds you well 💜

My accompaniment is from the Disney movie version of “Into the Woods” through the Universal Music Group and is available on YouTube here 🙂