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

End of NYU semester Vlog 😀

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Hey, guys! Getting over a cold 😷 so in today’s #WeeklyWednesday, I’m just chatting and linking to a previously-shared video that means a lot to me:

It was a beautiful spring day in #NYC, so my kitties and I spent a little time out on the fire escape – (I see now why that’s a “thing” 😉). My second semester of grad school at NYU is coming to an end 😮 so I thought I’d share what that’s looking like (realized I left out another paper I have due; accepting tokens of sympathy 😉)! Can’t believe my first year is nearly done!

Books I mentioned:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

Deborah Tannen works (sociolinguistics scholar)

Conversational Style: Analyzing Talk Among Friends

I’m also listening to her audiobook of “You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships” on Libby (which is a fantastic library app! Thanks, Los Angeles Public Library, for your amazing selection of digital content!)

I also shared about my Amahi ukulele, purchased from Tringas Music (they’re great!) in Pensacola, FL, over spring break; I really love playing it! It’s a great way to relieve stress after a busy day. Ukulele is relatively easy to learn and I’d highly recommend trying one out yourself!

I hope this is (at least somewhat) interesting to see – thank you, as always, for watching and caring about what I’m up to! I hope this finds you well 💜

#AshleyWagnerArts

“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

NYC Studio Apartment Tour + Murphy Bed!

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Happy #WeeklyWednesday! Today’s video is a tour of my studio apartment in NYC, featuring my Murphy wall bed, which has dramatically improved my quality of life!! I find videos like this interesting, fun, and helpful (especially when looking for tiny living tips, where every inch and item owned matters!); I hope you do, too, and thanks for taking the time to watch mine!

Products in the video (none of this is sponsored!):

From my evening/morning routine:

Details:

  • My studio apartment is approximately 300-315 square feet (~28-29 square meters). Ceiling height is 10 feet (3 meters), which lends a more spacious feel and allows for additional storage. 
  • My Murphy bed is queen-sized, and I have a 10-inch mattress (I believe it’s this one). The recommended thickness is 8-10 inches, and if you want to store the bed with thick bedding/pillows, you’d need a slimmer mattress than I have. The couch and movable ottoman have some storage space as well.
  • This model is not freestanding (most are not) – but it only uses 2 screws to attach to the wall behind it.
  • The Minima is a quick-ship option! It still took a few weeks to arrive, but many others can take several months. My boyfriend and I were able to assemble it ourselves.
  • *** The sofa is not attached to the bed cabinet! *** Essentially, you receive a complete Murphy bed/cabinet (looks a lot like this one) and a separate (backless) sofa. Why am I so excited about this? Because if I had known that, I would’ve asked if I could purchase the furniture in stages to make it more affordable (but have a real bed initially). Also, if you’re a DIY-er, I’m sure you could find a less-expensive sofa-alternative! Further, being able to move the sofa makes cleaning and other tasks easier, and I’ve had no issues with it slipping or moving away from the cabinet.
  • Ask for discounts/special offers! Though it was not drastically less expensive, I didn’t pay the full price shown. And all of it was still less than the broker fee for my apartment… (apart from the very high rents, the process to get a place in New York is very expensive and complicated!)
  • There was generally very little damage to the items in shipping – however, the ottoman did arrive with a wood support piece broken, and Expand has still not resolved this… Once they do, I’ll store my pillow inside the ottoman… Customer service was good and pretty quick on the ordering end; not so much on this side – but I also haven’t been very diligent about following up with them either because, well, grad school…
  • This bed/sofa is perfect if you plan to use it every day and really value the feel of a bedroom. I could not afford a bedroom in my Manhattan neighborhood, and I truly feel like I have one now! I’d recommend it for any space if the price isn’t an issue for you. If it is and you only plan to use the bed for occasional guest usage, there are a lot of less-expensive freestanding options (here’s an example).

Other stuff you may or may not care about:

  • I was trying to save space and money when I moved in – so initially I tried floor sleeping, but didn’t love it – then an IKEA sleeper sofa – then added a mattress topper – which made it more comfortable, but a pain to regularly fold up…
  • A note about the IKEA Friheten… it’s a pretty good, budget-friendly option, but they’ve modified the US version somewhat in the last couple of years – and I find it less comfortable than the older model. I first bought a Friheten when I moved back to CA in 2016 and found it very comfortable as my primary bed (also with a mattress topper). The model I bought in 2018 in NY has what seem like superficial changes, but I find it less comfortable for daily sleeping.
  • Because I’m home a lot and tend to be pretty affected by my environment, I ultimately ended up going with the Murphy bed/sofa option (and I love it!!). If I’d realized how much a difference it would make and that I could buy the pieces in stages, I would’ve purchased the Murphy bed initially and not gotten the IKEA sleeper sofa. Since I do have it (and managed to fit everything, including space for yoga and dance practice – this was literally calculated down to the inch!), I continue to use it and like that I can accommodate overnight guests.
  • I was looking for a Murphy bed/sofa combo – particularly one that came in leather or faux leather because of cat hair concerns – which limited my choices. 

Thank you for taking the time to watch (and read this)! I hope it is useful – and please feel free to ask further questions!

Also – would you be interested in a separate video of some of my morning and evening “rituals”? As a performer, self-care is incredibly important for me to be able to do my work – particularly to handle the emotional strain it can be to tell certain stories (apart from ordinary life and grad school stresses!). I’d love to share some of what has been working for me if that’s of interest 🙂

#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