Megan Huckabay Lapp

Voice and Piano lessons for students of all ages – Soprano Soloist – Choral Musician


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Artist in Profile: Amanda Herr of “Armoire Jewelry”

Amanda Herr

This weekend I talked with my friend and fellow soprano from Bend Camerata, Amanda Herr. Amanda’s beautiful jewelry was featured at our recent concert when we modeled a variety of her styles.

M: Hi Amanda! So you are the artist behind Armoire Jewelry and Lifestyle Boutique. Tell me about how you developed your style as a jewelry artist. Your pieces have a really unique look.

A: I really like very delicate, dainty pieces and I design my jewelry based on the gemstone. If I see a piece that has natural shape or imperfection, I design the piece around the individual stone itself. I try to design my jewelry so it can be dressed up or down for any occasion.

M: We wore your jewelry at our last concert with our different black dresses. I thought your pieces looked spectacular with each look. They were very versatile pieces in that way. I usually think of performance jewelry being kind of bossy, like bigger, chunkier, flashier type pieces. But the total look of all of us wearing your jewelry was very elegant.

A: Yes I really like that word. ‘Elegant’ has been used a lot to describe the jewelry that I make. Elegant, streamlined, classy…

M: So did you start off making macaroni necklaces as a kid or how did you get your start?

A: (Laughing) Well I saw a necklace in a boutique that was a really long, two-strand gold chain necklace with rubies. I thought it was absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t afford the necklace but I thought maybe I could make something like it. So about five years ago I started learning off of YouTube how to wire wrap and work with different kinds of beads. I learned the hard way at times because beads can be very brittle, especially gemstones, so I practiced with less expensive glass beads. I worked my way up to high-end metals, gold fill, silver, and semi-precious gemstones.

M: All of your stones are now semi-precious, correct?

A: Yes, no plastic or glass beads, all natural gemstones. If I use anything different I always write down the product.

M: In terms of your style have you kept that vision of the original ruby necklace or have you gone beyond to create your own pieces?

A: What I’ve learned from watching other jewelry artisans who work with similar materials is that they develop ‘suites’ of designs, one style of earring, one necklace, that they make all of the time. With my work I think the threader earring is my signature piece and I will be developing that more. It’s understated, can be worn in so many different ways. For the rest of my pieces I like the layering aspect, wearing two necklaces at once, short and long. The point is to have all of the jewelry go together for various occasions.

M: So you can have a collection of Armoire Jewelry that can mix and match.

A: Yes exactly.

M: Your business name is ‘Armoire Jewelry and Lifestyle Boutique.’ Tell me about some of the other work you do for your shop.

A: In the winter I’ve made stockings and pillowcases, signs with calligraphy. So the Armoire name encompasses all of that work as well. I’ve worked a lot with coffee sacks, making tree skirts with coordinating fabrics. Last summer I also worked on a number of furniture pieces. I wouldn’t call my style shabby chic, but more of a modern, coastal style. I sold a number of pieces and work on consignment with Dwelling Furniture. Eventually I would love to have a shop or continue to work on more of those pieces. But jewelry is the main part of my work as an artisan.

M: So basically just bringing beauty into the world.

A: Yes!

M: That was something that struck me about your home. I visited just a couple of months after you and your husband had purchased and renovated the house. It was like walking into a designer show home where everything coordinated. It must have been such a relief to buy your home and let all of these ideas out of your brain!

A: Oh yeah well of course I have a Pinterest board. Of course not everything works out as you think it will but it slowly comes together. I really enjoy it. I don’t think I’ll be putting in much more effort now! I like what I see and I’m good with that.

M: Well that’s great! So if you were to sum up your style as a jewelry artist, what would be your tagline?

A: Elegant, Streamlined, and Unique.

M: Did you get some good feedback after we wore your jewelry at our concert?

A: Yes! I got to chat with a number of people about my story and had quite a few people sign up for my newsletter.

M: Great! A few months ago I read a book that challenged me to think about how I spend my money. Specifically it challenged me to spend money in ways that supported my relationships with people around me, or supported people who were making a living in a way that valued their own relationships, especially family. I was so happy that my husband bought a few pieces from you for this past Mother’s Day. Those pieces are even more special to me, knowing that they were created by you.

A: Well thank you!

M: Thanks for talking with me. We really love your work.

Amanda Herr’s jewelry can be found at www.bendarmoire.com and on Facebook at “Bend Armoire.” She also works out of the Armature creative space in Bend, OR. In addition to her work as an artisan and singer she teaches choral music at High Desert Middle School.

Photo below: Chrysophrase threader earring by Amanda Herr

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Artist in Profile: James Knox of “Bend Camerata”

jim knox photo

Since moving to Bend, OR in 2015 I have enjoyed getting to know many artists who make this a vibrant city in which to live and make music. I look forward to sharing more “Artist in Profile” interviews with members of the Central Oregon arts community. This week I had a chance to sit down with James Knox to talk about Bend Camerata’s upcoming concert on June 5 and the premiere of his piece, “Alleluia.”

M: So tell me about your background in music, what your first instrument was, and how you got started as a musician.

J: Well I was fortunate that in grade school I had a music teacher from Austria who required all of her students to take multiple instruments. So voice was always an instrument and I also played trombone. It wasn’t until middle school that I took it seriously. I started getting involved with musicals, taking voice lessons, going to district and state (competitions) and knew that music was the direction that I wanted to go. I went to a two-year college, then to a private college and transferred yet again to Portland State. I did two degrees there. At first I was in performance (as a voice major). While I was on my honeymoon in Ireland I started to think about my career and plans to audition for opera jobs. It didn’t feel right and I realized that I should go into teaching. I started off with a couple of part time jobs and then the position at COCC (Central Oregon Community College) came open. That’s where we’ve been for the past thirteen years.

M: Wow that’s amazing; it’s pretty unusual for kids to know exactly what they want to do at the high school level.

J: Yes it was a tough choice. I was always fairly athletic. My dad taught me boxing and I was brought up going to tournaments. I was a track guy too. But I had to make a choice during my senior year when the musical theatre schedule got flip flopped and overlapped with the track schedule. I had to talk to my coach and tell him that music was my first passion. He supported me. I’ve never regretted that decision. So in a nutshell that’s how I got my start.

M: In high school we have to make a lot of choices but it’s interesting how later in life our passions can merge together. Living in Bend we have the opportunity to be involved with so much at such a high level. I think of the mountain biking that you do, how athletic your kids are, plus your musical life. We really are fortunate to live in a city that offers so much.

J: Of course! Yes.

M: Talking now about your composition, Alleluia which we will perform on Sunday. Would you say it fits within your existing compositional style or does it take a step forward in your style?

J: I started writing the concept of Alleluia about seven years ago. In the midst of family life I put it on the back burner. I often have little bits of musical ideas that I work with and they come and go. But Alleluia has really stuck with me. It fits within my style; I write thematically but I also love blocked chords in the men’s voices. I love the combination of modern, Renaissance, and church modes at play. I try to use unexpected chord progressions and avoid the predictable. When I first started composing I always imagined having a grandiose type of choir at my disposal. The pieces I wrote would always fall short (since I wasn’t writing for my existing ensembles). I want my music to be attainable and not ask the basses to sing low Cs all the time, for example. I think that kind of transition comes with maturity. When Camerata started forming I stumbled across this piece and realized that it would be perfect for our group.

M: I like that idea. I think there are so many composers that look at manipulating a choir as an instrument. But there is a human element to the vocal instrument that is different from what you have with an orchestra or other ensemble. And the singers return their thanks when a piece is well-written for the voice, especially when it allows us to sing in a healthy way and not get burned out. I know the audience will appreciate that as well.

J: Yes well there are questions that come to my mind, with you as a part of the group. I’m interested to know what your experience was with the piece. Was it delightful? Did you wonder where this was going?

M: I felt an immediate connection to the energy of each of the pieces, with each of the three movements. Our friendship with you makes us want to please you of course. But there was a connection, especially with the third movement, that made us want to rise to the challenge. The energy of the rhythm is really infectious. The varying textures throughout the movements, for example the blocked chords in the men and the light, melodic sound of the women give a lot of contrast.

J: That’s good to hear. I didn’t want the text to get in the way. When I write music I really love rich colors and the contrasting elements. The third movement, even though it’s the longest of the three, took me the least amount of time to write. A lot of the material from the previous two movements become integrated in that final movement.

M: Just one final question for you. Bend Camerata works collaboratively, which of course means many things in our situation. The most obvious is that we don’t have one main conductor. What does this idea of working collaboratively mean to you and what unique strengths do you feel you bring to our group?

J: This particular concert was, I think, a big learning curve for all of us. This particular collection of pieces requires a true collaborative effort. What I mean by that is not just a group of individual singers, but an effort to collectively make a cohesive interpretation of each piece.

M: As opposed to looking up to a single director making all of the interpretive decisions for the entire concert.

J: Yes for sure. I enjoy that aspect of how we work. In the context of the group we have a variety of people who will step forward and be able to offer a well-formed presentation of a piece. I think that’s pretty special. And we all get along together too! Despite a lot of experience and musicality within the group there isn’t a sense of ego. We love singing together and we want to perform well. It such an enjoyment. I’m looking forward to the concert.

M: Yes, I’m really excited for the concert! It takes more time to work this way but it achieves a different result.

J: Yes I think it’s more rewarding. Ensembles survive when they’re always growing and finding new strengths. This was a big project for us and we had to work on the process all the way along. We really wanted to do things right and we believe the music deserves that. (Laughing) Even thinking about the number of kids we have (our children). We could probably run our own kindergarten.

M: (Laughing) Yes, how many do we have? I need to count. Plus your kids help out with the childcare.

J: Yes we’ll be singing Brahms with babies on the hips and we manage to sing in tune.

M: (Laughing) Yes I don’t think I’ve ever multitasked so much in my life; singing while having my newborn in the carrier, sitting at the piano during sectionals, conducting a little, discussing interpretation. It’s a new chapter in my music making for sure!

J: Its crazy, unique, fun… this kind of stuff makes it all worth while.

M: It’s very pure music making to me. Friends, doing it for joy.

J: Yes exactly. I’m looking forward to the performance.

M: Thanks for your time!

Bend Camerata will present their debut concert on Sunday, June 5th at 3:00 pm.

Location: Bend Church (United Methodist Church) 680 NW Bond St. Bend, OR

Admission is free, donations graciously accepted

 

 


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Welcome

Welcome to the online home of Megan Huckabay Lapp, based in Bend, OR. This website provides information about my performances as a soprano soloist, choral musician, conductor, and teacher.

Thank you for stopping by. Feel free to contact me via the form found on the top right-hand corner of this page.