All through my growing up years, and this senior year included, I was (along with all my friends) a good Mormon boy. We had our wilder side, for sure, but we were always there Sunday morning, doing our duties, and generally being good. It was my last year of high school, and I found success in the music programs beyond what my old high school offered me, in fact not since junior high, when I was a student of This Guy. Everything was pretty great for me, given what could have been the case, having been uprooted for my final year of what should have been a pretty good time in a big high school.
Being about "that" age, my parents eventually turned to talk of missions and things - and the conversation always came around to my girlfriend and what I was thinking. The expectation that I would go on an LDS mission was always implied, always a given, expected. It was spring now, and during the spring General Conference of the church, they announced that they were changing missionary calls from 24 months to 18 months. This was good news for me, as I was feeling drawn to come back to this city as soon as I possibly could swing it.
All in all, and though I had no idea at the time, I was very ill prepared for life in general. My parents had always given me money, I had no bank account to speak of, and I always had a car to drive, and gas in said car. Never really had a job actually, as that would have taken time away from lessons and things like being a footloose and fancy free teenager. I hadn't been taught about money at all. Or the world, or politics, or much of any of that kind of thing. My interests were music, and music alone, aside from the social aspects of being 17-18 years old.
It was during this time that I began to listen to a lot of Luciano Pavarotti and other tenors like Placido Domingo, who was making a name for himself internationally as well, and whose voice I found particularly heroic. I was performing a lot, and somehow I caught the attention of the University Of Washington, whose head of the voice department told me to call him when I was ready to come to his school to study. My voice had been taking shape for a while by this time, and I had been taking lessons from prominent professors at the university in my home town, and had even been invited to sing in the school's opera workshops with regular university students, even though I was only 16-17 at the time, and only an 11th grader.
My voice was in the true tenor range (I could hit a high C without a problem, given a proper warmup...), but it had a dark timbre, like a baritone, which made me unique and I got a fair amount of attention early on. The term for this type of voice is "helden tenor". Loosely, helden is the German word for "hero", and its implication in this instance is that parts for this voice were often lead roles, and often very difficult to sing well. There are several opera roles for this type of voice, particularly in the German style, written by guys like Richard Wagner etc. My university professor/teacher recommended that I look into taking lessons from a well-respected lady named Selena James at the Royal Conservatory of Music in the city where we were going for the year. Which I did. (Ms. James still teaches there, by the way...) My voice flourished during this time, and I was put into the program in the Conservatory. I was happy with where that all was going.
I tell this part of the story to illustrate the many forces at work in my life at the time: a flourishing musical "career", albeit in its very infancy, nay, in utero even, a girlfriend, friends whom I dearly missed, etc. And the mission thing. I knew it was there all along, and I was having an increasingly hard time reconciling all these things with the fact that I was to be gone, and I do mean GONE, for an extended period of time, whether it was 18 or 24 months. No matter how long it was to be, I was feeling the angst of it all as the spring progressed toward graduation, and my impending departure from my girlfriend loomed larger on the horizon every day.
"NAY" ??? Where the hell did that come from?? See, that's part of that very formal, almost british writing style that I try to purge from me... works sometimes, sometimes not... Anyway, back to this story, which you are hopefully NOT finding too droll. Part Four tomorrow morning, if all goes well, and I don't go skiing - which seem imminent at this moment.....