Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter, and actress Hila Plitmann is a glittering jewel on the international music scene, known worldwide for her astonishing musicianship, light and beautiful voice, and the ability to perform challenging new works.
I’ve done quite a bit of contemporary classical music in my career so far, and I sing nearly every piece from memory. I am often asked, “how do you do it?”
My answer is simply that I would be a horrible performer with music in front of my face. Some people can do that extraordinarily well – and I greatly admire them for it – but, for the most part, I need to internalize a score before I can relay it with expressivity, and for me that means that I really must first learn the music by heart.
I seem to have a kind of affinity in personalizing what is considered ‘difficult’ music. I regard this as a gift, I’m not quite sure what it is and wherefrom it comes, and I’m incredibly grateful for when it’s THERE (which isn’t always the case…). In connection to this, I wanted to write a little bit here about my process of learning and performing.
I don’t consider myself to be one of these prodigious, naturally super strong musicians. I don’t have perfect pitch, and I can’t sit at a piano and just figure a whole song out on the spot or blurt something out that makes wonderful sense. I’m so envious of musicians who can do that easily.
I can’t discern structural patterns or exact chord progressions upon listening to something in real time. My brain just isn’t big enough. So I’ve had to figure out my strengths and then work on them. A lot.
I have an agile and expressive voice. I do possess a good ear for melody, and rhythm, and good ear-voice connection for correct pitch. And I whole-heartedly adore, endlessly love, and have infinite passion for the expressive and communicative magic of music.
American mezzo-soprano, Janelle DeStefano, enjoys the entire gamut of classical singing, from opera and oratorio to recital and chamber music. Praised for her “passionate delivery” and “rich seamless voice,” she has rendered dramatic performances in such diverse concert works as the Monteverdi Vespers, Bach’s Bminor Mass, Handel’s Dixit Dominus, Mahler's Fourth Symphony, Respighi’s Laud to the Nativity, Zeisl’s Hebrew Requiem, Szymanowsky’s Stabat Mater and the U.S. premiere of Peter Eötvös' Schiller: Energische Schoenheit. She has been featured in concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Jacaranda Music at the Edge, El Mundo; Bach Collegium San Diego; and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. Equally comfortable on the opera stage, her roles include Romeo in I Capuletti e i Montecchi; Dido in Dido and Aeneas; and the title role in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia.
Of her recent performances in the Bach B minor Mass, Stage and Cinema called it “saving the best for last,” and raved that “DeStefano soared into the heavens during her performance of the ‘Agnus Dei.’” Ken Herman (San Diego Story) wrote that she “found poetry in the composer’s unrelenting florid roulades”, and that her “unflinching command of the beautifully-shaped line was impressive.” LA Opus called her performance in the St John’s Passion, “truly exceptional” and “superior to most other performances elsewhere.”
A personal interest in zarzuela and Spanish art song led to Ms. DeStefano’s European debut as part of the 2007 International Festival of Interpretation of Spanish Song in Granada, Spain, as well as a featured performance in the Spanish art song concert series for the 2008 Mannes Summer Institute in New York City. Her appearances with the Grammyî®ominated early music ensemble, El Mundo for the San Diego Early Music Society and the Da Camera Society received critical acclaim. Ms. DeStefano’s portrayal of the gypsy, Maria, in La Alegria de la Huerta at the Jarvis Zarzuela Festival (available on DVD) was hailed as the "pick of the Chueca" by Zarzuela.net.
Ms. DeStefano also appears as a soloist on the 2012 CD release of “The Dream Gallery: Seven California Portraits” by Mark Abel on the Delos Label; and as a member of the Grammy®-nominated Los Angeles Master Chorale, she appears on the 2012 release of Górecki: Miserere (Decca), and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s 2014 recording of Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary (Deutsche Grammophon).
A passionate teacher, Ms. DeStefano is a Professor of Voice at Santa Monica College, where she also serves as Artistic Director for the SMC Opera, and coordinator of vocal activities. Prior to joining the SMC faculty, she taught music and voice for over two decades at collegiate and community music schools including the USC Thornton School, UC Santa Cruz, and the University of San Diego, as well as in her own private studio. Sought after for her gentle, yet disciplined methods, her students are currently performing on Broadway, and in major opera houses across the United States. Ms. DeStefano holds a Doctorate in Musical Arts, with honors, from USC; a Master of Music Degree in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from Westminster Choir College; and a Bachelor of Arts in Music, with honors, from UC Santa Cruz. As an undergraduate, she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and in 2010, was she was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society. She is an active member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), and the American Guild of Musical Artists, AFL-CIO (AGMA).