Unlike some opera singers, Laurie Rubin loves computers. The mezzo-soprano, performing Monday at Congregation Emanu-El in concert with Frederica von Stade, is a whiz with email, using Voiceover on a Macbook Pro.
“Thank goodness for a revolutionary in technology," she says, "who believed that every computer right out of the box would be accessible for the blind."
Blind since birth, Rubin, 34, has appeared in New York's Carnegie Hall and London's Wigmore Hall and received high praise from critics; the New York Times called her voice "earthy, rich and poignant.”
Monday’s performance marks the 10th anniversary of the Music at Meyer concert series. Von Stade sang at the first concert; when she was asked to appear again, she asked Rubin to join her and "do most of the singing."
The two go back to Rubin’s high school days in Los Angeles.
"Flicka gave a master class, then always kept in touch, we sang together at benefits, and she sent me flowers when I made my opera debut, singing Cenerentola in Oberlin. Each time she helped me, Flicka asked me ‘to do her a favor,’” Rubin says, laughing, “and she taught me always to remember who you are and stay close to your family and community."
Flicka says of Rubin: "She is amazing – a combination of a beautiful voice, a great sense of music and the most wonderful spirit of generosity. What is miraculous is her light which is all the more amazing as she's lived in darkness."
A centerpiece of the upcoming concert is Bruce Adolph's song cycle written for a poem Rubin wrote "Do You Dream in Color?,” which also is the name of her recently published memoir, subtitled "Insights from a Girl Without Sight."
But Rubin does more than sing. She is cofounder and associate artistic director of Ohana Arts, a performing arts school and festival in Hawaii. She also designs and makes her own line of handmade jewelry, The LR Look.
She says, “I have no elves at my disposal. I enjoy the process though. It's relaxing, sort of like knitting, or so I've heard."
In a poem, she describes the way she experiences colors when creating jewelry:
"There are perfectly smooth round pearls in a midnight blue.
There are raw nuggets of turquoise
whose veins of brown running through each stone can be detected by my fingers as I feel the beautiful imperfections.
Then my fingers find the stick pearls in an iridescent bronze and green."
Through all of her activities, Rubin has an important focus, and that she says, is “to share with people in very visceral way that I, along with everybody, can have a rich life."
IF YOU GO
Music at Meyer
Where: Congration Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
Tickets: $22 to $25
Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.emanuelsf.org
Note: Rubin will appear at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Modern Times Bookstore, 2919 24th St., S.F.