Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Five Things about Songs: Innocence and Experience

I caught a vocal recital of young singers with the composers accompanying their own songs Tuesday night at Christ and St. Stephen's Church in NYC.
1. The night began with three well-crafted songs written in 2001 from Tom Cipullo, one of the organizers of the evening. Soprano Leilah Dione's voice filled the space well, if a little formal. A nice start nonetheless.
2. Next up were Larkin Songs by Daron Hagen and baritone David McFerrin. I know these from the Arsis recording and a friendship with Daron since meeting him in Las Vegas a few years ago. It was a delightful performance capturing the poetry and humor.
3. Perhaps the most stunning performance of the singers was soprano Vira Slywotzky. She brought depth, humor and amazing color to the songs of Yehudi Wyner, himself a real delight. Wyner spoke about the pieces, and was downright inviting in his performance - it suddenly felt like a parlor with friends rather than a recital. Especially charming and hilarious was Florida Express, written in 1993 for Robert Levin.
4. After intermission we were treated to David Del Tredici's Miss Enez Sez, with two selections: The Happy Child and Good News! Nilda is back. Soprano Erin Heisel performed from memory and showed off her coloratura and also something you don't always get: playing the tambourine. Her drama was most excellent, and Del Tredici was fleet fingered to say the least.
5. The recital ended with the godfather of modern American Song, Ned Rorem. He was joined by Emily Albrink who is as beautiful as her voice is warm. (I know it's hard to tell from the fuzzy picture, left, but she's gorgeous.) They gave a set of six songs from the 1940s and 1950s - before Rorem was born as he joked before playing! The performance was moving, seeing the young and old together as well as a balance of musicality, interpretation and taste.

What a night! I'll definitely keep an eye out for more "Friends & Enemies of New Music" events and concerts. I'm so glad Daron told me about it!

PS- It was pretty wild to be at a recital with four Pulitzer Prize winning composers! Besides Wyner, Del Tredici and Rorem, Aaron Jay Kernis was across the aisle from me.

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