INSIDE Composers & the Voice - November 4th (Pt. 1)
I always look forward to the third session of the C&V workshops, and Monday evening was not a disappointment. The composers, and composer/librettist team had provided the singers and music directors with a wide variety of truly interesting and eloquent pieces to prepare for this evening. The singers were solidly equipped to offer accurate and dynamic performances in conjunction with the 3 music director pianists. At this workshop, we finally began the collaboration that will last through the next 5 sessions between creators, performers, and our artistic director, Steve Osgood.
At the first session in September, the 6 singers performed pieces from their repertoire that they felt really showed defining characteristics of their voices. It was a great way to start to get to know them not just as voice types but as performers. At the second session in October, the composers and composer/librettist team brought recordings of examples of their work to share with the group. The amount of diversity and expertise was very impressive.
But, I think the really great part of the process begins when these people start to create pieces with these specific singers in mind. I'm always excited to get my first couple of assigned pieces handed to me at the end of the second session and to know that I'll be performing the pieces for the group in just one month. Monday's workshop started out with a photographer taking pictures of different groups and then the large group picture. It was a silly and fun way to start the evening. Then the performances began.
Jeremy Gill's piece for tenor Dominic Armstrong was based on a Walt Whitman text. Charity Wicks was the pianist for this dramatic performance. Next, bass-baritone Matthew Burns and Mila Henry presented Andreia Pinto-Correia's atmospheric "Saladin" with text by Betty Shamieh. Gity Razaz wrote a lush setting of a Persian text for coloratura soprano Deborah Lifton which we heard with Charity at the piano.
After a short break, Rachel Calloway and I performed Guy Barash's ironic and challenging aria "Straw to a Drowning Man" with a libretto by Nick Flynn. Composer Joseph Rubenstein and librettist Jason Kim wrote their engaging "4-line challenge" entitled "June", which was presented by baritone Jorell Williams and Charity. Soprano Kristin Sampson and I ended the evening with the emotional "Gluttony's Aria" by librettist Jeanette Simpson and composer Avner Finberg.
After the initial performance of each piece, Steve Osgood asked useful questions of both singers and creators. He led discussion of elements which might alter or bring across the meaning of various passages more clearly. The singers are always willing to demonstrate what these possible changes might actually sound like, which is interesting for everyone.
It was a great evening. I'm so pleased to be a part of this group and this amazing process.
November 4th, 2013