Concert embraces Latin composers; fun abounds in voice faculty cabaret
By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer | email@example.com
October 25, 2011
The “Cultural Counterpoints” conference that highlighted the 50th birthday bash of IU’s Latin American Music Center came to an end with a Sunday afternoon concert in Auer Hall featuring the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, Kuttner Quartet and assorted instrumentalists.
The program focused on works by Latin American composers written because of relationships with U.S. composers, performers and institutions. At the helm was the remarkable Carmen Helena Tellez, artistic director of the CVE and a musician who enriches every piece of music she conducts, so sensitive is she to the meaning, fabric and nuances of the compositions performed.
Tellez wielded the baton through most of the concert, starting with the Cuban Orlando Jacinto Garcia’s “On the eve of the second anniversary of Morton’s death,” which pays homage to his teacher, Morton Feldman, and featured much silence, not surprising in that the only words repeated by the singers were “La belleza del silencio es mi inspiracion” (“The beauty of silence is my inspiration”).
Soprano Angela Yoon, a member of the CVE, joined clarinet, violin, cello and piano for Ileana Perez-Velazquez’s “Idolos del Sueno,” settings of three poems by the Cuban-American poet Carlos Pintado. Perez-Velazquez herself is Cuban, and she captured emotional essences of those poems. The actual words were blotted out by high tessitura, but one could discern in the vocal line, handled valiantly by Yoon, the meaning of words like delicate transparence, floating, fleetingly, sadness, mystery, night, dream and dream idols, all of which appear in the text (in Spanish, of course). Tenor Greg Geehern stepped out from the CVE ranks to persuasively conduct the piece.
Former assistant director of the CVE, the Argentinian Gerardo Dirie, was represented by “The Void, for chorus a cappella,” a compressed composition suggestive of emptiness and disquiet, a mood fully evoked by Tellez and the singers.
The audience roared at the conclusion of selections from “From Baalkah” by the Mexican Gabriela Ortiz, known to Bloomingtonians for her videopera, premiered not long ago by the CVE. “From Baalkah” deals with Mayan beliefs about life, the world and the cosmos. The music is nothing short of exhilarating, and it was treated as such by the Kuttner Quartet and soprano Sharon Harms, she lifting and thrusting her soprano up and away with breathtaking abandon.
Tellez and the ensemble ended the program ever so beautifully with parts of the Mexican Mario Lavista’s previously heard “Missa ad Consolationis Dominam Nostram.” The work’s embracing music, which alternately beseeches and praises God, is of a kind that Tellez loves to do and does with fervor and intuition. She did so once more.
The annual Voice Faculty Cabaret, as usual, brought out a large and vociferous audience of colleagues, students and fans, enough to almost fill the spacious First United Church on Sunday evening.
Those who came heard a program of much good natured banter, remembrances of those from among faculty ranks who died this year (David Aiken, James Macdonald, Giorgio Tozzi and Paul Kiesgen), and about a dozen-and-a-half musical numbers ranging from the Great American Songbook to opera.
Among the highlights: Brian Horne fervently singing “Amazing Grace” in honor of those who passed away; Patricia Stiles doing Schubert’s popular “Die Forelle;” Alice Hopper shooting for the stars in “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s “Tosca;” Teresa Kubiak bursting into a “Csardas” of Lehar; Marietta Simpson coaxing every ounce of sentiment out of “What a Wonderful World” and “Don’t Get Around Much Any More;” new hires Wolfgang Brendel and Heidi Grant Murphy portraying Papageno and Papagena in the comic duet from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” and Sylvia McNair explaining her dual music personality in a delicious goulash of fragments from opera and pop.
The performers, including a handful of supporting accompanists, were obviously having fun. So, from the sounds of laughter and ovations, were those who came to listen.
Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2011