By Peter Jacobi
Bloomington’s First United Church was pretty close to filled Sunday evening with friends and fans who consistently cheered nine singers and four collaborating pianists performing at this year’s Voice Faculty Cabaret, an annual fund raiser for Indiana University’s chapter of Student NATS (the National Association of Teachers of Singing).
Nine of the Jacobs School’s voice teachers contributed their talent and time to the effort, filling the church with jubilant sounds for more than an hour-and-a-half. Among the listeners were their students, who came not to critique but to celebrate. And should any of the performers have been nervous about singing for those they usually teach and coach, surely the jitters must have been wiped away by the audience’s enthusiasm. This was a supportive crowd, expressing gratitude, not evaluation.
As for the musical fare offered that crowd, it was light of substance and lyrical: virtually no opera and absolutely no lieder but, instead, samplings from operetta, Broadway musicals, films, along with songs of romance.
So, for instance, tenor Brian Horne, who put the show together and served as a comfortably casual master of ceremonies, sang Irving Berlin’s cheerful and syncopated “Shakin’ the Blues Away” to get the evening started, and Alice Hopper followed, contributing her operatic soprano to “Thine Alone” from Victor Herbert’s operetta “Eileen” and the Charles Spross exultation, “Let All My Life Be Music.”
Carlos Montane heroically raised his beefy tenor for ultra-high notes in songs from Cuba (“Las Perlas de tu Boca”) and Spain (“Morucha”). Baritone Wolfgang Brendel chose to sing in English the lovely “Warm as the Autumn Light” from Douglas Moore’s opera, “The Ballad of Baby Do,” and then in German a rollicking aria, “Heiterkeit und Frohlichkeit” from Albert Lortzing’s comic opera, “Der Wildschutz.”
Mezzo Marietta Simpson provided her own piano accompaniment as she wove vocal magic with “Count Your Blessings,” written by Irving Berlin for the film, “White Christmas.” Soprano Sylvia McNair shifted mood to ebulliently sing Harry Dixon Loes’ gospel song for children, “This Little Light of Mine” (“I’m gonna let it shine”).
And so the concert moved, from singer to singer, from ovation to ovation. Baritone Andrew Poulimenos heartily added “If I Loved You” from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel.” Mezzo Mary Ann Hart focused on subtle humor as she sang Cole Porter’s “Tale of the Oyster” from the musical “Fifty Million Frenchmen” (“Down by the sea lived a lonesome oyster, every day getting sadder and moister”) and “The Lorelei” by the Gershwins, George and Ira, written for their musical, “Pardon My English.”
Pianists Brian Eads, Piotr Wisniewski, and Kevin Murphy provided nifty collaboration for those mentioned above. For baritone Tim Noble, who sang to complete the concert, Steve Zegree sat at the keyboard as partner in fancy and most effective jazz arrangements of “On the Street Where You Live” from “My Fair Lady” and “My Funny Valentine,” taken from the Rodgers and Hart musical, “Babe in Arms.”
A lively evening it was.
© Herald Times