IU Baroque Orchestra and Voice Cabaret: Contrasting concerts both audience-pleasers
By Peter Jacobi
Sunday was time for period performance and vocal fun: the first fall outing of the Indiana University Baroque Orchestra and the annual Voice Cabaret.
The Baroque Orchestra’s director, Stanley Ritchie, undoubtedly did the training for its outing, but on this afternoon occasion, he made no appearance on stage, either as conductor or lead violinist. Instead, he sat, watched, and listened to his musicians as a student violinist, Vanessa Castillo, led the ensemble. She did right well in giving the cues and setting the pace for works of Handel and Rameau in Auer Hall.
A sprightly Handel overture, to the opera “Tolomeo,” opened the program. The opera deals with Tolomeo’s (Ptolemy’s) harrowing but ultimately successful quest to become king of Egypt. The music is brisk and delightful; so was the orchestra’s treatment of it. Textures were clean and the reading jaunty. Handel sprightliness continued to be featured in a fine performance of his Concerto grosso in D Minor, an immensely lyrical and rhythmically vital piece.
The Handel paved the way for a Suite comprising music from “Les Indes galantes” (“The Amorous Indies”), an opera-ballet by Jean-Philippe Rameau. To listeners at the work’s 1735 premiere, much of the music was considered harmonically jarring and noisy. The French soon changed their minds. For modern ears, the music entices with its beauty and the variety built into its essence. Dance it also does suggest, a fact that the Baroque Orchestra took to heart and provided gracefully in its performance.
A sing fest
Annually, members of the IU Jacobs School of Music vocal faculty gather themselves and their talents for an event that serves to raise funds for the local chapter of the National Association for Teachers of Singing. They did so once again Sunday evening in First United Church, offering a large and effusively friendly audience excitement and fun.
The musical fare at these events varies from pop to opera. Master of ceremonies Brian Horn and the participants added humorous commentary. There were cheers for everyone. There were standing ovations for some. And most who came to listen left with a smile. What more can one ask for?
The world of musicals and the Great American Songbook was well represented.
Heidi Grant Murphy, with husband Kevin Murphy at the piano, wrapped herself in torchy emotions for an excerpt from the score of “Most Happy Fella.” Horn, accompanied by Brian Eads, contributed “I’ll Be Seeing You” with his melting tenor.
Patricia Stiles, with David Ward-Steinman at the piano, sang an intimate “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and a saucy “Nice Work if You Can Get It.”
Sylvia McNair, always the consummate performer, added “Everybody Says Don’t” and, with Scott Hogsed, “You Must Meet My Wife” from “A Little Night Music”; Ray Feldman was at the piano.
The warmth-exuding Marietta Simpson and pianist Steve Zegree collaborated for “Lover, Come Back to Me.” Zegree then joined a spare-no-energy-or-enthusiasm practitioner, Tim Noble, for a rousing Cole Porter medley.
Alice Hopper heroically stuck to opera, singing the dramatic “Io son l’umile ancella” from Cilea’s “Adriana Lecouvreur, with Gary Arvin her partner at the keyboard. Teresa Kubiak and Carlos Montane supplied some roof-raising fervor in a heated duet from Puccini’s “Tosca.”
Horne turned serious for a spell in remembering the late Gloria Davy, a dramatic soprano who served on the IU voice faculty from 1984 to 1997, and to celebrate a Kennedy Honor given to Martina Arroyo, who retired from the Jacobs School in 1997 as distinguished professor after a 14-year stay.
© Herald Times 2013