This concert was the culmination of several days of workshops involving Wallis Giunta, Jordan de Souza and eighteen emerging artists; both singers and pianists. It’s a comparatively unusual opportunity to focus on contemporary repertoire for a while and the results were fun. As usual with these multi-participant efforts I’m not going to attempt to be exhaustive but just concentrate on my personal highlights.
There was considerable humour in a couple of extracts from Kevin Morse’s The Colony. Jonathan MacArthur was a convincing and very funny underling to Gwenna Fairchild’s strongly sung and imperious Queen Ant with Asal Iranmehr at the piano.
Beth Hagerman reinforced her reputation as one to watch with an extract from Dark Star Requiem (Andrew Staniland) and in duet with William Ford in the disturbing Rosa by James Rolfe. Both these singers have big, bold voices that could become really interesting with a bit more maturity. Evelina Soulis (very impressive) and David Eliakis on piano respectively.
Anne-Marie MacIntosh was new to me. She’s got power and a rather beautiful voice shown off here in Cool Mountain Water from Ka Nin Chan’s Iron Road with Ethan Rotenberg accompanying.
There was a lot to like in many of the other pieces too. Sara Schabas (particularly the Wisdom Aria from Nigredo Hotel), Shauna Yarnell, Whitney Mather and Katherina Utochkina all impressed at times and Natasha Fransblow and Anastasia Tchernikova were their usual excellent selves at the piano.
Both halves of the program were finished off by Wallis and Jordan and it did rather highlight the difference between work in progress and the finished product. The first half contribution was Chopin’s Pearls from Gareth Williams The Sloans Project/Pub Operas set in a Glasgow pub. Haunting music quite beautifully sung and played here. The final piece (the only non Tapestry piece) was It’s My Wedding from Jonathan Dove’s Enchanted Pig. People keep telling me I need to hear this guy’s music and I’m beginning to think they are right. This piece is a bit Broadwayish but very accomplished and a fantastic showpiece for Wallis’ acting talents. She was the very embodiment of a demented Bridezilla (after all her character has to marry a pig so she might as well have the perfect wedding) as well as singing with power, expression and considerable beauty. I’d go see this show if she were singing.
It seems like this has been a month for contemporary vocal music with this project and Barbara Hannigan at the university and the symphony. I’m all for that.