The concluding concert of this year’s International Centre for Performing Artists Singing Stars program for this year took place last night at 96.3FM. For the eleven singers it was the culmination of a day working with Adrianne Pieczonka and a lot of practice and I think that came through on the night. In the various interviews during the show (it was being broadcast live), many of the singers remarked on Adrianne’s advice to be an artist, not just a singer (or something to that effect). Certainly I felt there was less strictly correct singing and more effort to get inside the music and words than one often hears in competitions.
The range of singers and career stages represented was also interesting. The youngest singer was, I think, twenty one, but several were in their thirties with a fair amount of professional stage experience. One consequence of this was that we didn’t get the standard competition fare either. There was much more towards the heavier end of the spectrum with Puccini much to the fore. How often does one hear Abscheulicher! (sung by Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor) at these kind of events? At least that was true for the ladies. There were eight sopranos and one mezzo out of the eleven with two very young tenors completing the roster. Actually they were both rather good with John-Michael Scapin offering an unusual choice of two songs from Schoenberg’s Brettl-Lieder and Zachary Rioux showing off some genuine tenor high notes in Salut! Demeure chaste et pure from Faust.
There was some fine singing from the ladies. Kathleen Promane opened things with a lovely Song to the Moon; very controlled and silvery toned. Tony Cianciulli and Rebecca Townsend both sang Puccini and both sounded a little forced though dramatic soprano rep with piano sometimes sounds that way to me and the studio at 96.3 has a weird acoustic so who knows? Georgia Burashko nailed Dopo notte from Ariodante with a performance of real feeling as well as considerable technical skill. There was plenty of power and control in Jocelyn Fralick’s offering from Herodiade. Teiya Kasahara’s Solo, Perduta, Abbandonata was one of the highlights of the evening for me. It was lovely and just heart breaking. Beth hagerman showed some interesting colours in an aria from La Wally and we finished up with the Beethoven.
I would not have wanted the job of picking the winner, who gets a package of career building goodies and a trip to New York, but someone had to be chosen and Adrianne chose Sara Schabas who had given us a highly competent Mir ist die Ehrewiderfahren from Der Rosenkavalier. Strauss is always hard and this performance was very decent indeed.
Rachel Andrist played everything thrown at her with aplomb despite having a camera stuck in her face at intervals and Jean Stilwell did the MCing.