American mezzo-soprano Jennifer Rivera, with pianist Myra Huang, has recently released a CD of songs by contemporary American composers titled Innocence/Experience. There are four , fairly contrasting, sets of songs by different composers. The first group are settings of texts by Garrison Keillor with music by Robert Aldridge. The texts are predictably sentimental and the music is rather retro. It sounds like it might have come from a musical comedy in the 1940s. It’s not inappropriate for the texts but seems a little out of time. It suits Rivera’s voice though. Her strength is definitely in the lower register where there is a pleasing smokey tone.
I just listened to my new copy of An AIDS Quilt Songbook:Song for Hope and I’m in a bit of a state of shock. It’s nearly 80 minutes of music featuring many of America’s best singers and musicians singing songs inspired by AIDS along with some poetry readings. Participants include Yo Yo Ma, Joyce DiDonato, Tony Deane-Griffey, Matthew Polenzani, Isobel LeonardSharon Stone and many more. All profits go to amFAR; the Foundation for AIDS Research. www.amfar.org