Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Love Song to Ice Cream and Other Vocal Treats with Elisabeth Harrington and Friends

Soprano Elisabeth Harrington and six North Coast friends will sing a love song to ice cream, among other delicious vocal selections on Sunday afternoon, February 26 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

The six friends are locally renowned singers Craig Benson, Ana Cruz, Robert Keiber, Steve Nobles, Jenny Quigley and Kevin Sharkey. In various combinations with Harrington, they will perform operatic selections before all combining on Kurt Weil’s “The Ice Cream Sextet” from his opera Street Scene.  “It’s a love song to ice cream,” Harrington said, “as told by Italians in New York in the 1940s. The music is intricate but with all of us singing together, the sound is pretty powerful.”

The concert begins with Harrington’s solo rendition of Claude Debussy’s “Forgotten Songs” (Ariettes Oubliees,) a setting of six poems by Paul Verlaine. She will also perform “Song to the Moon” by Czech composer Antonin Dvorak, from his opera Rusalka, which is based on three fairy tales, including Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Mermaid. “It’s an aria I’ve wanted to do forever,” Harrington said.

Harrington then performs with various friends on duets by Henry Purcell, and selections from operas by Mozart, Offenbach and French composer Leo Delibes. “These are some of opera’s ‘greatest hits,’ Harrington said. But in addition to an aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni (one of the pieces, Harrington says, that “tend to catch people’s ear and inspire them to think, ‘isn’t opera fabulous!’”), they perform a less familiar quartet from Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte. 

The singers will introduce each of the opera scenes, and translations will be provided. But Kurt Weil’s love song to ice cream is apt to be instantly understood.

Harrington has worked with each of her guest singers at various times, including the recent production of Sweeney Todd at Ferndale Repertory Theatre. HSU piano faculty member Robin Miller is the accompanist.

Elisabeth Harrington and Friends perform on Sunday February 26 at 2 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. Tickets: $8/$3 students and seniors from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Proceeds to HSU Music scholarship fund. Produced by the HSU Department of Music.

Media: Tri-City Weekly, Humboldt Now, Arcata Eye, Lumberjack.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Symphonic Band & Jazz Orchestra Joint Concert

The HSU Symphonic Band previews a suite by a contemporary Chinese composer who will soon visit Humboldt, and the Jazz Orchestra showcases the work of jazz legend Gil Evans in a joint concert on Saturday, February 25 in Fulkerson Recital Hall.

Chinese composer Chen Yi will headline the HSU New Horizons Festival in April, when several ensembles will combine to perform her Suite From China West.  For this concert the Symphonic Band will play its first and second movements. “It’s very challenging, very nuanced writing,” said conductor Paul Cummings. “It’s a fascinating work to play and to hear.”

The suite is inspired by folk music from China West, and incorporates sounds from nature in inventive ways, Cummings said. “It has a very wide palette of sounds, with unusual ranges for the instruments. There is one piece on every Band program that really presents a challenge, and this is it.” A larger ensemble will play the entire suite in April, but for this performance the Symphonic Band will tackle “Introduction” and “Meng Songs.”

The concert begins with “Down a Country Lane” by Aaron Copland. “It starts serenely and builds to a climax, a slow, expressive, very beautiful four minutes,” Cummings said, “and very recognizable as Copland.”

There’s an immediate contrast in “Festivo” by prolific Czech-American composer Vaclav Nelhybel. “This is very rhythmic and assertive, propelling relentlessly forward. Trumpets are featured, and lots of percussion—very raucous, in keeping with the festival theme. It’s a lot of fun to play.”

Percussion is also prominent in “Foundry” by contemporary American composer John Mackey. “This piece is less than a year old,” Cummings said. “He wrote it last April. Mackey is a rising star in American music. He incorporates elements of hip hop and rock music as well as improvised sounds into symphonic music. There’s a melodic voice throughout this but like ‘Festivo’ it’s a hard-driving percussion piece.”

For its half of the evening, the HSU Jazz Orchestra begins its spring tribute to jazz great Gil Evans in his centennial year. Evans’ career extended from the 1930s to the 1980s. For this concert, the Jazz Orchestra will play three of Evans’ classic arrangements and one of his original compositions.

“Anthropology” is a bebop tune written by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. “Evans was one of the first, if not the first, to incorporate the new rhythmic and harmonic language of bebop into a big band,” said Jazz Orchestra director Dan Aldag. Evans arranged it for the Claude Thornhill Orchestra in the 1940s, as he did another tune on this evening’s bill, “Sorta Kinda.”

"Boplicity" is a Miles Davis tune that Evans arranged for the Miles Davis Nonet, and ultimately was heard on the classic Miles Davis album The Birth of the Cool. “One unusual feature of both the Claude Thornhill band and the Miles Davis Nonet was their use of French horn and tuba, instruments not usually heard in jazz,” Aldag observed. Also on the program is "La Nevada," a Gil Evans original from his album Out Of The Cool.

Also included is a piece composed by HSU senior music composition major Mike Cimino. “I had originally planned to play nothing but Evans’ music this semester,” said Aldag, “but we liked Mike’s new composition so much that we decided to play it for this concert.”

The Symphonic Band and Jazz Orchestra perform on Saturday February 25 at 8 p.m. in Fulkerson Recital Hall. Tickets are $7 general, $3 students/seniors, from the HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door. Free to HSU students with ID. Produced by the HSU Music Department.

Media: Humboldt Now, Tri-City Weekly, Arcata Eye.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

From Beethoven to Vibraphone: Top HSU Music Students Perform Honors Recital

Ten student solo performers from the six Humboldt State Music Department areas (voice, piano, percussion, strings, woodwinds and brass) will perform in an Honors Recital on Sunday February 5 at 2 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall.

HSU Music faculty in each of these areas chose one or two student performers for honors at the end of the fall semester. “This recital is a way to showcase our most talented music students,” said HSU professor Elisabeth Harrington, “and also to encourage them to bring their most professional selves to their final exam, since it is also an audition for this public performance.”

Participants include vocalists James Gadd (singing “Soliloquy” from Carousel by Rodgers & Hammerstein) and Brandy Rose (singing a selection from the opera The Elixir of Love by Donizetti.)

Guitarist Daniel Fair will play an Improvisation by famed gypsy jazz pioneer Django Reinhardt, and guitarist Samuel Shalhoub will perform a Fantasia by Luis de Narvaez.

Pianist Madeline Shapiro will perform the Rondo in C major by Beethoven. Percussionist Dylan Williams plays a piece by HSU professor Eugene Novotney, and Nev Mattinson plays Tim Huesgens’ “With A Mazy Motion” on vibraphone. Other participants include Rachel Kamradt (oboe), Audrey McCombs (tuba) and Chauncey Arkfeld (piano.)

The HSU Music Department Honors Recital is performed on Sunday February 5 at 2 p.m. in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus in Arcata. There is no admission charge. A reception follows the recital.

Pictured: Rachel Amradt, oboe; Chauncey Arkfeld, piano; James Gadd, baritone; Brandy Rose, soprano; Madeline Shapiro, piano.

Media: Tri-City Weekly, Humboldt State Now, Arcata Eye, Lumberjack
Honors Recital: Partial Program

“Chacun le sait, chacun le dit” from L’ √Člisir d’amour by Gaetano Donizetti
Rachel Amradt, oboe; Chauncey Arkfeld, piano; James Gadd, baritone; Brandy Rose, soprano; Madeline Shapiro, piano.

A Minute of News (1990) by Eugene Novotney
Dylan Williams, Percussion

With a Mazy Motion (1982) by Tim Huesgens
Nev Mattinson, Vibraphone

Improvisation #1 by Django Reinhardt (1910-1953)
Daniel Fair, guitar

Fantasia XIV by  Luis de Narv√°ez (1500 - 1550)
Samuel Shalhoub, guitar

Soliloquy from Carousel (1945) Richard Rodgers  & Oscar Hammerstein II
James Gadd, baritone

Rondo in C major, op. 51, #1 Ludwig van Beethoven
Madeline Shapiro

Concerto for E-flat Cor-de-Chasse, First Movement by Johann Baptist Georg Neruda (1707-1780)
Audrey McCombs, tuba in E-flat

Aspects of a Landscape by Paul Reade (1943-1997)
I. Dawn (cold, grey light, and first stirrings)
II. Birdsong
III. Bird-movements
IV. Sun Dance (two birds in the sunlight)
V. Conflict (bird fighting)
VI. Lament
VII. Celebration

Rachel Kamradt, oboe