Wednesday, February 10, 2010

03/10/2010 @ 6:15 p.m.: Kimberly S. Beasley, soprano

Kimberly is a fine musician who sings with
great sensitivity, offering mature musicianship
and strong performance technique
-- Sherrill Milnes, baritone

Jacksonville University Assistant Professor of Voice Kimberly Beasley in recital. Collaborating on piano is Bonita Sonsini Wyke.


Richard Hundley (b. 1931)
Octaves and Sweet Sounds
  • Strings in the Earth and Air (text: James Joyce)
  • Seashore Girls (text: e.e. cummings)
  • Moonlight’s Watermelon (text: José Garcia Villa)
  • Straightway Beauty On Me Waits (text: James Purdy)
  • Well Welcome (text: Gertrude Stein)

    Edward Lein (b. 1955)
  • September (text: Carlos Wilcox)
  • In the Bleak Midwinter (text: Christina Rossetti)

    Carrie Jacobs Bond (1861-1946)
  • Half Minute Songs

    Francesco Paolo Tosti (1846-1916)
  • La Serenata (text: Giovanni Alfredo Cesareo, 1860-1937)
  • Ideale (text: Carmelo Errico)
  • L’alba separa dalla luce (text: Gabriele D'Annunzio)
    Plus Arias by request
    Selected from...
  • Pietro Mascagni: Voi lo sapete, o mamma (Cavalleria Rusticana}
  • Wolfgang A. Mozart: Mi tradi quell'alma ingrata (Don Giovanni)
  • Giacomo Puccini: O mio babbino caro (Gianni Schicchi)
  • Giuseppe Verdi: Ritorna Vincitor (Aida)
  • Giuseppe Verdi: Tacea la notte (Il Trovatore)

    Kimberly Beasley is an Assistant Professor of Voice at Jacksonville University, teaching Music and Music Theater students. With undergraduate and Master’s degrees from the University of Colorado and Indiana’s Valparaiso University respectively, she went on to earn a Certificate of Performance in Voice from Northwestern University. Professor Beasley served on the music faculty of her alma mater in Valparaiso from 1998 to 2005, teaching applied theory, keyboard proficiency, opera scenes, and vocal pedagogy, while maintaining a studio of university and high school voice students. A versatile artist, in addition to singing recitals Kimberly has been a featured soloist with orchestras and opera and theater companies throughout the Midwest, where she also directed musical theater productions. Prior to her 2009 appointment as Assistant Professor at Jacksonville University, Ms. Beasley served as adjunct Professor of Voice at both JU and the University of North Florida. In addition to performing in Jacksonville University events, she sings locally with the Chamber Music Society of Good Shepherd and Friday Musicale, and she directed JU's production of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi in the fall of 2009.

    Bonita Sonsini Wyke has been an active part of the Jacksonville music community since 1985, and in working with many of the First Coast's leading vocalists, instrumentalists and musical ensembles she has earned the reputation as a musician of unsurpassed sensitivity, technical skill and artistry. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she has performed for more than thirty years as a collaborative pianist and harpsichordist for choral groups, orchestral and instrumental ensembles, and for stage productions including opera, music theater, ballet and modern dance. In 2007, Bonita joined the Piano Department at Jacksonville University as full-time Staff Accompanist for Opera, Music Theater, Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, and student and faculty recitals. A founding member of the San Marco Chamber Music Society, Ms. Sonsini Wyke is a seasoned chamber player, and especially enjoys four-hand piano literature.

    Richard Hundley (b. 1931) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and even as a child he would make up songs. While in high school he began taking piano lessons at the Cincinnati Conservatory, and at age 16 he performed as a piano soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony. He moved to New York City in 1950 to continue his studies at the Manhattan School of Music, but these were cut short due to financial hardships. But in 1960, Hundley joined the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera, and it was during his four-year tenure there that he began to gain recognition as a composer, especially when several of the Met's star singers, including Anna Moffo and Rosalind Elias, performed some of his songs in recitals. Today he is considered one of America's leading composers of art songs, touted by the journal Musical America (May, 1991) as "... a sort of American Poulenc, expert at creating characterful melodies and illuminating their corners with flashes of harmonic surprise," and he remains a favored composer of such international luminaries as Renee Fleming and Frederica Von Stade.

    Octaves and Sweet Sounds was commissioned in 1989 by the University of Minnesota for their Art Song Minnesota festival, and first performed on June 9, 1990. The texts of all but the first song are still under copyright (and so cannot be reprinted here), but the composer includes the following prefatory comments in the score:
    In the first song Strings in the Earth and Air I have tried to capture the poet’s vision of love and nature vibrating as music.
    String in the earth and air
    Make music sweet:
    Strings by the river where
    The willows meet.

    There’s music alon the river
    For Love wanders there,
    Pale Flowers on his mantle,
    Dark leaves on his hair.

    All softly playng,
    With head to the music bent,
    And fingers straying
    Upon an instrument.
    Seashore Girls is the memory of a sunny day at the seashore shared by four friends, each of whom has a different adventure. The opening theme expresses the viewer’s joy upon seeing the panorama of sky and sea. The theme is later repeated and then transformed.

    I was immediately attracted to the poem Moonlight’s Watermelon by the magic sound of the poet’s words. My first consideration in setting this abstract poem to music was to set the words for clarity. In the middle of the song the music wanders onto a surreal path. For me the poem recalls my childhood living with my grandmother in Kentucky when we ate watermelon, fresh from her garden, on summer evenings.

    Straightway Beauty On Me Waits is a love song whose music is as rapturous as its subject. The metronome markings are a general guide, and indicate the fluctuating tempi that are necessary for the rhapsodic feeling of the song.

    Well Welcome is cast as a dramatic recitative and aria. Though the poem seems obscure, meanings are suggested. I believe the poem is about choice, particularly about the right and the determination of the speaker (singer) to choose the person on whom to bestow love and affection.

    Florida native Edward Lein (b. 1955) is the Music Librarian at Jacksonville Public Library's Main Library, and holds Master's degrees in both Music Theory and Library Science from Florida State University. As a tenor soloist he appeared in recitals, oratorios and dramatic works throughout his home state, and drawing on his performance experience the majority of his early compositions are vocal works. Following peformances of pieces by the Jacksonville Symphony, including Meditation for cello, oboe and orchestra (premiered June 2006) and In the Bleak Midwinter (premiered December 2007), his instrumental catalog has grown largely due to requests from Symphony players for new pieces.

    September (2008, dedicated to Music @ Main volunteer Betsy Ferraro) is a song composed on a text by American poet Carlos Wilcox (1794-1827). The sustained lyricism of the music, essentially a waltz sandwiched between a contemplative introduction and its reprise, aims to capture the poet’s Romantic mixture of melancholy reflection and awestruck wonder, as the fading summer gives way to shorter days amid the glittering beauty of fall foliage mirrored in a mountain creek. Although September has been performed in an arrangement for clarinet and piano, this is its first performance as a song.
    THE sultry summer past, September comes,
    Soft twilight of the slow-declining year;--
    All mildness, soothing loneliness and peace;
    The fading season ere the falling come,
    More sober than the buxom blooming May,
    And therefore less the favourite of the world,
    But dearest month of all to pensive minds.
    'Tis now far spent; and the meridian sun,
    Most sweetly smiling with attempered beams,
    Sheds gently down a mild and grateful warmth.
    Beneath its yellow luster groves and woods,
    Checker'd by one night's frost with various hues,
    While yet no wind has swept a leaf away,
    Shine doubly rich. It were a sad delight
    Down the smooth stream to glide, and see it tinged
    Upon each brink with all the gorgeous hues,
    The yellow, red, or purple of the trees,
    That, singly, or in tufts, or forests thick,
    Adorn the shores; to see, perhaps, the side
    Of some high mount reflected far below
    With its bright colors, intermixed with spots
    Of darker green. Yes, it were sweetly sad
    To wander in the open fields, and hear,
    E'en at this hour, the noonday hardly past,
    The lulling insects of the summer's night;
    To hear, where lately buzzing swarms were heard,
    A lonely bee long roving here and there
    To find a single flower, but all in vain;
    Then rising quick, and with a louder hum,
    In widening circles round and round his head,
    Straight by the listener flying clear away,
    As if to bid the fields a last adieu;
    [The sultry summer past, September comes,
    Soft twilight of the slow declining year--]

    To hear, within the woodland's sunny side,
    Late full of music, nothing, save, perhaps,
    The sound of nutshells by the squirrel dropped
    From some tall beech, fast fall-ing through the leaves.
    [The sultry summer past, September comes.]

    CLICK HERE for the score and recording (instrumental version only)

    In the Bleak Midwinter is a 2007 setting of an 1872 poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) that depicts the Christmas story. The music has had performances in its purely orchestral guise, but this is the world premiere of the original version for voice and piano. If the text seems familiar it's because Gustav Holst and Harold Edwin Darke each used the same poem to create famous Christmas carols.

    In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
    Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
    Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
    In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

    Our God, Heav'n cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
    Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
    In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
    The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.

    Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
    A breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
    Enough for Him, whom angels fall down before,
    The ox and ass and camel which adore.

    Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
    Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
    But only His mother, in her maiden bliss,
    Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.

    What can I give Him, poor as I am?
    If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
    If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
    Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.

    CLICK HERE for the score and recordings (instrumental versions only)

    Although hers is no longer a household name, during her lifetime Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Carrie Jacobs-Bond (1862-1946) was not only internationally recognized, but she became the first woman to earn a million dollars through her sheet music sales. Widowed and penniless at age 33, Jacobs-Bond began submitting songs to publishers hoping to support herself and her young son, but when this didn't work out as well as she'd hoped she started her own publishing company, with the financial support of the popular American contralto Jessie Bartlet Davis. Chiefly penning her own lyrics, Jacobs-Bond is best remembered for I Love You Truly (first published 1901 but written several years earlier) and (The End of) A Perfect Day (1910), but she also collaborated with African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) on five songs. Jacobs-Bond toured as a singer, including two appearances at the White House (first for Teddy Roosevelt and then for Warren Harding), and she sang in a concert in England that featured famed Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. Carrie performed for the troops in Europe during World War I, and in 1940 she shared the stage in support of the World War II effort with songwriting luminaries including Irving Berlin and George M. Cohan, although, at age 78, she did not sing her songs herself but played the piano accompaniment.

    Dating from 1910, Carrie Jaconbs-Bond wrote the advice as well as the music for her charming Half Minute Songs, or, Miniature Songs.

    1. Making the Best of It.
    What you can’t help,
    What you can’t help,
    What you can’t help,

    2. First Ask Yourself.
    Before you have said it about them,
    Ask yourself if you’d like them to know you said it.

    3. To Understand.
    To understand a sorrow,
    You must have one all your own.

    4. Doan’ Yo’ Lis’n.
    No mattah w’at dey said,
    Keep a-walkin’ straight ahaid,
    W’y dey’ll praise yo’ when yo’ daid,
    But doan’ yo’ lis’n.

    5. How to Find Success.
    The man who finds success looks sometimes when he’s tired,
    When he’s tired, when he’s tired,
    Looks sometimes when he’s tired.

    6. The Pleasure of Giving
    I’d rather say “You’re welcome” once, than “Thank you” a thousand times.

    6. Answer the First Rap.
    Opportunity may knock often, but it’s better to answer the first rap!

    8. A Good Exercise.
    With evil things you’ll always find
    It’s best to be deaf, dumb and blind.

    9. A Present from Yourself.
    A friend is a present you give yourself.

    10. Now and Then.
    The “lucky” fellow gets up at five (A.M.),
    And gen’rally works till ten (P.M.);
    But the other fellow not quite so “lucky,”
    Works hard–just now and then!

    11. When They Say the Unkind Things.
    Ain’t it gay that what “they say”
    Can’t hurt you unless it’s true?

    12. Keep Awake.
    Success never comes to the sleeping.

    CLICK HERE to hear Patricia Werner Leanse sing them on YouTube.

    In the earliest days of his career as a singer-songwriter, Italian composer Francesco Paolo Tosti (1846-1916) had a difficult time making a living, reportedly living on oranges and stale bread for weeks at a time. But his talents eventually lead him into the highest reaches of fashionable society, and he became singing master first to the Queen of Italy, and then, in 1880, to the British Royal family. By the mid-1880s he had become the most popular songwriter in Britain, and he received a professorship at the Royal Academy of Music in 1894. Tosti became a British citizen in 1906, and was knighted by King Edward VII in 1908, but he returned to his homeland in 1913 and spent his remaining years in Rome. Although he never wrote an opera, his finely crafted melodies became a favorite of opera stars during the early years of the recorded era.
    The following translations are provided by Ms. Beasley:
    La Serenata

    O serenata:
    La mia diletta è sola,
    E, con la bella testa abbandonata,
    Posa tra le lenzuola:
    O serenata,

    Pura la luna;
    L’ale silenzio stende,
    E dietro i veli dell’alcova bruna
    La lampada s’accende:
    Pura la luna

    O serenata:
    La mia diletta è sola;
    Ma, sorridendo ancor mezzo assonnata,
    Torna fra le lenzuola:
    O serenata,

    Sogna sul lido,
    E’l vento su la fronda;
    E a’baci miei ricusa ancora un nido
    La mia signora bionda!
    Sogna sul lido

    O serenade:
    My beloved is alone,
    And, with her lovely head lying back,
    Is resting between her sheets:
    O serenade,

    Purely Is the moon;
    Silence spreads its wings,
    And behind the veils in the dark alcove
    A lamp is lighted:
    The moon is purely

    O serenade:
    My beloved is alone;
    But, smiling, still half asleep,
    She has returned between her sheets:
    O serenade,

    The waves
    Dream on the shore,
    And wind blows through the branches;
    Yet still my kisses are refused shelter
    By my fair lady!
    On the shore dream
    The waves.

    CLICK HERE to hear Joan Sutherland sing it on Youtube.


    Io ti seguii com’iride di pace
    Lungo le vie del cielo:
    Io ti seguii come un’amica face
    De la notte nel velo.

    E ti sentii ne la luce, ne l’aria,
    Nel profumo dei fiori;
    E fu piena la stanza solitaria
    Di te, dei tuoi splendori.

    In te rapito, al suon de la tua voce,
    Lugamente sognai;
    E de la terra ogni affanno, ogni croce,
    In quel sogno scordai.

    Torna, caro ideal, torna un istante
    A sorridermi ancora
    E a me risplenderà, nel tuo sembiante,
    Una novella aurora.

    The Ideal One

    I followed you like a rainbow of peace
    Across the paths of the sky:
    I followed you like a friendly torch
    In the veil of the night.

    I felt you in the light, in the air,
    In the scent of the flowers;
    The lonely room was full
    Of you and your beauty.

    Entranced by you, by the sound of your voice,
    I dreamed at length;
    And all the trouble and anguish of the world
    Were forgotten in that dream.

    Come back, dear perfection, come back for a moment
    And smile on me again,
    And from your face will shine on me
    A new dawn.

    CLICK HERE to here Pavarotti sing it on YouTube.

    L’alba sepàra dalla luce l'ombra

    L’alba sepàra dalla luce l’ombra
    E la mia voluttà dal mio desire.
    O dolci stelle, è l’ora di morire.
    Un più divino amor dal ciel vi sgombra.

    Pupille ardenti, o voi senza ritorno
    Stelle tristi, spegnetevi incorrotte!
    Morir debbo, Veder non voglio il giorno,
    Per amor del mio sogno e della notte.

    Chiudimi, o Notte, nel tuo sen materno,
    Mentre la terra pallida s’irrora.
    Ma che dal sangue mio nasca l’aurora
    E dal sogno mio breve il sole eterno!

    Dawn divides the light from the shadows

    Dawn divides the light from the shadows,
    My pleasure from my desire.
    O gentle stars, it is time to die,
    A more divine love comes from the heavens.

    Glowing eyes, you sad stars which will not
    Come again, be extinguished uncorrupted.
    I must die, I do not want to see the day,
    For love of my dream and of the night.

    Enfold me, o night, on your mothering breast,
    While the pale land grows light.
    But let the dawn rise from my blood
    And the eternal sun from my brief dream.

    CLICK HERE to here a recording by tenor Jussi Björling on YouTube.

    Italian composer and conductor Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945), a classmate of Puccini at the Milan Conservatory, rocketed to international fame following the 1890 premiere of Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry). Although he wrote more than a dozen subsequent operas, he was never able to duplicate the same level of international success he achieved with the one-act verismo opera of betrayal and revenge that assures the composer his continuing place in opera history. In Voi lo sapete, o mamma (Now you shall know, o mother) the unhappily jilted (but still hopeful) "Santuzza" explains to "Mamma Lucia," the mother of her beloved, "Turiddu", the backstory that sets up the unfolding tragedy. Upon returning from the army, Turridu, having discovered that his fiancé, "Lola," is now married to "Alfio," sought comfort for his broken heart by seducing Santuzza, only now he has broken Santuzza's heart by entering into an adulterous affair with the twice faithless Lola.

    CLICK HERE to hear Tatiana Troyanos sing it on YouTube.

    Austrian-born Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), unquestionably one of the greatest composers in history, began his career touring Europe as a 6-year-old piano prodigy, and he absorbed and mastered all the contemporary musical trends he was exposed to along the way. Of all the different versions of the Don Juan legend, Mozart’s comic opera, Don Giovanni, on a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte (1749-1838), is among the best known and most discussed. The Don is an unrepentant rake who lives solely for his own selfish pleasures, with utter disregard for how his behavior might affect others. Mozart’s opera picks up as Giovanni’s luck finally begins to fade and his past begins to catch up with him. In Mi tradi quell'alma ingrate (That ungrateful wretch betrayed me), "Donna Elvira," one of the Don's betrayed victims, reflects on the torn emotions he evokes in her. She cannot deny that his guilt deserves the wrath of heaven, but at the same time, realizing that she still has feelings for him, she is fearful at the thought of him being harmed.

    CLICK HERE to hear Rachel Yakar sing it on YouTube.

    Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) came from a long line of Italian church musicians, and it was assumed he’d inherit the “family business” in Tuscany. But a fateful trek from Lucca to Pisa to see Verdi’s Aïda convinced Puccini to give up organ pedals for footlights, and he became the only real successor of Verdi in the realm of Italian opera. Gianni Schicchi, Puccini’s only comic opera, was fleshed out from a few cryptic lines in Dante’s Inferno, and it tells the tale of a crafty Florentine who helps a dishonest
    family fake a counterfeit will when the lately deceased head of their clan bequeaths his fortune to a monastery rather than to the greedy relatives. At first Gianni is unwilling to assist the disagreeable bunch, but he finally relents at the behest of his daughter, “Lauretta,” who otherwise will be unable to marry the beloved nephew of the elderly cousin of the deceased. Of all Puccini’s soprano arias, Lauretta’s entreaty, O mio babbino caro (O my darling daddy), has become perhaps the most familiar (at least among non-opera goers), thanks largely to its inclusion in the 1986 film, A Room with a View.

    CLICK HERE to hear Angela GHEORGHIU sing it on Youtube.

    Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) is the foremost Italian composer of operas. Among his early triumphs are the ever-popular Rigoletto (1851), Il Trovatore (1853) and La Traviata (1853), and by the time of Aïda (1871) all the elements of his youthful style had reached full maturity—and his achievement seemed unsurpassable. But after a 16-year hiatus a 73-year-old Verdi surpassed even himself with Otello (1887), a supreme masterpiece that for many represents the culmination of Italian grand opera. Then, in 1893, came his comic masterpiece, Falstaff, proving that the octogenarian's genius never waned.

    In Aida, Verdi tells the tragic tale of the titular Ethiopian princess who has been captured into slavery by the Egyptian army, lead by "Radames," with whom, ironically, she is desparately in love. In her Act I soliloquy, Ritorna vincitor (Return a conqueror), Aida struggles with her breaking heart and impossibly conflicted emotions--her love for Radames on one hand, versus her love for her father and homeland on the other.

    CLICK HERE to hear Karita Mattila sing it on YouTube.

    In Il Trovatore (The Troubador), Verdi takes a hopelessly tangled plot--fueled by jealousy, hapless coincidence, and a Gypsy's dying curse--and sorts out the melodrama with some of the most magnificent music in all of opera. In the first act cavatina, Tacea la notte placida (Quiet was the peaceful night), "Leonora," a lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Aragon, relates to her maid how she went to a balcony overlooking the moonlit garden to find out who was serenading her, and there discovered and fell passionately in love with Manrico, the same knight in black armor whom she had once crowned victorious in a joust.

    CLICK HERE to hear Leontyne Price sing it on YouTube.
  • Monday, February 8, 2010

    02/13/2010 @ 2 p.m.: The Amazing Life of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges

    Friday Musicale of Jacksonville Florida presents
    A Concert for the Whole Family!

    Violinist Tyrone Tidwell narrates the life of Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges interspersed with several works by the 18th century composer, closing with the Symphony Concertante in E-flat for two violins and orchestra.

    A free picture book about Le CHEVALIER de SAINT-GEORGES will be given to the children in the audience for this special program!

    Other featured musicians include:
    Timothy Edwards, violin
    Max Huls, violin
    Swantje Biernacki, violin
    Angelo Goderre, viola
    Larry Rawdon, cello
    Jamar Woods, keyboard
    Gabrielle Williams, soprano

    The narration was prepared by JU Professor Emeritus of Humanities, Dr. Sharon Scholl.


    Violinist Tyrone Tidwell
    as Joseph Bologne

    The Chevalier is the first known figure of African-American descent in the Western classical music tradition. Born Joseph Bologne on the island of Guadeloupe in 1745 of an African slave mother and a French plantation owner, he was knighted Chevalier de Saint-Georges by King Louis XV for his prowess both as France's foremost swordsman and foremost violinist/composer. He was the leading violinist and composer in late 18th century Paris and wrote numerous symphonies, concertos, quartets and operas.

    In addition he was the music director and conductor of the Orchestre des Amateurs de Musique whose fashionable concerts took place before an audience of 2000 in the palace of the Duc de Soubise and for which he commissioned and premiered the six Haydn 'Paris' Symphonies. During the French Revolution, which freed the slaves throughout the French Empire, he organized and led an army against the Royalists and won all of his battles. He is also thought to have aided the anti-slavery movements in England and Haiti. He died in 1799. His name continues to be legend in fencing circles.

    Sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida