Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Intermezzo Sunday Concert, April 6, 2014 @ 3 p.m.

Kimberly Beasley, Soprano
Scott Watkins, piano

Faculty Artists from Jacksonville University

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari
  Quattro Rispetti, Op. 11
     Un verde praticello senza piante
     Jo dei saluti ve ne mando mille
     E tanto c'è pericol ch'io ti lasci
     O sì che non sape vo sospirare

Piotr Tchaikovsky
   Three Romances, from Op. 47
       1. Кабы знала я (Had I but Known)
       6. День ли царит (Whether Daylight Reigns)
       7. Я ли в поле да не травушка была (Was I not a Sprig of Grass in the Meadow?)
   Нет, толко тот, кто знал, Op. 6, No. 6 (None but One Who Knows Longing,
        aka "None But the Lonely Heart")


Richard Strauss
   Zueignung, Op. 10, No. 1
   Ich trage meine Minne, Op. 32, No. 1
   Heimliche Aufforderung, Op. 27, No. 3

Claude Debussy
   Trois chanson de Bilitis
     I. La flûte de Pan
     II. La chevelure
     III. Le tombeau des Naïades

William Bolcom
   3 Cabaret Songs
     Over the piano
     Places to Live


Kimberly Beasley is an Assistant Professor of Voice at Jacksonville University and holds a Bachelor's in Music Theatre from the University of Colorado, a Master of Music from Valparaiso University and a Certificate of Vocal Performance from Northwestern University where she studied with Sunny Joy Langton and coached with Richard Boldrey and Baritone Sherrill Milnes of the Metropolitan Opera, who observed that   "Kimberly is a fine musician who sings with great sensitivity, offering mature musicianship and strong performance technique."            

While a Chicago resident she performed frequently as a soloist with the Northwest Festival Orchestra, Southwest Michigan Symphony, Elmhurst Symphony, the Northwest Indiana Symphony, DuPage Opera Theatre, the New Philharmonic Orchestra, Light Opera Works, and the Grant Park Symphony Chorus. With the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Kimberly performed in their productions of Cavalleria Rusticana, Fidelio, and Turandot

Professor Beasley has extensive concert and recital appearances featuring varied repertoire including opera, oratorio, jazz, and musical theatre. Her varied stage roles have ranged from Cinderella in Into the Woods and Josephine in H.M.S. Pinafore, to Angelica in Suor Angelica, Rosina in Barber of Seville, Dorine in Tartuffe, Micäela in Carmen, and Butterfly in Madama Butterfly. An experienced stage director for companies including the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso and OneTheatre in Chicago, Professor Beasley has brought her expertise to Jacksonville University, directing a number of opera and musical theater productions, including Little Women, the Musical, which won awards for Best Actor and Best Set Design from Broadway World, and the Jacksonville premiere of Kurt Weill's Street Scene, in April 2013.

Professor Beasley has taught university courses in applied theory, opera scenes, vocal pedagogy, and opera history at Valparaiso University, Northwestern University, and the Graham School of the University of Chicago. In addition to Music at Main, you can hear her locally with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Society of Jacksonville, and Friday Musicale.

Scott Watkins, Assistant Professor of Piano at Jacksonville University, is well known to First Coast audiences for his appearances with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, his numerous solo recitals, and his frequent collaborations with many of the areas finest singers and instrumentalists. His 1985 U.S. debut, an all-Bach recital given in Chicago, was broadcast live nationwide, and has been followed by a steady flow of solo and concerto performances in North and South America, Europe and the Caribbean. He has been heard often in the United States and Canada on National Public Radio and Television, and in South America and Europe on The Voice of America. Performances have included the world premieres of Elie Siegmeister’s From These Shores and Ned Rorem’s Song and Dance.

An active chamber musician, Dr. Watkins has appeared with the LaSalle Quartet and violinist Eugene Fodor, and a  performance with violinist Hillary Hahn was broadcast on NPR's Performance Today. Much in demand as an accompanist, he has appeared with soprano Elizabeth Futral and baritone Steven White, and released a disc of late romantic lieder with White. Watkins also released two solo discs, one featuring works from his New York debut at Carnegie Hall, and another, Christmas Cards, featuring music for the holiday season, with works by Bach, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Handel, Grainger, and others.
A champion of new music, Watkins recently recorded An American Sonata for two pianos and percussion by noted American composer and pianist Gary Smart.

Dr. Watkins is the recipient of numerous awards, including the John Philip Sousa Award for Outstanding American Musicians, Rotary Club of Florida's Annual Artistic Merit Award, and France's Jeunesse Musicales. In 1985, he became the youngest winner ever of The U.S. Department of State's Artistic Ambassador Award. His degrees include a Bachelor of Music from the University of Cincinnati, Master of Music from University of South Carolina, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Florida State University.

PROGRAM NOTES, by Kimberly Beasley

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948) was an Italian composer born of a German father, but his tastes always gravitated toward Italian Renaissance music. His songs are melodic and tonal and he is quoted as saying, "Why do so many `modernists’ rail at the things past? Can one imagine a saint, railing at all the saints that preceded him?" He never apologized for not being drawn to more modernist compositional techniques. These songs are appealing for their melodic beauty and I imagine them to be somewhat of a progression: imagining love not yet discovered, pining for love that has become a reality, encouraging and maintaining love in an effort to hold on to it, and finally being exhausted of all the effort this thing called love has required!

Piotr Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) wrote over 100 songs and had a special ability to take a poem and demonstrate its deepest emotions. Although not sung with the expanse of vocal color in Schumann or Mahler, his songs are engrossing and haunting. The three on this program from Opus 47 use the poetry of Tolstoy (1817-1875), Apukhtin (1840-1893), and Surikov (1841-1880). Tolstoy is an understood favorite of the Russian romantic era and Had I But Known is a fantastical, imaginary vignette, sung by a young girl anticipating a rendezvous. Apukhtin supposedly wrote Whether Daylight Reigns at the suggestion of Tchaikovsky himself in honor of the singer Alexandra Panayeva. He knew Apukhtin was enamored with her and asked if he had ever written her a poem. Apukhtin handed him a piece of paper with this poem on it, and Tchaikovsky wrote the song two days later. Surikov was a peasant by birth and remained a stable hand until his death. His poem for “The Bride’s Lament” (Was I not a Sprig of Grass in the Meadow?) uses a familiar theme in Russian poetry and echoes the poet’s own station in life.

[Given his gift for singing melodies, it is not surprising that Tchaikovsky created some memorable songs.  The best-known, at least in the English-speaking world, is None but One Who Knows Longing (aka, None but the Lonely Heart), which even has been recorded by pop and jazz singers, including Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan.--Ed Lein]

  Нет, толко тот, кто знал                                            None but One Who Knows Longing

Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was a multifaceted composer with output in song, opera, and orchestral repertoire. His songs written between 1885 and 1918 have a more conservative harmonic structure; however, although never reaching the progressiveness of Salomé, which commenced his operatic output ranging from 1905-1942, the later songs do have mildly shocking chord structure and harmonic progression reminiscent of later compositions. The songs selected are from Opus 10, 27, and 32 and demonstrate some evolution as a composer. All three songs were orchestrated by Robert Heger and Heimliche Aufforderung and Ich trage meine Minne were later transcribed for piano by Max Reger. Zueignung, with poetry by Hermann von Gilm, was dedicated to singer Viorica Ursuleac, Ich trage mein Minne, with poetry by Karl Henckell from his Buch der Liebe, is dedicated to Pauline, Strauss’ wife, and Heimliche Aufforderung, with poetry by John Henry Mackay, was given to Pauline on her wedding day.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918), known for his pentatonic and whole scales, defines the Impressionistic era of classical music. Although his orchestral works are frequently heard, you almost have to be at a song recital to hear some of his vocal works. The Trois chansons de Bilitis are set to poetry by Pierre Louÿs, poetry that depicts the Grecian courtesan Bilitis* as a contemporary of Sappho. They are set low in the soprano voice, but it is a timbre that was desired by the composer and evokes the mood of these sensual, “satyrical” poems perfectly. I picture the Narnia of C.S. Lewis, first in spring, then in winter, fauns, satyrs, and nymphs all around.

*Louÿs presented his original poetry as though it were translations of ancient Greek poems written by Bilitis, a fictional character he had created for the project.

William Bolcom (b. 1938) is a National Medal of Arts winner as well as a multiple Grammy award winner. He retired from teaching in 2008 after serving as Professor of Composition at the University of Michigan for 35 years. An accomplished pianist, he has performed and recorded extensively with his wife Joan Morris. He has written songs as well as orchestral works and operas that have been premiered all over the world. The Cabaret Songs hearken back to the day when Bolcom played for vaudeville shows and are, as a group, a cabaret in and of themselves. Set to poems by Arnold Weinstein, a frequent collaborator with Bolcom, enjoy these three selections!

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