Saturday, March 22, 2014

Amy Beach Festival at Meredith College Pt. 2

5:47 PM

On to the repertoire and performances from last night's faculty concert of Amy Beach works at Meredith.

Soprano Jennifer Paschal sits right next to me in most rehearsals of the North Carolina Opera Chorus, but I had actually never heard her sing as a soloist until last night.
She brought a bright, silvery tone and flawlessly clear diction to four Beach songs, including "The Year's at the Spring" and "Ah, Love, But a Day!" from Three Browning Songs. The second set, "A Mirage" and "Stella Viatoris," both written in 1924, showcased a sparer, atmospheric, modernist-tinged side to Beach's writing that's unfamiliar even to those who studied her in Music History. These were my favorites. Jennifer was accompanied by Bonnie and Michael Stoughton, playing the violin and cello respectively, and pianist Andrew Kraus, her collaborator on a recent recording of Britten's On This Island. 

The piano quintet was played robustly, almost forcefully, by Kent Lyman, head of the piano department at Meredith and a Steinway Artist. Erica Shirts and Ashley Kovacs, violinists, Yang Xi on the viola, and cellist Virginia Ewing Hudson, all played well, with especially sensitive performances from Ms. Shirts and Ms. Kovacs.

Inside the program a note from the organizer, Mr. Lyman, reads: "We think it is very fitting that we bring you this festival of music celebrating the life and work of a woman who embodied what Meredith College tries to instill in her sutudents: the ability and strength to go out into the world and become leaders." Especially coupled with Dr. Borwick's talk detailing the way that gender in Beach's world impacted her career, this concert was indeed a very appropriate event for a women's college looking to establish a new festival in the Triangle celebrating a specific composer.

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I'm Andrea. Everything you need to know is here.