Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Trip (Musical) Centuries in the Making

Last Sunday, blogger Holly brought me up to speed on this performance by two local musicians.  We couldn't resist passing along the info to you, even if a bit late!  The program, Centuries of Song, featured Jessica Graae, providing her talents as soprano and guitarist, with pianist Margaret Darby.  The artists led their audience on a musical journey through the ages, right up to now.
The tour began in the late 1700s with two pieces by Mozart in Italian, In Uomini and Una Donna, both of which are arias from Cosi Fan Tutte. The next segment featured four turn-of-the-20th Century pieces by Gustav Mahler, all dark German pieces (Holly's favorite: Um Mitternacht). 

Delaware's always edgy and exciting composer, Chuck Holdeman, was there to introduce three of his pieces: A Ring, Into the Cloud, and At the Bend, all based on works by poet Laureate W.S. Merwin.  Chuck read Merwin's poems in the New Yorker and decided to set them to music, which he then mailed to Merwin in Hawaii.  This was the first performance of these songs east of Texas, so again, Delawareans are very fortunate for the wealth of Arts experiences available in our state!

After this contemporary segment, Jessica switched to guitar and played three beautiful Renaissance-era lute transcriptions in English by Thomas Campion, John Dowland and Francis Pilkington.

As its titled suggested, the recital definitely took us on a journey through time (though not in chronological order, which Holly said she particularly enjoyed ). The mood ranged from bold to haunting, with the main themes of love mixed with cynicism and hope.  Having seen these two performers in the past, I can say that they are a great pairing.  Jessica can shift languages, genres and tone effortlessly and beautifully, and Margaret is her perfect complement.  Their energy feeds one another, and you can see that they enjoy performing together. 

The Sacred Heart Oratory, at 917 N. Madison, has more shows coming up in February and March, including February 20, Knights of Columbus Choir; Alan Henderson, Director and March 20, Holy Cross Chamber Ensemble; The Light and Mercy of God: Music for Lent.  All performances are at 3:00pm and cost is a freewill offering that benefits the Oratory.

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