INSIDE Composers & the Voice – December 16th

January 16, 2014
C&V composer banner FinbergComposers & the Voice 2013-2014, Composer Fellow, Avner Finberg

For us, the C&V composers, each night of performances is an exciting event. Not just because of the anticipation of hearing our own work, but because we know our fellow composers and performers will give us exciting performances that we can use to further understand the possibilities of writing for the voices. The workshop on December 16th was one of those nights, featuring six different arias, each with it’s own unique text, character and technical challenges.

The first aria was Bedroom, by Guy Barash. Baritone Jorell Williams performed the complex score admirably well, with a great deal of accuracy and virtuosity. The leaps into the very bottom of the vocal range, along with restless rhythm, present a restless image of a man who is brought to the brink of madness when he is locked out of his house.


Bass-Baritone Matthew Burns sang my piece. The text for the aria “I don’t mind” is a personal view of a pedestrian of the gentrification of a neighbourhood in NYC, taken from the book Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton. Matthew captured the irony of the text in his offbeat, informal performance.

The third piece of the evening was Jeremy Gill’s lyrical rendering of the poem Darest Thou O Soul by Walt Whitman. Jeremy’s neo-romantic score was sung by Soprano Deborah Lifton, who gave a splendid performance that brought out the beauty of the text with a clear and beautiful tone.

After a short break the evening continued with Andreia Pinto-Correia’s This Time. Andreia’s aria is a study of the character of Alia, one of the characters in her opera project. Mezzo-Soprano Rachel Calloway sang the aria with a beautiful, majestic tone. The next piece was Gity Razaz’s Kale Chips. This light-hearted piece utilizes text from a cooking blog, which comically praises the wonders of Kale Chips. Both Gity’s text and mine are in the category of “Found Text”, taken from everyday sources that are not poetic or dramatic, such as newspapers, interviews or assembly instructions. Bass-Baritone, Matthew Burns, sang this song as well.

The final aria of the evening was by our composer-librettist team, Joseph Rubinstein and Jason Kim. Soprano Deborah Lifton sang the aria, A Letter to my Stepson in his Time of Grief. The text is adapted from Racine’s play Phedre, “A letter to my stepson in his time of grief”, in Jason’s words,  portrays a woman who confesses her love for her stepson after discovering that her husband has died. Joe’s music compliments the text with a virtuosic vocal line, and steady chords in the piano, that are well fitting for the text and it’s epic proportions.

The singers were accompanied by our wonderful pianists: Mila Henry for A Letter to my Stepson in his Time of Grief, Kelly Horsted for Bedroom, Darest Thou O Soul and Study on Alia, and Charity Wicks for I Don’t Mind and Kale Chips.

As always, we had an evening of exciting new vocal works in the C&V workshop, and I am already waiting in anticipation to hear the pieces in our next workshop on January 13th 2014.

-Avner Finberg

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