Berg and Zacheus

Thank you, Kelly Ann Bixby! Today she sang my Poems of Stephen Berg in recital at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, with Joseph Smith, clarinet, and Laura Ward, piano. What gorgeous singing and playing! Kelly was superb. Laura and Joseph remembered that they played this at AVA in 2002, accompanying soprano Latonia Moore, so it was a thrill to hear them together again. It was brand new and wonderful.

Tenor Kevin Radtke shared the recital, in supple readings of Handel (glorious!), Britten folksongs, and the Vaughan Williams “Songs of Innocence and Experience,” Smith playing clarinet on those.

Kelly sang some of the Britten also, and surprised me with one of my earliest songs, “On Zacheus,” a setting of the metaphysical poet Francis Quarles (1592-1644), this from my Three Songs, No. 3.

She brought this bit of innocence to life, and in the experiential Berg texts showed the range of mature emotion he calls for. And can she get around on the coloratura passages! That plus a truly beautiful voice made me grateful to hear her sing. Joseph plays like a dream, as does Laura, strong and sensitive throughout. How fortunate was I to hear such artistry, such collaboration, given over to these songs.

I was delighted by the afternoon, all of it. Thank you, Kevin, Joseph, Laura, and Kelly!

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