Austin Vocal Arts Ensemble (Chorus Austin), Music Director Ryan (we never get to see you from the back!) Heller, and accompanist and Southwestern University faculty member David Utterback. Photo by Fran Rush.
East Meets West concert season accomplished! Quite a satisfying process, this program. OMG the Russian! I've done my share of Russian--Tchaikovsky Mazeppa,* with Opera Orchestra of New York (Maestra Queler appears to be grooming a successor) and Kirov Opera principals, the Scheherazade concert with the Austin Symphony a few years back, portions of Rachmaninoff Vespers+ and various assorted pieces everywhere. The first half of the program, primarily the Sviridov, was as much Russian as all those put together. No kidding. Sviridov was a demon composer. And so very, very charming.
*a "cosmic fire!" (Kyr's dynamic marking for the final chord of Let There Be Music) occurence, Mazeppa was remarkable because 1) my daughter was a member of Princeton Pro Musica that year, and it thrilled me no end to sing in Carnegie Hall with her grandmother in attendance; and 2) it was the last concert my mom attended. She died three weeks later. Yeah, heavy duty.
+After singing the entire piece (in English) with the wonderful Frances Slade and Princeton Pro Musica on several occasions, including in a verrrrry old, ornate Greek Orthodox church in Jersey City, AND hearing the St. Petersburg Academy Choir sing it in Russian, I instructed my daughter that I would like to have it sung at any memorial of which I might be the central figure.
As ecstatic as the music was, my life between those intense rounds of singing this week was just as exciting. Baby face time is most amazing and nourishing, and being with a friend who knew and admired my mom was just as fulfilling. He shared stories of my mom interviewing Molly Ivins, and stepping in for him to interview Emeril Lagasse on CRIS radio in Chicago and his kind regrets about mother's death.
Precious music, precious beings, precious stories.