Archive for July 17th, 2012

Summer Festival Spotlight: Anne-Carolyn Bird

The guest artist at this year’s Mizzou New Music Summer Festival will be the talented soprano Anne-Carolyn Bird. Bird (pictured) will perform with Alarm Will Sound as part of the concert on Thursday, July 26, helping to bring to life the first part of Donnacha Dennehy’s new work-in-progress, The Hunger.

Known primarily as an operatic singer, Bird got her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia, then earned a Masters Degree cum laude from New England Conservatory, where she was a student of acclaimed mezzo-soprano D’Anna Fortunato. She has been a recipient of grants and awards from many organizations, and has twice been a Young Artist with the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for Singers and twice a Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center.

Bird first made her Metropolitan Opera debut in the 2006-2007 Season, singing two roles in a new production of Il Trittico, and has since returned as Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro, Najade in Ariadne auf Naxos, in Boris Godunov, and Don Carlo, among other productions. This year, she has appeared in Kepler and Pierrot Lunaire at the famed Spoleto Festival USA, and in the fall, she will return to the Met to sing Giannetta in the opening night gala production of Bartlett Sher’s new L’elisir d’amore.

Bird also is known in classical music circles for her blog The Concert, which for several years regularly chronicled her efforts to build her musical career. For more about Anne-Carolyn Bird, read this interview she did last year for the NYC Opera’s website. You also can learn more about her and hear some audio samples at her page on the site of her management firm.

In the embedded video window below, you can hear Bird singing an excerpt from Prima Donna, singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright’s recent venture in opera.

Patrick Clark on the YES Academy Concerts: 11 July 2012–Composers; Duhok, Iraq

Assuming the reaction of an audience is a barometer of the success of a concert, the closing concerts for the YES Academy 2012 in Duhok hit their intended marks quite well. As the inaugural composition teacher for the Academy I had a vested interest in the concert of works by the student composers and so it will be my main focus here.

One might have done well to bring earplugs to this concert, but not because the music was so loud. Rather because the applause was overwhelming. Of course the whistles of support by students are the most deadly of sounds, second only to the piccolo playing fortissimo at close range, and the air was filled with these at the final cadences of each composition.

The program included the works of seven young Iraqi composers and all were charged with the sounds and rhythms of the local traditional music. I may even find myself influenced in my own future compositions by the snake-charming lines of strings in octaves (most pieces were written for a string quartet plus any available complement—two and three to part). These pieces found their appeal through the recognizable conventions so often heard in Middle Eastern music. If we, from the West, might expect more experimentation in composition, and place a premium on originality, we must understand that the sense of community here in Iraq is yet a more highly valued attribute. It is also what can make a brand new arrangement by a homegrown YES Academy student of something familiar at times more appealing than a masterpiece by a composer from the West. But one should not forget that a great favorite of American audiences is Aaron Copland’s treatment of the Shaker tune “Simple Gifts” in Appalachian Spring.

The word “cocktail” came up several times after the program. I suppose it is something like a box of Whitman’s chocolates: you know something of the genre of taste, but the exact flavor is unpredictable—and that is why they can be more exciting than the morsel you already know.