In the past few weeks I've had the pleasure of singing in two of my hometown's most beautiful venues. Filling in on short notice, I sang Bach's St. Matthew Passion in Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of New York. The last time I performed this piece in town was with the NY Collegium in a fun and controversial one-voice-per-part version (singing Jesus, two arias, and all the choruses) conducted by Andrew Parrott. So this was different. It was also my solo debut in the big hall at Carnegie. Unfortunately, because of the short notice, I only had about 24 hours to enjoy replying "Carnegie Hall" when asked where I was singing next, and nobody asked.
The obligatory pic from the stage.
The other venue was Bargemusic, the legendary floating (and rocking and bobbing and swaying) concert hall that is moored in Brooklyn near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. It's indescribably beautiful, so just take in this photo:
I sang David Del Tredici's Love Addiction, a 40 minute song cycle that sets poems by John Kelly. What a glorious piece! The poems are so touchingly personal, direct, and conversational that the audience needed no printed texts, and they are set to music that overflows with DDT's characteristic lush and melodious invention.
Poet, composer/pianist, singer (photo by Joel Conarroe).
I put more thought than usual into figuring out how to dress comfortably for the performance because singing this piece is kind of like vocal Crossfit -- a fearsome test of a singer's range, stamina, agility, and power. It's no casual stroll for the pianist either. But it was worth all the sweat -- even though I generally strive to 'hide the work' and make things appear as effortless as possible, in these songs I think the sense that the musicians are rising to an extraordinary physical challenge is a big part of what grabs the audience, many of whom seemed to respond to the piece in a very personal way that was gratifying to see and be a part of. I hope to sing this piece many more times in the future.
This is what it feels like to sing Love Addiction.