Sunday, June 22, 2008

Burma Benefit Concert in Washington DC

The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC offered a free Burma Benefit Concert today at 4 PM EDT. Donations were collected for the victims of the Myanmar May 2 cyclone. Burmese Baptist Church Rev. Ler Htoo spoke about government outrages.

The performers were Deborah Miller, soprano; Jennefer Matthews, mezzo-soprano; Issachah Savage, tenor; Aurelio Dominguez, tenor; Gregory Lowery, bass; Kevin Thompson, bass; Matthew T. Bachman, piano, and Lawrence P. Schreiber, piano. The concert featured the Steinway piano which the church acquired in December 2007. Despite the concert’s vocal content, the piano was left open toward the audience for the high overtones to ring out.

The concert comprised eighteen items.

(1) Gioacchino Rossinin, “Domine Dues” from “Petite Messe” sung by Savage, whose voice is very powerful.
(2) Wendell Whalum, “God is a God” sung by Thompson. It referred to Nicodemus, and then to the story of Samson (the subject of opera by Saint-Seans -- I've always thought this particular Old Testament story has a hidden meaning, related to that of Jacob and Esau).
(3) Richard Strauss, “Allerseelen” Op. 10, #8, composed at age 21, sung by Mathews.
(4) Wolfgang A. Mozart, “O Isis und Osiris” from “The Magic Flute” (“Die Zauberflote”), K620, sung by Lowery
(5) Gaetano Donizetti, “A Mes Amis” from “La Fille du Regiment” sung by Dominguez
(6) A Spiritual adapted by Hall Johnson, “Witness” sung by Savage
(7) Gioacchino Rossini, “La Calumnia” from “The Barber of Seville” sung by Thompson
(8) Gian Carlo Menotti, “To This We’ve Come” from “The Consul” sung by Miller. The opera, dated to 1950, deals with a dictatorship (comparable to Myanmar) and the seeking of political asylum or relief from the United States by family members. Here is a typical explanatory link.
There was an intermission in which Rev. Htoo spoke.
(9) Leo Delibes, “Dome Espais" from "Lakme", sung by Miller and Mathews as a famous duet, harmonized in thirds.
(10) Folk song adapted by John Jacob Niles, “Poor Wayfaring Stranger”, sung by Lowery
(11) Andre Previn, “I’m not a Boy” from “A Streetcar Named Desire” sung by Savage
(12) George Gershwin, “Someone to Watch Over Me,” sung by Mathews
(13) Pablo Sorozabal Mariezcurrena, “La Tabernera Del Puerto” The composer is Basque and Spanish.
(14) James Kern, “Ol’ Man River” from "Showboat", sung by Thompson
(15) Spiritual adapted by Lawrence Schreiber, “Deep River” sung by Mathews
(16) Richard Rogers, “You’ve Never Walk Alone”, the climactic closing song of "Carousel", sung by Lowery. On the piano, the “accompaniment” sounds strangely dissonant; with a symphony orchestra as in the 1955 movie, it works, as does the brilliant waltz that opens the musical. I remember the song “My Boy Bill,” very much about “family values.”
(17) Giacomo Puccini, “Bimba Dagli Pieni di Malia” from “Madame Butterfly", sung by Miller and Dominguez as a duet.
(18) Spirtual, adapted by Margaret Bonds, “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands,” sung by the entire ensemble.

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