The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The third annual Handel Aria Competition takes place this Thursday night. | July 14, 2015

By Jacob Stockinger

Ear Friends and local merchants Dean and Orange Schroeder, who sponsor a lot of local classical music, write about an event they created and that is being held in conjunction with this week’s Madison Early Music Festival, which is exploring early Eastern European music:

Dear Jake,

We are hoping that you might help us promote this year’s third annual Handel Aria Competition (below, in 2013). It takes place on this Thursday, July 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Mills Hall at the UW-Madison School of Music. (Chelsea Morris, who won last year’s competition can be heard in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

Handel etching

Handel arias Winnie Nieh

Music critic and emeritus UW-Madison history professor John W. Barker will be giving a free pre-competition talk at 6:30 p.m., probably in 2650 Humanities Building.

John-Barker

Tickets are $10, general admission, and are available in advance at Orange Tree Imports, 1721 Monroe Street, and online through Brown Paper Tickets (see www.handelariacompetition.com for the link).

There should also be tickets available at the door.

We have seven wonderful finalists coming to perform. And we are particularly excited that, this year, the accompaniment will be more than a harpsichord and will be provided by the Madison Bach Musicians with Trevor Stephenson (below).

Kangwon KIm with Madison Bach Musicians

We asked each of our seven finalists to answer the question “Why I love to sing Handel,” and I thought your readers would enjoy their answers.

Handel Aria Competition Finalists for 2015

Sarah Brailey, soprano (a finalist in 2014), NY, NY

Corrine Byrne, soprano, NY, NY

Audrey L. Dawson, mezzo-soprano, Springfield, OH

Margaret Fox, mezzo-soprano, Chicago

Kristin Knutson, soprano, Brookfield, WI

Andrew Rader, countertenor, Bloomington, IN

Jacob Scharfman, baritone, Boston

Here are their answers:

—————————————————————-

jacobscharfman.com

“Handel’s is “perfect music,” as Joyce DiDonato joked in a recent master class, music he whipped up almost thoughtlessly. Some composers slave over their works, but Handel—like Mozart—captured the pacing, moods and nuances of his characters immediately.

“It’s for this immediacy that I love to sing Handel. His genuine showmanship has enthralled audiences for centuries, and I commend the Handel Aria Competition for sustaining that legacy.”

Jacob Scharfman (below)

Jacob Scharfman

—————————————————————–

www.corrinebyrne.com

“Why I love singing Handel: This is so hard to answer briefly, because I basically spent my doctorate pondering the joys and intricacies in the vocal works of Handel. His writing is like a puzzle, where I can dive into the subtle meanings of every elegant gesture to create the most meaningful interpretation I can.

“When I’m singing a Handel aria, I get to become not just a vehicle for his music, but a composer myself as well as a researcher and a historian. There’s nothing more exciting than ornamenting Handel, because the music is ever-changing and alive!”

Corrine Byrne (below)

Corinne Byrne

—————————————————————–

www.margaret-fox.com

“I love to sing Handel because his music encapsulates the simplest and most complex of emotions, simultaneously, just like real life!”

Margaret Fox mezzo-soprano (below)

Margaret Fox

—————————————————————–

“Handel is one of my favorite composers to sing. From a personal standpoint, Handel will always hold a special place in my heart because my first breakthrough in my vocal studies was achieved with a Handel aria, and many of my subsequent vocal successes were accomplished with his arias.

“I love to sing Handel because his music is incredibly expressive and evocative, and so very exciting and stimulating to sing.”

Audrey Dawson

Audrey Dawson

—————————————————————–

www.KristinKnutson.com

“High on my list of “Great Singing Fears”– along with forgetting my audition dress, or running out of breath mid-vowel–is the fear of being boring. What is the point of all the effort to be a good singer if the audience leaves feeling cold and un-moved?

“Put simply, Handel’s music gives me something real and heartwarming to say. He wrote to persuade the listener, at a deep level, of what the text expressed, and is therefore an easy friend to any singer looking to relate story and emotion effectively. What a privilege to share his music with an audience!”

Kristin Knutson (below)

Kristin Knutson

—————————————————————–

www.sarahbrailey.com

“I love to sing Handel because of the great variety and flexibility it allows us as singers. Name an emotion and there is a fantastic, dramatic, exciting Handel aria that explores it.

He was so prolific–we truly have a treasure trove at our disposal, especially as sopranos! And how often do we get the opportunity to improvise or compose as classical singers? Ornamenting Handel stretches my brain in a way that few other things do in my career. It’s a very gratifying challenge.”

Sarah Brailey (below)

Sarah Brailey

—————————————————————–

www.andrewraderct.com

“For me, Handel’s music is like coming home. No matter what other repertoire I explore, his scores (whether operas, oratorios, cantatas, what have you) can be opened, set on the stand, and they just speak themselves as self-evident. With far fewer exceptions than other composers, not much must be added to bring their magic to the fore.”

Andrew Rader (below)

andrew rader

Adds Andrew Rader:

“I would like to thank you for sponsoring this event. Handel’s music deserves a wider audience than it has in this country, and these scores need support from people like yourselves if they are ever to become more well-known gems in the public spheres of music.

“Regardless of who officially places first in the competition, we are all successful in being winners, due to the experience of putting together this type of performance.”

 

Advertisements

3 Comments »

  1. something i would love to see added to these performances would be a meet and greet–maybe they could be stationed near the tables in the lobby after the concert–i know i would enjoy meeting each one and letting each competitor
    know how much we appreciate these performances

    Comment by Mary Gordon — July 14, 2015 @ 10:49 am

  2. Agree, the comments by the finalists are terrific; all of them are winners.

    Comment by fflambeau — July 14, 2015 @ 6:42 am

  3. this is a great format, and these answers are wonderful

    Comment by Mary Gordon — July 14, 2015 @ 1:17 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,100 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 1,736,369 hits
%d bloggers like this: