Big and Bright

I’m reeling (in a good way) from a jaw-dropping, soul-embiggening trio of performances here in my adopted home state. In a span of five days, I heard music at the Houston Grand Opera, at a chapel on the Trinity University campus in San Antonio, and in UT Austin’s own Bates recital hall. In Houston, Verdi’s Otello was brought to vibrant life by the remarkable Simon O’Neill and Ailyn Perez, singing with rich beauty and emotional strength. The chorus and orchestra were in top form. Thrilling to hear so many friends on stage and in the pit pouring out sound or whispering as Verdi’s masterwork demands.

In San Antonio, I finally got to hear New York Polyphony live – I’ve been a fan of theirs since they formed. Their program of Spanish renaissance music and a world premiere was gorgeously sung, the concentration of a four-person a cappella group absolutely mesmerizing. Friends in that group as well, Craig Phillips and Chris Hebert. I know them from opera days and have enjoyed watching the unique, engaged path they’ve walked, leading to this collaboration. Bonus: the Trinity University choir that sang the premiere with them was first-class, a wonderful discovery. Also, the concert was free, evidently the work of a San Antonio foundation that does a whole series like this. And so it was packed, lucky audience! Patrons, are you paying attention?

Then at home, last night, Apollo’s Fire played the Monteverdi Vespers, which is a desert island piece for me. What a performance, theatrical, expressive, dramatic, intimate, longing. This was music making of a rare order. I loved seeing my students in the audience, knowing they were learning more in those two hours than I could teach them in a year. Again, dear faces on stage – Jesse Blumberg, Karim Sulayman – bringing their heart and soul and voice to the words and music of a master.

I’ll fly on these winds for quite a long time.

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