Standing ovation for the Texanische Liebeslieder, complete with some true Texas hollerin’ – what a premiere! Bravi tutti: my partner in crime, Kelly Kuo; our singers Chan Yang Lim, Ellie Jarrett Shattles, Soonchan Kwon, and Tim O’Brien; UT’s Butler Opera Center; Hans Boas, director of the Texas German Dialect Project. Most of all, to my dear friend David Hanlon, a remarkable composer full of invention and heart. Somewhere, I hope our Teutonic grandparents were smiling.
For me, the performance was every good thing about live music. I think these pieces will have a life in the future (plans already in the works!), but last night was unique and unrepeatable. David’s music is delightful and touching, full stop, but part of what made last night remarkable was our audience’s connection with the words and stories of and behind the music. In an audience of Texans, many of whom were attracted to the performances because of their German heritage, there was an especially intimate response of recognition to these new pieces. People chuckled, people got teary, people held their breath.
And I think we had the chance to hear the Brahms Liebeslieder Wälzer in a new way. One composer illuminated the other. Sometimes, with cherished music, we listeners settle in to a place of comfort and knowledge, and we don’t fully engage; we take our beloved repertoire for granted, like family, loving but not seeing. For me, David’s new composition, so much in the spirit of the Brahms, made me hear afresh the invention, craft, and youth of music nearly 150 years old.
I’ll leave you with an English translation of the night’s final piece:
Now, muses, enough! You try in vain to describe how a loving heart vacillates between sorrow and joy. You can’t heal the wounds caused by Love – but relief? it comes only through your kindness.