I guess it’s only in America that going to a concert and getting a program is a given. After all, the purpose of a concert program is to know what is coming next. It’s nice to read program notes about the music you’re hearing and knowing how many songs comprise a set is important to knowing when to clap. Especially if you are going to a vocal recital, it’s nice to follow the words as the song is sung, more so if the song is in a foreign language.
Hey, do you know that in Europe, if you want to read the program, normally you have to pay for it! I’ve paid 2 euros (about $2.40) for concert programs at festivals I’ve attended.
Well, tonight only about an hour before his faculty recital, baritone Jeremy Wong was told that his programs were lost and could not be found! Yes, he had prepared and sent all the written texts to the office. But being that all his songs were in English, there was no problem with the audience being able to understand all the words.
His program consisted of three folksong arrangements by Benjamin Britten, five songs by Gerald Finzi, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, Songs of travel, all sung with clarity of diction, and absolute clarity of tone with an excellent range of dynamic contrasts. Although not on the program tonight, I would say that his voice is perfect for singing Bach—much like Max van Egmond!
What was interesting to me was that during the Gerald Finzi songs (Let us garlands bring; Come away, come away, death; Who is Sylvia? Fear no more the heat o’ the sun; O mistress mine; It was a lover and his lass), Jeremy read the text before each song, looking at what he called his “cheat sheet” with the words on a music stand, wearing his glasses. After reading the text, he took his glasses off and sang the song from memory! The process of reading the text with the glasses, and then singing the song without glasses from memory was just charming and rather amusing. Jeremy, we know you could sing the words from memory, how about speaking them from memory!
It’s funny, without a program in my hand to follow along, I felt I enjoyed the program even more. Somehow I was “unfettered” and not distracted by holding a program in my hand. I talked to Jeremy after the concert, and he says there is a movement among vocalists not to furnish written programs these days, so his concert was right in vogue.
By the way, I also enjoyed Tommy Yee‘s accompaniment immensely—never overplaying, always sensitive with dynamics, just right, and in my estimation—absolute perfection on the piano. Wow, he’s fantastic!
Thank you gentlemen, for a most enjoyable evening. Because of the extremely high winds, I really didn’t feel like going out tonight and wanted to hibernate, but tonight’s concert more than made up for the blustery weather.