Photo Flash: Sing for Hope's AIDS Quilt Songbook @ TWENTY on World AIDS Day
Sing for Hope, AIDS Quilt Songbook @ Twenty, Cooper Union, World AIDS Day
At the keyboard were renowned composers John Musto and Fred Hersch, contemporary music champion Marcus Ostermiller, and artistic director Thomas Bagwell. The event was directed by Lorca Peress, assisted by Heidi Lauren Duke, with a seamlessness achieved through adept pacing and poignant use of three projection screens. In addition to John Musto and Fred Hersch onstage, the evening's composers in attendance included Ned Rorem, David Del Tredici, Robert Aldridge, Herschel Garfein, Gilda Lyons, Scott Gendel, Stephen Dembski, Drew Hemenger, and Lawrence Axelrod.
The concert opened with the late Chris DeBlasio's "The Disappearance of Light," delivered with beautiful, burnished tone by baritone Randall Scarlata. Soprano Amy Burton brought her trademark crystalline sound to John Musto's quietly devastating premiere, "Sarah's Song," with Mr. Musto providing rich sound at the keyboard. Scarlata and Burton joined forces for Conrad Cummings's "Soon," a duet with an elegant, quasi-Baroque ground bass underpinning searing lyrics by Vikram Seth. Powerhouse soprano Adrienne Danrich channeled a drag queen's farewell in the premiere of Drew Hemenger's potent "Her Final Show," and gently illuminated Gilda Lyons' mystical Pueblo Indian text in "Hold On." Leonard Bernstein protégé and original AIDS Quilt Songbook baritone Kurt Ollmann brought ravishing sound and intensity to Ned Rorem's "The Man with the Night Sweats" and Juhi Bansai's "I've Looked for You." Ricky Ian Gordon's "I Never Knew," was given a beautifully controlled, laser-focused performance by baritone Sidney Outlaw. In Kevin Oldham's "Across the Sea," and Wolfram Wagner's "On the Pulse of Night," the radiant mezzo Susanne Mentzer sang with profound beauty of tone and a commitment that brought to life both Oldham's hopefulness and Wagner's despair. Heather Johnson brought a sparkling wit and luscious mezzo sound to works by Robert Chesley and Eric Reda. The iconic pianist/composer Fred Hersch and clarion-voiced young tenor Michael Slattery invoked a "pharmaceutical rosary" in Hersch's "Ordinary." Slattery also joined baritone Outlaw for a powerful reading of Stephen Dembski's hypnotic, complex duet, "In the Fast Lane".
Photo Credit: Shawn Hoke