Dallas — Voces Intimae threw a birthday party for its recent concert on March 3, 2018. There was even a cake. Cake ’n concert — what a great present for your 80th birthday. The celebrant was Dallas-based composer Simon Sargon.
SMU’s Caruth Auditorium was filled with his friends, admirers and music lovers in general. The program was extensive and the selections covered quite a range of time, from 1965 to 2013.
His musical language is tonal and much of his music is beautiful as well as dramatic. His style hasn’t changed all that much over the decades although he continues to perfect his craft. There was some serious music, such as an aria from his opera based on the story of the biblical character Saul. There was also a dose of humor, such as a set of songs based on daytime soap operas. The highlight of the program was the world premiere of River of Honey for soprano, flute and piano.
There was quite a list of distinguished performers, the “A” list of Dallas musicians. Pianist Julian Reed was marvelous throughout the entire recital. His sympathetic accompaniments added greatly to the proceedings. You can add his name to the program listed below.
The program opened with Huntsman, What Quarry? (1992) based on two Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay: “Huntsman, What Quarry?” and “The Buck in the Snow.” The songs were performed by Roslyn Barak, soprano, and Gerry Woods, horn.
Baritone Theodor Carlson was up next with three selections from the six-song cycle, Waves of the Sea, which dates from 1990. All three performances were based on poems by William B. Yeats. They were “Dancer,” “When You Are Old,” and “The Fiddler of Dooney.”
Roslyn Barak sang “Cantare” from “Sh’ma,” (1988), five poems of Primo Levi, an Italian Jewish chemist, author, and Holocaust survivor.
The magnificent bass-baritone Donnie Ray Albert sang Saul’s aria from the opera Saul that has occupied the composer for many years. Tenor William Joyner sang a setting of the 23rd Psalm, also from Saul.
My review of a concert performance of the compete opera can be found here.
Albert also sang a set of songs from different song cycles. The best of the group was Nocturne with Woods on the Horn.
Soprano Rainelle Krause sang two songs from a cycle based on poems by Sara Teasdale.
The premiere of the concert was a performance of A River of Honey, which dates from 2013. The cycle consists of Four Songs for Flute and Piano.
- Sound the Flute (William Blake)
- A River of Honey (Denise Levertov)
- Music (Amy Lowell)
- Song of innocence (William Blake)
This was a fascinating cycle that showed the composer at the top of his game. They were expressive and beautifully written for the flute, soprano and piano. Soprano Rainelle Krause was joined by flutist Helen Blackburn (one of the best in town). As in all of the other selections, the estimable Julian Reed was at the piano.
The concert closed with some fun. Scopin’ the Soaps is a set of five synopses of daytime soap operas from the week of February 11-15, 2002. We only heard two of them, One Life to Live and Days of our Lives, but would have loved to hear them all. They were performed by Rainelle Krause and Rozlyn Barak, soprani; William Joyner, tenor; Theodor Carlson, baritone; and Julian Reed.
The concert was terrific and cake was delicious.