As the launch project of the newly formed Cantanti Project, our Strauss Celebration was a huge success! With Bill Lewis at the piano, we presented an afternoon of Strauss’s lieder and opera in Washington Heights. In the audience were Strauss experts and novices, musicians and non-musicians, conductors, artists, singers of all kinds, people who knew a little about classical music and some who know a whole lot. The feedback we received has been overwhelmingly positive. Along with compliments on the wonderful voices, the ensemble work, and the sensitivity and musicality of the piano-playing, we also received inquiries as to whether we would be performing this program again. I can’t help but glow at the idea that people would want to hear the music again and would want others to hear it too.
Basking in the aftermath of adrenaline, satisfaction, and joy, I realized the most valuable outcome of this project was not the singing I got to do but the friendships I reaffirmed with each of the singers involved. I reconnected with friends, most of whom I hadn’t seen or sung with in years and one whom I met just this summer at Astoria Music Festival, and partnered with newer friends whom I’ve never worked with before. The weeks leading up to the performance, though stressful, were filled with rehearsing, discussing, sharing ideas — it was the kind of “busy” that makes you feel alive. It’s truly beautiful that music and music-making brings people together like this.
Choosing just 1.5 hours of Strauss’s music wasn’t easy, and I’m very proud of the program we crafted. The range of lieder, from early to late compositions, showed Strauss in his various guises — contemplative, dark, romantic, lighthearted, and humorous. We included some of his most recognizable tunes, while also sneaking in a few lesser-known songs. For the opera half of the program, we chose arias, duets, and trios from three of the most breathtaking Strauss-von Hofmannsthal collaborations, Arabella, Ariadne auf Naxos, and Der Rosenkavalier, to revel in varied vocal colors and textures and the amazing things the female voice is capable of, from long lyric lines to fioritura and coloratura displays.
Below are a few special moments from the concert captured by photographer Liang Pan. The full album of photos is available here.
We enjoyed ourselves immensely, and I’m more excited than ever to start working on the next Project.
Thank you to our audience, our friends and fans, our incredible pianist, and Holyrood Church and Cornerstone Chorale for their support. Music is always good, but it’s better when shared and part of a larger community.