St. Paul's Episcopal Church (29 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA 01262, Stockbridge MA)

The 2022-2023 Season of Concerts in the Village (CITV) continues with works for voice, string quartet and piano by Barber, Butterworth, Puccini, Respighi, Vaughan Williams and Verdi. This program will be offered twice: 2:30pm on Saturday, March 25th at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Stockbridge, MA, and 3:00pm on Sunday, March 26th at Van Buren Hall, Kinderhook, NY.

CITV Artistic Director David Smith comments “With this program we celebrate how creatively poetry and music can be brought together to dramatic effect. In very different ways each work reminds the listener that relatively intimate music-making can produce a result no less powerful than that produced by large-scale forces. The proven appeal of chamber music certainly confirms this. Given the inspiration and imagination of outstanding composers, the combination of string quartet and voice can create an especially personal and direct experience for the listener.”

Three singers and CITV’s Broad Street Chamber Players String Quartet (principals of the Broad Street Orchestra) have been brought together for this concert. Baritone Jonathan Lawlor will offer Samuel Barber’s 1931 setting of the well-known lyrical poem “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold. Barber underscores the poet’s imagery by remarkably subtle means, and was so committed to this work that he was himself soloist in its first recording. Originally from Tennessee and having already performed on both the east and west coasts, Lawlor is completing graduate vocal studies at the Bard Conservatory of Music. His CITV debut occurred this past November, in the role of Adam in Haydn’s Creation.

Lawlor will also perform George Butterworth’s Love Blows as the Wind Blows, a cycle of four poems by W. E. Henley, which in style relates closely to that of Ralph Vaughan Williams. An orchestral version of this work was the last compositional effort by Butterworth before he left for France, where in 1916 he died in action during WWI.

Mezzo-soprano Hailey McAvoy will join the quartet for Respighi’s Il Tramonto, an Italian translation of a poem (The Sunset) by the great English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. The gothic restlessness of Shelley’s writing is vividly represented by Respighi’s sinewy vocal lines and rich writing for strings. A 2020 graduate of Bard’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program, McAvoy’s CITV debut occurred in 2019 with Chausson’s Poème de l'amour et de la mer.

In conclusion, tenor Eric Finbarr Carey, a former Tanglewood Vocal Fellow, will perform Vaughan Williams’ On Wenlock Edge, a cycle of six songs composed in 1909 for tenor, string quartet and piano, setting poetry from A. E. Houseman’s 1896 collection A Shropshire Lad. The interpretive challenges posed by this mystical work are considerable, not to mention the emotional focus required of each of its performers. In every sense, musical and literary, the listener’s experience is unforgettable. Carey’s previous CITV performances include the Mozart Requiem in 2018.

In addition, the CITV string quartet will perform two exceptional, but relatively unknown works by composers most often associated with vocal works: Puccini’s Chrysanthemums (Crisantemi) and the Andantino from Verdi’s String Quartet.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church: 29 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA 01262. Accessible to the disabled.

Van Buren Hall: 6 Chatham Street (Route 9), Kinderhook, NY 12106. Lift available to the second floor.

Suggested contribution $ 20, with students and children free. Covid protocol: Masking optional.

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