Thank you for joining us for 'Chiaroscuro - A Contemporary Take on a Traditional Liederabend'. I'm very excited to share this evening with all of you, this music means a lot to me and the evolution of the programme has been an exciting journey! The collaboration between singer and pianist in lieder (art song) is unlike anything else in classical vocal repertoire. Both singer and pianist must rely on each other to create the right atmosphere and create the maximum emotional impact in a very short amount of time. The evening features some of my absolute favourite lieder; plus numerous other pieces that I hope you will adore as much as I do! These songs are packed with so much emotion and poetry, sometimes it feels like a mini opera in each set!
As Carlos and I were diving through the wealth of repertoire possible for this evening, we started to find that natural groupings were occurring that somehow mirrored the passage of time throughout a day. We had our 'Sunset', 'Moonlight', 'Night', and 'Morning'. What was left for us was to fill in the rest of the time and focus upon the sentiment of each set. We added in some piano solos that helped to round out the sets, and it really feels like the piano is singing. What resulted was a 'Witching Hour', 'Devotion' and 'Thanks'. Now having our movement of programme, our joy was finding out that the emotions of each set were very much in contrast throughout the night, but always seemingly in balance. Hence, Chiaroscuro (literally light and dark in Italian) was born.
I'm a performer who has always been comfortable in 'non-traditional' spaces. Rooftops, circus rings, aerial hoops, on horseback, and outdoors have all been some of my stages, and I felt that this evening could lend itself to a more modern setting. Collaborating with Contemporary Calgary has been a dream! I fell in love with the architecture of The Grotto instantly, and knew this was where Chiaroscuro needed to be. The brutalist, white architecture was like a clean palate for our journey. Carlos presented the idea of moving through the space to mimic our passage of time, and I thought it was brilliant! You have to move with us, no longer 'stuck' in one spot for the entire evening. Move with us, bring your chairs with you, sit on the floor, stand - you get to consume this art the way you want to tonight.
The final layer to the night was to add a strong visual component. This is very contemporary for a liederabend. The lieder tradition is what we affectionately call a 'park and bark'. You stand in the crook of the piano and stay there. Well, dear friends, not for us! As we journey through our night, the further away from this idea we will venture. Longtime collaborator Cue 1 has created amazing lighting to compliment and enhance each scene. For my traditionalists out there, fear not! We have not touched or modified the music at all. It is presented come scritto, or as written. We hope that our modern elements help you to see these classic pieces a new way, to possibly feel the emotion differently, or to just have a glimpse into mine and Carlos' brains for a moment. There is also a set of songs that are traditionally only performed by a male voice. I was banned from even touching these pieces in my studies ("No no Kathleen, those songs are only for men. Sopranos don't sing them. Pick something else..."), and I am beyond excited to give them to you tonight.
An evening like this is simply not possible without financial support. Both Carlos and I are beyond grateful to the Rise Up! Downtown Vibrancy Project, Calgary Arts Development, The City of Calgary, Contemporary Calgary (specifically Tara), the Calgary Steinway Gallery, Bird Creatives, Cue 1, Maxwell Mawji, Dr. Moshe Renert and the Renert School, Uwe Dambruch for recording our monologues, Ella Wilson for her cameo, Shandra Gallant, and all of our volunteers. It truly takes a village and we are beyond grateful for all of your contributions.
On behalf of myself and Carlos, thank you. Thank you for coming and supporting the live, classical vocal arts in Calgary. Thank you for pushing your own musical boundaries. Just, Thank You.
We both hope that you enjoy the evening. Please read the translations below before the show begins, as there will be no supertitles.
With much gratitude and excitement,