A Father and Son Recital in Newport News

      Father Robert Crutchfield, tenor and son Will Crutchfield, pianist gave a recital of art song and arias at First United Methodist Church on September 28, 2003. They opened the program with G.F. Handel's opera aria Where e're you Walk from Semele. This was followed with a novelty song from The Chaplet, a musical with a complete set of parts found in Colonial Williamsburg by William Boyce. Push About the Brisk Bowl is a ditty which passes harsh and humorous judgment on people who do not like to party. Certainly a self-conscious stilted text but it gives the flavor of musical taste in a bygone age.

      The second set was four delightful songs by Robert Schumann. The singer demonstrated his intelligent approach to this repertory with control of gesture and vocal production with plenty of power when needed. Will Crutchfield at the piano caressed his father's singing with great care.

      The French set including songs by Reynaldo Hahn, Georges Bizet, Gabriel Fauré and an aria by Jacques Halévy (from La Juive) were followed by a set of Four Folksongs from the British Isles arranged by Benjamin Britten.

      With a legato that flowed so easily, Dr. Crutchfield made the encore piece, Beautiful Dreamer by Stephen Foster, his own. The audience responded warmly. A reception with plenty of good food and fellowship followed.

      Will Crutchfield, who has an international career as an opera conductor and scholar, grew up in Newport News and graduated from Warwick High School. He graduated from Northwestern University. In July at the Caramoor Music Festival in New York he conducted the world premiere of a long-lost opera Elisabeth by Donizetti, which he discovered and reconstructed for performance.

      As a pianist he has recently appeared in song recitals in Japan, at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City and twice with Art Song of Williamsburg.

      Dr. Crutchfield's voice and musical accomplishments were familiar to many in the audience since he has been active as a soloist and chorus member for many years in Tidewater. In 2002 with Virginia Opera he appeared as Chief Judge in Un Ballo in Maschera. His first role with Virginia Opera was in 1977 and with the Peninsula Civic Opera in 1966. He was pastor of Hilton Presbyterian Chruch here and of the historic First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, Alabama.

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