Lorraine McFadden Bell Sings with Heart and Voice
The occasion was the 5th Annual Margaret Phillips Davis
Memorial Scholarship Concert, sponsored by Circle Two of Saint Cyprian's Episcopal
Church in Hampton, Virginia on November 23, 2002. Born in 1912, Mrs. Davis was a music educator
who devoted her life to teaching. While at Carver High School she originated
the first string program in Hampton and in 1968 developed a city-wide orchestra program
that has continued to the present. The group provides scholarships for music
students with the funds they raise.
Having enjoyed hearing the lovely voice of Lorraine Bell
for many years, it came as a surprise to hear her most recent recital at St. Cyprian's.
There was a new power and surety in her voice, a brighter, fuller, more forward sound.
George Frederick Handel's Dank sei, Dir Herr (Thanks be to Thee, Lord) was
her opening selection, followed by I will sing new songs of gladness by
Anton Dvorak. The excellent pianist Leslie Neal Douglas accompanied these pieces
with precision and passion. They were joined by the Peninsula String Quartet (Jiashi Hou, violin, Eric Reiff, violin,
Jerry Bracey, viola, and Donna Taylor, cello) for Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate (Motet, K. 165.)
There was a wonderful freshness in this familiar music as if I were hearing it
for the first time. What a thrill to hear the "alleluias" spun out in such
rich full sound. The intermission was unique in that the Peninsula String Quartet
played for us in the church hall as we visited and had refreshments.
We returned to the sanctuary to hear two pieces
by Rachmaninoff: Vocalise and Oh, Cease thy singing, maiden fair.
In the Vocalise it was exciting to hear the high notes and the sensuous musical line was
was sustained throughout. Megan Jenifer on violin joined Ms. Bell and Ms. Douglas
for the lushly romantic Oh, Cease ... .
Green Pastures, set by Wilfrid Sanderson and
Feed My Sheep, set by Jeanne Alden Joy and with a text by Christian
Science Church founder Mary Baker Eddy, opened the final set. These pieces were well done
and their inclusion on the program pleased the audience.
The program concluded with two fine spirituals
Round about de mountain by Roland Hayes (1887-1976), and You can tell
the world by Margaret Bonds.
The story-line of the Roland Hayes song is the death of
a young woman in the mountains of Tennessee, who accepts Christ as savior in
her last hours. The song is a recessional as she is carried around the mountain
to her final resting place while the congregation rejoices at her "being saved."
Roland Hayes arranged many spirituals for solo singer to use in his own art song
concerts. He was the leading African-American concert singer from the 1920s to the
1940s and single-handedly broke the color-line in classical concert music.
It was difficult but in time his steadfast vision of bringing people of all races
together overrode the prejudices of audiences and concert promoters. Unfortunately this great
contribution to art song was overlooked and eventually
his name faded while Mariam Anderson, Paul Robeson and many other singers
had the benefit of what he had begun. This information comes from the CD booklet The Art of
Roland Hayes, Smithsonian Collection of Recordings, RD041. These recordings
of Hayes' slender and sensitive voice and cultivated manner were recorded over
a thirty year period, 1939-1967. Highly recommended.
The Margaret Bonds song You can tell the world
has a complex piano accompaniment which makes great demands for speed, agility and accuracy on the
pianist. Ms. Douglas was an equal partner with Ms. Bell in bringing this closing
song to their audience. It ends on the words "Joy, joy, joy, to my soul" and
left us all in an exuberant mood.
Dank sei dir, Herr
|(Anon.) Attributed to Siegfried Oches
I will sing new songs of gladness
Exsultate, jubilate (Motet, K.165)
|Wolfgang A. Mozart
Vocalise Op. 34, No.4
Oh, Cease thy singing, Maiden
"Feed My Sheep"
( Mary Baker Eddy)
|Jeanne Alden Joy
Roun about de mountain
You can tell the world
Lorraine McFadden Bell, soprano, performs extensively as a recital and solo artist.
She has appeared as guest soloist in Handel's Messiah, Brahms' Requiem, Schubert's Mass
in G and Magnificat, Saint Saen's Christmas Oratorio, Haydn's Creation, Bach's
Magnificat, and Vivaldi's Gloria. Her repertoire includes opera, art song and contemporary works. She has
premiered vocal literature by the American composer Adolphus Hailstork and collaborated with him
in a performance and lecture of his solo vocal works ast the University of Arkansas. Her performances
and lectures on the topic of African American Art Songs have taken her to colleges, universities,
conferences and communities across the United States.
Mrs. Bell is frequently engaged for opera and music education programs. She
has served as Artist-in-Residence at elementary, middle and high schools throughout the state of
Virginia. Mrs. Bell presented a one-week residency at Roosevelt Roads Elementary School in Ceiba, Puerto Rico
entitled Lollipops and Opera. She has been on the Artist Roster with Young Audiences of
Virginia, Inc., which presented Hooray for Opera!, an introduction to opera for young audiences.
She served as a performing artist on the Virginia Commission fo the Arts Touring Directory and is
a performing member of the Virginia Art Song Society.
Mrs. Bell began her studies at Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore,
Maryland. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Vocal Performance at Old Dominion University, Norfolk,
Virginia. Mrs. Bell is a candidate for a Doctorate of Musical Arts at Shenandoah University, Shenandoah
Conservatory. Mrs. Bell presently serves as Assistant Professor of Voice in the Department of
Music at Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia.
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