Soprano Shelia Maye and Pianist Effie Gardner in Recital
In an elegant deep rose gown with a Bolero jacket, a poised Dr. Shelia Jackson Maye gave a fine recital of songs from Germany, Austria, France and America, in Ogden Hall, March 26, 2006. Presented by the Department of Music, of which she is chair, at Hampton University, the opening selection was Thanks to You, Lord (Dank sei der Herr) by G.F. Handel (1685-1759), performed in a Romantic style and sung in English.
We especially enjoyed Dr. Maye's accurate and spirited singing in Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (Shepherd on the Rock) by Franz Schubert (1799-1828) with its long piano introduction and the echoes of the voice by flute well played by Lori Shipley.
There followed Chanson Triste by Henri Duparc (1848-1933) and Fantoches by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) in the French style. The first part of the recital ended with Porgi amor, an aria from Le Nozze di Figaro by W.A. Mozart (1756-1791).
After intermission we heard three sets of American songs, several of them new to this listener. The first song was a setting of a poem by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). The dreamy piano accompaniment creates the mood of the lullaby titled The Sleep that Flits on Baby's Eyes taken from one of John Alden Carpenter's (1876-1951) best song cycles titled Gitanjali (1940). Carpenter was an important teacher in Chicago and an outstanding song composer of his generation. The romantic mood continued in William Dichmont's (1882-1943) Such a Lil' Fellow and American Lullaby by Gladys Rich (1892-1972).
William Roy (1928-2003) set a poem by Emily Dickinson, only published in 1943, that begins with "Nobody knows this little Rose." He titled his song This Little Rose. Roy was a pianist for cabaret star Julie Wilson and can be heard on several of her CDs. He was active in the Broadway theater as a song writer and conductor and as a nightclub performer. The last song in this set was Into the Night by Clara Edwards (1887-1974). The song tells a story of a woman looking for her lover, longing for him to come to her at sunrise, silently, to love. Our performers made a compelling case for this repertory to be often heard.
Three spirituals by African-American women composers were presented in the final set. Calvary by Betty Jackson King (1928 -1994) has an exciting piano part and a hummed vocalise as a conclusion. With subtle but effective gesture she sang "These old bones of mine will rise and join together in the morning" from Margaret Bond's Dry Bones. The good feeling of this song left us with a smile. Florence B. Price's (1888 -1953) My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord was powerful. He's Got the Whole World in His Hands was the encore that closed this well-crafted recital.
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