Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Bing preview

I received an invitation to a 'preview party' for the next season from Stanford Live, the organization that puts on concerts at the Stanford campus, and I decided to go. About 60 people were there at Bing, Stanford's keynote concert hall. I think the event was mostly aimed at big donors, but there was room for at least one press person - me - though I didn't recognize anybody else as a classical journalist.

The administrators spent an hour describing the themes of the season and specific concerts therein, accompanied by video clips of the performers and, in two cases, the performers live themselves for sets of about ten minutes each. That was what most enticed me.

Katherine Goforth is a trans woman classical singer, the first I've encountered, though there was an interesting article about trans opera singers in SFCV recently. In speaking voice and in presentation - not just appearance, but how she moved and carried herself - like other trans women I've met Goforth was entirely a typical woman. But her singing voice was that of a baritone. (Her publicity says tenor, but it sounded baritone to me.) It had the rougher texture more characteristic of men's voices.
It was not disconcerting if you were expecting it. But trans vocal singing range is an interesting problem, and the SFCV article discusses how its practitioners deal with it.
Goforth's repertoire was Mahler songs accompanied by piano. One of the season themes is "Mahler and the Second Viennese School," be still my heart.

Edmar CastaƱeda is a Colombian folk-jazz harpist. (Harp is another of the season themes, and judging from one of the recorded clips of other performers, Philip Glass etudes sound really good on harp.) I can't describe CastaƱeda's style except to note that he pats the strings a lot.

Afterwards there was a reception in the lobby, with drinks and a small snacks table with berries, melon slices, and crunchy little cookies. You could pick up a copy of the printed season brochure straight from the boxes the printer delivered them in. I noticed two things of particular interest. 1) The entire London Symphony Orchestra is coming to play Mahler's roof-blasting First Symphony in Bing's tiny space. Something is going to blow a gasket. 2) Despite claiming that it's disbanding entirely, the St. Lawrence, Stanford's resident professional string quartet, is carrying on with its traditional once-per-term Sunday afternoon concerts, with the three surviving quartet players joined by others for chamber music collective programs like the others they've done recently. This year, two string sextet concerts and a collaboration with a student cello ensemble.

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