Benjamin Britten is trending on classical music concert agendas this year. With 2013 as the composer’s centennial, The Maryland Opera Studio’s production of Albert Herring, faculty artist Linda Mabbs’ recital, and a collaboration between the UMD Chamber Singers and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on Britten’s War Requiem are among our contributions to the world-wide celebration of Britten’s 100th year.
Britten’s wandering melodies and sometimes esoteric lyrics make his works a challenge to sing. In preparation for what lies ahead, Antony Walker, Music Director of Pittsburgh Opera and Artistic Director of the Washington Concert Opera, gives School of Music graduate and undergraduate voice majors a masterclass on the technical and interpretive aspects of Britten’s works.
Walker’s expertise comes in part from his experience working with two of Britten’s longtime collaborators: English conductor Sir Colin Davis and Australian conductor Sir Charles Mackerras. Walker has also worked with Americans who adopt a neutral, mid-Atlantic accent when singing Britten’s works. In this masterclass, School of Music students will learn the diction traditions observed in the British Commonwealth.
“I’m looking forward to learning how to sing in old British dialect that not many people can teach you. It’s fantastic that we have someone like Maestro Walker to help us with that,” says Keith Browning, a second-year Maryland Opera Studio student. “I’m also looking forward to establishing a relationship with a professional in the field. That’s one thing I love about UMD; they always bring in people who could potentially help us with our careers later on,” he adds. Browning will sing in the Maryland Opera Studio’s production of Albert Herring.
In addition to coaching the students on British diction, Walker will address the synthesis between the text and music in Britten’s works. Undergraduate voice major Anna Mendham is interested in Walker’s feedback on her interpretation of “Nocturne” from the song cycle On this Island. She says, “The piece is relatively simple to learn, but the challenge will be in conveying the text meaningfully. I’ve been enjoying interpreting the poetry and Britten’s setting. It’s powerful.” Mendham will sing War Requiem with the UMD Chamber Singers and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Antony Walker’s masterclass is free and open to the public. Please join us at 4PM on Friday, September 13 in the Leah M. Smith Lecture Hall (Rm 2200) in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Click here for more.