Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Soprano Icy Simpson and Pianist Artina McCain Record Spirituals and Art Songs on CD 'I, too' on Longhorn Music Label

[I, too; Icy Simpson, soprano; Artina McCain, piano; Longhorn Music LHM2012001]

I, too is a broad survey of African American spirituals and art songs by African American composers.  

Soprano Icy Rene Simpson and pianist Dr. Artina McCain write of their CD:  

"I, too began with our desire to perform lesser known vocal art songs and spirituals by African-American composers."  "The selected songs offer a fascinating variety in text and insight into past and present African American culture.  For example, Margaret Bonds' Dream Variations brings to life the poetry of Langston Hughes about the struggles of work life in minstrelsy, dreams of a black youth and the realities of being a house slave.  Leslie Adams evokes a spirit of dance in Creole Girl through his use of text painting, rhythm, and harmonies.  The unique arrangements of Amazing Grace and This Little Light of Mine by Hale Smith are refreshingly modern while still capturing the simple spirit of the text.  We hope that anyone that hears this wonderful collection of spirituals and Art Songs will be uplifted, encouraged, and inspired."

The website of Dr. Artina McCain is Her bio there reads, in part:

"An expressive and colorful pianist, Artina McCain enjoys an active career as a solo and chamber performer, adjudicator, teacher, and presenter. Dr. McCain has performed nationally and internationally in Italy, San Antonio, Dallas, Cleveland, and the Czech Republic. This summer, Dr. McCain and soprano Icy Simpson released a debut CD of Black Art Songs and Spirituals through University of Texas at Austin's Longhorn Records. She also regularly tours with her husband Martin McCain, bass trombonist and Texas State University professor. Dr. McCain's performances have been broadcast on Austin's "KMFA 89.5 Pianoforte program as both a soloist and chamber musician. Excited about bringing classical music to a broader audience, McCain has performed in many chamber concert series across Texas.

"As a teacher, she served on the keyboard faculty at Baldwin Wallace College Conservatory of Music, University of the Incarnate Word and currently on faculty at Huston-Tillotson University. Dr. McCain is also an enthusiastic supporter of young musicians. She has coached at the Austin Chamber Music Center, Cleveland Institute of Music Summer Chamber festival and appeared as guest artist at the Ennis Arts Commission summer concert series and maintains a private studio of students. 
"Dr. McCain graduated cum laude from Southern Methodist University with a Bachelor of Music with Dr. Carol Leone. At the Cleveland Institute of Music she obtained a Masters degree where she was awarded the Lecture Recital Club Scholarship. She completed her Doctorate degree at the University of Texas at Austin with renowned pianist Anton Nel." 

Icy Rene Simpson has a website at www.icyrsimpson, which includes this bio:

"Icy Simpson has been hailed as a passionate singer whose love for music flows through everyone that hears her. Ms. Simpson’s grace and talent has been conveyed through many roles including Susannah in Susannah, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel and Catherine in The Butler Opera Center's world premiere of A View from the Bridge by William Bolcom (the chamber orchestra version). Icy attended the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria during the summer of 2006. She won the state and regional National Association of Teachers of Singing Competitions (07-08), as well as the District Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 2007, 2008, and 2011. Ms. Simpson is also the winner of the 2008 Classical Singer Competition-University Division, and the winner of the “Peoples’ Choice” Award in the Dallas Opera Guild Competition-2008. In January 2009, Icy was invited to participate in a Master class with Maestro James Levine via the Marilyn Horne Foundation. Ms.Simpson has accumulated many recent accomplishments include achieving 2nd place in the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc competition (July 2010) and appearing as Adina in the Butler Opera Center’s 2010 production of L’elisir D’amore. Ms. Simpson made her solo debut with the Marshall Symphony Orchestra in January 2011. In April 2011, Ms. Simpson performed the role of Despina in Così fan tutte with the Butler Opera Center. 

"As of May 2011, Icy has appeared as a solo artist with The South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and The Louisiana Symphony Orchestra. Furthermore, Icy Rene Simpson, soprano, is one of the first to graduate from the newly-instituted Artist Diploma Program from the University of Texas-Austin under the tutelage of Professor Darlene Wiley."

The artists have included the complete lyrics of the spirituals and art songs they perform. Six of the composers and arrangers are African American: H. Leslie Adams, Margaret Bonds, Hall Johnson, Undine Smith Moore, Florence Beatrice Price and Hale Smith. The recording also features arrangements by Boyd Bacon and Mark Hayes.

H. Leslie Adams (b. 1932), Margaret Allison Bonds (1913-1972), Florence Beatrice Price (1887-1953) and Hale Smith (1925-2009) are profiled at, which features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography for each composer by Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,

H. Leslie Adams is represented by Lullaby Eternal (4:22), For you there is no song (2:33) and Creole Girl (2:36).  Boyd Bacon arranged Give Me Jesus (2:53).
Margaret Allison Bonds composed Three Dream Portraits with lyrics by Langston Hughes: Minstrel Man (1:59), Dream Variations (2:01) and I, Too (1:44).  Wade in the Water (3:14) was arranged by Mark Hayes.

Hall Johnson arranged Ride On, King Jesus (2:11).  Undine Smith Moore is represented by His Name So Sweet (1:46) and Watch and Pray (4:13).  Florence Beatrice Price composed Night (1:52).  Hale Smith arranged Amazing Grace (3:00) and This Little Light of Mine (4:56).

Longhorn Music is the label of The University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music.  On August 4, 2011 AfriClassical reviewed another Longhorn Music recording of sacred music,  Sacred Music of José Mauricio Nunes Garcia. The University of Texas at Austin Chamber Singers were conducted by James Morrow.

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