Saturday, July 2, 2016

Review by John Campbell of Mezzo-Soprano Chrystal E. Williams: H. Leslie Adams' "'Nightsongs,' six pieces for voice and piano, was a wonderful experience."

 The H. Leslie Adams (b. 1932) Homepage is at:  H. Leslie Adams 
is profiled at AfriClassical.comwhich features a 
comprehensive Works List by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma,

Chrystal E. Williams

On Saturday, July 2, 2016 10:16 AM, artsongupdate wrote:

Chrystal Williams & Oksana Lutsyshyn Second Tidewater Appearance in Five Weeks 
GSA Black Box Theater, June 10, 2016 
Review by John Campbell
Though Ms. Williams was suffering from a debilitating cold you would not have known it from her performance. In a reprise of the Brahms, Dvorák and Chausson reviewed, here we had texts and translations in an outstandingly good program booklet. Singing a set by contemporary African American composer H. Leslie Adams (b.1932) was new. Nightsongs, six pieces for voice and piano, was a wonderful experience. Having changed from a dark blue gown, after intermission the glamorous, youthful singer appeared in a form-fitting black gown with a ruffled lower skirt reminiscent of one a flamenco dancer might wear. The why became clear when the set concluded with Creole Girl’s opening line—”When you dance, do you think of Spain…”—with its exuberant piano notes, especially between verses. With arms held wide open, the third verse “When you sing, do you think of young America, Grey guns and battling bayonets, Creole Girl? When you cry, Do you think of Africa, Blue nights and casual canzonets, Creole Girl?” The poem is by Leslie Morgan Collins.
The first Adams song, Prayer with text by Langston Hughes, is one of deep questioning, of finding a direction for one’s life. Another Hughes text, Drums of Tragedy, offers a song to go with a soldier’s dying breath. The Heart of a Woman (poem by Gloria Douglas Johnson) had a lovely held note on the word “home” as it explores being alone. Clarissa Scott Delaney’s poem Night Song has an amazing piano setting with a text that explores the sweet warmth of night for rest and sleep but also a time for tears and grief to be left behind to bravely face the following day. The song Since You Went Away, with poem by James Weldon Johnson, captures the deep sadness of the absence of her loved one. There is no atonality or excessive chromaticism in these tuneful, often simple songs but they do take the most unexpected and delightful harmonic turns says Darryl Taylor in his notes for his Albany CD Love Rejoices [22] Songs of H. Leslie Adams TROY 428. Robin Guy, piano.

This was the 13th Annual “An Evening With Chrystal E.” Her annual scholarship was awarded to Barrell Davis, Jr. GSA Orchestra cellist and high school senior. Yes, and her encore was Ride on King Jesus set by Hall Johnson.

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