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Salon Series celebrates poetry with full house

By Staff | Nov 2, 2018

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Not a seat was empty in the Frank Center W.H. Shipley Recital Hall on Oct. 25, during the vocal concert, “From the Inkwell: a recital of poetry and passion.”

The concert was the second in Shepherd University’s 2018-2019 Department of Music Salon Series, featuring soprano and Assistant Professor of Music Rachel Carlson, baritone and Department of Music Chair Robert Tudor and baritone and adjunct music faculty member Bobb Robinson. The series is funded by Jefferson Security Bank.

“I’ve never seen this place absolutely full — this is extraordinary,” Tudor said, as he gave some opening remarks at the beginning of the evening. “This is indeed a concert about the power of poetry.”

Tudor performed the East Coast premier of Laurence Guittard’s “In New York” song cycle, which Tudor had performed the world premier of in Montana in summer 2018.

“It is wonderful when a singer gets to premier a new work,” Tudor said, mentioning his accompanist, Jean Browne, was the reason he ran across the music in the first place. “Larry was a long-time friend of Jean’s, and they’re currently collaborating on an opera he’s writing. Jean brought this to me and asked me to look at it. I sang it this summer in Montana, and said ‘let’s bring it to the East Coast.'”

Tudor and Browne met up with Guittard to work on the the song cycle together, prior to the East Coast performance, according to Tudor. The song cycle was one of two sung during the concert — “In New York,” performed by Tudor, who was later joined by Robinson in singing “Out of the Rolling Ocean, the Crowd” by local composer and Shepherd University alumni Walker Williams, who was in attendance at the concert.

Carlson brought a lighter presence to the room, as she and her accompanist, Yu-Hsuan Liao, took the stage to perform a series of lyrical, romantic songs in French. According to Carlson, she grew up speaking French, and enjoyed performing a vocal concert for the first time at Shepherd.

“It was so much fun — it is always fun to sing for a packed house. The energy in the room was a lot of fun,” Carlson said. “I personally love French music, I grew up attending a French immersion public school in Maryland. I really love the French language and French melodies.”

According to Carlson, the concert was the three vocalists’ first performance together. The trio received a standing ovation at the end of the concert, and gave an encore, performing an arrangement of “Homeward Bound” together.

“It wasn’t a set arrangement, but we knew what we were doing, and improvised as well,” Carlson said. “We really wanted to do something together.”