Professors Take Center Stage
The late afternoon sunlight coming through the windows in the First Congregational Church of Bellingham provided a bright décor to the final concert of the season for The Bellingham Music Club. Jay Rozendaal and Amber Sudduth Bone, both dressed in black, walked toward the piano.
Sudduth Bone disrupted the peacefulness of the church with her soprano voice, her notes resonating to the top of the sanctuary. Her performance on Thursday, May 21, was accompanied by Rozendaal, a member of the voice faculty in Western‘s music department, on the piano.
Her quick shifts of emotion from one song to another were followed by graceful hand gestures. She performed Samuel Barber’s “Hermit Songs,” a compilation of opera songs.
Rozendaal was pleased to be performing with his colleague Sudduth Bone, but also with the student performers that came after her. He had worked with Sudduth Bone since he started teaching at Western.
“I’ve been doing something with [Sudduth Bone] and the students pretty much from the beginning,” Rozendaal said. His teaching at Western focuses on vocal training, and performing with singers has allowed him to collaborate with both professors the music student body.
The Bellingham Music Club, responsible for organizing this concert, encourages high school and Western students with awards in all musical activities. For this reason, this concert was an opportunity to showcase their collaboration with not only Western faculty members, but also with their students.
Sue Blethen, an audience member and friend of Sudduth Bone’s, was introduced to live opera singing through the concert. Blethen was interested in hearing Sudduth Bone as a fellow member of the Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship choir.
“I think it’s really special. I had been looking forward to hearing Amber for a long time,” Blethen said. “I was quite surprised at her accomplishments. She seems very young and light, yet she has lots of musical background.”
Rozendaal had an interest in singing and accompanying singers on the piano since high school when he was performing in the school choir.
“I like the music, the repertoire, and I like that we get to work with great music and great poetry,” Rozendaal said.
He and Sudduth Bone have developed a close connection through the music since they started working together at Western in 2006, creating a strong and sensitive relationship, Rozendaal said.
The concert’s program included pieces from four composer: Samuel Barber, Gian Carlo Menotti, Johannes Brahms and Jake Heggie. Barber, Menotti and Heggie are considered more modern-American composers, as opposed to Brahms being considered more classical. Sudduth Bone performed in English for Barber and German for Brahms.
“I love the power of the human voice, what we can communicate,” Rozendaal said. “I think we connect to the voice in a particular way.”
Junior Anjani Briggs, a music major with a performance concentration, sang Gian Carlo Menotti’s “Canti della lontananza.” She had been working on this performance in Italian for a year and was pleased with it.
“I’m excited to see how [the piece] develops as I get older as well,” Briggs said. “I’m happy with where the piece has taken me more than where I’ve taken the piece.”
Briggs had been trained in classical East Indian music through her family before entering the world of opera singing.
“I met a teacher during solo ensemble [in high school] that just opened my eyes to opera,” Briggs said.
Sudduth Bone’s second performance singing Brahms was followed by the performance of senior Nathaniel Voth.
Voth, a vocal performance major, performed “A Question of Light” by Jake Heggie. This modern composition provided an artistic, and sometimes humorous, approach to opera as all the songs were based on paintings from the Dallas Museum of Art.
Voth closed the show as the final rays of light shone through the church glass making way for dusk. This marked an end to the 19th and final concert of the season for The Bellingham Music Club.