Category Archives: Arts Talk

The Challenge of Chamber Music

Derek StannardArtistic Director Derek Stannard writes about the challenges of singing Bach’s magnificent motets, one-on-a-part.

The singers of Auriel Camerata will perform Bach motets under the direction of guest conductor Dr. William Jon Gray on Saturday, November 7th 2015

The singers of Auriel Camerata will perform Bach motets under the direction of guest conductor Dr. William Jon Gray on Saturday, November 7th 2015

Most people are familiar with what a choir is – a group of individuals coming together, blending their voices, and unifying their sound. The sound of an individual is melded happily into the greater sound of the group.

Chamber music, on the other hand, is a group of soloists, all performing at the same time! Bach wrote his motets not for a chorus, but for a chamber ensemble, a group of individual voices. In Bach’s lifetime, he never would have performed his motets with more than one person per part. This is the chamber equivalent to being a soloist in an opera. You are fully responsible for your own part, and there is no one to lean on. This can be scary!

However, for a group of musicians who crave a challenge and like a musical adrenaline rush, this can be one of the most exciting ways to sing. Each voice represents one part, which is on equal footing with every other part being sung. There is no room for error. This type of challenge is exactly what the spectacular singers of Auriel Camerata crave, and indeed, a challenge at which they truly excel.

As you listen and experience this remarkable music, you will feel a connection to each voice, to each individual line, and know that each person worked diligently to make their brick, their part of the foundation, as strong as it could be.

I hope you’ll join us for a great evening of invigorating music!

Bach: Motets
Biber: “Rosary” Sonatas

Saturday, November 7 2015 • 7:30pm | St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 58 Third St. Troy NY
Guest Conductor Dr. William Jon Gray (Music of the Baroque, Carmel Bach Festival) leads Auriel Camerata in a performance that includes the Bach motets “Lobet den Herrn”, “Komm, Jesu komm”, “Jesu meine Freude” and the virtuosic “Rosary” Sonatas by Heinrich Biber, played by rising young Baroque violinist, Juan Carlos Zamudio.

Tickets: $25, $15 for students with ID at the door

or call Tickets by Proctors at 518-346-6204

The Senior Recital of Caleb Eick

Caleb Eick Recital post card

We are SO proud of our Auriel Scholar, Caleb Eick! Please join us on March 13th as we support him as he gives his Senior Recital at the College of Saint Rose. Caleb has been such a delight – he’s hard-working, and is an expressive and sensitive singer. We’re excited to support him in this next step of his academic journey!

We knew, when we heard him audition for the Auriel Scholar program last Fall, that he was special. He has a glorious tone color, a wide range, and wonderful musicianship. Caleb’s passion for music has profound depth – he’s insatiably curious, loves research and has deep knowledge of rep – not just of his own, but of other fachs as well! Caleb has worked hard with us – he’s helped with program planning, rep selection, program notes, production planning – he’s done it all, with stellar results. He’s full of great ideas, and he keeps us energized and enthused!

We hope you join us next Friday to cheer him on – he’s a treasure!

What a weekend!

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the Capital District Choral Community Calendar, you know that this weekend will be a veritable feast of wonderful choral music!

OctavosFirst up, on Saturday at 7:30pm at First Reformed Church in Schenectady, are the Octavo Singers and their presentation of “Two Magnificent Magnificats” featuring Magnificats set by J.S. Bach and John Rutter. This concert, led by Curtis Funk, features a chamber orchestra and soloists Tess McCarthy, soprano; Ann Marie Adamick, mezzo-soprano; Joshua Bouillon, tenor; and John Demler, bass.

You might recognize Tess and Ann Marie – they’re members of Auriel Camerata, and we had a chance to catch up with Ann Marie to ask her two quick questions about the program:

Q: Bach and Rutter – those aren’t names you often see on the same program!
A: I love the fact that this concert presents the same text in two completely different ways: Bach’s early 18th century composition and John Rutter’s work from over 200 years later. While they are very different musically, they are both extremely inspiring works. And it’s always wonderful to work with Curtis Funk and the Octavo Singers

Q: Which is more challenging to you, musically?
A: both pieces present their own challenges; Bach’s long melismatic passages vs. Rutter’s high, soaring lines. I have been very fortunate to be working with Anne Turner in preparing for this performance.

Two Magnificent Magnificats
Where: First Reformed Church, 8 North Church St., Schenectady NY
When: Saturday, November 22, 2014 7:30pm
Tickets: $25 General Admission, $20 Seniors, $15 Student (with ID)
Watch out for: Schenectady Christmas parade traffic! Best to approach from the north.

BHOS concertNext, on Sunday at 3pm at Saratoga Springs United Methodist Church is the Burnt Hills Oratorio Society, and their presentation of “Salieri and Mozart: Of Myths and Men“. Those who have seen the movie “Amadeus” remember the delicious tension between Salieri and Mozart. Were they rivals…and friends? Under the direction of Susan Hermance Fedak, BHOS will sing Antonio Salieri’s Requiem and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore accompanied by chamber orchestra and a stunning array of soloists including Christina Pickreign, soprano; Kara Cornell, alto; Timothy Reno, tenor; and Richard Mazzaferro, bass. This will be a dazzling concert for sure! Don’t miss it!

Salieri and Mozart: Of Myths and Men
Where: Saratoga Springs United Methodist Church, 175 Fifth Ave, Saratoga Springs, NY
When: Sunday, November 23, 2014 3pm
Tickets: $20
For more information: call 518-416-4060 or

Jennifer Rivera on the value of arts and artists

Jennifer Rivera writes an eloquent defense of the artist and the arts in our communities. Brava, Ms. Rivera!

Gems of The Region: Kara Cornell and Michael Clement, July 12th

GEMS OF THE REGION An American Music Recital Kara Cornell, mezzo-soprano Michael Clement, piano Saturday, July 12th 2014 Emmanuel Baptist Church 275 State St Albany NY

An American Music Recital
Kara Cornell, mezzo-soprano
Michael Clement, piano
July 12th 2014, 7:30pm
Emmanuel Baptist Church
275 State St Albany NY

Reviews/Previews  We got a sneak peek at Kara Cornell’s recital, “Gems of The Region” last night, and we can’t stress enough that you need to see and hear this recital!!

First of all, the combination of Kara and Michael is simply magical. Both are artists at the very top of their game – Kara’s earthy mezzo is glorious in itself, but when you pair that with a performance presence that inhabits the texts utterly, and draws you into their very meaning, it transcends art. Michael’s deft touch at the keyboard draws out such delicate nuances and shadings in the music – watching these two artists collaborate is thrilling and exhilarating.

Another big draw – the selection of music is stunning. Featuring local composers Frederic Sharaf, Steve Murray, Josh Rodriguez and Dean Coughtry, this recital presents some truly remarkable works conceived in our own area! What a rich talent pool we have here in upstate New York! Particularly evocative in our hearing last night was a homespun tune “Horse-Winged Cowboy” by Schoharie resident Coughtry, featuring a whimsical text from a cow’s point of view; and a set of jazz pieces (“Night”, “Golden Girl”, “There’s Still Time” and “All That You Meant To Me”) by local violinist Josh Rodriguez. Rodriguez’ gifts as a composer for voice are prodigious – he plumbs every nuance of his texts and sets them with great sophistication and elegance for the voice. If you are a sucker for a love song, you’ll feast on a set of love songs by Frederic Sharaf, which bloom with deep passion and unabashed romanticism.

Do yourself a favor and do not miss this recital. It is simply wonderful. And it’s so important to support living composers and living, vibrant art. Many of these compositions are world premieres, and the composers will be attending the concert as well.

Hope to see you there!

Lincoln Mayorga & Sheri Bauer-Mayorga

Fantastic concert tomorrow!! You must go! The Mayorgas are incredible musicians!

Thursday, May 1, 7:30 pm
GE Theatre at Proctors
American Snapshots: Two Hundred Years of American Song is a program of piano solos and jazz trios representing a core sample of American music. Returning artist Lincoln Mayorga and his wife Sheri will perform traditional ballads to music by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Stephen Foster, Irving Berlin, Carmichael & Mercer, Annie Ross, Bix Beiderbecke, Phil Ochs, Tom Lehrer, Randy Newman, William Bolcom and each of the Mayorgas.

Through the songs and piano solos, the Mayorgas wend their way through mountaintop hollers and music from the parlor, to the ballads and be-bop of the city, and into the storm of American politics.

Jazz bassist Otto Gardner and drummer Ted MacKenzie join Sheri and Lincoln on this American romp through what the Mayorgas call “The People’s American Songbook.”


  • Peter Aaron, Chronogram


In defence of singers | Schmopera

“Along the road that is a singer’s development, there are checkpoints at which a number of aspiring singers are filtered out of the race. Auditions for undergraduate and graduate schools are two big checkpoints, but the filtering really just comes when young singers are presented with a hurdle. By the time singers are working professionally, they have braved stage fright, foreign language skills, and the struggle for a consistent and workable vocal technique. It seems like the last of these hurdles is learning to “adapt to the business”, which means “read people’s minds”. And I think that’s sort of lame.”

via In defence of singers | Schmopera.

This is a fantastic and thoughtful blog post from Schmopera about the frustrating realities about the audition process and the struggle to become your own artist. Definitely worth the read! Be sure to bookmark Schmopera, a vastly entertaining blog out of Canada (who doesn’t love Canadians, right?).

Asking How Much Opera Singers’ Work Is Worth

No one blinks when an experienced corporate manager earns a six-figure salary in this city. But an opera singer? We still romanticize the image of the starving artist. We like to think that talent will eventually fill dinner plates and checking accounts.

via Asking How Much Opera Singers’ Work Is Worth –

This is an interesting discussion about how we value the arts in our culture. There is a persistent notion that artists should somehow accept less than their training and work is worth. And it’s not just singing – this pervades all art forms. Thoughts?