Alan's Blog...It's all Gesamtkunstwerk to me!

Thoughts from nearly 40 years on the professional stage

February 2017

Singing in the backyard

This weekend, I’m singing two concerts with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra and the Wichita Symphony Orchestra Chorus at Century 2 here in Wichita (of course). On the program is quite a bit of Wagner but also some Puccini, Bizet, Borodin, and Verdi. It’s a huge, meaty, and thrilling concert full of repertoire that tickles the ears and ignites the soul. It is also dog gone difficult to sing.

I am absolutely thrilled with how wonderful the Wichita Symphony, under the baton of Music Director, Maestro Daniel Hege, are playing this great music. What a wonderful full sound. And the chorus has blazed through their great choruses as well (under the direction of Dr. Michael Hanawalt, my colleague at Wichita State University.

So many in the orchestra are colleagues of mine at WSU. It has been great to see them dive into this music--much of it new to them. Several of the pieces we are presenting in Wichita are being programmed for the first time in Wichita. I am greatly enjoying bringing a bit of what I do on the road to the audiences here in Wichita. And, I have to say, it is wonderful to only have to commute around 20 minutes from our house to the concert hall.

This city, the arts in this city, its’ musicians, and its’ incredible talent, mean so much to me. As you know, I received my Masters Degree from WSU. I have, over the last nearly 35 years, stayed in contact with the university during my performing career and always enjoyed every trip back to Kansas for a recital, concert, or master class. But, nearly 3 years ago, we decided to make Wichita our home once again. I don’t know that I fully expected to see such professionalism in my colleagues...such a dedication to their craft. Our faculty is young, vibrant, and incredibly talented. They are helping to enrich the lives of their students, their orchestral members, and the entire South Central Kansas region. This is a QUALITY orchestra of great skill. I am honored to have sung with them last night and look forward to our second concert in just a few hours.

After today’s concert, I’ll have a week of teaching (happy to only wear one hat for the week) before flying to D.C. next week for a concert of Beethoven’s “Leonore”, the early version of what was to become one of my most performed operas, “Fidelio”. I’ll be performing with the Washington Concert Opera, a company I haven’t performed with since 1989. I’m so looking forward to being back in Foggy Bottom--a place that has been near the center of my career for so many years.

The concerts are challenging and fulfilling, the weather has been gorgeous, and the best time of year, college basketball season, is upon us (and going well for the Shockers). Despite all the discord and angst in our lives, it is great to know that so much can be surpassed by the beauty of music, the dedication and discipline of fine artists and colleagues, and the desire to enrich others through our talents. May that long be the goal and standard.