On Tuesday, Feb. 17, McKenna Theater was filled with audience members to see soparano singer Courtney Budd join Innisfree in a performance titled “Bernstein to Brahms.”
Innisfree is an ensemble that was formed over 15 years ago and consists of SUNY New Paltz professors. Their goal is to perform great piano trio literature as well as less known and contemporary music. According to the program, they have collectively recorded and performed many works of living American composers and in 2005, released a CD of music by composer Henry Martin.
Professors Sylvia Buccelli on piano, Carole Cowan on violin and Susan Seligman on violincello were joined by soprano singer Courtney Budd, who has graced the stages of very well known theaters such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
According to Buccelli, in recent years Innisfree has developed into “Innisfree Plus” where they invite a guest artist to join them on stage.
The addition of a soprano to the piano trio is what made this concert so exciting.
Buccelli enthusiastically reported that working with Budd was delightful. “Her artistry is always convincingly projected through the combination of exceptional vocal expertise and sparkling personality she brings to her performances,” she said.
The show opened with “Three Songs for Voice, Violin, Cello and Piano” by composer Amy Beach by the trio and Budd, followed by compositions of Johannas Brahms from the Romantic Period of classical music performed solely by the trio. Budd joined the trio again to close the show with a theatrical performance of some well known tunes that brought some audience members to their feet to applaud.
Other pieces that were performed include “Fever” by Eddie Cooley and John Davenport, “Georgia” by Hoagy Carmichael and “Glitter and Be Gay” by Leonard Bernstein.
“We put together the program thinking (and hoping) it would have a lot of variety, be challenging to learn and play for us, as well as enjoyable for the audience to listen to,” Cowan said.
Noura Kavlaoui, a Kingston resident, and her children went to the concert to see her friend, Budd, perform because their children go to the same school.
Kavlaoui was very enthusiastic about the performance. She said the show was “just so marvelous.”
This was the first time she saw her friend Courtney perform and recalled “Fever” as her favorite song performed of the night.
“‘Fever’ was just so marvelous, full of passion and a sense of humor. I never expected this,” Kavlaoui said.
Yasmen Kavlaoui, 10, said she thought the concert was really good. “I loved the fever song the best,” she said.
According to Buccelli, what made this concert unique was the nontraditional aspect, which involved adding soprano voice to the piano trio. She said although there is not the breadth of repertoire, the sound combination was lovely and that it takes some searching to discover the lesser-known works.
Buccelli said she hopes students were able to get the chance to experience a wide variety of styles through the construct of a traditional chamber music experience.