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An Evening of Vocal Duos at SUNY New Paltz

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NEW PALTZ -- Images of Barbara Hardgrave and Claudia Cummings are available on the web. Click here.

On Tuesday, April 17, 2001 the Department of Music at SUNY New Paltz presents An Evening of Vocal Duos featuring sopranos Barbara Hardgrave and Claudia Cummings. The program includes operatic duets by Mozart and Puccini, plus works by Monteverdi, Brahms, and Fauré. Pianist Ruthanne Schempf will accompany. An Evening of Vocal Duos begins at 8:00 PM in McKenna Theatre. Tickets, which are $5 general admission and $4 senior citizens, are available at the door, one-hour prior to the concert.

Drawing from their distinguished careers in opera and performance, Barbara Hardgrave and Claudia Cummings have prepared a program of unusual breadth and beauty. The five-part program reveals the uniqueness of these works through contrast - humor and light-hearted charm compete with bold and provocative romance.

The first two parts feature Monteverdi's Ardo e scoprir and Chioma d'oro, astonishingly beautiful in their harmonic changes, and Purcell's lyrical songs, We the spirits of the air, Lost is my quiet, and Sound the trumpet.

Four works by Brahms comprise the third set. Though less familiar than his other works, these songs, a mere sample of the six volumes of vocal duets written by Brahms, are filled with warmth, sumptuous tone, lush harmonies and sinewy cross-rhythms.

The majority of Fauré's vocal chamber works are fitted to the economical, gently sentimental mood pieces of his contemporary, turn-of-the-century Symbolist poets. His compositions are refined and possess a deeply intimate quality. The evening's program includes Puisqu'ici-bas tout ame, Pluers d'or, and Tarantelle.

Two operatic duets by Mozart and Puccini finish the concert with an appreciable contrast. Mozart's "Prendero' quell brunettino," from Cosi' Fan Tutte, is a witty dialogue between two sisters choosing each other boyfriends. Puccini's "Tutti i fior," from Madama Butterfly, the "Flower Duet," exudes romance in its lush tone.

Distinguished mezzo soprano and voice teacher Barbara Hardgrave has performed leading roles in operas across the country. Locally she has enjoyed contralto roles in Gilbert & Sullivan Musical Theatre Company productions of The Mikado, HMS Pinafore, and Ruddigore. During her time as voice professor at SUNY New Paltz, Hardgrave has specialized in art song literature, and has performed numerous solo and accompanied concerts. She has premiered two chamber operas composed for her by Robert Starer and can be heard on the Soundspells Productions compact disc of The Proscenium, a one-act chamber opera written for her by composer Meyer Kupferman. Most recently she has appeared in productions of Fiddler on the Roof and Madame Butterfly at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie and The Medium at the Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck. Nationally, Hardgrave has won acclaim for performances in Carmen, Madame Butterfly, and Blitzstein's Regina, all with Opera Fort Collins in Colorado, where she will soon play the role of the Old Woman in Bernstein's Candide.

Claudia Cummings, a resident of Orange County, has sung leading roles in opera houses around the world: New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Toronto, Amsterdam and Stuggart, to mention a few. She recently played the Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music, singing "Climb Every Mountain" in 60 cities throughout the US and Canada in the national Broadway tour of the classic musical. Currently, Cummings and her husband, actor Jack Aranson, direct the Festival Theatre, a professional theatre company in Blooming Grove, NY. Over the past three years they have produced several one- and two-person shows including I Am Of Ireland, Moby Dick, Cavalcade, Dylan Thomas, My Fair Lady, and The Three Sopranos. For her work in opera and the theatre, Claudia Cummings Aranson has been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Mount Saint Mary's College in Newburgh, NY.

Pianist Ruthanne Schempf holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in piano from the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Marc Silverman. She earned her Master's Degree from the same school, studying under Robert Goldsand and Constance Keene. She earned her Bachelor's Degree at Michigan State University, where here teacher was the 1962 Van Cliburn Competition Winner, Ralph Votapek. Since 1984 Dr. Schempf has been the pianist for the West Point Glee Club, with which she tours extensively. She is on the faculties of Marist College in Poughkeepsie and SUNY New Paltz, where she teaches music history, theory, and piano.

For more information, call 845-257-3858. Detailed information on other upcoming concerts and arts events is available online at

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