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The Art of Song: Barbara Hardgrave Presents Concert at SUNY New Paltz

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NEW PALTZ -- Barbara Hardgrave, mezzo-soprano, and professor of voice at SUNY New Paltz will present a concert titled "The Art of Song" on Tuesday, March 2. The concert is a delightful mix of works from three centuries. It begins at 8pm in McKenna Theatre, and tickets are available at the door, beginning one hour prior to the recital.

Image available at opens the concert with songs by Franz Schubert. Schubert's works belong equally to the Classical and Romantic traditions, but his life was typically that of a nineteenth-century artist. In his short life, he wrote an astounding number of songs (over 600) as well as nine symphonies, piano music, and much chamber music. His songs are essentially Romantic, with highly lyrical and expressive melodies.

Fauré and Debussy are two of the great masters of French classical song. In both instances we find compositions that are highly personal having temperament and mentality that are essentially French. Debussy's "Chansons de Bilitis" are a small cycle on poems of Pierre Louys, which the poet represented as translations of Greek poems of the time of the poet Sappho. The three songs tell of the awakening of young love, the height of passion, and the cooling and dying away of that passion.

Enrique Granados was the first Spanish composer to employ the piano, rather than the guitar for song accompaniment. His "Colleccion de Tonadillas," a section of which is presented on this concert, are settings of the Valencian journalist Fernando Periquet and were premiered in 1916.

Hardgrave concludes the concert with "Folksong Arrangements from the British Isles" of Benjamin Britten. Britten was the most important English composer of the 20th-century, having produced the operas "Billy Budd," "Peter Grimes," "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and the delightful comedy "Albert Herring," among others. His arrangements raise these folksongs to the level of art song while retaining their simplicity.

During her tenure at SUNY New Paltz, Hardgrave has specialized in the art of song. She has performed leading roles in "Carmen," "Madama Butterfly," "Regina," and "Candide" with Opera Fort Collins in Colorado. Locally she has enjoyed contralto roles as well as Mrs. Lovett ("Sweeney Todd"), Mrs. Peachum ("The Three Penny Opera"), Golda ("Fiddler on the Roof"), Baba ("The Medium") and the Mother in "Amahl and the Night Visitors" with Gilbert and Sullivan Musical Theatre Company. She has played Annina ("La Traviata"), Suzuki ("Madama Butterfly"), and Mamma Lucia ("Cavaleria Rusticana") with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic under the direction of Randall Craig Fleischer.

Hardgrave is accompanied by pianist Ruthanne Schempf. Guest artist Joël Evans, English horn, joins them in performance of the "Tonadillas of Granados."

Tickets are $5 general admission, $4 SUNY staff and senior citizens, and $3 students. They are available in the lobby of McKenna Theatre beginning at 7pm. McKenna Theatre is wheelchair accessible and equipped with an infrared listening system for the hearing impaired.