The cream of the crop, with Oak Bay and area connections, will gather for a night of performance and promotion in All around the circle: An evening of Lieder and Song.
“It’s kind of a coup,” says singer Benjamin Butterfield, an organizer of the Jan. 17 concert at University of Victoria.
The concert brings together Oak Bay’s Butterfield (head of voice at UVic’s School of Music); Oak Bay High alumnus Tyler Duncan, who recently debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City; Duncan’s pianist wife Dr. Erika Switzer, a graduate from the Julliard School; Martha Guth, who is completing her DMA at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor; and pianist Dr. Laura Loewen from the University of Manitoba. Rounding off the vocal quartet will be Oak Bay resident Tasha Farivar, a past student of VISI and a graduate from the School of Music at UVic.
“These guys are all coming here of their own volition, because we all care about this [the Vancouver International Song Institute],” he said. “We all dig it. We like it and are engaged.”
The concert is to raise public awareness and scholarship money for VISI, a program that goes on in Vancouver each summer; the School of Music at the University of Victoria is a satellite member. The Vancouver International Song Institute is a summer program based out of Vancouver for singers, pianists, scholars, historians, linguists, scientists and the general public to come together to discover, create, experience, understand, study and enjoy song.
“It’s this four-week international event that is unique … It’s binding communities. It’s crossing disciplines,” Butterfield said. “Song is this thing that binds everybody.”
All believe passionately in the power of song and VISI to the degree each is donating the time and talent, and covering their own travel costs to get to Victoria.
The concert will feature the vocal quartet taking on Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes, songs from Wolf’s Mörike Lieder and Poulenc’s Fiançailles as well as songs of Randy Newman.
Baritone Duncan, who now lives in New York City and performs at the Metropolitan Opera there as well as with orchestras and opera companies around the globe, will be accompanied by Switzer to perform works by Hugo Wolf.
“He created a body of work that was as game-changing as Freud,” Butterfield said of the composer whose final years were spent descending into insanity.
“Someone like Tyler brings [Wolf’s] music alive… His story is as basic as anyone trying to make it,” Butterfield said.
It will be a key component for all the performances, trying to make a connection and creating a knowledge of the person who created the works. Guth will perform Francis Poulenc.
“You don’t often get an opportunity to hear this stuff,” Butterfield said.
Butterfield, who maintains a professional singing career that includes recent performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York as well as at the National Theatre in Taipei, Taiwan, plans to floor the audience with the works of Randy Newman.
“He writes about characters like bullies, drunks, the detritus of society. The people who cause us to think on a higher moral plane,” Butterfield said. “The music is gorgeous and lyrics so pointed.”
All around the circle: An evening of Lieder and Song is Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall at the University of Victoria’s School of Music. Admission by suggested $20 donation.