ARTEK presents an Interview with RYLAND ANGEL

February 12, 2012

Elizabeth Lesar, of Artek, recently interviewed me.  Here is the interview:

Q – Gwen (Artek Director) mentioned to me that you were really the catalyst for ARTEK’s recording last year of Rosenmueller’s works, which led to these upcoming concerts this Friday and Saturday.  Tell us about what led to your interest in Rosenmueller.

A – I really like German Baroque music. I’ve sung a lot of Bach, and recently I’d put out an album of Buxtehude cantatas with Rick Erickson and the Trinity Bach Players in New York City.  It’s called “Freud und Lust”, after the cantata “Jesu Meine Freud und Lust.”  After doing this, I was researching other projects of German Baroque music, and I found these Rosenmueller cantatas that were really stunning.  I’d recently joined ARTEK and Gwen was interested in performing different programs; I came across these cantatas while researching new recital programs.  So I approached her with the idea and showed her some of the scores.  We then thought it would be nice to make it an ARTEK project, and so Gwen invited Barbara to be part of it, and  also the ARTEK orchestral musicians.  It was great fun performing them in the midtown Concert Series last year.  I was very fortunate to record some of the Rosenmueller cantatas with Gwen and Barbara Hollinshead last summer, and these cantatas will be performed this Friday.

This program of the Rosenmueller Vespers is a great example of what Gwen does. She has put together a wonderful set of music that will appeal to both the seasoned listener and also people who don’t know much about Baroque music.

Rosenmueller, although lesser known than Bach or Buxtehude, has written some fine music. It was wonderful in the rehearsal yesterday when ARTEK as a group was reading through the different movements of the Rosenmueller Vespers, and we were all just so thrilled.  His use of certain harmonies and chord progressions – things which I really hadn’t heard – it’s really fascinating.

I’m not aware if this is the American premiere of the Rosenmueller Vespers, but we’ve done some research and we’ve not come across any other American performances of it.

There are some very scholarly people in ARTEK – Charlie Weaver, Grant Herreid, all these people – for me as a singer and performer, it was wonderful to see and hear this music appeal to everyone there, regardless of whether they were scholarly or not.

Q – When will the Rosenmueller CD be released?

A – I believe very soon.  You have to ask Gwen.  We recorded it at Drew University Concert Hall – it has a beautiful acoustic and not a lot of background noise.

Q – What are some of the differences in approach you’re using if any between your performances in the solo cantatas versus the larger ensemble pieces?

A – Well, the singers of ARTEK are primarly soloists, so that the way we sing in an ensemble is the same way that we sing in solo work.  We have individual voices and interpretations and they all work together with the other singers.  The ensemble pieces on Saturday also include various soloistic moments.  On Friday it’s three cantatas; I find that personally I like to be as much emotionally invested in the ensemble singing as the solo singing.  I have some beautiful little solos on Saturday, too.  In the bigger movements, there are some solo sections.

Q – I’ve been hearing all week about the challenge of singing in Venetian Latin.  What are your feelings about it?

A – Well, Gwen really wants to do things right.  She has a fascination with doing historically informed performances.  We’re doing a style of Latin which quite frankly people aren’t used to hearing.  We simply do the best we can, and obviously we weren’t around at the time, but we look at all the research.

Q – Is there any particular adjustment you’re making in your voice for pitch considerations?

A – As long as the pitch difference isn’t too drastic, it’s just a lot smarter not to think about it.  Well, you have to think about it, but it’s best not to obsess about it.

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