Stream of Sound: River and Gordon Find Their Flow

Stream of Sound: River and Gordon Find Their Flow

Kate Preziosi

Colgate’s Family Weekend Celebration 2007 concluded on Sunday with an afternoon performance in the Memorial Chapel by renowned mezzo-soprano Krista River, accompanied by pianist Judith Gordon. The two presented an incredibly diverse five-part set, which featured tunes sung in both English and German, ranging from the late 18th century up to the nineteen hundreds.

Although River is no stranger to singing, she began her musical career as a cellist, earning her music degree at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. First-year audience member Valerie Boyd had lunch with River prior to the performance, and was surprised learn that she had a late-start in vocal training.

“She only began studying voice at the age of 27, before she was a cellist. This I found remarkable because 27 is relatively late to begin a vocal career,” Boyd said.

River took care to engage the audience, giving brief contextual explanations before the start of each set. At the opening of Frauenliebe und Leben’s Op. 42, which comprised of seven inter-related German poems adapted for the piano by Robert Schumann, she clarified the story behind the language barrier.

“This is about a woman consumed by love,” River said. “It’s a concept which has become more difficult to contend with in this day and age, but it’s important to remember that Leben himself was in love at the time with a married woman. The level of depth and complex strength in the music brings another level to the songs.”

Drawing upon her theatrical talents, River was able to masterfully convey the powerful emotion behind the poetry for the audience.

“Krista River’s performance was incredible,” said sophomore audience member Jackie Kepping. “I came to her concert knowing of her renowned status as a talented mezzo-soprano, but she exceeded by expectations. Despite the fact that she sang her first set in German, she aptly portrayed the mood of each piece to the audience with ease and grace.”

Kepping and Boyd are members of The Resolutions and The Swinging ‘Gates respectively, and found they were able to relate to the performance despite the difference among classical and a capella music.

“I think it is important to draw on different music forms and styles,” said Kepping. “To sing classical music well, you must really train your voice, and have a good sense of musicality.”

“As a singer that is definitely more accustomed to singing in groups, I found it really interesting to listen to Ms. River and try to absorb some of the difference between choral singing and solo singing,” said Boyd.

This performance rounds out River’s busy season, which has included performances with the Handel & Haydn Society, the Harrisburg Society, and Boston’s Emmanuel Music.

The Colgate University Concert series continues on Thursday, October 25 and 26 with a performance from the Manhattan String Quartet in Residence. For more information contact Roberta Healey, Concert manager at (315)228-7642.