Bouk and Langlois Perform German Lieder

Jaime Gelman

On Friday, January 31, at 7 p.m., the Department of Music at Colgate University hosted “The Art of German Lieder,” a musical performance at the Colgate Memorial Chapel that featured mezzo-soprano vocalist Elizabeth Bouk accompanied by Michael Langlois on piano. Bouk travelled to Berlin during the 2012-2013 season, preparing pieces as well as performing songs and operas by Richard Strauss. In 2011, she made her Syracuse Opera debut by performing “La Traviata” and “Madama Butterfly.” Bouk also has several upcoming cabaret shows in Hamilton, including a show on Tuesday, February 4 at 7 p.m. at the Colgate Inn as well as Saturday, March 1 at 8 p.m. at the Barge Canal Coffee Co.

Pianist Michael Langlois has participated in a variety of different musical endeavors during his career. He was on NPR’s “From the Top” in 2004, performed Matthias Pintscher’s “Songs from Solomon’s Garden” and he was the principal pianist for Indiana University’s The Singing Hoosiers. Currently, Langlois is the pianist for Burke Presbyterian Church and Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C.

There were a variety of pieces performed at Friday night’s concert. The first performance was “Widmung” by Robert Schumann, which means “Dedication.” The next set of pieces were all written by Franz Schubert; they were “Lachen und Weinen” (“Laughing and Crying”), “An Die Musik” (“To Music”) and “Die junge Nonne” (“The Young Nun”). “The Young Nun” was a powerful song featuring raging, violent storms, and it was fascinating to watch how Bouk’s body was able to hold such a powerful stance, with her arms pulled back and her feet spread apart, as her strong voice rang out to the audience.

The next set of pieces was Schumann’s “Frauenliebe und Leben,” which translates directly to “Woman’s Love and Life.” This piece contained eight different songs, each of which told the story of a woman’s life, including topics such as love, marriage, motherhood and even death. The eight pieces, in their English translation, are called “Since I First Saw Him,” “He, the Most Wonderful of All,” “I Can’t Grasp or Believe It,” “O Ring On My Finger,” “Help Me, Sisters,” “Dear Friend,” “Upon My Heart” and “Now You Have Hurt Me For the First Time.” There was a wonderful contrast between the upbeat “Upon My Heart” and the slow, final song that followed, which told the story of the death of the woman’s beloved husband.

An intermission followed Bouk and Langlois’s performance of “Frauenliebe und Leben.” There was a large turnout for the event, consisting of a mix of students, faculty and local residents. The audience was rapt and quiet during Ms. Bouk’s performance, but during the breaks between each set the thundering applause was so loud that one might think the entire chapel was packed.

There were two more sets of pieces to finish off the performance: a set of four songs by Johannes Brahms and another set of four songs by Richard Strauss. The audience was lucky enough to enjoy an encore by Bouk, during which she gave us a delightful preview from her upcoming cabaret. The encore was followed by a reception in the Chapel to close off a wonderful evening of song and piano.

Contact Jaime Gelman at [email protected]